Reverse culture shock can be disconcerting, even scary. While driving in my hometown the other day, I had a flashback to my time in Germany when I noticed a few things that Americans do that contrast with normal practice in Germany and Europe. Some of them are funny, but more often they’re scary. Whether you agree with them or not, Americans and Germans (Europeans) tend to do things very differently. Not all of them have to do with driving, but I’ll start with that. Most of these ten items also apply to Austria and German-speaking Switzerland.
Today I’m continuing my list of expat likes (the good), dislikes (the bad) and major gripes (the ugly) – all related to living in Germany. In Part 1 I began with “the bad,” but my “good” list has turned out to be even longer! So long in fact, that I need to split my “good” list in two. You can read the second half of the list in my next installment.
To reiterate: Germany is no more monolithic than the USA. Conservative Munich is not really anything like free-wheeling Berlin. But I have tried to list things that generally apply, and note those things that may be more regional in nature. Everyone’s good and bad list will be unique, but there are many cultural things that all expats in Germany can relate to. And, as I pointed out in my first section, I could make a similar list for life in the US. In fact, this German list is also a commentary in reverse on life in the US.
If you want a more neutral comparison of US and German culture, see our six German Way cultural comparison charts, starting with Driving.
My list is not prioritized! Since my “good” list has now grown to over 20 items, it would be even more difficult to rank them. For that reason, items in the list are not numbered. Okay, here we go, this time with the good… Continue reading
A few years ago, a building contractor told me a story that scared me enough to change my habits:
“I worked with a young couple recently who fully remodeled an old house. They both worked full-time. Every morning, they both got up, took showers, got dressed and left for work, to return again late in the evening. Within three months, mold had taken over in multiple rooms of their house and they spent a fortune to have the problem fixed. Not once in those three months did they air out after taking a shower, and all the moisture just built up in there.”
After hearing this story, you can bet I open the windows and air out the bathroom after a shower! And for good air quality in your house, to prevent mold, and to increase heating efficiency in the winter, you should also air out (lüften) your home regularly. Continue reading