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Things to Know About Germans

Here are some things about Germany and its inhabitants you will notice during your time spent in Germany, living in Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia, Weiden in der Oberpfalz, Bavaria and Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein. A hilarious (and true!) list by Liv Hambrett.

  1. Germans are tall.
  2. They enjoy dairy products. The refrigerated section of their supermarkets are homages to experimentations with yoghurt and quark. They will put a cheese or cream-based sauce with most things.
  3. Sauerkraut is both enjoyed and often consumed, as per the universal expectation.
  4. But the cabbage thing doesn’t stop there. Both krautsalat and rotkohl are regular meal (and döner) companions, the latter readily available in the frozen section of your local supermarket.
  5. Germans have excellent winter wardrobes (perhaps because German winters are endless.)
  6. They are punctual. It’s in their genetic make up. They cannot be late.
  7. In fact, Germans place an enormous premium on the three Ps – Practicality, Punctuality and Planning.
  8. Their babies are particularly beautiful.
  9. They are very good bike riders – nay, they are exceptional bike riders. They manage to look elegant while free-wheeling down cobbled streets, pashminas blowing out behind them. They are also highly adept at riding with umbrellas.
  10. Thus, German kids learn to ride young. They start in small wagons attached to their parents’ bicycles and move through the ranks until, at 6 years old, they are fully fledged members of the cycling community.
  11. Germans can eat. And drink. A lot. They have excellent constitutions.

    Grilled bratwurst at festival.

  12. They love meat. In all its incarnations. Raw, fried, crumbed and dripping in mushroom sauce. But mostly, processed and stuffed into stomach lining.
  13. Germans worship wurst.
  14. Germans worship the pig. He is revered as both a lucky (Glücksschwein) and delicious little fellow in this country and there is no part of the pig that cannot be boiled, shredded, fried, processed, mashed, diced and consumed. And there is no end to the various pig likenesses that can be crafted from marzipan.
  15. They can and do, often, stomach minced raw pork for breakfast … topped with onion and a bit of pepper.
  16. They are good at mostly anything they do. Or, if they’re not, they try hard and become competent. Because …
  17. Germans are thorough. They seem to live by the ‘do it once and do it well’ principle. They work hard and effectively, despite working some of the shortest hours in the western world.
  18. Consequently, they are the strongest economy in Europe. What they do during those short hours is probably double what every other country manages to do in twice the time.
  19. For many Germans, the weekend begins at 1pm on Friday afternoon. The week’s work has been done and done well and now it is time to enjoy the spoils of a well-spent weekend.
  20. They speak English better than most English people I know, or at least get their ‘there, they’re and their’ correct every time which is more than many English speakers can say.
  21. They have unexpectedly wicked senses of humor. David Hasselhoff, anyone?
  22. … a man they continue to embrace by playing Looking for Freedom far, far more than any other country.
  23. They love a good boot.
  24. And they never scuff them. Even when bike-riding down a cobbled street in the rain, holding the shopping and an umbrella, pulling a wagon behind them with a child contained within.
  25. They do not suffer fools gladly, thus only put up with drunk Australians and Americans during Oktoberfest because we’ll pay hideous amounts of money for hideous amounts of beer.
  26. They are extremely hospitable.
  27. They seem to enjoy Westlife. And Take That. And Backstreet Boys.
  28. In fact, your garden variety house party can often remind its attendants of the universality of 90s pop.
  29. Were you aware Germany was responsible for the 90s smash, Coco Jumbo?
  30. Germans simply do not understand thongs/flip flops/jandals as viable footwear. Even when it’s warm and sunny, and a boot is impractical or too warm for the feet to be comfortable. Outside of a very small, very obviously summer window, they will stare, bewildered, at thonged feet and quietly wonder if the wearer is mad.
  31. They love a large, mind-bogglingly well stocked hardware store (with a bratwurst stand out the front). Perhaps because another mantra of the Germans could be: if you want something done well, do it yourself. Therefore they must be permanently well-equipped to do things themselves, like renovate apartments with the help of a good friend and a few beers.
  32. Germans lose their shit when the sun comes out and act in a manner I can only describe as suspicious. They flock to outdoor cafes and tip their faces to the sun … but remain in boots and jeans with a pashmina close by. Even when it’s 25 degrees. Even when it’s obvious the weather isn’t going to turn. Because …
  33. Germans are always prepared for the rain.
  34. They are very fair people and largely adhere to regulations that exist to keep things fair for the masses.
  35. This works because Germans love a good rule. And they reap the benefits of a rule-abiding society.
  36. They don’t appreciate the use of the rude finger when driving. If you give it to a fellow driver, that driver reserves the right to report you and your license plate and you will get a fine.
  37. Not that it will break the bank – fines for breaking road rules here are, on average, about 30€. When rules aren’t that often broken, you don’t need large rule-breaking deterrents.
  38. They love the breakfast meal and fill the table with four different types of cheese, five different types of meat and a basket of bread rolls.
  39. As a general bread rule, Germans seem to enjoy a darker or seeded bread. Or at least bread with a long name that nods to exciting contents.
  40. In the same vein of their love for enormous hardware stores, Germans favor a mesmerisingly large Ikea (and other such stores in the same vein as Ikea) complete with an upstairs restaurant, a downstairs cafe and the all-important bratwurst stand out the front. Because …
  41. Germans can always enjoy a bratwurst, no matter the time, no matter the place. And they never seem to drip the sauce all over themselves.
  42. Germans don’t jay-walk. And they judge those who do with a piercing, back-burning gaze.
  43. They are refreshingly comfortable with nudity. The further East you go, the more apparent this becomes.
  44. Germans are generally candid, frank people.
  45. German men don’t tend to leer lewdly.
  46. But, Germans stare. Not in a way designed to be particularly rude, but in an unabashed, piercing, inquisitive way that makes you wonder if you have food on your face or your skirt is tucked into your underpants.
  47. Germans love doing Kaffe und Kuchen for all sorts of occasions.
  48. Collectively, German people seem to have a very sweet tooth and the cake, biscuit, chocolate, sweets aisles of their supermarket are of Willy Wonka proportions.
  49. Germans can drink. And not just write themselves off, vomit in the bath tub at 2am, wedge in a kebab and back it up the following night, a la American/English/Australian binge drinkers … but drink. While the rest of the world is vomiting in the bath tub, the Germans are calmly ingesting their 57th shot and washing it down with a beer, their cheeks a little rosy, their eyes a little glazed, but their livers working as smoothly as a German made automobile.
  50. This is because Germans start drinking young. They are allowed to drink ‘soft alcohol’ at 16 and ‘hard alcohol’ at 18. By the time we’re all losing our shit with the Breezers, the Germans are enjoying a much more tempered relationship with alcohol … and the benefits of a much more match-fit liver.
  51. They don’t necessarily say it to you face, at the time … but Germans don’t like it when you go against the tide in the supermarket.
  52. Or get on the bus through the wrong door. This they will say to your face, using a microphone and an unimpressed tone.
  53. If there was a study done on countries and how well they dance in a club/bar situation, Germany probably wouldn’t be in the top ten for general skill. But would they would absolutely ace the enthusiasm component.
  54. Germans struggle enormously with the concept of ‘naked feet’. It is better feet be clothed at all times.
  55. Germans, largely, are always exceptionally well-groomed.
  56. They embrace one hit wonders. Royalties from German radio probably single-handedly keep the singers the rest of the world wants to forget, in rent-money.
  57. Germans are not afraid to whip out the smoke machine on the dance floor.
  58. They are not ones to make small talk at the supermarket check-out. Or in general, really.
  59. In fact, Germans hate small talk. Words without purpose are wasted words.
  60. This is because Germans are generally extremely direct people. They do not see a need for conversational subtext. They say it as they see it, while keeping you at the appropriate arm’s length distance. Directness and distance are valued social commodities.
  61. Apropos, Germans will always try and shake your hand, even if you feel you’ve reached the status of hugging.
  62. But when you crash through those notorious barriers, you have a German pal for life.
  63. Germans enjoy frozen vegetables.
  64. Germans are generally very open and relaxed about most things sex-related.
  65. They have the single most nerve-wrackingly rapid supermarket check-outs in the world.
  66. Germans seem to really enjoy watching (dubbed) How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.
  67. And reading crime fiction.
  68. They love their dogs. Often their dogs catch the bus with them and sometimes their dogs even dine with them in restaurants.
  69. Germans. Love. Bakeries.
  70. They don’t tend to go to the shops in track-pants and slippers.
  71. It saddens me to report there seems to be a higher instance of socks and sandals paired together in Germany, than in other countries.
  72. Germans seem to be distrustful of any beverage that doesn’t sparkle and, despite having excellent tap water, relegate it to second best beneath the bottled, sparkling stuff.
  73. They also seem to enjoy mixing drinks. For example, their beloved cola/orange soft drink – Spezi, Schwip Schwap, Mezzo Mix. And the truly excellent Apfelschorle, apple juice and sparkling water. And why stop at white wine spritzers when you can have a red wine spritzer?
  74. In keeping with this, they enjoy mixing beer (with cola, pear, cactus fruit, lime) which, for a nation famed for its superior beer production, is somewhat unexpected.
  75. Germans like buying drinks in six packs of 1.5l bottles which are then dutifully recycled, bottle by bottle.
  76. It is extremely rare to see a German throw out a recyclable bottle and, if they do (in the midst of a brain-snap) someone passing by the rubbish bin will very quickly pull the bottle out and take it to the recycling automat themselves.
  77. During large events (festivals, Summer grilling bonanzas) there will be people making serious money by collecting revellers’ beer bottles.
  78. They aren’t big on bread slicing. Sliced bread, ‘toast brot’, is relegated to the toaster and sandwiches made with sliced bread enjoy a disproportionately small section of the bakery display in comparison to their friends, the Brötchen.
  79. Germans love Dackels (Dachshunds) and seem to own several of them at once. Perhaps this adoration of Dachshunds stems from their physical similarity to wurst.
  80. Germans extract a curiously large amount of pleasure from the acts of giving, receiving and processing paperwork. They revel in it. Photocopy it. Sign it. Photocopy it again. Roll in it. Cover themselves with it and inhale the scent of paper.
  81. Those who work for the German government seem to … never work at all. It’s like their entire system is efficient enough to work by itself, without humans doing anything except photocopying and stamping things.
  82. Some German banks take lunch breaks which is unfortunate because many working people can only do their banking in their own lunch breaks.
  83. Germany loves a public holiday. Bavaria in particular.
  84. Germans have this … thing … with bureaucracy.
  85. Should a contestant, for example, on a family friendly ‘celebrity special game show’ or something, be a nude model, German TV is totally down with displaying a great deal of her portfolio, to the audience at home. Pre 9pm. In fact, pre 8pm.
  86. They are rather thrifty and don’t have the weird Anglo qualms with talking about money.
  87. Germans seem to enjoy camping and driving campervans through Europe.
  88. They are bizarrely superstitious about wishing people a Merry Christmas too early, opening presents early and celebrating birthdays early.
  89. Germans have bottomless basements.
  90. Boris Becker and Til Schweiger are the go-to celebrities for game shows.
  91. Germans. Love. Football. Love it. In fact the most passionate you will ever see a German is when they are watching, talking about, thinking about, dreaming about or playing, football.
  92. You may also catch a German in an act of passion if you raise the topic of cars. Germans love their cars and are very proud of their ability to make such good ones. Just ask them.
  93. It is a good thing they have good cars and an Autobahn of terrifying speed because the Deutsche Bahn is Germany’s dirty little inefficient secret. Delays come with your ticket purchase, free of charge. It’s DB’s gift to you.
  94. Most Germans seem to always buy or possess the appropriate public transport tickets, even though there are so many occasions upon which they could get away with not having one. This sense of honesty will eventually rub off on you.
  95. Germans of a certain age really enjoy Jack Wolfskin jackets. Come winter, Germany turns into a sea of identical jackets, people’s age distinguishable only by the brand they’re wearing.
  96. There is an obvious divide when it comes to what kind of high school you went to and what kind of leaving certificate you gained. And what kind of further education you go on to do, whether it be university for an extremely long period of time – honestly, no one does university quite like the Germans – or one of Germany’s millions of Ausbildungen (apprenticeships).
  97. The whole country quivers with excitement every New Years Eve when they sit down and watch Dinner for One. But the supremely odd thing isn’t a national obsession with a 1960s black and white sketch comedy from another country that has nothing to do with New Years Eve, but the fact that this is the one film the Germans don’t dub.
  98. Germans have this thing with online privacy. It is a rare German indeed who uses their full name on Facebook as opposed to a bizarre cross section of their first and last names, eg: Mo Na Berg or Le Na.
  99. Germans can’t queue. Full stop, the end. They don’t know how, they have no interest in trying. This is the one time Germans embrace a lack of system and what happens when a queue is called for is the unfortunate culmination of Germanic forcefulness and uncertainty in the face of a system-less world.
  100. Take, for example, what happens in a supermarket when another check out line opens. Instead of calmly indicating the person at the top of the queue, yet to unload their basket onto the conveyor belt, should head up the new checkout line, there is this mad dash like a scattered flock of sheep, and one’s standing in the original queue becomes completely irrelevant. If you are fast enough, you can theoretically come from well behind and end up getting served before the person five people in front of you, who has been patiently waiting for 10 minutes. And no one thinks anything of it.
  101. Germans can open a beer bottle with anything. The couch, a coffee mug, a banana. Body parts. It’s like they all secretly take a class at school when they’re eleven, in preparation for a life time of beer consumption.
  102. Should you not have a garden, but yearn for one, you can rent a small square of land called a Kleingarten (or Schrebergarten). Here you can cultivate a garden and sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labors by resting in a little hut. The Kleingärten (small gardens) are kept neat by the adherence to a set of rules specifically developed by and for each community.
  103. In the average German garden, big or small, you will notice they seem unable to resist the lure of the garden gnome. There is almost always one, lurking sinisterly beneath a bush, or partaking in some sort of Mise-en-scène with other concrete characters and a perfectly clipped shrub.
  104. Stefan Raab. He owns Germany.
  105. Germans are inordinately proud of their states, districts, district-free cities, city states, regions, sub-regions, dialects, entirely different vocabularies, sub-cultures, traditions, festivals and basically being really different from the ten-house village that is 5km away because that ten-house village is in an entirely different region and therefore nothing like this village.
  106. Generally speaking, Germans simply love celebrating.
  107. And dressing up.
  108. And that dastardly Schlager music which they all know the words to.
  109. Often all three passions are combined at an inexplicable pop-up festival that features, without exception, the following: medieval beer stalls, a pommes stand and a wagon with a dazzling array of sugared nuts, waffles and chocolate covered baked goods.
  110. And Spargel. They love Spargel and anything to do with Spargel, like Spargel peelers and Spargel steamers and Spargel platters. Forget Christmas or Easter or any other notable markers, the German year revolves around Spargelzeit.
  111. Germany has assumed the döner kebab as a national dish, Germanified it with pickled cabbage and elevated it to where it now sits, loftily, alongside other key German snacks like currywurst and fischbrötchen.
  112. Germans largely respect ‘Quiet Time’ on Sundays, when they don’t vacuum, use lawn mowers or other loud appliances and generally keep noise levels to a bare minimum. In some parts, an unspoken evening Quiet Time is enforced, via disapproval or neighbourly note leaving.
  113. Church bells are exempt from all Quiet Times.
  114. As ingrained in the German psyche as Quiet Time on Sunday, is the Sunday viewing of crime show, Tatort.
  115. Germans have really embraced the organic food trend and dedicate shelves to products emblazoned with ‘BIO’.
  116. Germans make loyal, warm, life-long friends.
  117. German television seems to produce a startling array of game shows very close to – but not quite the same as – ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’
  118. They like saying ‘juhu!’
  119. While they may borrow the concepts for their solid repertoire of scripted reality TV, the German population yields the strangest, most awkward characters in the entire genre.
  120. Germans can have entire conversations that consist solely of the word ‘doch’.
  121. Occasionally they replace ‘doch’ with ‘eben’, if it fits, grammatically.
  122. They like buffets.
  123. And ‘house shoes.’
  124. Germans seem to enjoy bringing activities to the park, when the weather is fine. Things like wooden blocks to throw around and rope to tie between trees as a sort of make-shift tightrope.
  125. They like drinking yoghurt.
  126. They can eat enormous sausages clamped between very small bread rolls, smothered in sauce, while walking and talking, and not getting a drop of it on themselves.
  127. Germans make for extremely excitable sports commentators.
  128. Mark Twain was not lying about the German language.
  129. It is always too hot, too cold, too windy, too warm, too humid, too snowy or too rainy.
  130. Germans blame 95% of ailments on the weather.
  131. They may be the only people in the world to a) have a word for and b) accept the notion of ‘Frühjahresmüdigkeit‘ – ‘Spring time fatigue’.
  132. On that note, no one does a compound word like the Germans.
  133. Germans like going to Ikea just to eat hotdogs.
  134. No matter where you go – to a festival, on a road trip, to a sporting event – you will find a clean public toilet.
  135. Contrary to all evidence pointing to a socially restrained and reserved people, Germans are actually quite excitable.
  136. They are extremely good-natured when it comes to laughing at themselves (and accepting lists like the very one you’re reading.)
  137. Meals with Germans can be quite quiet affairs, the participants seeming to adhere to the unspoken rule of Eat Now, Talk Later.
  138. Many Bavarians have enormous moustaches.
  139. The mullet is alive and well in Germany.
  140. As per Point 99 – Germans Cannot Queue – they are terrible pusher-innerers.
  141. As per Point 123 – Germans Like House Shoes – many Germans seem to choose a pair of fake Crocs both for themselves and their children, as a general house/garden shoe.
  142. Many, many Germans (and, to be fair, Dutch people) seem to love camping, camper-vans, camping grounds, and holidays that combine all three in a country like France or Italy.
  143. Germans love their ‘hobbies’.
  144. A favored hobby seems to be hiking.
  145. Indeed, Germans enjoy walking in general, particularly after a meal, or indeed on a quiet Sunday afternoon (in pairs, wearing matching Jack Wolfskins).
  146. Tchibo.
  147. Germans are, surprisingly, rather enthusiastic applauders. They especially seem to enjoy falling into the rhythmic clap, while performers are taking their bows.
  148. I have noticed Germans seem to enjoy ‘seasonal decorations’ for their front doors, doorsteps, gardens etc. A floral wreath for Spring, a twiggy one for Autumn (along with pumpkins and red leaves), your classic evergreen conifer for Christmas. Und. So. Weiter.
  149. In keeping with their love of all things ornamental, Germans really seem to like home decor stores, ranging from the kitsch (Nanu Nana, Butlers) to the positively chic (any store that’s name features the words ‘Lebensart’ or ‘Landart’).
  150. You will never actually see a German doctor at the appointed time. That famous German punctuality doesn’t exist in medical practices.
  151. At many social gatherings, you will find a plate of cheese cubes and grapes, held together with a toothpick.
  152. Germans and their pharmacies have a lot of faith in the healing powers of homeopathy and herbal teas.
  153. Speaking of teas, Germans enjoy fruit teas immensely, including flavours such as ‘strawberry and cream’ or ‘blueberry yoghurt’.
  154. Germans love being in, strolling and/or hiking through, or just flat out enjoying, ‘the nature’.

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