Top 5 German Quirks You Must Know When Living and Studying in Germany
1. DO NOT CROSS AT A RED LIGHT
Picture this: you’re in Berlin, its 4am and you are at a crossing, one side of the road goes into a closed off parking lot, there are no cars, the traffic light is red. Do you cross?
We all know that rules are important, but in Germany rules are IMPORTANT. There are few things worse than being yelled at by a complete stranger in Germany… in German. So if you’re still wondering whether to cross at a red light, the answer is a definite no.
Germans are well-known for following rules, even when it comes to Ruhezeit. If you’ve stayed in Germany for a while, you may have noticed that at certain times of the week, especially on Sundays, things are very quiet. Shops are closed, most people aren’t working and it feels like living in a ghost town. This is because of “Ruhezeit”, which means it’s illegal to make noise during times when peace and quite is needed, usually between 10pm and 6am, Monday to Saturday, as well as on Sundays and Public Holidays. This means that you cannot play music louder than “room volume” and you most definitely cannot vacuum the house or mow your lawn. You are legally obligated between those times to keep the noise down. Some states in Germany also have ‘Ruhezeit’ around noon.
On hot summer days in Germany, kids would sit outside at lunch waiting for the loudspeaker to announce temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius, as kids are allowed to go home two hours early if this occurs. The decision to give “Hitzefrei” is made by a central body and announced over the radio, so that parents are also informed. Many German parents do not agree with “Hitzefrei” as one parent would have to rush over and collect their child from school. In other countries, like Australia, the threshold is 40 degrees Celsius.
When moving into a new home in Germany, whether you are renting or buying, there will likely be no kitchen. There will be a room that could potentially be used as a kitchen with water and electricity connections, but it will be empty. In Germany you are expected to B.Y.O (Bring your own) kitchen when moving into a new home. This means cabinetry, sink, stove, oven and so on and they must all be supplied by you. On moving out of the home, you will also have to take the kitchen out unless you can convince the next renter/buyer to take over the kitchen. This is often because renters in Germany rent long term and landlords want as little responsibility for upkeep as possible.
Firstly, in Germany, many people love drinking sparkling water (Mineral Wasser). Still water is referred to as ‘silent’ water (Stilles Wasser).
When ordering water in a restaurant, no matter if its ‘silent’ or sparkling, it will cost you money. There is no such thing as free water in the German hospitality industry. Even asking for tap water could potentially come at a cost and is often rejected as an order.
Many newcomers to Germany are puzzled by some of these quirks, so don’t feel like you’re the only one feeling a bit confused.
Are there other unique German quirks which have stood out for you when living in Germany?
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