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The Wonderfully Weird Things About Germany

Updated: May 14, 2020

As an American navigating my way living in Germany, I have found out pretty quickly all the weird and wonderful things that come with this country. Or maybe specifically, this city.

Here is a random list….

-By law, shops are closed on Sunday

Make sure you have all your groceries, you won’t be getting anything on Sunday. It is a legal requirement for people to have off on Sunday to make sure they are given a day to relax and aren’t working a seven day work week. Supposedly, you aren’t allowed to mow the lawn or vacuum on Sunday either. Is this to make sure you aren’t making a lot of noise?

-Sunday’s are for cake and coffee

It’s customary to meet relatives or friends for coffee and cake on the quiet Sunday afternoon. This is known as “Kaffeezeit” Coffee Time. I’m not against this way of life and the love for cake the Germans have.

-You better have cash

I got my nails done and they weren’t able to take my card. The nail tech had to follow me downstairs in the mall to show me where the ATM was.

-You get money back for recycling

Make sure to save all of your cans and bottles. You turn them in at a machine. In return, you are given a receipt that then gives you money off when you checkout at the grocery store.

-They take their trash system very seriously

There is a can for trash and a can for paper. Then there’s a yellow bag that goes out on a different day that is for recycling. Make sure you don’t put any items in the incorrect can or bag, you will be fined.

-You don’t cross the street at a red pedestrian light even when there aren’t any cars coming

-People stare all the time

Still trying to figure out why. I think my forehead says “I’m an American.”

-They also won’t move out of the way walking towards you

-“How are you?” isn’t a question you ask in a greeting, either they don’t answer at all or they will tell you their whole story

I’m still trying to learn this. My normal greeting is “Hi! How are you?”

-The German language likes really long words

The longest word in the German language is made up of 80 letters. “Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft” This entire word means, “association of subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services.”

-There aren’t really queen size mattresses. Everyone has two mattresses pushed together

-Dogs are allowed in malls, restaurants and stores

-Grocery clerks sit and don’t bag your groceries

-You also have to bring your own bag or you buy a bag while you are there

-You have no time to bag your groceries and pay before the next persons groceries are already coming

-The buses will run you over

-Inside the bus you must hit the “stop” button for your specific stop or the bus will keep going and not stop at your stop

We didn’t learn this until after we passed our stop.

-You have to pay to use the bathroom in a public place

-You have to pay for water at a restaurant 

-Most of the time water is also same price as beer and soda 

-You don’t get free refills

I am still trying to learn how to pace myself drinking through my meal.

-No one likes ice in their drinks and it isn’t offered

At first I thought I was going to miss ice so much. But now I am used to it and I almost don’t want ice in my drink considering you pay for each glass.

-Going out to dinner is a serious outing and they will sit at the restaurant for hours on end

-Everyone dresses very nice, all the time

-It is frowned upon to wear leggings or sweatpants in public, unless you’re going to workout and that still almost isn’t expectable

-Everyone likes to show their ankles no matter how cold it is outside

I don’t fully understand this. Even with boots on people still show their ankles and I’m wearing two pairs of socks.

-White shoes are always acceptable

-Theres a holiday like every other week

Not a bad thing. Except if you don’t know it’s a holiday and you try to go to the store… everything is closed.

-All the ice cream shops close for the season when it gets cold

This is a tragedy and I’m really sad about it. I still like ice cream in the winter. Thankfully, inside the mall there are still gelato stands open.

-Water without carbonation is “water without gas”

But I am big fan of carbonated water. The gym even has it as an option.

-There is a juice called “Apfelschrole” which is apple juice mixed with sparkling water

-Spezie is the most popular soda. It’s coke mixed with orange

Try it! I don’t know if I will be able to drink normal coke again.

-Our favorite German dish is Spätzle – Swabian Egg Noodles with cheese

-The best thing ever is pizza bread, specifically from Back Factory

I could be wrong on some of these so I hope not to offend any Germans that read this. This is just what we have observed during our transitioning time here. Funny thing is, I am sure to the Germans think we are the weird ones. Thanks for accepting us and putting up with our American quirks!

“Tschüss” – bye


Caroline (an American just trying to live in Germany)



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