Germans are weird. Don’t deny it. If you’re a born and bred German, you’ll probably think these things are completely normal. But to Germany’s 11.2 million foreign residents, these 10 weird things came as a shock to the system the first time they encountered them. Disclaimer: some of these might be local to Bavaria, as that’s where I live. Let’s dive in.
1. The German Death Stare™
Jesus. If you’re foreign in Germany, you’ve definitely experienced this. If you’re a German, but you look a bit out of the “norm” in any way, you’ve experienced this. It’s particularly common in the elderly, but can be given by any German.
Times I’ve experienced this:
- Driving in our UK registered car when we first moved here (fair enough)
- Driving in our German registered car
- Talking to my family on the phone in public in English
- Walking/Running/Cycling anywhere
- Trying my best to talk German to the lady at the bakery
- Wearing a band t-shirt
- Wearing colourful clothes
2. Cake Forks & Teaspoons
You all put a teaspoon in your coffee and keep it there the whole time you drink it?? Why?! A teaspoon is simply there as a tool with which to stir your coffee and then you get rid of it. Why do you insist on keeping them there?!
While we’re on that subject, I had no idea cake forks were such a sensitive topic among Germans. We had some cake one day at work and my colleague was cutting and distributing it. When it came to my piece, there were no cake forks left. So she sent one of the apprentices on a wild goose chase to find some more. She said (in German) something along the lines of: “What are we supposed to eat cake with? A spoon? Our hands? What madness!”
I insisted it was totally fine, I don’t mind a normal-sized fork or a spoon. Then she gave me the aforementioned stare and firmly told me no, I would wait for the appropriate cake fork to arrive. Noted.
It is generally only considered acceptable to drink before lunchtime when you’re in the airport bar, waiting to board your (inevitable) flight to Mallorca. Not in Germany (Bavaria).
When paired with a sausage and a pretzel, a pint of beer is completely acceptable to drink at 8am.
4. They’re obsessed with Scotland
If you live in another German state apart from Bavaria, please tell me if this is a national thing or just Bavarian?
Honestly, almost every single Bavarian I have spoken to – neighbours, colleagues, new friends – have been to, or desperately want to go to Scotland. And they go for a good 2-4 weeks!
Don’t get me wrong. I love Scotland. It’s a beautiful country. And I love that so many Germans don’t do that typical thing many people do when you say you’re from the UK. You know, “Oh my goddddd, I love London!” *eye roll*
But nobody can answer me exactly why they are all so obsessed with it.
5. Beer & Cola
The first time I saw this bizarre event occur, I was already a few beers deep myself and thought it was a personal preference of the person pouring the drink. Then I did a trial shift in the local Cafe and, it turns out, it’s a normal and popular drink to order.
In the UK, we are more than familiar with a Shandy – beer, or the more popular lager, with lemonade. But beer with cola? NO THANK YOU. It’s got regional names as well – Colabier, Colaweizen and Diesel being the most popular ones I’ve heard so far.
6. Giant Square Pillows & Folding the Duvet
This is the standard pillow size in the UK:
And this is the standard size of a pillow in Germany:
I joke, I joke. But the pillows are weirdly large here. We brought as much furniture as we could from the UK, and that included our bedding. But when it came to ordering new bed linen, I ordered a set online, only to find the pillowcase was double the size of my pillow!
Also, it is the norm to fold your duvet like this in Germany:
7. Crossing the Road
If you want to risk your own life and be run down by a car then that is totally up to you. But if you risk the crossing while a child is in sight, even god won’t help you. Your only hope is if you’re a fast runner. Those mothers, the elderly, people who weren’t even at the crossing. They’re coming for you. Good luck my friend.
8. Dinner for One
This is played every New Years Eve in Germany. EVERY. YEAR. It’s an English sketch, performed by English comedians/actors from the early 60s. Nobody in England has heard of it.
9. Contactless Payments
Up until very recently, paying by card in Germany was too much. In fact, many places (including the Bakeries) still only accept cash as payment. But during the pandemic, Germans had to learn to adapt because handling cash was considered less hygienic than paying by card.
They also have the ability to accept contactless and phone payments. But sweet lord if you ask to pay using this method they look at you like you’ve just asked them to perform open heart surgery.
In England, if you arrange to meet your friend at 6pm, it means 6-ish. More often than not, it means you’ll leave your house at 6pm. This is how we do timekeeping in England:
In Germany, though, if your neighbour tells you the BBQ starts at 6pm, they mean 5:45pm latest. Preferably 5:30pm so you can help. Circuit Training class starts at 7:15pm? If you’re not there by 7pm then you just need to guess what you’re doing!
So there we have it, 10 weird things about Germans. Please don’t take this personally, it’s a bit of fun. If you liked this post, be sure to check out my Culture Shock: UK vs Germany post!
The Brits are not innocent. We are also a very strange nation. Next week, I’m going to explore 10 weird things about Britain that I didn’t realise were weird until I moved abroad.
bis zum nächsten Mal / until next time,