While talking to friends and family while abroad in Germany, the most common question I am asked is ‘what are the biggest differences from home in the States to Germany?’ My answer is that the biggest, and most blatantly obvious, difference is the language. Further, that the German language did seem to be somewhat overwhelming at first to try and pick up because of its vast distinction from English, and its seemingly robust sound to my English-speaking ears.
Following language differences, I always respond that there are also general ‘European distinctions’ in Germany for the everyday way of life. For example, in my experiences traveling to Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and England, I have found some very consistent ‘European culture’ similarities. Some of these similarities include the pace of life being slower with the grocery stores and retail shops having shorter hours and strictly being closed on Sundays and holidays, and the requirement to request the check while dining at a restaurant rather than having it pushed on you while you are still eating.
Another ‘European distinction’ I came across while living in Germany was the maturity of the public transportation systems in place. In nearly all of the major cities I have visited in Germany and in other European nations, there is always exceptional public transportation! Most of the cities I have visited have an underground subway system, street-level tram system, and buses. This makes it very easy to travel throughout the city, for a very marginal cost.
The final big ‘European distinction’ I encountered during my time abroad… was that Germans, or Europeans in general by in large, are able to party for very long amounts of time!! For example a typical evening out would be to start the night by gathering together for some pre-party activities around 8:00pm, head to the party/event around 10:30pm, go to a club or bar for an after-party-party around 1:30am, and then end the night with grabbing some Döner Kebab around 5:00am. This party itinerary certainly took some getting used to, but it sure was a lot of fun! J