7 Things I Love About Living in Germany
Living in Germany definitely has it perks. After being here for almost 16 months, I've learned to love a lot of the German ways of life. I'm still getting used to following all of the rules (Germans are the most rule following people I know) and not recycling on Sunday. But overall this country has some great things about it and I feel lucky to experience them.
Don't get me wrong now, I still love dearly the good ole' red, white, and blue.
1.) Biking Everywhere!
The biking infrastructure in Germany, although not the best (the Netherlands wins there), is amazing. We can bike everywhere. We lived in Germany for 4 months before having a car, so all of our errands were done via biking. There were a few days when it was freezing and raining ice, so on those days a car would have been nice...
In the States it would be nearly impossible and/or super risky to do everything via biking. We simply don't have the infrastructure and biking culture like they have in Europe. Michael was hit by 3 cars while living in Knoxville while riding a bike (2/3 times the car drove off in a hurry) -- thankfully he wasn't seriously injured. Since living in Germany he has been hit by 1 car.. okay, that's still not good... But I think you get my point.
Even though we have a car now, I still try to bike as much as possible. I can go 5 days without even turning on my car (which is the best). Although I love having a car for road trips and traveling, I honestly prefer my bike for in town errands. It's just so refreshing to hop on a bike to meet a friend and not have the hassle of finding parking.
Just yesterday I biked to two doctors appointments, the gym, and the grocery store! In the States, I would have driven 1-1.5 hours to do all of that. And I even lived in a smaller sized town. Plus, when the 80 year-old woman is doing all of her errands on a bike, I really don't have an excuse.
Besides, biking helps balance out all the bread I've been eating here. Which leads me to my next point...
2.) Delicious bread, beer, and all things wheat.
Germans know how to make beer, everyone knows that. But also, German bread and pastries are just too delicious. I think anything that contains wheat, Germans know how to do well. The sweet lover that I am, I'm a sucker for all of the German pastries and desserts. My favorite pastry is the Franzbrötchen, it's like if a croissant and a cinnamon roll had a baby. Pretty much the best thing one could ever eat.
I've never met a German bread I don't like. It's pretty dangerous though, so my body might thank me later when I stop eating so much of it.
Beer is also delicious in Germany and super cheap (compared to US craft beer prices). At most restaurants beer is the same price as water and sometimes even cheaper. Also, when you order a beer at a bar or restaurant you typically just say, "I would like a beer". While in the States you would pick a specific beer and bran. For example a porter, stout, I.P.A., etc. Although I love options, there's something great about just ordering one type of beer you know is going to be good.
3.) How accessible the EU is and traveling.
The fact that I can cross the Dutch, Swiss, Belgium, Danish, French, and so many other countries' borders so easily by car amazes me. Sometimes I don’t even notice a sign or anything, it’s just next thing I know everything is in a new language.
To be honest, I've gotten a little spoiled by it. When we travel to non-EU countries and we have to go through passport control and security 5x, I am always so impatient and frustrated. Don't get me wrong, I understand why it's done and I appreciate the safety measures taken.
I find it so amazing that when living in Europe you can drive 30-45 minutes and be in a totally different culture and hear an entirely different language. It amazes me how two countries can be neighbors, yet be completely different culturally.
4.) Cheap Flights
Piggy backing a little bit on point #3. Because the EU is so accessible, it makes flights really cheap. RyanAir is the known "economical" airline, but others like EasyJet have super cheap flights within the EU. I bought a ticket round trip to Ireland for $24 euros this year. That's how much I would have spent on gas from Knoxville to Nashville. If we plan far enough in advance we can find flights to Mallorca, Spain for $10 and Greece for $50.
In the past year, I have be on an airplane 3x as much as I had before I moved to Germany. To give you an idea, in one year I've flown more than I did in my 24 years of life. Although I still get a little nervous each time the plane ascends and descends, I've become much more comfortable with flying. I find that European airports are really efficient and flying seems much more common for families and people here. While in the States, I found a lot of people take road trips.
Being the extremely impatient and antsy person that I am, I much prefer to fly than drive 5+ hours anywhere. So, the whole cheap flight thing is a total win for me!
5.) Everything is so orderly.
Now this is a love hate thing, but overall I kind of love it. Germans are very orderly. The towns are clean, roads are perfect, and people are always on time. It’s like the opposite of me...
I have learned to love it though without even realizing it. While we were in Italy driving early this year, we were getting so frustrated and saying, “Ugh! These Italians don’t know how to drive! Can they not follow the rules?!”, and then Michael and I both said, “We are totally being German right now..."
And little things have started to really bother us, like cars not stopping for us at the crosswalk, someone cutting in line, people putting glass in the yellow recycling bin, etc.,etc. While in the States we wouldn't have gotten so worked up.
Okay, I still cross the crosswalk when the light is red and ride my bike through the pedestrian zone... somethings just won't change. But overall, the cleanliness, rule following, always being on a time, and orderly ways of Germans really can be nice. It just makes sense!
6.) Germans say what they mean and mean what they say.
I talked about this in my first post about life in Germany, and my thoughts and opinions are the same. Germans are blunt and in Germany bluntness is not equivalent to being rude. Being a people pleaser like myself, that definitely took me a few months to grasp.
One time I wasn't wearing make-up and not dressed well. And one of my closest German friends saw me and first thing that came out of her month was, "You don't look so good!". At first I was a little offended, like I know I don't look great, but you don't have to point it out. Then I realized, she wasn't being rude, simply making an observation and thought maybe I was sick or something.
The other day we were with a few of our German friends and the same scenario happened. One friend looked a little sleepy and the other German friend said, "You look horrible, you need to go get a coffee". Yes, in the States some people might be that open to say things like that with each other, but I personally would never say that in a serious tone. However, for them it's normal and no offense was taken.
Another example is if you ask someone to hang out with you, instead of them saying, "No thank you, I actually already have plans, maybe next time." A typical German would be way more honest and say something like, "I don't like "x" activity, so I won't join you." Instead of beating around the bush, Germans get right to it. So many times I have asked a German friend simple things like, "Want to go on a run with me?" and they are like, "Uhm, no. I hate running." While my American friends would be a little softer with their nos.
Although I probably won't start being this blunt, I still appreciate it. I feel like I always know where I am with Germans. If they don't like me they'll act like it and if they do like me they'll tell me. It's refreshing to not have to guess what people are thinking and just know. I feel like Germans would never have "an elephant in the room", because they would simply address the elephant.
7.) Less cellphone usage.
Coming from the States where everyone is attached at the hip to their iPhones, it has been amazing to see how much less Germans use their phones. If I am having a 2 hour lunch with someone, not once will they even glance at their phone. Actually, I'm not even sure if their phone is taken out of their pocket or purse unless it's ringing.
However, in the States at every restaurant you'll see at least on person per table with their phone out or at least sitting next to them on the table. I definitely am guilty of being someone who glances at their phone and compulsively checks my emails, but since living in Germany that has definitely gone down.
One reason why Germans could be on their phones less in my area is because it seems we never have cellular service in any of our shops. Also, free wifi isn't as common as it is in the States. If you're in a touristy area, then you'll have wi-fi options, but most small town shops don't give out wi-fi codes.
Also, when I am talking to someone and they need to check their phone, text someone back, or something like this, then they always say, "Excuse me a moment, I need to write to someone..". While in the States, I find it common for you to be talking to someone and them to start glancing at their phone. Which is actually quite rude, but I feel like it's so common that a lot of people don't think about it.
Since my last "Life in Germany" post talked about the negatives, I thought it was about time to address some of the really great things about living in Germany. Granted, I live in Northern Germany, which is totally different than Southern Germany. So my opinion is definitely only related to the area I live in and not the rest of Germany. If you'd like to see more about our life in Germany, you can find more blog post here.
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