Things I learned in Germany

I spent altogether 2 years (less than 12 months each time, however) in Germany, first in Heidelberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg and then in Muenchen, Bayern. My German Professor from my uni in Canada just shared this on her Facebook today and it brought back memories of things I’d almost forgotten (it’s been over a year since I’ve left Germany 😦 ).

Adam Fletcher shared 2 posts of how one can become German or live the German life in 40 steps on Venture Village. I’ll be including my thoughts/comments/memories for each tip (I’ve omitted his explanations so you better go to his original post to read it!). ALL PHOTOS were provided by Fletcher on his website!

How to be German in 20 easy steps – Pt 1

#1 Put on your house shoes

house shoes

I remember I was freezing in Hamburg in March 2009. It was still winter and I’d just visited Poland and had bought these warm house shoes lined with lamb wool. Despite the fact, I wandered around my related-through-marriage relatives’ house with only my stockings on. My relatives kept insisting I wear my house shoes until, at one point, they brought it to me to put on!

Now, at home in Vancouver, I wear slippers around the house, partly because the floors are dirty and partly because they keep my toes warm. Perhaps it won’t be long before I’ll need to wear my Polish house shoes!

#2 Eat a long breakfast

This photo of a German breakfast is exactly what I saw every morning while visiting my relatives in Hamburg and in Dresden. Breakfast wasn’t a 10 min. eat-your-Muesli-and-go thing. I think it was nearly lunch time when we were done! I found longer hearty breakfasts to be better for my digestion and gave me more energy for the rest of the day.

Back home, I’m sad to say, sometimes I don’t have time to eat breakfast. :/ No wonder I’m always tired and lack energy.

#3 Planning, Preparation, Process


My calendar became all the more important to me in Germany. I was already organised but in Canada, we can also do spontaneous dates. Not so in Germany. It didn’t take long before I started marking up my calendar until EVERYTHING was practically full. People here can’t understand why I’m so busy but my days, weeks, and months are planned. It’s not my fault you are disorganised and hope to see me whenever it’s right for you.

As for preparation, etc., thankfully, I already had it in me. 🙂

#4 Get some insurances


Last year, while in Munich, I discovered the world of insurances. What a Kopfschmerzen it gave me! While in Heidelberg as an exchange student on scholarship, our insurances were taken care of. One is quite spoiled as a student I must say. Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared in Munich. I’d thought I had medical and liability insurances, as recommended by the Auslandsamt prior to leaving to Germany… only to discover to my horror in June 2011 that the Travel Agent hadn’t offered any of those insurances and instead gave me emergency insurance. ARGH!

Liability insurance is 150% super important! One baby scratch on a car here might not mean much, but over in Germany, it’s as if you blew up the car. Without insurance, you’re screwed. Germans LOVE their cars.

Always be insured!

#5 Dress seriously

Jack wolfskin

Hmm, coming from Canada, we’re used to layering up. Coming from Vancouver, I’m more or less dressed for chances of rain. So this wasn’t really a problem.

#6 Speak German


I learned German prior to moving to Germany, mostly because of my German heritage and my relatives in Germany. What’s important, however, is not just the basics. Learn the vocabs for certain emergency situations. Last year, because of my insurance crisis, I had to learn so many new words. (I’ve forgotten them all but I’m sure it’ll come back to me.)

#7 Get some more qualifications

chemistry cat

If Dr Scott is a female professor at uni, you are to call her Frau Dr. Scott in Germany. Don’t ever forget the Herr or Frau! Remember all his or her titles and include it when addressing them!

As for me, I couldn’t care less. I’m used to being looked down on.

#8 Obey the red man

red man

Do you want to know something ironic? While studying in Heidelberg, it was the Canadians who followed the rules! Red man = stop, green man = go. My friend and I were shocked to find so many German jaywalkers!

At the same time, some of our German friends told us that jaywalkers could be fined. Well, they never seemed to be fined and everyone seemed to jaywalk. I didn’t see so much of it in Munich but one thing was certain – I always followed the rules!

9. Drink Apfelsaftschorle

apple car

I MISS this beverage. I’d been thinking about it last week and I wish we had some in Canada. Fanta isn’t quite the same. 😦

#10 Eat German food


Picture from the awesome Wurstbilder

I’ve never had so much meat in my life! I think I completely sausaged out! In Heidelberg, I had more of a variety. In Munich, I had Jaegerschnitzel and Currywurst and Weisswurst ALL THE TIME. Almost to the point that I couldn’t look at German food anymore. Thank goodness for Turkish and Vietnamese cuisine for variety! Please note: I still like and miss the 3 above-mentioned dishes. Just not all the time!

How to be German in 20 easy steps – Pt 2

11. Eat Sauerkraut

I never liked Sauerkraut until my Oma‘s (Grandma) cousin made me Saechsischer Sauerkraut (Saxon sauerkraut). It’s DELICIOUS! I would have finished the entire pot if I could! I went to visit her sister in Dresden and ordered a dish with the same cooked Sauerkraut! When I couldn’t find anything similar elsewhere in Germany, I realised that it was probably a Saxon speciality. I do eat Sauerkraut but not as much – unless you know the Saxon secret!

12. Look for a job

Well, I was only an intern, which seemed to be pretty common for most youngsters. If I go back to work, I’m really not sure what I’d be doing!

13. Learn how to open a beer bottle with anything but a bottle opener

My way: give it to a guy to open it for you. Always works.

14. Say what you mean

I used to sugarcoat a lot, not only because that’s what I’d learned and what we do here, but because I unintentionally didn’t want to hurt people’s feelings. I felt that one could put things differently.

After 2 years in Germany, I’ve become more direct and there were a few times when people thought I was too rude. 😛

At the moment, I’ll still be honest but if I think someone will feel hurt, I opt for saying nothing. 😛

15. Feel mixed about Berlin

Berlin is quite an interesting city/capital. There are some parts I don’t care for and other parts I love. I’m amazed by how affordable it is for a capital! I’d like to live there someday, just to see if I like it.

16. Hate Bavaria

Every pantomime needs its villain. For Germany, the wicked witch is Bavaria. Firstly it had the misfortune to be based right down there in the corner, far enough away that we can all say mean things about it and it won’t hear, not central enough that it can claim real geographic importance. It then had the audacity to become the richest state, but not quietly and with humility, but in a gregarious, badly dressed, heavy drinking, God greeting, bumpkin sort of way. It’s also a source of wider German mirth since while only one part of this huge country, it’s responsible for 91% of all wider held German stereotypes and 100% of the annoying, inaccurate ones.

ROFL! Here’s my story.

1. I loved and love Bavaria. Probably in the same eccentric way King Ludwig II loves it. I found the people to be friendly and fun.

2. …NOT SO when I moved to Munich! When I visited for Oktoberfest and during the summer while on exchange, I thought it would be a great place to live in. Post-Oktoberfest 2010, I found [most of] the people extremely cold and arrogant and rude. The weather didn’t help. When I returned to Vancouver for the holidays, I hoped not to return because I HATED Munich. I looked forward to trips AWAY from Munich. It was only a few months before I had to leave that I started to like Munich. Maybe it’s because I finally had friends – international and Muenchners.

17. Speak freely about Sex

I visited Hamburg’s Red Light District with my non-related relatives. I was so surprised how open they were. I’m such a prude (thanks to British private primary school)!

18. Love your car.

I don’t care for cars. I’m rarely impressed but there are certainly some that catch my eye. As mentioned above, the Germans LOVE their cars. If you’re going to fall on a car, hurt yourself (fall on the ground), not the car!

19.  Do nothing on Sundays.

When I returned to Canada, I found Sundays here too noisy. Why are shops opened? It was WEIRD.

20. Watch Tatort

I’m not very German in this sense. I’d heard of it, maybe watched a few minutes of it, but had never watched an episode. I don’t really like detective/mystery/etc. shows but I promise, I’ll watch at least 1 episode of it someday.

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