Freitag, September 02, 2005
Differences between Germany and the USA
Since I started this blog and started commenting on other peoples blogs, I've gotten quite a few questions about differences between Germany and the USA. I have only lived in the US for 1 year, whereas I grew up in Germany and pretty much lived there the rest of my life. I am trying to summarize some differences, without judging or saying one country is better than the other (because there is no way to tell)! The selection is random and if you can think of anything else, let me know.
For any non-german-speakers, who are interested in German News I recommened the English version of "Der Spiegel"
1. Germans are less patriotic than Americans. We have learned from our history. Our flag is not displayed as proudly, we never sing the national anthem (except at soccer games) and there is no such thing as the Pledge of Allegiance.
2. The term "nation" in Germany is defined differently, than in the USA. Germany was not united until 1871, before that, there were dozens of small countries. Nation in Germany means, a nation united by the same culture and language. The USA, being a country that is based on immigrants, anyone who wanted to be, could be American. In Germany, we need to change that desperately, because we are slowly running out of babies and we need people to come to Germany and live and work here. There are already millions of people frome Turkey living here, many were already born here and they are German too.
3. Everybody in Germany has health insurance. Yet.
4. There are very few full-day-schools here and Kids usually do not have school more than one afternoon a week.
5. The public transportation system in Germany is very good. You can go anywhere by train, subway and buses.
6. Germany does not have a customer-friendly culture and people are not into small talk.
8. Recycling is very important in Germany. You have to seperate biological trash, glass, plastic and cans and paper from the rest. Batteries and "Pfandflaschen" (you pay between 10 and 25 cent for any can or bottle you buy and when you return it to the store, you get your money back) are recycled at the store.
9. There is no Target, GAP, Old Navy or Urban Outfitters in Germany and Starbucks just started 3 years ago. However, we have ALDI, Tchibo and H&M. And Wal Mart.
10. The child care system for children under three years is pretty much non-existent at the moment.
11. The school system in Germany is very difficult:
- 3-year-olds: start Kindergarten (preschool)
- 6-year-olds: start 1. grade and stay in the "Grundschule" (primary school) up to 4. grade
- 10-year-olds have three options:
- Gymasium: for "smart" kids, up to grade 12, finishes with the Abitur, you can go to university afterwards
- Realschule: for the "average" kids, up to grade 10, finishes with the Mittlere Reife, you traditionally train for a job in a bank or an office afterwards
- Hauptschule: for kids, that did not get good grades in Grundschule, up to grade 9 or 10, finishes with the "Hauptschulabschluss", if they would get a job (which you do not at the moment) those Kids would train to be carpenters or hairdressers
13. Once you had your Sweet Sixteen, you can legally drink and buy beer an wine.
14. You do not get your driver's licence until you are 18 years old (I wonder if there is a connection)
15. Germans travel to other countries a lot. No surprise, we are bordered by Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxemburg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Danmark, Poland and the Czech Repulic.
16. Germany is crowded compared to the US: we have 80 Million people living in a country about half the size of Texas.
17. Christmas is celebrated on December 24th and the presents are traditionally brought by the Christkind. St. Nikolaus comes on December 6th and leaves presents in boots, that were left by the door.
18. Gas costs 1,45 € (1,82 US$) for ONE LITER right now. That would be almos 7 US$ for a gallon of a gas!!!
19. Personal note at the end: when I am in Germany, I miss things (and people) from the USA and when I am in the USA, it is the other way arround.
This was a really great post! The childcare sitution seems deplorable, and it's no wonder most German women either choose to be housewives with children or career-women with no children. Women have very few options (or power) in your country it seems. The school setup is pretty scary too, it's like a caste system with very little flexibility, and I can't imagine a child being locked into one set path by age 10! I've known a lot of Germans in my life so far, through travels and workcamp programs I participated in, and on the whole Germans are rather "chilly" and humorless, but I suppose that's part of the culture. I think Americans are probably the most friendly and open people, we are very accepting and tolerant and that's why I love my country so much!
I noticed more babies the second time I visited there. Do you think more people are having babies now?
We have a fwe Germany friends who we just love. They are very warm and friendly. So, even though Germans may not be into "small talk", they have very warm hearts.
My husband is so in love with your transit system. He keeps saying he wants to take a vacation to Berlin all alone and just ride the U-Bahn and S-Bahn alone for a week. To him, that would be Heaven.
Thanks for putting this together.
...children have the right to stay with their mothers (or caretakers) until they are three, women have the right to take off of work for up to 3 years (keeping their position), all men who are not married to the mother must pay support for the mother and child (from pregnancy until 3 years, completely, and after that, support based on the incomes of both)... not bad in my sight!
Katja - Chilly and humorless kind of describes the Americans from the INSIDE you know? And being locked into one set path by 10 is very smart, since most american kids end up with jobs in fast food places.
But you wouldn't have a single idea would you? You only met WORKCAMP germans, the ones that went crazy after immigrating to the US. Why don't you visit Germany sometime? It's pretty and clean, unlike the US...
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