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Observations(lol) of an American in Germany - The art of Thornwolf — LiveJournal
Observations(lol) of an American in Germany
So folks have been asking me to write down some of my direct observations of things I've noticed in Germany. Please note though, just because these are my observations doesn't mean that this is a "rule" or anything. =)

-Its been noted in several articles of folks visiting to Germany that Germans tend to stare a lot and otherwise make extreme eyecontact with folks and don't have any qualms about it. In the states, eyecontact can be seen as threatening and in some cases a bad thing. Think: Baboons. You make eyecontact with someone on the subway for example, shits either gonna go down or its just downright awkward. Here, I'll be walking down the street and will meet the glance of several Germans who, I don't know if they can TELL I'm foreign or not
(kraut senses tingling?) but they stare into me like they think theyre invisible (not unlike vantid..lol love you ;D )but they mean nothing threatening by it. Theyre just generally interested and want to look I suppose. At first I thought "oh god do I have toilet paper hanging from my pants?" or "did I step between a mother and her cub child?" Nope. They just stare.

- I've been noticing that folks wear the ODDEST color tennis shoes/sneakers with their day wear. For example, someone will be dressed in completely neutral earth tones and will have shockingly red sneakers with red soles and red laces, or neon orange sneakers, or oddly shaped sneakers. It doesnt match at ALL! I don't know if this is a fashion statement or if theyre just comfortable and they didn't have a matching pair or what. I asked Silber and he said this tends to primarily be a Frankfurt thing. Confirm, Deny?
Here's such shoes I'm talking about:
Augh! The colors, Duke, the colors!

- It is physically impossible for these folks to make bad beer. I have had the official WORST Weizen in all of Germany bought from the cheapest store in town and it still didn't suck as much as American beers. For the record the brand name was Karlskrone and it comes in a plastic bottle *heeee!*

-They call most things that aren't side orders but toppings, including dip, "sauces". Guacamole, for example, is "that green sauce you make with avocadoes". Sorry guys, its a dip. This is more than likely a language barrier thing, but I loved watching Solitary Weasel and Silber nom up my guacamole like it was going out of style.

-Ice cream is not as sweet here. I mentioned this in my EF con report but the ice cream here tends to taste much closer to its supposed flavor minus so many sweeteners. Needless to say, the coffee ice cream here is zomg AWESOME!

-The toilets aren't a still pool of water like they are in the states. In fact theyre very deep and have very little water in them. Some models also have a shelf where your um...pee...kind of pools in it before a gush of water pushes it to the lower portion where it goes out of the pipe. This was hard for me to get used to right off the bat, but I think I've been here so long I've forgotten what its like to hear the "tinkle tinkle sploosh" as you would with an american toilet XD Ok that was bad...now for something not so TMI

-The clerks here in the grocery store don't have to be nice to you. In fact, they don't even have to stand up while checking your items. They get to sit in chairs. AND!!!! They don't have to bag your groceries for you! You have to do it yourself...oh...and purchase your own bags cuz nothing here is free. Man, this makes being a "courtesy clerk" seem like such a glamorous job =)

-To elaborate on the "nothing is for free" thing, it really isn't. You go to a restaurant and order water, you're paying for that water. There's no sense being a cheap date here, you're better off ordering a beer or a soda or something. Oh and forget about munching on the free bread, you have to pay for that too. Order an appetizer, you look hungry ;P

-When you make the mistake of attempting to be a cheap date and ask for water, it will come to you carbonated and without ice. In fact, nothing comes with ice unless its requested. I prefer things without ice anyways as its still cold, just less watered down. But yeah the carbonated water thing being the norm? I'm in heaven :D (I hate water, and carbonation distracts me enough to forget that it is,in fact, water)

-But while we're on the subject of staying cheap, if you want something with a bit more flavor to it, order a beer. You get MUCH much more for your buck, much more than a cola (which are actually very small here, about half the size of what you'd get in a standard restaurant, but of course, without ice)

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-Cola here has actual sugar in it, not corn syrup. If you are American and are accustomed to the corn syrup you very well may describe German cola as "gritty". You can almost feel the sugar adhering to your teeth. Needless to say I tend to stick to beer and juice here D:

-Also, interesting fact, Hitler had an answer to CocaCola back in the 30's/40's. It was called Afri-Cola, named for the Afrika Corps, and is still in production. Please note the logo =)
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Its comparable...but also "gritty". I hate Coke anyways though.

So there you have it. There's lots more I'm leaving out but I gotta let Silber use the computer for a change ;D
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From: duke_otterland Date: August 30th, 2006 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Where all did you visit in Germany?
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: August 30th, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I'm still here.

Im leaving in October.

I'm staying in a small town outside of Frankfurt but I've been visiting lots of other places too.
ljtaylor From: ljtaylor Date: August 30th, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
It seems to be a general European thing to charge for tap water; in the UK we don't, although I think the restuarant where I work would like to charge for it, especially in the summer when we get tables asking for multiple jugs of it. We waitresses are trained to try and flog sparkling or still water that you pay for, in that case, but many customers are way ahead of the mark. :DD

what kind of cola did you drink? Standard Coke/Pepsi, or some other brand? Sometimes you can buy European imports from a cheap supermarket here which leave a pleasant scum on your teeth, mm.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: August 30th, 2006 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually I tried CocaCola and Pepsi both here and ew..gritty. I looked at the ingredients and it was in fact sugar not corn syrup. Im not a fan of corn syrup in general, but when i can feel the sugar on my teeth when drinking soda i miss it.

I also tried the Afri Cola and other cola variants. Hrm..no better. I've been sticking to Apfelschorle (carbonated apple juice) most of the time. Its natural and relatively healthy, plus i get the carbonation I crave.
altonwings From: altonwings Date: August 30th, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I should open a store/restaurant called the .5 and dime, and then nickel and dime people so they can enjoy that authentic European feeling.
From: lmai Date: August 30th, 2006 04:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
lol I love going back home to scottland to see these changes. From the sounds of it Scottland is very much like germany, except without the gritty pops. I noticed the pop, though more carbonated than in canada, is pretty much the same just served in different bottles.

And BEER!! OMG I have yet to try german beer, but man nothing beats a pint of scottish stout! Must try german beer!!!!
lupusetgruis From: lupusetgruis Date: August 30th, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
In Spain (at least the bigger grocery stores we went to) they don't bag your stuff either and sit in their little chairs. Which meant that all the Spainards were really good at packing their own stuff and my dad and I had to struggle to shove everything in the bag quickly before we got in anyone's way. :P

Do you have to tip there? In Spain, it's not "required" like it is un the US ... and if you do tip, you're only supposed to do 5% or something cheap.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: August 30th, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Its not required here either but then again its not required in the US either. The only time its required is if they include "gratuity" in your check. But its less likely theyll give you death stares like in the US if you don't tip here, but its polite anyways.

As for bagging your own groceries, god...2 or three customers pass me before I finish packing mine up, i feel like such a geek!
dustmeat From: dustmeat Date: August 30th, 2006 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Water w/o ice? Ice cream not as sickeningly sweet? Cashiers not being fake? Sign me up! Oh wait...forget it. The toilets.
hughe From: hughe Date: August 30th, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
The toilets aren't a still pool of water like they are in the states. In fact theyre very deep and have very little water in them.

think no splash-back... and it all makers sense :P
growing_rose From: growing_rose Date: August 30th, 2006 04:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. The grocery thing might actually be something my mother could live with. She always puts her groceries on the belt in such an order that they can be easily bagged together, so she'd be set anyway.

And the toilets are always the weirdest things to get used to in other countries, I think. Oo We asked our tour guide in Greece if you were supposed to put the paper in the toilet 'cause we kept finding places that said no. And then the toilets flush differently so they reserve water.

In England, it seemed to be common practice for the toilet to have it's own room though. At least, it did with the two friends I went to visit.
emlan From: emlan Date: August 30th, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
You bag your own groceries here in swedenland too + 50 öre for bag!
With the cashiers sitting down behind their desk. I have always been really dumbfounded over how people had the staff do it for them on other places.

Sweden has A+ toilets though.
steppinrazor From: steppinrazor Date: August 30th, 2006 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Toilets are fun!

Oh man, they have those toilets in Germany too? I met with those first in Amsterdam, then in Moscow during my visit, and oooh man I never thought I'd miss US toilets, of all things. It was just hard to get used to XD I kept looking at it and thinking "wtf SHELF?!"

Though, that in no way compares to my monastic experience, where my stomach started grumbling angrily at me, I was about an hour and a half from home... so I waited in the long, muddy line to the toilet, with many other grouchy looking Russian women, and the toilet looked to be an old stable of some sort. When I got in there, I discovered some sort of... uh... well. With muddy footprints all over a ridged, wide edge. And there was no toilet paper. Even if I figured out how to use the bloody thing, there was no toilet paper... Fortunately, any sort of pottying I needed to do was immediately ceased as my brain twitched and "wtf'd".

I figured it out on the train ride home, I was supposed to stand on the darn thing. :o
aurorawolf From: aurorawolf Date: August 30th, 2006 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for this post! Very interesting stuff. Makes me want to visit.
livelaughlovep From: livelaughlovep Date: August 30th, 2006 07:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Personally I like sugar in drinks a lot more than nasty corn syrup, so I'd probably be in heaven. And smaller portions of it seems an improvement. ITs fascinating how different things can be, you grow up and live somewhere for so long, it becomes normal. THen you visit other places, and its like... culture shock. I'd love to travel abroad one day. I"m happy your enjoying it over there :P
spirit_of_kina From: spirit_of_kina Date: August 30th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I will admit.. That was a fun lesson on Germany! *hugs*
From: astolpho Date: August 31st, 2006 01:09 am (UTC) (Link)
When I was in England I noticed the bright bright orange sneakers phenomenon there, too.

Good customer service is very much an American invention, the idea that you could sell more stuff and get more return visitors by being pleasant and friendly and encouraging a 'just like family' atmosphere originated in our department stores. 'Course now it's just going nuts with sales reps trained to hassle the shit out of you at Best Buy but I guess that's the natural evolution of that particular concept. Convenience and luxury like ice cubes in your drink are another part of that. In England I always had to ask for ice.

Also, I'm a Californian born and bred and I call it guacamole sauce. Well, most of the time I call it guacamole, but I still think of it as gaucamole sauce, not guacamole dip.
carlhh From: carlhh Date: August 31st, 2006 01:39 am (UTC) (Link)
At least the toilets flush. If you ever hit southeast asia, you're gonna really dig "squatter" toilets! (Is half-Vietnamese.)
droolingfanboy From: droolingfanboy Date: August 31st, 2006 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I would be willing to over look all of the other stuff you mentioned because of the BEEEEERRRR!!!! I've never been to Europe but a friend who was there with the army raved about the beer. And the wiener scnitzel.
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