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10 things that you only understand when you come from Germany

Ahh Germany - probably the most beautiful country in Europe, right? Well, I'm not completely impartial, but my beautiful homeland has a lot more to offer than just great cars, cozy beer gardens, tasty sausages and picturesque castles. Germany also has an extremely high standard of living and great metropolises like Berlin and Munich, which regularly appear in the top 10 most livable cities in the world. Of course, Germany has other things to offer that make it so unique to live here.

1. FOOTBALL IS A RELIGION

Football is not a normal sport in Germany - it is a religion. There are few other nations in the world that are as crazy about football as we Germans. The fans of different clubs downright hate each other, which can even affect relationships. In cities like Munich, you have to be VERY lucky to get a ticket for a game, not to mention a season ticket. By the way: when Bayern Munich has an important game, the whole city - from the children to the grannies - wears red to support the team.

2. GERMAN BREAD IS WONDERFUL

If you move away from Germany once, then your opinion on bread will change forever. I may be biased, but German bread is simply the best - in terms of selection, taste and quality. We Germans have it really good, because in addition to rolls and pretzels, we also have white bread, wholemeal bread, pumpernickel, baguette ... I think the list could go on forever go on, because Germany can boast more than 300 types of bread, believe it or not. The various bakeries show their creativity every day with all kinds of different loaves and rolls, so you can easily enjoy something different every day!

3. 4 PM MEANS 3:55 PM (NOT AT 4:05 PM)

Germans are famous for their discipline and punctuality and you have to stick to that - especially if you want to make friends. Always arrive five minutes early for an appointment, meeting, or appointment. When you meet up with friends, it's okay to be on time or even two to five minutes late, but that's the only freedom you have. There is no such thing as around four in Germany!

4. SUNDAY IS REST DAY

Shopping on Sunday? Impossible in Germany. Most of the shops are closed - the only exceptions are small shops at train stations or petrol stations. Originally, this was a religious rule, as Sunday, the Lord's day, was a day of rest when one should not work. Now it is more of a tradition that people have valuable time for their families and hobbies. The Germans take the “no work” rule very carefully, so don't try to mow your lawn on Sunday!

5. SUNDAY AFTERNOON BELONGS TO COFFEE AND CAKE

The British have their tea time and the Germans celebrate their coffee and cake tradition - especially on weekends. Sunday afternoons, between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., is the perfect time to sit together and enjoy a cup of coffee with homemade cakes. What else should you do if you can't go shopping or mow the lawn? If you neither have the time nor the talent to bake something yourself, just drive to the nearest train station or a bakery that is open on Sundays (for a few hours) to meet the German demand for fresh rolls and cakes.

6. "HOW ARE YOU DOING?" IS SERIOUSLY MEANED

Perhaps you have met a German acquaintance and wondered why you get a 15-minute monologue about the person's health, financial situation and private life when you start with a simple "How are you?" welcomed. The reason for this is that "How are you?" is not just a polite phrase in Germany, but a serious question. People expect you to answer and talk about your life - like how your family is doing or what plans you have for Sunday afternoons. If you run into someone in the hallway at work and don't want to get caught up in a long conversation, just say "Hello!" and go on.

7. GERMANS REALLY HAVE HUMOR

I know it's hard to believe, but Germans have a great sense of humor and like to laugh too. It is because non-Germans often do not understand what is so funny: German humor is based on blunt and apparently serious statements that are funny because of the context. It takes a while to get used to it - and mastering the German language is an important part of it - but then you come to a humorous pleasure that will leave you laughing on the ground.

8. EVERYONE IN THE SAUNA IS NAKED

Germans feel much more comfortable naked than most other Europeans and Americans. Therefore, going to the sauna, a popular pastime in Germany, can be quite “interesting”. In the sauna everyone is naked (as God created them) and even swimming suits are not allowed for health reasons (whatever that means). But don't worry, female readers: there is usually one day a week reserved for women. (And, believe it or not, the next point has absolutely nothing to do with saunas.)

9. PEOPLE STARE AT YOU ALL THE TIME

The Germans have a rigid problem: Either the old lady next door is watching your every step or the teenage girl in the subway across from you can't look away. In Germany, intense eye contact is a daily occurrence - to such an extent that immigrants and visitors have dubbed it “The Germanic Stare Down”. German pedestrians also use staring for communication and the right length of eye contact at the right time can mean, "I'm walking here and it's not my fault if you don't move to the side and land in the hedge." This takes some practice, but just try to stare like the locals do.

10. ONLY CASH IS TRUE

In Germany you can never assume that a shop or restaurant will accept payment by credit card: Germans prefer good, old cash! There is usually an ATM in major stores and malls so you can withdraw the money you need, but it is advisable to have more money with you than in your home country. When you go to the supermarket, never forget your one euro coin, as you won't get a shopping cart without it. Also, be prepared to pay for plastic bags (in case you forgot your reusable ones) and to wrap your own purchases.

picture of Katrin Blaschke, Flickr / Creative Commons

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