This whole moving half way around the world thing is starting to get crazy (not to mention fill up our schedule)! This weekend we had German Culture training on Friday and Saturday evening and a German (language) lesson on Saturday morning. Needless to say, I think we are now fully cultured and ready for out debut into German society. Now we just need to figure out the whole language thing so that we don't make bumbling idiots of ourselves, although we probably still will. Some things we found interesting about the German culture:
- Forget it if you're a vegetarian. They eat meat. A lot of it. Mostly schwein (pork). And they have eleventy billion ways to prepare it. Same goes for potatoes.
- They think Americans are polite and independent. The former surprised me, the latter was more of a "doh" moment. I mean, independence isn't one of our founding principals or anything.
- There are two things that a German will never give away, and the order is important: their car and their wife.
- They are constantly shaking hands. Meeting someone for the first time? Shake hands. Saying goodbye to someone? Shake hands. Passing a random stranger no the street? Shake hands. Just kidding on that last one. No one would ever get anywhere if that happened.
- They are direct and blunt. You would be looked at funny if you asked someone, "I would like you to repeat that please." That's far too polite, not to mention far too long. German's just say, "repeat that," effectively taking the 8 word English sentence and reducing it to 2 words. They might add a "bitte" in there if they are feeling particularly chatty, but most likely not.
- Efficiency in everything - even speech - is highly valued. There is a reason that the German trains are known for being on time. If you waste their time, they will be very displeased, and they will let you know it.
- A job application begins with a personal biography - name, age, marital status, whether or now you have kids, even a picture of yourself - and THEN you get into the meat of your resume, you know, your experience and educational background. In an interview they can even ask you questions that most American would balk at (religious affiliation, whether or not you have kids), which leads me to another interesting point,
- They have THREE years of nearly-fully paid paternity leave. And the husband and wife can split this up between the two of them as they see fit. Now I understand (not necessarily agree) with the reason they ask applicants if they are planning on having children at all.
- Germany is approximately the size of Montana and has over 8 MILLION people living there. Talk about crowded.
- When you toast with someone, make sure you look them in the eye as a sign of good luck. It doesn't matter if your beer gets spilled in the process.
I'm sure there are lots more interesting facts about German culture. If you have any, put 'em in the comments!
EDIT: Number 9 states the population is 8 million. It is in fact 80 million - even more crowded. I apologize for the typo.