9 Things You Notice When You Come to Germany

Disclaimer: I have only been to Indonesia, United States, Mexico, and Netherlands (well, only Groningen). So, the things that I find interesting/ different, might not be the same with what you think. Also, I’m trying to make the illustrations on this blog post, so I will appreciate any feedback. Thanks!

So, I have been in Germany for about 16 days, and whenever I go out, or travel somewhere, I notice several things that I find ‘so German’. Here is the short list of what makes Germany, Germany, from my point of view.

The first one is bicycle!

Bicycle, bicycle, everywhere. No wonder everyone chooses to use public transportation, bicycle, or walking, because the pedestrian walkway and the bike lane is wide, and comparable to the main street part. They do not only have the traffic lights for pedestrians or cars, but also for the bikers. In addition, the government is really supportive in providing enough bike parking lot, or special bike place in a train for commuting. In some cities, the tourists can also go biking, because they provide bicycle rent (just like Hubway in Boston), without anyone attending it. So, you can just go to a bicycle parking machine, put on some coins, unlock one of the bicycles, stroll around the town using it, and park it back to the other parking machine.

Windmill is the second one.

You can easily spot the windmill when you go on highways, or travelling by train. Germany is one of the countries that do care on converting to renewable energy sources. It is really interesting to see different types of windmill on your way to another town, since they all vary in size, types, and blades.

Still on the same topic of energy: Solar PV is the third one.

Germans are really smart. Although the price of windmill or solar generator are really high, they do subsidize them. In addition, for household solar PV (as you can see above), they have feed-in tariff policy. Basically, when you have excess of electricity from solar PV on your rooftop, you can sell it back to the grid with much higher prices. This is, of course, is a good incentive for people to install solar PV on their rooftop. They will spend less money on buying electricity when their demand is higher than what solar PV can provide, and they get to sell their electricity when their demand is lower than what solar PV can provide. Amazing. Even in the most remote areas, you can still see that several houses have solar PV installed!

‘Beer is so German’, that is why it’s the fourth one!

If it’s a nice day outside, and you walk by the river, you can easily see people drinking beer. While in some countries you cannot drink alcohol until the night comes, alcohol is a part of German culture and daily life. No surprise, when you get invited to a graduation ceremony in the morning, and there are bottles of champagne. Beer is even more special, because there are special beers which are made in specific regions, and become a part of ‘region pride’.

What is really interesting, though, how people drink responsibly (compared to American college students, at least) in Germany. The drinking age in United States is 21, yet you can easily see drunk people on the street at weekend nights. Is it because United States allowing it in older age, thus, people become more tempted to do it, which makes them less likely to drink responsibly? Who knows.

Good transportation system deserves to be the fifth one.

The first time I came to Germany, I was surprised by how good its transportation systems. All the trains look clean and modern, there is clear direction for the tourist in the station, and most of the time, they come on time (the latest the train could come is ~5 minutes for regional train within the city, or ~10 minutes for inter-city train, which don’t happen very often).

Even the land of freedom, United States, cannot beat their trains, subways, trams, and buses. At least in Boston, the subway station sometimes looks sketchy, dirty, and the trams screech loudly. German subways, trains, and trams, on the other hand, move smoothly, and have minimum level of noise.

Murals in Germany are really unexpected to me. So, the sixth one.

Murals, or graffiti is surprisingly common in Germany. On train outer body, on empty houses, on empty walls, you can easily spot on when you are here (especially when you are on the train). They are mostly in English, so you can understand them with no German background. I find it interesting because, Germany, seems to be in order and everything needs to be clean and neat, yet you still can find graffiti in some places.

Old buildings, from church to town hall. Seventh!

Old buildings, are everywhere in Europe. In Germany, though, you always need to visit the church and rathaus (town hall). There is always a set of those in a town in Germany, and you can learn a lot about the town from it.

Besides that, there is always a street where it is full of old buildings, or a university that has existed for hundreds of years. Always a good photo spot, and makes you feel thrown back to the past.

Cigarette is the eighth one.

Cigarettes, just like beers, are also really common. You can see the vending machine easily, and in the supermarket as well. There are also smoking areas (a yellow square in the train station platform) in different places, and the park or the front door of central station smells like cigarettes.

In Indonesia, smoking is even more common, but in the United States, I can barely see more than one person smoking at any time. Maybe because the States has stricter regulation on cigarettes?

Best friend for college students: cheap, fulfilling, and delicious. Doner is the last but not the least!

Doner, or kebab, is a Turkish food that has been assimilated to different countries/ cultures around the world. In Germany, there are so many Turkish immigrants, and they bring this to German culture. It costs about 2-3 Euro, it is really big, and there are some places with halal meat. I am not a big fan of lamb, so I usually get the beef one, because it’s worth the money more than the chicken one, agree?

I don’t think I can survive Germany without doner, haha.

So, those are the nine things you notice when you come to Germany. I also went to Groningen, the Netherlands, and Hannover, Germany, in the past two days, and will make sure to write about those soon! Then, what is your version of the first 9 things you notice when you come to Germany?


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