Let’s face it, expat life can be exciting, new place, new surroundings, and definitely so many new routines, but full of mind-boggling experience as well! Especially if you see a different culture that’s totally non-existent from the way you used to live before.Living here in Germany for the past months has been really great, but many times, I see things that totally cracks me up. But no matter how weird it may seem, I can’t deny that I am starting to love the German lifestyle. As an Asian Expat, here are some ” weird” things I found here.
Have a laugh, or comment if you want, and yes, enjoy some time of awkwardness!
P.S. As disclaimer, these are all my OPINIONS and based on my personal experience. So, here we go!
1.German water comes from the Alps, they say it’s the best water in the world, how about the massivee Kalk?
I swear our kettle is a living testament for this! It has massive, hardened, irritating, Kalk inside. Tap water is super safe to drink but I find it so annoying to see the shiny stuff that floats on the surface of tea. Kalk is the reason why the pits of shirts never get quite white, the grit on your wine glasses after using the dishwasher, the white stuff that clogs your clothes iron, the white stuff that remains after you boil water, the reason why you have to use 50% more detergent when doing laundry and the spots it creates after every shower is driving me mad. No wonder there’s an aisle in the supermarket dedicated for all the anti-calc problems!
2. Sparkling water
Germans have a serious love-affair with ‘fizzy’ water ( or sparkling water). Water here is gold,you certainly CANNOT have a free water in the restaurant. Here, you pay for water and most of the times, they serve you with sparkling water unless you insist on getting the ‘still‘ water.The only water you can get at a restaurant will be bottled water with carbonation, or bottled water without carbonation.
3. Sprechen Sie Englisch? “A little” (or Ein bischenn)
I have this habit of asking Germans if they speak English, Always! But I always have the same response: Ein bischenn ( or a little bit ) . I observed that Germans are not boastful, or the bragger type. A country who has a very high standard of education and thousands of Ausbildungs and to think that most European speaks 2-3 language, and yet, seemed to be reluctant to speak in English, or shy in a way. Maybe they just want to appear silly. So now, every time someone says ‘a little‘, I just assume they speak perfect English. I find this strange, but OK, they are Germans!
4.Germans loves Rules and Order–Everytime!
Nobody EVER jaywalks in Germany. Everyone obeys the rules! They have a thing with “Ordnung“ ( or order) most especially traffic rules and Recycling. So from someone who came from a traffic congested Manila and chaotic driving maniacs from the Gulf road in Kuwait, observing traffic and driving behaviour in Germany is something fascinating. From my experience, drivers are super polite, nobody shouts in the road, I have never seen road rage as often I saw in Kuwait and the one thing that you will never find in the Gulf countries– they always gives way to pedestrians. There are many zebra crossing and people with disability are always given proper consideration. Just don’t walk in their cycling lanes or else, you’ll get angry stares and the bell will absolutely ring twice!
5. It’s a bad luck to wish someone “happy Birthday “in advance.
I didn’t know that greeting someone when it’s not yet their birthday is considered as bad luck for Germans! Never ever greet in advance to a German or you will receive angry stare, probably a long silence.There’s a saying that sums up the German mentality nicely: “Du sollst den Tag nicht vor dem Abend loben,” or, “You shouldn’t praise the day before the night.” It means don’t be sure of something until it happens, because then it won’t happen. So wishing someone a happy birthday early could mean they won’t have one, or more precisely, that they’ll die.
6.The thing about German Toilets
No hose.No Bidet. For ladies you know what I mean. Back home and while I was still living in Kuwait, we have water hose beside the toilet bowl. But here,not a single one. Germany loves everything that is energy-saving, water saving, and environment-friendly. If you want to live in Germany, get use to toilet papers.More funny thing is, in our apartment,our toilet (Bad) is facing a major busy road, so when you do your business, you have a view! Imagine that!
Another thing, all German toilets have big square or rectangular buttons. A big button for a job well done!My daughter loves to push this because it’s so easy, totally different from toilet bowl designs I grew up with a push valve that you pull to release water.
7. Big Light Switches and Kid-friendly outlets.
Apparently the little light switches that flick on and off in Kuwait and from Philippines just don’t cut it in size for the Germans. Here, they have these massive buttons that allows for an easy on and off. Have you ever tried to turn on the light in the dark feeling the entire wall before finding the switch? Not in Germany! In our basement where the laundry area is located, there are lights in the corridor which switch off automatically after 1 minute. I was feeling creepy the first time I experience this because I was waiting for the light to be out, no matter how I push, it’s still ON.
8.Jail Blinds and every windows with Roller shutters
We have large windows that also serves as doors in our living room and bedrooms.Talk about functionality, here in Germany, most homes have this type of windows. The light flooded our house on a sunny day and I love that. All our windows have roller shutters and many German homes have the same blinds. Though it offers a guaranteed sleep in the pitch black, I find it rather spooky at first. Around 6pm when it’s starts to get dark, you can hear all the shutters being put down. If you walk in the streets at night, it can really be so silent. So totally different from Philippines. In Germany it is not always so easy to know what your neighbors are doing.
9. Wide Open Windows and sometimes, curtain-less!
This is possibly the best window there is! I feel so free when I wake up, open the window wide and hang half of my body outside for some crisp, clean, fresh morning air. The levers on these windows don’t only open sideways but from the top too! You can decide to tilt it to let some air come in, or open it fully sideways.the best thing is, everything looks so modern with clear windows and no squeaking hinges.
10. They Have Style When it Comes to Buying Groceries
Perhaps not every German, but when here in Bavaria, almost all the locals I see are shopping with wooden baskets. Here in Bavaria, in the old town during weekend market, the sight of people shopping with wooden baskets is so idyllic. I see so may of these little wicker baskets or little canvas bags, some are even attached to their bikes. Way to take the reins on eco-friendly shopping Germany! There is also the trolley that the old people use to get groceries. I have never seen something like this in Kuwait or in Philippines.
And yes, you need to bring your own bag when you buy groceries and you pack your own goods!
Yes,Germany is one of the countries here in Europe and in Scandinavia that uses two beds, two duvets for a couple’s bed.This was a total shock to me when I first saw it. I love the idea of comfort, more sound sleep idea that you get from it, but I am never fan of this square ( 80 x 80cm ) pillows. I don’t like it and it’s a pain in the neck.
12. Sunday is really a Quiet Day.
On Sundays, ( or Ruhetag ) it is illegal to mow your lawn so don’t ever think about it. Your neighbor would probably won’t approve. It is considered rude to ride your loud motorcycle. Basically, you shouldn’t use any mechanical or electronic device that makes noise. If the walls are thin between you and your neighbors, they might ask that you don’t do laundry on Sundays (which is when I do laundry). German’s like their quiet time so they just keep on cycling all through out the day especially on a bright, sunny day!
13. They love the Outdoor life.To the max!
Okay this one is no- brainer. Back then in Kuwait, people also flock outside especially when the weather is cooler and mild. But here, what surprises me is how Germans love outdoors no matter what the season is. People are cycling in winter. Walking their dogs every single day. Sunbathing in the parks in summer, and get a ‘tan’ sitting on cafes with strollers and everything on bright sunny days on weekends. On Saturdays, people flock in the wet markets to get fresh produce, at the same time eating weisswurst and beer at 10 am! Old people are super edgy, hiking and do nordic walks. Even young people walk with the “magic stick”.Children live half of their day in the parks and playgrounds. For Germans : There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!
14. Remember that Eis is not Ice
I am used to having ice cubes in my beverages. I am never a fan of drinks without the chill, unless its coffee. But in Germany, putting ice cubes in drinks is not common, and if you want ice for a drink, you may want to ask for “Eiswürfeln” (ice cubes) instead of simply “ice” to avoid confusion. Also, Eis means ‘ice cream’ so be careful when ordering. In Germany, eating an ice cream on a cold days is also very typical!
There you have it! Do you also find any ‘strange’things in your country now compared from what you’ve used to?Feel free to share in the comments!
Stay tuned for more stories like this on my next post about Everyday Expat Life here in Germany.
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