It’s time for another post comparing life in Germany to life in the US. We just received word that we’re locked down for another three weeks so perhaps the biggest difference is that you guys can go to stores and eat at restaurants…sigh.
Things are desperate enough that last week my husband cut his own hair with the dog clippers (I tried to do it once last year and we decided that for the good of our marriage, we would never cut each other’s hair or hang crown molding together). I also used a box to color my roots for the first time in six years and I can practically feel my hair gurus–LeArne in the States and Enice here in Stuttgart–cringing!
However, on the bright side of things, Amazon.de delivers wine and liquor straight to our doorstep, so all hope is not lost.
Here are my Germany vs the US observations for this month.
(See the other posts in this series here)
THE METRIC SYSTEM, a.k.a. my nemesis
We all know that the European Union uses the metric system while the US uses standard, but what that means for daily life goes far beyond just changing your car’s speedometer to read in kilometers instead of miles per hour.
For example, weather:
I literally have no idea still what Celsius temperatures mean in real life. This looks hideously cold, though, doesn’t it? Zero degrees Celsius is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, I know, but I just can’t do the mental math yet to look at the outside temperature and know whether or not I should be wearing long underwear and two hats or if I can get by with a down vest. The German default is to over bundle, in my opinion, so two hats it is!
Guess what else? My oven is also in Celsius (I know, duh), but it did throw me off for the first few days. I downloaded a conversion app to my phone and at least our food gets cooked all the way through now.
Eggs are metric, too. Instead of a dozen, you buy ten at a time here. Oh, and as an aside, they color the hard boiled ones (brilliant!) and they don’t refrigerate them in the stores here. More on that when I talk about food standards below.
Milk comes in liters instead of quarts, and you order deli and meat items by grams instead of pounds. Fortunately, if you ask for enough for drei personen, for example, they’ll help you figure out how much you need.
Gasoline is also in liters, and it’s insanely expensive over here as I think most everyone knows (currently around $6.30 US per gallon). We get to fill our cars up on base at US prices, but if we have to gas up anywhere else it’s a painful experience.
Anyway, like I said, everyone knows that our systems of measurement are different, but I didn’t realize how much that impacted my ability to navigate through my day until we moved here!
Another difference that made me do a double-take at first is that with numbers the period and comma’s roles are reversed from the US, so the above screen shot from my German phone’s calculator is what we know as 120,012.21. Oh, and their calendars run from Monday-Sunday while ours are usually Sunday-Saturday.
OVERALL FOOD STANDARDS
There have been entire books written about the quality of food in Europe as compared to the States, but suffice it to say that they are correct. It’s so easy to find inexpensive, healthy, seasonal, and delicious food here.
Even the smallest village seems to have a weekly farmer’s market where you can find the most beautiful fruits, vegetables, breads and meats. Gas station convenience stores sell Brot (bread) and it is delicious. Organic options are the norm and the even-healthier Bio foods are also readily available.
Gorgeous French cheeses that we pay a huge markup on in the States are so inexpensive here since France is right next door. If you like to buy Boursin, for example, you’ll usually pay between $5-8 for it in the US, but it’s about 1,50€ here.
Even if you buy the above-mentioned eggs in a grocery store instead of at a market, the yolks are beautiful gold instead of the pale yellow that I’m used to. Europeans don’t refrigerate their eggs because they don’t wash them during the collection process. You can read more about that, plus what the barcode stamped on every egg means, in this post.
And the milk…
I don’t even like milk in the States and neither does my stomach, but the milk here is absolutely amazing. I take my own glass bottles to a milchautomat/milchhausle about ten minutes from our apartment, where I just pop in 1€ per liter and fill them up with foamy goodness. The cows can be visited in a barn just behind the little milk house and look very happy and healthy.
They also have a little room with in-season fruits and vegetables; you just take what you want and drop the correct amount of money in the cash box.
I’m pretty sure this is raw milk, which is as illegal as black tar heroin in the US (you have to buy it labeled as “pet milk”). You can do your own research on its benefits, but they include probiotics (probably why my stomach loves it), improved immune function, and fewer allergies. It’s just another interesting cultural difference, but it’s so good that I’m willing to drink it even if it kills me.
GOOD BOYS AND GOOD GIRLS EVERYWHERE
A few weeks ago, we stopped to grab lunch in Heidelberg on our way back from the airport in Frankfurt. A woman who was going into the same bakery put her dog in a sit outside and went in to do her shopping. And he stayed.
I’m convinced that she could have been gone for hours and he would have waited politely until she returned.
Then we have my fur child, Harley, who after eleven years can still barely manage a sit-stay for ten seconds. Then he gets distracted and wanders off.
Dogs over here are different. Obviously there are a few exceptions, but German dogs tend to do exactly what they’re told, like they’re been trained by Mary Poppins (or Cesar Milan). Whenever we’re out for a hike, we see dozens of dogs just strolling along next to their owners, off-leash. They ride the buses and trains and wait nicely outside of stores for their owners to return. Back when we could eat in restaurants, dogs would come in and sit down under the table. They’re just so much more chill than American dogs.
So there you have today’s comparisons. Stay tuned for next time, when I’ll talk about the miracle that is wine for 1€ a bottle, the intricacies of recycling in Germany, and hard water woes.
(See the other posts in this series here)
Schönes Wochenende, and thanks for stopping by!
It’s so fun to learn about all the differences in each country and culture. I’m sure you are having fun learning.
Sharon Ink says
Delightful article! You are so much more adventurous than I was when I lived in Germany. I learned a lot I never knew!
Don’t feel bad, here in California we still must where a mask whenever we are out. Restaurants are not open yet except for carry out. Many stores are open but the number of people inside are limited so we stand in line outside, 6 feet apart to wait our turn. We must where a mask and stay 6 feet apart while we shop.
I believe that other states are suppose to be more restrictive also but it’s up to the governors to decide.
Vaccines have started being given.
This too shall pass, someday!
I don’t know if I’m being adventurous on my own, but my daughter drags me out to explore! I’m glad you like this subject because I have so many more things to write about. I keep a running list on my phone.
Linda Johnston says
Amazing how some things are different and other still the same. hat is comforting. I don’t know if this is is still true or not but there are not closets built in because they would be taxed as a room.. The upside to this is absolutely beautiful ‘Schranks’ German wardrobes and linen presses to be had!
Yes–that is still the case! We now have a coat tree instead of a hall closet and I would give up a kidney for walk in closet. 😉 Good thing I downsized my clothes like crazy before we moved.I’m on the hunt for some lovely antiques once they let us out of lockdown to shop again.