Differences between the USA and Germany – Pt. II
Here we goooo! Pt II is here and in this installment, we’re talking about two of my favorite things, Mexican food and champagne, amongst other noticeable differences between my home and native land. (Get it? It’s a joke on the song since Germany is now my home and my native land is the US? Oh, I’m ruining it now? Gotcha.)
Girls hug and boys shake hands
When both greeting your friends and saying goodbye in Germany, girls hug each other and boys, and boys shake hands with each other. In the US, it’s totally normal to not make any body contact when meeting your friends for a casual hangout. If you do that in Germany, it seems weird and sometimes even rude. However, if it’s your first time meeting someone, you shake hands no matter your gender. And during ‘Corona times’, either no body contact is made or we’re doing one of these cringey elbow bumps.
Say goodbye to closet space
Closets that are separate little rooms off the bedroom don’t really exist in Germany, unless you build your own house and construct it that way. Instead, we all use huge wardrobes in our bedrooms to store our clothes. It takes up so much space and is kind of annoying, but what can I do as a renter?
Good luck finding good Mexican food
(Am I even one to talk about good Mexican food if I’ve never been to Mexico?? Probably not, so when I say ‘good Mexican food’ here I’m probably saying ‘Westernized Mexican food that I enjoy’. So here we go.)
In some of the bigger German cities, you may be able to find some good Mexican food. For example, I love the food at Mexiko Strasse in Hamburg. However, it can start to get a bit pricey if you love tacos as much as me and don’t want to stop eating. I’ve been to other restaurants that claim to make Mexican food, but it turns out to be very bland fajitas.
Eating with your hands isn’t the norm
Your German friends (and maybe other Europeans?) may eat a burger or pizza with a knife and fork. I’ve even seen people chicken wings with a knife and fork!
No difference in address between married/unmarried women
In German, women are formally addressed as Frau [Name] and men are always addressed as Herr [Name]. When I get letters or other written documents in English here in Germany, I often see ‘Mrs. Lastname’ even though I’m unmarried. I think it’s hard to remember that there is a distinction, but it’s also hard to know everyone’s marital status!
You can find peanut butter in Germany, but there’s basically one brand with an American flag on it. Every now and then I see a different brand in an Asian supermarket or other stores, but not often. I don’t think it’s that popular among Germans – at least the Germans I know aren’t fans of it! Make sure you have some other spreads that can be put on bread if you have friends over, just in case.
Put down the divider immediately once you’ve finished putting your groceries on the belt OR ELSE!
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It makes sense to put down the divider so you don’t accidentally pay for someone else’s items or vice versa, but this is a very serious topic in a German supermarket. Of course I do this, but I’m not going to reach over someone’s personal space to get one – I grab a divider when it’s within reach. However, on one occasion I wasn’t quick enough, so the customer behind me very passive-aggressively walked around me, grabbed a divider, and slapped it down between our items. Chill out, lady!
No paying for clinic visits and affordable fees (or sometimes no fee at all) for essential prescriptions. My health insurance is deducted automatically from my paycheck every month and is a cool ~7% of my salary. When you visit your general doctor, there’s no co-pay and none of this height and weight stuff. The doctor calls you directly when she’s ready and you get down to business immediately discussing your issue. There’s actually a lot to this topic, but it’s too much to go into detail here.
Champagne vs. Sekt vs. Prosecco
Before moving to Germany, I only knew about one kind of light and bubbly alcohol, i.e. champagne. I never knew there was a difference between champagne, sekt, and prosecco. My questioning how different they really are has been met with scoffs when I bring it up to Germans. Even a $4 bottle of Andre was still considered champagne during my college days, it was just cheap champagne. Sekt and prosecco are both considered ‘sparkling wine’, however, I guess prosecco doesn’t have to be sparkling? Can you tell I’m still confused?
I’m just going to say that Germany laughs at the 2 party system in the US. If I go into any more detail, I might put my foot in my mouth.