[Disclaimer: I have lived in Germany, Munich specifically, for a total combined time of 2.5 years. I am not German, nor do I claim to be. Munich does not represent all of Germany.]
After living for a bit in the land of pretzels and sausage, I have compiled a list of the negative experiences you will face when moving here. I also have a post on the positives, so don’t leave here with a bad taste in your mouth. Germany is wonderful and worth experiencing for yourself.
Na dann, los geht’s!
1. Toilets are not free and you will be yelled at at least once.
When you go to a restroom in Germany, expect t pay anywhere from 20 cents to one euro. even of there is not a machine at the front, there will usually be some attendant waiting with a tray to take some money. this is everywhere. after a certain amount of time here, you will learn to hold your pee or you will have a detailed map in your head of all the places you can relieve yourself without charge (sneaking into Starbucks, getting past the attendant at McDs, trees and bushes).
My advice? Keep some coins jingle-jangling in your pocket for when you really need it. The food here is upsetting to the stomach sometimes (see below) and you will probably almost crap yourself on a train a few times before this settles. This come from VERY personal experience.
2. Dogs are not free to be pet, owners will yell at you and dogs will scoff.
If you are from the States, then you know the joy of a dog walking up to you at restaurant and you being able to (ask quickly) before jumping all over that dog and giving it all of your love.
well, prepare yourself. This is frowned upon in Deutschland. I remember my first week in Germany as an au pair and I was walking in the English Garden and a man walked by with the stoutest, mean-faced but in a cute way) English Bulldog that I had every seen. I quickly muttered something in german about petting his dog, “darf ich bitte? dein Hund? “*makes petting motion* I reach for the dog, the dog looks at me in confusion, and the man harshly shouts (more like loudly, sternly says..in German)
“If you want to pet a dog, get a dog yourself!”
I was 21. New in the country. Just remembering my Uni German. Missing home. Missing animals. and now I was crying in the park.
Granted, I understand his point. That isn’t my dog, he put all the work and care into it and I’m just over here trying to touch, basically, a family member.
Now, I have met a few very nice Germans that let me and all the kids I taught pet their dogs with pleasure. Those times are just few and far between and I still harbor a little bit of trauma from the man 4 years ago.
3. Exact change is celebrated and large bills are shunned (credit cards are also shunned).
It is not uncommon for people to dig around in their bags for change down to the last penny. Cash is king in Germany, so you must have a change purse to contain the ASTOUNDING amount of coins that you will accrue. I have cleaned out my bag of coins multiple time to end up with a bag that feels five pounds lighter. Try to pay for a 5 euro load of bread with a 20? Judged. Want to pay for a 2 euro candy bar with a card? Judged.
I have never been yelled at about it, though, so I’ll give them that. I just get the usual eye roll and heavy-handed sigh.
My advice, carry around some fivers and calculate how much to pay while you are shopping. paying in exact change is pretty damn satisfying if I’m being honest.
4. Lederhosen and dirndls are sadly not year round.
Oktoberfest is just around the corner and with that comes the traditional German garb:
Also known separately as Lederhosen (for the Männer) and Dirndls (for the Mädels). It has come to my attention over the years that some people, mainly americans in my case, think that germans normally walk around in this way. Normally, germans dress in chic, clean, sometimes a lot of black outfits OR complete head-to-toe hiking gear from North Face. There is generally no in between.
That being said, I did see some men going to a Bayern game today in lederhosen and jerseys. So, honestly, you never know what you are gong to get here, but normally that custom is saved for special events: wedding, baptisms, bayerisch celebrations and communion.
(I have this as a negative, because I love Tracht and wish it was all the time. I LOVE the way men look in lederhosen; it takes everyone from a 6 to a 9 easy and I think Dirndls are super flattering and comfortable to wear. Honestly, just send me to the Alps and let me live on a farm. Pleeeeease.)
5. The food will leave you bloated, full and feeling heavy as sin
Potatoes. Salami. Sausage. Cheese. Meat. Cheese. Potatoes. This is what makes up the general german diet. I actually ate veggies in the States, so I was not prepared for the overload of meat and cheese that I would get in Germany. I have finally learned how to eat here without feeling like a balloon, but it took over a year to develop that skill. The food here is made for beer drinking. It keeps you sober for sure, but you end up leaving restaurants looking like a plump Opa and not being able to look at food for hours.
6. Germans can be a little…intense.
Germans are not really known for their nice, welcome behavior. In general, at least here in Munich, there is a tense judging nature about the average person. There is a community correcting mentality here that really drives me crazy and fuels me with a very strong feeling of anxiety. Don’t worry about not knowing the rules here, someone will definitely let you know where you fucked up.
7. Don’t try to be funny, you’ll just get your feelings hurt
I think that I am a funny person. I have tried jokes on probably 50 Germans; none have landed. I have only gotten a laugh when I fuck up. Don’t try your native humor here, it ill just hurt everyone involved.
8. It doesn’t matter how much german you speak, if you are a native english speaker, you will be speaking english (and judged for it)
I studied German for 5 years, one year in high school and 4 years in Uni. Ask me how much German I speak here, please. How much? Almost none. Sure, I can understand trains and can fix issues if I run into trouble at the KVR (visa office), but when I hang out with Germans or meet them for the first time, I try to speak German and the same thing happens every time. I speak German, mess up a word and the other person immediately switches to English. After the switch, it doesn’t mater how much I try to speak German again, the will not switch back. This happens at restaurants, museums, ice-cream stands, with friends of friends, and at work. This is the most common complaint I hear from expats. Everyone tried so hard to take German classes and practice in public, but they keep getting knocked down as soon as they try.
If you start with English and then you say that you understand German, you will get the German sigh and side-eye and be..dunn, dunnnn, duuuuunnnnnn, judged!
My GP just started doing this to me in the last 2 months. I have gone there for over a year and only spoken German and now all of a sudden everyone switched to English and wont go back. I am continually surprised by this magical land.
9. Oktoberfest is a shitshow
You have to go at least once. You must! But, that being said, Oktoberfest kind of feels like the bane of every Münchners (over 30) existence. The trains are full day and night, there are drunks everywhere, Munich is overrun with foreign visitors that don’t follow the german customs and don’t respect the city, and hotel prices are astounding.
You will have fun. You wont remember any of it. It will be worth it to go one year, but after that, it is just a huge party that goes on and on and on.
(Also, side-note, Oktoberfest is held mostly in September. This year (2018) the fest starts Sept. 22nd and ends Oct. 7th. I hear it is mostly Americans who make the mistake of coming middle October and then they miss the whole thing. Pass Auf!)
10. Water is not free.
This is my least favorite thing about Germany (really Europe in general). I went to a restaurant a few days ago and ordered two glasses of water and the total came out to be 7.89 eu. My friend ordered 2 beers and it was 7.80 eu. WHY?? I just want to be hydrated and not drink alcohol all day, but Germany forces my hand. Now, I carry water everywhere I go and just buy beer. I’m assuming this is what has contributed to my beer belly (along with the pretzels and potatoes).
Those are the 10 negative things that you can expect if you are planning on moving to Germany. Dont fret! The 10 positives are coming soon! Germany is an amazing place so, I wouldnt let these negatives worry you. The good far out-weighs the bad 🙂