I am leaving Germany to travel to the UK today, so I thought I’d take this time to reflect on the small time I have had to spend in this fantastic country. In doing so I’d like to highlight the top 10 things in German culture that stand out for me as an Australian.
1. The little red man. You cannot cross the road unless the little man turns green. Yes we have this law in Australia too, but like most things, it’s seen as advisory – merely a suggestion. There can be no traffic to be seen for kilometres either side of you here, yet no German will cross that road until that little man turns green.
2. Smoking lounges. I feel like I’ve gone back in time to 1985 (yes I was alive then)! I guess it’s just another way of looking at the ‘hierarchy of control’ triangle. In Australia we have elimination. In Germany, they have isolation.
3. Bike riders do not wear helmets. No, there is no law that says you have to wear a helmet. I know this because Germans follow the rules, and if there was such a rule, everyone would be wearing one! On the plus side, no one has helmet hair. On the downside, referring back to the hierarchy of control, this falls off the scale into the realm of natural selection.
4. Germans are on time. I hate being late, and it annoys me when people are late. If you arrange to meet at 5pm, then they are there at 5pm…not 5:10pm, or 5:15pm, but EXACTLY on time. Love it.
5. The food is amazeballs. Maybe it’s my eastern European heritage, but the food is fantastic. Most of the time I have no idea what I am eating as I have randomly pointed to a dish that has landed on my plate, but it has been great every time.
6. Water is always fizzy. If you order water, then they always assume you mean sparkling water. Again – Love it.
7. You pay to use the restroom. This may sound like a drag, but to be honest, I would rather pay 50c to use a sparkling clean restroom equipped with toilet paper and hand soap, than be greeted by a filthy alternative. I avoid public restrooms like the plague with the kids in Australia. If you hear a random woman screaming, “don’t touch that!…stop sitting on the floor!…why do you need to lick everything?” then that is me caving to the need to use a public restroom in Sydney with my kids.
8. The streets are clean. There is no rubbish lying around, bins are not overflowing, and I have yet to smell any dodgy urine smell whilst walking around the 2 cities I have been to. That’s a big change from the City of Sydney.
9. The roads are fantastic. I have no idea how the tax system works in Germany, maybe the taxes are exorbitant, but the roads, footpaths, and general open areas are all pieces of perfection…again, a lot different to Sydney.
10. Last but not least would be to say that the general hospitality and friendliness of the people I have met here has been wonderful. Maybe I am just used to the general rush hour frantic mornings and afternoons of life, but people have been friendly and courteous, from strangers opening doors for me everywhere I go, to everyday people just being generally cheerful at a laundromat, people are just generally friendly.
It has been a true blessing to be able to come to Germany and spend some time here, even though it was short. Now my bags are packed for the next leg of the tour – onwards to the UK!