There are many similarities between Germany and the United States, but some things might puzzle a newcomer:
This is how the media portrait Germans:
- Recipes: When I arrived in the U.S., a relative asked me for a recipe for German chocolate cake. I stared at her blankly because I had never heard of it before. Was it something regional perhaps? I eventually learned that this cake was invented by a man named German and has no connection to Germany at all.
- Ice: If you go to a restaurant you will automatically receive your drink with lots of ice. I had an interesting exchange with a waiter recently when I asked for water with no ice (the water alone was cold enough). He just couldn’t understand why anyone would want a drink without ice. In Germany, on the other hand, you will never receive a drink with ice, but you will also never get free water.
- Advertising: You will encounter a barrage of commercials from lawyers and health insurance companies. The latter are typically accompanied by sugary-sweet music that will certainly give you diabetes, which in turn drives you to seek health insurance, if you can find one at a reasonable rate. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee that you will be able to visit the doctor or hospital of your choice.
- TV News: Take the term “World News” with a huge grain of salt. The major TV stations only show news from the United States. News from foreign countries are only briefly mentioned, provided that an American is involved.
- Telemarketers: One of the most annoying aspects of life in the U.S. is telemarketing. Since they are usually calling from overseas these calls even occur later in the evening or on Sundays. Do Not Call lists don’t have any effect either. Next time I might try speaking German to throw them off.
Photo: Florian Schott (commons.wikimedia.org)