I realised the other day, after celebrating 5 years in Germany, there is a whole bunch of things that I still don’t understand about this country. I have heard various reasons, I just don’t see why some things still persist. And I’m not even talking about paperwork, processes, endless contract fine-print or the list behaviour rules you get when you move into a new house…
Here are my top 11. Feel free to add your own!
- White asparagus
Seriously, why? Just why?
- Subway escalators
I’ll start with an easy one. At first look, it seems smart that escalators in the subway can change direction if you stand in front of the sensor when no one is coming the opposite way. But after seeing many perfectly capable people wait at the top of an elevator to change the direction while some one who actually needed it is then stuck for 5 minutes at the bottom… Just put in two escalators in the first place!
- Serving tea
One rule for Brits in Germany: Make your own tea. With imported teabags. In your own mug. Otherwise just order a coffee! They know how to make coffee here. Otherwise you will end up with a glass full of rapidly cooling boiled water, the almost- caffeineless tea bag sitting hopelessly beside it on the saucer, and milk a distant after-thought.
- Apfelwein Spritz
If you want to drink cider just buy cider! Apple wine is already weak in flavour and alcohol, so when you want it to be fizzy, adding 50% sparkling water is not going to improve the situation… barely becomes fizzy but suddenly becomes a lot less tasty.
- Indicating on roundabouts
Germans don’t get it when I moan about this. Its been years since I left the UK but I can’t help thinking the UK system makes more sense when trying to predict what someone is doing on the round about. Germans only signal right to leave. Otherwise you have no idea what they are about to do. (And that’s if they even bother to signal…)
What can I say? Some countries just love it. Seems insanely unbalanced to have a player leaping into the scoring area to have a pointblank throw at the keeper… Try from a longer distance, maybe make the goal bigger, and maybe only let the keeper use their hands. Sounds a lot more interesting… oh wait….
- Endless study
Ever met a 30 year German student? Exactly. Happens a lot. And sometimes they are still doing their Bachelor degree… What’s wrong with everyone sticking to doing a 3 or 4 year degree and then actually finishing on time? I swear part of the problem is that they count in semesters and no one really knows when they should finish. “What semester are you in?” – “12th, but I only have my thesis left now…”
- Resistance to cards
Welcome to the 21st Century, Germany. Yes, pretty much any other country in Europe, actually the developed or developing world, would allow you to go for an evening out without taking cash. Not Germany. Even the Swiss have finally clued up on this one. There are still enough bars, restaurants and taxis around that accept only cash to make it risky going cashless for the evening.
- Codenames on FB
Ok, I kind of know the answer to this already given the German nationality comes with a built in allergy to sharing private data online. But it still seems daft. If you think that people won’t figure out who ‘Mar Kus’ is given shared connections and the like….! And your public name is probably the last thing facebook needs to sell your data to advertisers.
- Breakfast at work
I can guarantee I get some stick at the office for including this one, and maybe it isn’t just Germany, but I only really saw it since coming here. A quick croissant and coffee, ok, but keeping cereals and more at work…? Seriously? Just come in half an hour later and eat breakfast at home!
- German CVs & job applications
For a country that prides itself on being moderate, liberal and valuing equal rights, the job application process is just plain crazy. There is absolutely no law requiring this but when applying for a job you are expected to include on your application a photo, date of birth and expected salary, and just for good measure, many applicants still throw in their marital status and number of kids. I get that it is nice for managers to know these facts but it absolutely fosters discrimination against age, gender and ethnic background, as well as putting applicants at risk of being underpaid by unscrupulous hiring managers.