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Practice for Living in Germany

Living in Germany is somewhat different from living in the United States.  Below, I offer some things one might do in order to be better prepared for life in Germany.   The following does not stereotype type the average German, however, these things have come to our attention.  It is suggested that you start this practice about one month before departing for Germany.

Living Accommodations

Move your bed, clothes, television into a large closet and call it home.  German Hotel rooms are very small.

Get rid of your full-size, queen-size or king-size bed and replace it with a small twin size bed.  Hotel beds are small.

Get rid of all those comfortable blankets and sleep only with a comforter, even in the summer.

Adjust the water pressure for your toilet so that it draws a vacuum in the room when it is flushed.  Start with about 200 PSI.  NOTE:  Courtesy flushs in public restrooms are discouraged because of potential damage that my result to ones body.


Replace your TV with a 9" TV and limit the volume so one can just barely hear it. (Hotel only)

Stop watching American sports such as baseball and football. Start watching Soccer on ESPN2 and pretend to enjoy it.

Watch CNN everyday as your only source of English speaking entertainment.

Drive to Moncks Corner, South Carolina everynight after work and walk around for about 4 hours, marveling at such wonderful culture. Try not to develop a drinking problem.

On Friday nights, watch a Cooking Show of your choice.  Invite friends over and really live it up.


Don't bring an umbrella.  It seldom rains here...................................HA!

Bring lots of sun screen.................................................................. .HA!

Eating and Drinking

Give up eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and grits for breakfast.  Buy about six types of bologna and cheese and eat bologna sandwiches for breakfast every morning without mustard and ketchup until you can't take it anymore.  Then eat some more.

Boil some eggs for about 10 seconds in boiling water.  Try eating with a knife and spoon while it is still in the shell.

Buy only stale bread.  Cut it with a dull knife and pretend you enjoy eating it.   Everyone here does.

Get rid of your cereal bowls and use only Tea cups for cereal.  Everything is small here.

Avoid all water fountains and drinking water from the sink.  Instead, add one Alka-Selzer to an 8 ounce glass of water and drink it with every meal and on breaks.

Each as much as you can at lunch time.  The noon meals here are the biggest meals of the day. Try not to fall asleep just after eating.

For dinner, prepare some sliced beets with some spices, stale bread with butter, dill pickles, and leftover bologna from breakfast.  Eat this at about 8 p.m. with a cup of hot tea.

When ordering a coke at a McDonalds or Burger King, use no ice and only pour about 2 ounces into a cup.  Make sure you pay at least $3.

Eat a lot of ice cream.  One won't find ice in Germany, but everyone seems to like ice cream.

Eat with the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right hand.  Keep your elbows on the table.  Always keep your dirty napkin on the table.  Never place it on your lap.  This is considered very rude.  One may use a spoon in either hand when eating soup.  I believe some German Conference will decide next year which hand is the official hand for eating soup with a spoon.

When eating out, always eat in the smoking section.  Holding one's breath is considered rude.


Rent a Yugo or a go-kart and drive everywhere as fast as you can.

Place your entire family in the front seat.  It's not so bad after a few days.

Try to drive within 6" of all cars in front of you.

Park in the visitor parking everyday.  When you get caught, simply say "Ich bin Auslander und spreche nicht gut Deutsch".

Stop at all green lights.  When the light turns yellow, accelerate through the intersection as fast as you can.  In Germany, one sees a yellow light before both the green and the red light.

Drive as fast as you can on the interstate.  As soon as there are a lot of cars immediately behind you, slam on the brakes and turn on your hazards lights.  Germans will think you learned to drive in Germany.

When paying for gas, always give a $45 tip to the gas station attendant.  Gas is very expensive here.

Stop for all pedestrians in a cross-walk.  Even if you are traveling at 45 mph.

Run over all other pedestrians not in a cross-walk.

Wear a large backpack. When parking is unavailable, simply place your car into the backpack and carry it with you. WARNING:  The car may be hot to the touch.

Invite your friends to your house with their cars.  See how many cars you can actually park in a two-car garage.  Experiment with various patterns.  Try a 50 point turn.


When you buy groceries and they say "Paper or plastic?", just say "No, thanks".  Carry everything that you have bought in your arms.  Pockets are a plus.  After about the fourth time, start bringing your own plastic bags.

Before using a shopping cart, give someone a dollar.  When you return the cart, try to get that dollar back.

When shopping, wear a blindfold.  Just randomly buy things.  I have no idea what I have bought.  But I think I like rinsing with green liquid toilet cleaner.

Hygiene (Only applies to some Germans)

Take showers daily as required. However, wear the same clothes for one to two weeks at a time.

Turn off the air conditioning during the summer months.  This really enhances the above step.

Turn on the air conditioning during the winter months.  We are not sure how to get these radiators to work.

Practice urinating in public.  Preferably on the side of a building or on a sidewalk.  Maintain some decency and point away from the crowd.   This seems to be an acceptable practice here.


Practice speaking English with a German accent.  Example:  Speakst youst doytsch. Ikk am American.  Where iss das.

Try above step louder and with a nasty attitude.

Watch the Spanish channel day and night until you can't take it anymore.

Memorize the script of all of your favorite TV shows.  You won't understand a thing when they are dubbed in German.

Listen to songs on the radio as usual.  When the DJ begins talking, crank the volume so that his voice is so distorted that it becomes garbled and makes absolutely no sense at all.


Before typing, turn the keyboard around backwards so nothing makes sense.

Select the German language when installing Windows 95/98.  Complete confusion during installation is good.

Internet Access?  Don't ask me, I still can't log on.


DISCLAIMER: The people here in Germany have been very friendly and helpful.  However, cultural differences do exist.  Some suggestions are included below.

1.  Learn as many German phrases as you can.  Practice whenever possible.  The language is indeed a big barrier that may be reduced by learning a little German.  In fact, after exhausting your use of the German language, many people will try speaking English with you. Remember, they are as nervos speaking English as you are at speaking German.

2.  Carry a small notebook.  Try to write down a few words each day, look them up at night and memorize them.  After a while, the signs in shops and at work will start to take on meaning.

3.  If your German is not great, make sure there is at least one English speaking person whom you can talk with over dinner or during the evening.   Thinking, living and trying to understand a new language is very hard work.   One needs a break periodically with an English speaking person.  Even if the topic is completely boring, it is still a nice and well-needed break.