Travel. Germany. Culture Shock.

Culture Shock: German Edition

Some tricks to overcome it

Diana Lotti
May 9 · 5 min read
Photo by Author — Heidelberg, Germany 2019
  • The time follows the 24-hour-clock. I should’ve known how to tell time this way as a (previous) military spouse, but it never stuck. Somehow my brain wouldn’t make the connection after 14:00 hours. I would get anxious about being late or writing down the wrong time for an appointment. Nowadays, my phone shows the 24-hour-clock time, and I am better at it.
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle! Blue bins are for paper/cartons. Brown bins are for compost. Yellow bags are for plastic, aluminum, among other things. Note: this is an oversimplification of the process. One day, I had to separate the windowed plastic in a letter envelope to recycle it (devil’s in the details). And glass? Sort glass by color, including clear, brown, and green. I still have no idea where the blue glass bottles go. It’s a mystery. Not to mention batteries and electronics…
  • The metric system! I embraced the metric system thanks to my love of baking. It is much easier and accurate to weigh the ingredients. Less messy for me too. Another one is kilometers vs. miles. All traffic speed signs are in kilometers. I own a car with a U.S. specs speedometer, and I need to continue to remind myself to make sure I’m not speeding (outside the Autobahn). I learned this lesson the hard way.
  • Stop the car at pedestrian crossings if there’s anyone who needs to cross. Period. What about following pedestrian traffic lights? Some don’t have them. It’s up to the driver to stop and let the pedestrian cross. The first time I had to cross a busy street with my daughter, I worried for nothing. As soon as we were at the crossing, the cars stopped so we could cross safely. Shocked and impressed, I always follow this rule.
  • Also, do not cross the street anywhere except at pedestrian crossings. It sets an example for the children, as a very concerned citizen told me.
  • Sunday is the day of rest, quite literally. No open businesses nor high noises. It is my favorite day of the week. I had to set reminders for Federal holidays since businesses won’t open on those days either. I need to ensure the fridge is full or risk going hungry for a day or two.
  • The Pfand system. I’m not sure if this one counts as a culture shock. It’s a bottle return system. The Pfand is a deposit you pay each time you buy a bottle with a Pfand logo. The bottle can be plastic, glass, or aluminum. You get your money when you return the bottles.
  • Be patient. Some habits or changes will be easier than others to adapt to a new lifestyle. It also takes time for anything new to become part of a daily routine.
  • Stay positive. It’s hard to stay positive all day, every day, because homesickness can sneak up at any moment. I admit there have been days where I wish to go back. Then I realize that even though it’s ok to miss home, I have my family with me, and they are my home. If you’re by yourself in a foreign country, you’re already brave to tackle anything you want. In my case, I find that making a conscious mental effort to stay positive helps a bit.
  • Find a way to meet new people. Preferably natives if possible. They can serve as a go-to person to discuss the dos and don’ts. Due to COVID restrictions, it may not be possible to meet new people in person or join a club. The HelloTalk app is an excellent option to meet new people. It’s also free.
  • Learn the language. Many Germans speak English as a second language. They went through the arduous process of learning it. It’s only fair to try and learn German (or any other language that may apply). There’s also that saying that communication is key. It helps if both parties speak the same language.

World Traveler’s Blog

Adventures and travel advice from around the world, by travelers for travelers

Diana Lotti

Written by

Traveler. Hiker. Coffee Drinker. Wife. Mom. Writer.

World Traveler’s Blog

A collaborative project from a diverse group of adventurers and digital nomads sharing the world through inspiring stories. The more you know, the better you travel!

Diana Lotti

Written by

Traveler. Hiker. Coffee Drinker. Wife. Mom. Writer.

World Traveler’s Blog

A collaborative project from a diverse group of adventurers and digital nomads sharing the world through inspiring stories. The more you know, the better you travel!

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