51 things I’ve learnt living in Berlin
1. Apparently Berlin is not really Germany.
2. The city sleeps on Sundays.
3. Want to do something? There’s a form for that.
4. Want to trash something? There’s a bin for that.
5. Want to go to university? Sure, come on in, take your time, graduate at 28, no problem.
6. Not speaking or learning German is fine for a while, but people get tired of it eventually. Learning German is essential.
7. Germans are sympathetic and friendly people, but their inner social circles are almost impenetrable.
8. Despite popular opinion, the German language is eloquent and beautiful.
9. Pop culture is glossy and quite tacky. Think bleach-blonde 80's hair and fake-tans.
10. Workers in the official offices (Bürgeramt, Finanzamt etc) won’t (possibly aren’t allowed to?) speak English to you.
11. Most Germans speak English very well, although they don’t believe it.
12. Despite being a country with a rich, influential design history (Bauhaus); there doesn’t seem to be a mainstream respect for good design.
13. The motorways (Autobahn) are excellent and commutes are speedy, but they make road trips so incredibly mundane. Take the back-roads.
14. There is broken glass in the bike lane.
15. Germans seem to have a mixture of being proudly German, whilst at the same time rejecting the idea of staunch nationalism.
16. Croissant Würstchen is a thing.
17. You don’t need a toaster for a German breakfast.
18. You don’t have to talk while you are eating together. The silence is all good.
19. How much you pay for rent seems to be a socially acceptable question.
20. Almost all buildings have wall-mounted heaters and are well insulated. Winters are cosy and comfortable, and the power bills are comparatively small.
21. Almost no buildings have air conditioning. The average office workspace is stifling in the summer.
22. Christmas Day is celebrated on the 24th of December.
23. It can be difficult to find good vegan options in cafes and supermarkets. Germans love putting meat inside everything. And cheese, oh my god cheese is everywhere. Gentrification is helping to improve this.
24. Die Mannschaft is top-notch, but the Bundesliga is dull.
25. The idea of the direct German, honestly telling you how it is, is a real thing, but it’s much more subtle and difficult to pick up on than it’s made out to be.
26. Methodical, logical and practical Germans are also a thing, sort of. In reality there is so much Bureaucracy nothing seems logical or practical at all.
27. The Pfand system is great. Take bottles back, get money in return. Everybody wins.
28. The idea of the punctual German is a myth. Ever caught a DB train? Delayed. Ever waited patiently to see your Doctor? Delayed. Friend coming over for dinner? Delayed.
29. Some try to avoid it, but you will have to pay the Rundfunk, even if you don’t own a TV or radio.
30. Power sockets don’t have switches. I guess they’re just always active.
31. Sometimes the light for the bathroom is in the hallway.
32. Heaps of toilets have this little plateau thing so you can examine your poop.
33. It’s not cool to cross the road when the man is red. Especially if kids are around.
34. Drug stores sell toiletries like soap, shampoo, washing powder and every vitamin under the sun, but you have to go to the pharmacy in order to find aspirin.
35. Normal water is boring. Add some bubbles to it.
36. Let everyone out of the train before you barge on in.
37. David Hasselhoff is notorious, but hardly anyone knows what Knight Rider is.
38. When Schlager comes on at a party, you think everyone must be hating it, but then everyone starts singing.
39. Get naked by the water, everyone is cool with it.
40. You can drink in public, but public drunkenness is remarkably uncommon.
41. Everyone seems to know how to open a beer bottle without a bottle opener. I think it’s part of the curriculum or something.
42. Media is almost always overdubbed into German. Finding OV content can be difficult.
43. Germans seem to love some pretty random American (and dubbed of course) shows like How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory.
44. GEMA makes almost everything good on the internet inaccessible.
45. In general, the coffee is pretty bad. German coffee so often has so much milk I’m not sure you can legally call it coffee anymore.
46. New Year’s Eve is a free for all when it comes to fireworks. It’s insane.
47. And everyone watches Dinner For One. Which is weird because it’s British and it has nothing to do with New Years.
48. Digital Privacy. Never have I meet a bunch more paranoid about it.
49. You have to bag your own groceries. They will scan them faster than you can bag them — don’t even bother trying to keep up.
50. And the queuing is really whack. If there is a long checkout line and a new lane opens, everyone scatters for the front, instead of politely allowing those waiting the longest to head to the front.
51. It’s an amazing, enjoyable and prosperous place to live!
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Disagree with anything on my list? What would you add?
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