Monday, 3 April 2017

Mistakes Not To Make In Germany

Before I moved to Germany last September I probably spent about an hour a day if not more, researching Nuremberg, Germany, German customs and pretty much everything you can imagine. I thought this post might be quite helpful for anyone who is going on their year abroad soon, planning to move to the country or just generally a bit curious. Some tips are definitely more practical than others...

Recycling: Keep your empty plastic bottles! I think I have mentioned this before, but Germany works on a Pfand system, where you pay a deposit for your cans/plastic bottles when you buy them and you will get normally 25 cents back when you bring them back to a Pfand station. These stations are everywhere, in most supermarkets and even in some cafes and I have seen quite a few in lots of the train stations. It might seem like a bit of a faff, but the Pfand deposit is on everything from a bottle of water to a can of coke, so if you don't do it you will definitely find yourself paying an incredible amount for just a little bottle of juice.

Train Tickets: Probably the most confusing thing I found when I came to Germany was the train system. Deutsche Bahn is the main railway company in the country, although some regions have a regional service. You must buy your ticket before you get on the train. The ticket collectors will not sell you a ticket, and if you are checked on board and don't have a ticket you can get fined upwards of 60 euros. I think it is always at least double of what you paid for the ticket! This counts for almost all transport, the Ubahn, the Sbahn and even most busses. Not only that, when you buy a ticket, unless you specified a date and time at the machine you will have to validate your ticket before getting on. All platforms or stations will have a little coloured box to validate it, simply stick your ticket in and it will stamp it with the current date and time. An unvalidated ticket is the same as not having a ticket at all so do not forget!

Sundays: Ahh the German Sunday... Do not expect shops and supermarkets to be open on Sundays and make sure you do all your food shopping the night before! Sundays are for relaxing, spending time outdoors or for catching up on sleep! Some cafes in larger cities will be open but not all!

Clothing: A stereotype of Germany is that they are very practical, and while this definitely does not apply for Deutsche Bahn and their expected train arrival times, it does apply to their choice of clothing. Most of the teachers in my schools just wear jeans and a t-shirt, and this sort of applies to everyone. Even on a night out, you will mostly find jeans and jumper clad Germans so be prepared for a few stares if you decide you want to dress up and wear a skirt or dress. Don't even think about heels! Talking of a German night out, a few months ago I wrote a post about a typical night out in Germany for an English Language Assistant and it's my most read post ever! You can read it here!

Language: Now, as tricky as the German grammar is sometimes, it is actually an interesting and at times hilarious language. From calling gloves "hand shoes" to essentially putting a "the" before everyone's names, there are lots of quirks to the language that is definitely not as aggressive or harsh as the memes would make out. Although there are not many Brits who speak German, almost all German's speak at least a little English. However if you are in the countryside and out of the city I have found that not everyone is willing to speak English with you. Dialects are most definitely a think here, and people are proud of them. So even if you have been learning German and think you are pretty prepared, don't be disheartened when you didn't understand that when someone says "Servus" to you they are not treating you like a waiter, they are in fact saying hello in a friendly way in Bavarian dialect.

Pharmacys: Now this is a bit of a strange one and I am not 100% I have my head round everything either, but don't expect to find a one stop shop where you can buy your lunchtime meal deal, new mascara, paracetamol and deodorant all in one here! Unlike the UK where Boots or the local Tesco will sell you all the toiletries and counter medicine you could need, Germany does things a little different. You can only buy medicine like paracetamol in the "Apotheke", and even then most of the remedies you will find will be herbal. For anything much stronger you will need to find yourself a doctor. Then for makeup and shampoos etc, you will need to head to somewhere like Müller, DM, or Rossman. I am yet to find makeup in supermarkets, although they do sometimes have a small selection of shampoos and shower gels.

Taxis: I may have just had a few bad experiences, but I would not say that the level of service in taxis is anything like in the UK. There are taxi ranks like normal, but I have also just been shouted at out windows to see if I need a taxi. Quite a few times I have had taxi drivers who don't even speak that much German and have had a lot of bother trying to explain where I lived when the taxi driver is driving in the opposite direction. I try not to take taxis alone now and although this might just be me having bad experiences in a big city, it is worth thinking about how you would explain where you live before you get in the taxi to avoid any confusion and paying an extortionate fee.

However I think perhaps the biggest mistake you could make, is expecting the country to be anything other than interesting and beautiful. With both new and built up cities like Frankfurt and old and history rich smaller cities like Bamberg you will never be short of places to explore. No matter what time of year, there always seems to be something, from beer festivals to Christmas markets, I am not often short of things to do at the weekend. I have not ruled out moving back to Germany after I graduate, and the thought of leaving in, now less than two months, gives me a horrible sinking feeling in my stomach. But I still have two months and I am determined to make the most of it! I took this shot at the weekend when the weather was so beautiful and I just love it!




  1. I've only ever been to Berlin and some of the smaller towns by the Swiss border but I'd love to explore Germany more! xx

    1. I would definitely recommend it! :D Thanks for reading xx

  2. How interesting they don't permit ticket sales on trains and only beforehand - I had no idea! And I can imagine the benefits of teachers wearing jeans and t-shirts at schools; they'd seem far more approachable for students :) Very interesting post!

    1. It took me a while to get my head around too! Luckily I have never forgotten to buy one before yet! Really glad you liked it xx

  3. Thanks for the advice... I am hopefully going to visit Germany this summer! :) x

    1. That's so exciting! I hope you have a great time! xx


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