Five Things You Should Know About Germany – Before Moving There
Most People will speak English to a good degree – but don’t use that as an excuse to be lazy!
In Germany the vast majority of people are bilingual, with a solid command of English (in fact, some people may even be offended if you ask them whether they ‘Sprechen sie Englisch’).
But just because they’ve made the effort to learn your language doesn’t mean that you can get away without making any attempt at learning theirs!
If you try to at least learn the basics locals are likely to look on you more favourably, and the more of the language you learn the more a part of German culture you’ll become.
So remember, no matter how difficult learning a foreign language can seem (and German is a particularly difficult foreign language), a little time, effort and patience on your part will greatly enhance your overall experience abroad.
Germans do appreciate punctuality – but being early isn’t the same as being on time.
In Germany being punctual is an important attribute to have.
Whether in your business or social life you should really make the effort to be on time – being ‘fashionably late’ won’t endear you to your new countrymen. And really, leaving someone waiting when you’ve arranged to meet them is just bad manners!
That being said, don’t intentionally turn up to things more than a few minutes early (particularly events at peoples houses) as you may annoy or fluster your host!
Shops don’t open on Sunday’s – Or at least very few do.
If you’re used to going shopping whenever you feel like it, and are accustomed to a whole range of shops being open on a Sunday, it might take you a while to get used to the way things work in Germany.
In general, the nation considers Sunday a day for relaxing and not a day to shop-until-you drop. Consequently, a very limited amount of shops are open on the last day of the week.
Sunday opening used to be confined to just a few bakeries/convenience stores but since the beginning of 2013 local governments have been put in charge of deciding how many Sundays a year some shops are allowed to open. For example, in Berlin shops are now allowed to open 10 Sundays a year.
If you’re desperate to find a shop open on a Sunday your best bet is to go to your nearest railway station as stores around it are likely to be open.
Don’t litter – and don’t mix paper with plastic.
Germany takes recycling very seriously, and environmentalism is a major topic. In fact, Germany has been singled out as one of the best recyclers in Europe.
Consequently, seeing an array of coloured bins (usually green, blue, yellow, brown and grey) everywhere you go is pretty much guaranteed.
Although the system can vary between municipalities, the blue bin is usually for paper, the brown bin for biological waste (meaning fruit and veg peelings, food waste etc) and the grey bin for household waste.
It might take you a while to get your head round recycling but it’s essential that you do. Not only do you risk a fine for not doing your part, you also risk the censure of your neighbours!
Smoking might be banned in some public places, but it isn’t in others!
Although the smoking ban has been in effect in Germany for over five years, smoking isn’t quite as ‘banned’ as it is in other nations. Although it’s illegal to smoke in (most) public buildings or on public transport, the extent of the ban is decided on a state level.
Consequently, regulations can vary significantly across Germany.
For example, factors such as the size of the restaurant/bar etc, the age of its patrons and the style of food sold within it can all affect whether smoking is legal in the establishment or not.
There are also specially dedicated smoking bars in some areas of Germany.
So think twice before you try telling someone off for smoking in a public place, as it might well be legal. But if you’re a smoker do check what regulations are in place before you light up!