1. Your mother ironed your bed linen, underwear, and towels.
What would the neighbors think if she allowed you to leave the house with unironed underwear?! There must be order!
2. You’ve never watched The Sound of Music.
The only reason you even know it exists is because your American friends keep referring to it, or even worse, sing the songs to you with the expectation that you’ll join in.
3. Döner kebab is your life-saving 3am hangover-prevention food.
And you are completely convinced that it is a purely German invention. Like heck the integration of immigrants in German culture isn’t working!
4. Efficiency is your middle name.
Working abroad in an international company? Almost certainly you’re the colleague everybody hates. The bloody German, who finishes all of his tasks in no time and leaves his boss desperate to find some new work for him. You’ve seriously tried to work more slowly, to deliver less quality results…but you just can’t help it — German efficiency is in your genes.
5. Elevators are a place of silence.
There is an unwritten rule in Germany: You don’t look at other people in the elevator, and you definitely don’t talk to them. Even if you’re in an elevator with your friends, there’s usually an awkward silence nobody dares break.
6. You never, ever step on lawns.
Even if you’re in one of the few parks where there is no sign prohibiting stepping on the lawn, you still feel like a criminal just for going near the grass.
7. There’s just one kind of proper bread.
Real bread is dark and has a crispy crust and a soft inside, obviously. White bread, whether it’s a baguette or ciabatta, just isn’t the real deal. When you travel the world or move abroad, there is nothing you long for more than the sight of a traditional German bakery.
8. You’re the worst nightmare of every party host.
When you’re invited to a party at 7pm in — let’s say — Spain, like a good German you’ll probably show up at 6.50pm, walk around the block once because you don’t want to be too early, and then ring the bell at 6.55pm. Don’t expect your host to open the door anytime soon — he’s still in the shower and hasn’t even started preparing the house for the party yet.
On the other hand, when you invite people for a party at 7 pm, you expect them to show up at 7pm. Not at 7.30pm, not at 8pm, and god beware if one of them dares to arrive at 8.30pm without having a really good excuse (like saving a kitten out of a burning house).
9. The expression “7-ish” makes you cringe.
There is either 7:00 or 7:05 or 7:10. For you, 7-ish is just an excuse for people who can’t manage their time effectively to be punctual. Mainly, you’re just pissed that you’ll never manage to be somewhere around 7-ish. You’ll always be there at 6:55. Even when you’ve sent a text with your sincere apologies that you’ll probably be late, you’ll still be there at 6:55.
10. You have a very strong opinion about beer.
This opinion strongly varies depending on your birthplace though. It is a little bit like religion. While people from Cologne prefer their Kölsch in tiny 0,2l glasses, and people from Bremen drink their Pils out of 0,33l glasses, Bavarians wouldn’t trade their Helles in 1l beer mugs for anything in the world. This can lead to serious inner German conflicts: When someone from Cologne tries to order a Kölsch in Munich, he’ll probably be kicked out of the bar faster than a Bavarian can say “Lederhosen.”
11. Three beers are an escalope.
Beer in Germany is widely considered as a food and not as an alcoholic beverage. This Bavarian proverb suggests that the nutritional value of 3 beers equates to having a proper lunch — drinking a beer or two during your lunch break and then returning to work is completely natural for you.
12. You constantly complain about the Servicewüste Deutschland.
In fact, you’re convinced that there’s no worse customer service than in Germany. Then you go abroad to Hungary or France, and when you return, you want to kiss every single cashier who slightly smiles at you out of gratitude for their friendliness.
13. Table manners are really important to you(r parents).
“Don’t speak with your mouth full! Sit up straight! Elbows off the table!” Aren’t German parents a pleasure to have around at dinner time?
14. You are a waste separation fanatic.
You have so many trash bins that you almost need an extra room for them: organic waste, paper, plastic, white glass, green glass, brown glass, normal trash…you could go on. And washing your empty yogurt cartons and other packaging before throwing it in the garbage is completely normal to you.
15. You’ve probably never payed to see a doctor before.
The German healthcare system is an amazing one; it covers almost everything except breast implants (and even then, if you can prove that they’re fundamentally important to your mental health, you can get them for free).
16. You’re still pissed that you went to university for the few years when they charged tuition.
Access to university used to be for free in Germany until some federal states decided to introduce a tuition of up to €500 per semester. After several years of public outcry, it was abolished again. Yet those few years managed to cost you one or two thousand euros you’d rather have spent on beer and a flat screen TV.
17. At least one of your friends is still at university aged 33.
No, he isn’t teaching or doing a PhD. It just took him some time to find the right direction in life, and he switched majors from Archaeology to Philosophy to Business Studies to Sinology. Finally he found his purpose with the Art History of Uzbekistan in the 9th Century. Unfortunately, with the introduction of the international bachelor and master degrees in Germany, and stricter study regulations, this Van Wilder lifestyle has become less and less common.
18. You respect the red light.
You would never cross when the sign is red. Like never ever. Not even as a pedestrian in the middle of the night with no car anywhere in sight. The risk of losing your driver’s license if caught, even as a pedestrian, might be why. Unfortunately, when you are in other countries, you expect other people to respect the light as much as you do. That’s how you almost got killed 5 times during your recent Southeast Asia trip.
19. Insurances give you a great feeling of protection.
Life insurance, fire insurance, insurance against natural disasters, own-occupation disability insurance, additional health insurance, liability insurance, contents insurance, accident insurance…admit it, you’ve got at least half of them. You feel so well protected that, to you, it doesn’t even matter that you’ve just spent half of your salary on things that will likely never happen. Better safe than sorry.
20. Polite small talk feels like a waste of time to you.
If you’re German and work with other nationalities, the following work conversation might seem oddly familiar to you:
“Hey, how are you?”
“How was your weekend?”
“What do you want? I don’t have time for this!”
Admittedly, the last part usually takes place just in your head. It’s not that you’re anti-social, you just think your time’s too precious to waste on polite pleasantries. We didn’t achieve our economic miracle with idle chit chat after all.
21. National pride makes you feel uncomfortable.
Yes, Germans are still slightly traumatized by history. No matter what country you’re in, publicly-displayed national flags or open displays of patriotism always seem weird to you. And the only time you won’t get disapproving looks for putting a German flag on your balcony is during the World Cup.
22. Quarry ponds were the summer paradise of your youth.
Basically every German city has at least one. Today, just the smell of sunscreen makes you nostalgic for those heady days of endless ice cream and hanging out by the quarry pond after school.
23. You watch Dinner for One every New Year’s Eve.
This is a British sketch about an old lady celebrating her birthday. Unfortunately, all her friends are already dead. Fortunately the old lady is not the brightest, so she doesn’t realize that her butler slips into the roles of all of her friends and gets completely wasted. What has this got to do with New Year’s Eve? Not the slightest idea. Why do we watch it? Because we are German and we don’t care if our traditions don’t make any sense.
24. You are basically bilingual.
You speak your regional dialect and High German, which, given that there are more than 20 different dialects in Germany, is essential to communicate with your fellow Germans from other federal states. Otherwise a Bavarian could never have a conversation with a Friesian without an interpreter. After all, these dialects actually belong to two different branches of the German language families.
25. You’ve never heard “speed-limit” in the same sentence as “highway.”
Yes, on large parts of our highways there’s no speed limit. Sadly, you hardly ever get to make use of that freedom, because there’s always some idiot blocking the left lane by driving at just 120 km/h.
26. You are well aware that there is no such thing as a typical German.
Different beer, different Christmas traditions, heck, we don’t even have the same language! Only for a couple of weeks every two years does the whole country stand in unity, thanks to the eternal magic of the football championships.
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