In late August I will be flying to Germany for a year-long study abroad. I’m getting pretty excited–and pretty nervous. Nervous enough that I’m looking at culture-adjustment websites in an attempt to avoid most faux-pas. Here are some of the interesting/fun things I am discovering:
(Disclaimer: No offense meant to anyone with my list here; I just think these are interesting, not necessarily bad. Also, if I am incorrect in any of the items on this list, please let me know. I am learning most of these from german-way.com, which seems reliable from what I already know about Germany.)
- In Germany, drinking tap water is apparently considered weird, even though the tap water is perfectly potable. Instead, if they drink water, they generally drink carbonated water (Mineralwasser). I have been trying to learn over the past few weeks how to drink carbonated water without getting disgusted by the taste and have made some meager amount of progress, but that’s another post.
- In Germany (and probably other parts of the world, I guess?), Gmail is called Google Mail. So instead of email@example.com, your email would be firstname.lastname@example.org. But guess what? I just emailed my Gmail username @googlemail.com and it went to my Gmail inbox. So it appears that if you have a Gmail username, you can use that username with either @gmail.com or @GoogleMail.com.
- There are about three bagillion versions of Santa Claus in German-speaking countries, or so says http://german-way.com/christmas-nikolaus_2.html. I’m pretty sure I will get them all mixed up if I have to remember more than just Der Weihnachtsmann, but I’m sure Santa is nice enough to not mind too much. Most of the Weihnachtsmänner seem to be regional variations on the same Christmas-related symbolic person.
- This website (http://www.stil.de/) is apparently the German equivalent of Ms. Manners. I wish I had discovered this earlier, since now I’m not sure I have time to learn all of it, but better late than never, right?
- The electrical outlets in Germany not only have different-shaped prongs than in the USA–they often are recessed into the wall. (So I actually learned this the hard way while visiting some friends in Germany a few years ago. Tried to use a voltage adaptor that was way too wide to fit into the recessed outlet, so the prongs couldn’t reach the holes, even though they were the right shape. No electronics or people were harmed, thankfully.)
- Frankfurt’s airport lists flight regulations for the randomest items (http://www.frankfurt-airport.com/content/frankfurt_airport/en/checkin_luggage/hand_luggage/overview_of_items0.html). Some items of interest: Face Water and Pudding.
- This page (http://www.frankfurt-airport.com/content/frankfurt_airport/en/directions_parking/bicycles.html) links to a site that has a route planner if you want to bike to the Frankfurt airport and watch planes take off and land. Sounds fun to me. Now I just need to make sure I remember how to ride a bike…
- McDonald’s coffee options, called McCafé, appear to have a larger selection in Germany and may even be standalone shops in some cases (can anyone confirm this?). Yay coffee! (http://german-way.com/photos-berlin-germany-06.html) Also, Starbucks is apparently pretty common. Again, yay coffee!
- There is a castle near the university at which I will be studying. Castles are not uncommon in Germany. Both of those facts are awesome.
It’s hard for me to believe that I will be getting on a plane to Germany in less than two months. To stay for a year. I’m excited. 🙂