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Cultural Differences You Should Be Aware of When Moving to Germany from the US

Moving to Germany is surely exciting! It is a beautiful country, which has very interesting yet complicated history. There is so much to see, so much to explore, so much to learn – so much culture to soak in. But that’s not all! Germany is one of the most industrial countries in the world, and in fact, Germany as a country was born out of a union of no less than 16 provinces. The Germans speak German, and they have a great sense of fashion, culture, and football.

relocating to Germany

Moving to Germany

If you’re moving from the US to Germany, there are a few things you should know about the main cultural differences between the two. Being unaware of these differences can cause you a great deal of embarrassment and can even damage the first impression people get of you.

Want to start with the right foot? The first thing you should know is that you NEVER call soccer “soccer”. It’s football. It has been for ages. Now, after we’ve covered the most important lesson it is time to move on to more cultural differences between Germany and the US.

Main Cultural Differences between Germany and the US

  • Friends – When you meet new people, you’re used to call them by their first name. Same goes for work colleagues, same for when someone asks for your name. In Germany, they use last names for colleagues and people they’ve just meat. In fact, the word friend itself applies only for longtime friends.
  • Drinking – US drinking age is 21. In Germany it is 18 and 16 for wine and beer! Pubs are more open and well-lit in Germany, compared to the dark pubs of the US, and children are allowed to enter pubs in Germany when accompanied by adults whereas such a thing is strictly forbidden in the US.
  • Driving – In the US your parents teach you how to drive and you have to renew your license every year. In Germany, they learn how to drive at driving schools and pay a lot of money for it. But, their driving license is valid for 15(!) years. You also ought to know that unlike US cars, most of the cars in Germany feature a manual gearbox.

There are many cultural differences between Germany and the US, obviously we can’t count them all. Bottom line – try to be polite and remember – when in Rome… do as the romans do. Or the Germans for that matter!

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