1. Instead of clapping after a research presentation, Germans knock on the table. Apparently there might be a linguistic link as this might also be common in Austria and Switzerland.
2. Bring a birthday cake on your birthday and3. Throw your own retirement party. In the US it is more likely that this will be organized for you and actually paid for by your employers.
4. Wurst-Salad (yum! er, yuck!). (Wurst is sausage, though it applies more widely than the term is used in English.) OK, so we have tuna salad and chicken salad...but it seems a line should be drawn somewhere for what is referred to as "salad." What looks like chopped up bologna is where I draw the line in calling something a "salad".5. Smoking like crazy everywhere, particularly under "no smoking" signs in the University.
6. Kid-accessible cigarette vending machines on the sidewalks.
7. Three years of Kindergarten. Why doesn't the US steal this great idea? We already copied their research universities, might as well go for real Kindergartens, too.
8. Accessories required for Kindergarten: "gummis" (rain boots), rain pants, toothbrushes, etc. Kids really learn to be self-sufficient and prepared, and to have good oral hygiene.
9. Bathroom sinks in hallways--they look out of place, but are very convenient to have near the office.
10. Bags in grocery stores are not free. This would seem like a seismic shift in the US, but it needs to happen.
11. Weird cheapo grocery stores. I have to admit stores like Aldi and Lidl scared me at first: poor lighting, often no shelves, strange generic brands... But now I have found the good deals that pop up there periodically (Mexican week! American week! Italian week!), and I am a bit fond of them. I do miss nice grocery stores sometimes, but a short trip to Belgium takes care of that.
12. Bubbly water as default (which I like, too).
13. Cold cut sandwiches good for all 3 meals a day. Strange that Subway can be open for breakfast without changing its menu--it sells the same thing as bakeries, so why not?
14. Apartments are rented without a 1) Kitchen 2) lights 3) floors 4) sinks 5) mirrors.--plus you paint when you leave and pay for all non-rent costs additionally (eg, building maintenance). I don't really understand how this system evolved to really punish renters who have to invest a great deal in a temporary place!
15. No credit cards anywhere--well many places, but not at places you would expect like Ikea or an electronics store where the items for sale cost quite a bit. Funny with the MC support of the world cup "if you bring your Visa, American Ex, well or even your MC, you can't use it"! It does probably reduce the incidence of consumer debt, which is out of control in the US.
16. They write phone numbers with a different grouping mechanism here. Usually it is something like this: 126.96.36.199. Even stranger for an American here, local numbers are not required to have 7 digits, so if a phone number doesn't work you don't know if it is because you are missing a number or not, as there might only be 6 digits.
17. The verb is at the end of the sentence--do Germans have superior semantic working memory than English-speakers to hold all of the info in mind until the crucial verb is spoken at the end?
18. Germans keep both hands visible at the table when eating, it is rude to have one hand under the table (what are you doing with it???).
19. No over-the-counter drugs; cough syrup for kids is seen as child abuse by the pharmacist (though the doctor will prescribe it, no problem).This will have to be continued in a future post, of course...