1. Access to Medicine
Germany is a nation known for its no speed limit autobahns, where the German citizens happily zoom up and down at 100+ miles an hour, all day every day, while moaning about our motorways like we’re the mental ones. Yet you can’t buy paracetamol in the supermarket because of the government’s fears that you might top yourself. When I was in a pharmacy and I asked for the medicine. The sale assistant showed me an aisle full of herbs and honey. I stated “No the REAL medicine” she looked at me intensely as if she was checking that my eyes were functioning properly. “This is the REAL medicine” and she walked off shaking her head. To get paracetamol you have to go to the Apotheke and describe your symptoms to see if you are deemed fit (or unfit as the case is) for the product. It’s only open during school hours and even then it is 5€ a box. I had my mum to send it over; it was substantially cheaper and more convenient.
2. Girls school wear
As Germany is situated between France and Italy home to two of the biggest fashion capitals of the world, it baffles me how German girls only have the one look. As in Germany there is no such thing as a school uniform, day in day out girls all across Germany squeeze into their skinny jeans, hike into their converse and slap a T-shirt on top. In school we were dying to express ourselves and from a fashion forward place like Britain I really find it hard to comprehend their lack of desire to spread individuality (she types in her sweatpants). Their banal fashion could possibly be down to the fact that the only cheap, fashionable young girls clothes shop they have in Germany is H&M, but even they, I believe, sell dresses, skirts and all manner of items of clothing. Come on ladies mix it up a bit. It’s even the norm to wear jeans, T-shirt and flats to a club!
3. “Salad” and lack of it.
I had to put this in air quotes for you see what the Germans deem to be salad isn’t quite the case. Pretty much anything that is sliced is a salad. Half strips of pink sausage, half mayonnaise there my friend you have a “Fleischsalat” a perfectly good lunchtime snack. Once when picking food in the cafeteria I picked up cauliflower only to find it was cold and covered in vinegar, oh my bad it is a “Blumenkohlsalat”. Once one of my colleagues was making a salad for a dinner party, and what did it consist of: lettuce, kidney beans, corn, chilli, nachos, mince meat and slathered in sour cream. “Oh tacos” “No it’s a salad it has lettuce in”. Then again this is a nation that thinks rollmops is a perfectly acceptable snack.
4. Crossing the Road
Linking back to the Germans perception of what is dangerous. Commuters in Germany day in and day out run across railway track to save time. (Or at least they did in Rodenbach and many other villages my friends lived in) However crossing the road in a similar (but far less deadly) fashion is way out of the question. Not only is there a 40€ fine if you get caught, but Germans are simply baffled by the idea of looking yourself for when it is safe to cross. My German friend asked me if all British kids are taught to walk across the road when they want from an early age!! Maybe we just have good timing.
5. Small Talk
German bluntness may be a stereotype but it is a very true one. Germans are not known to “nimm ein Blatt vor den Mund” (literally put a leaf over their mouth) or mince their words. If your new jeans don’t fit you, your German friend will tell you all about it, and that’s not all. Germans use the word “smalltalk” because really small talk doesn’t exist in German. Talking to convey information is efficient and concise. So if your doctor doesn’t ask how you are before getting down to the nitty gritty, they aren’t being rude, they are being German.
Have you been to Germany? What weird things have you noticed?