You wanna go to Germany? Here are some things you need to know before you go from a German native!
Hallo Servus and welcome back to my Youtube channel! My name is Felicia, I’m originally from
Munich, Germany but have been living in Cincinnati Ohio off and on since 2016. Now travelling isn’t
really a thing right now but I know that many of you can’t wait until that’s gonna be possible
again and I know that many of you are already planning your future trips in your heads and for
all of you who’ve always wanted to visit Germany – or even move to Germany – I’m sharing some things
that you should definitely know BEFORE you go! These are things that I usually tell friends who
go to Germany for the first time but I’m sure that many of you guys could benefit from this as well.
The first one sounds pretty obvious but believe me, people forget about this aaaaall
the time – different countries have different outlets and voltages, so if you’re from the US,
you’ll need to bring or buy an adapter if you wanna use your electrical devices
because your American plugs won’t fit into a German outlet. We also have a voltage of
220-230 Volt in Germany whereas it’s only 120 in the US and not all electronic devices can handle
the switch so be sure that you do some research about that before you go. Especially hair dryers
and hair straighteners usually don’t work with a different voltage – I actually broke a hair
straightener once because I tried using my German one in the US and that just made it stop working.
What does work usually though is laptops and phone chargers and those kind of things. And even though
I’m obviously aware that the outlets are different I totally forgot about it this past Christmas when
I went home to be with my family cause I got a new laptop recently in the US that came with
an American charger and I totally forgot that for the first time ever, I’d need an adapter that goes
from an American plug into a German outlet, and not the other way around, but luckily my dad has a
BUNCH of travel adapters and one of them actually fit. Then of course, we also have a different
currency in Germany – it’s the Euro just like in many other countries in the European Union– and
at least compared to the US, we also use a different measurement system, the metric system
with kilometers instead of miles etc. Even though for this the US really is the odd one out here!
The next point causes a pretty big shock for many people who visit Germany for the first time:
Stores are closed on Sundays. Even grocery stores. So make sure to plan ahead cause the
only places you’ll be able to find any groceries on a Sunday are stores at train stations and gas
stations. This has a Christian background but it also has to do with worker’s rights. In Germany,
we believe that everyone should be able to get a rest day on Sunday and spend time with
their family. Restaurants, movie theaters and those kind of things are usually open though.
Even if you’re only in Germany for a day you should make sure to carry cash on you!
Germany has a pretty big cash culture and there might be quite a few occasions
where you won’t be able to pay electronically, like when you wanna get something at a bakery,
a kiosk, small stores that don’t accept card payments,
or things like parking machines. You can either get some cash from the ATM in Germany
but be aware that there will probably be an ATM and a currency conversion fee if your bank account
isn’t in Euros or you can also ask your bank at home to get some Euros to you before you leave,
that might be the best option actually because that way you’ll also have some cash
right when you arrive in case you need it. What you shouldn’t do though is exchange money at
the airport cause it’ll be a lot more expensive. - Damn how do you cut someone out in Photoshop?
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Now let’s talk about what you need to know about driving in Germany cause there are a
few differences that you should be aware of before you get behind the wheel. The first thing is that
gas is a lot more expensive in Germany than it is in the US, it’s about 3 times as expensive
so if you were gonna rent a car and just drive around Germany or Europe that’s not gonna be as
cheap as you probably expected. In fact, it might be a lot cheaper to get around by bus or train,
we have a pretty good train system all over Germany and all over Europe too.
And especially if you’re just staying within one city in Germany, public transportation might be
a more convenient and less stressful option for you, too because traffic can be a little crazy,
the drivers can be aggressive, and parking in a German city is usually a nightmare. When you need
to get gas, you should know that you pump first in Germany and then pay afterwards and you don’t
usually pay at the pump but you’ll have to go INSIDE afterwards to do so. And the regular gas in
Germany is called “Super” but of course, you can always look at what it says inside of the gas cap
as to what kind you should put in the tank. Then of course, there are different driving laws in
Germany so be sure to check those out before you get on the streets! Two major things are
that you can’t turn right on red and you always need to watch out for cyclists and pedestrians,
especially when turning right! I’ve found that that’s not really something that people learn in
Driver’s Ed in the States because in many American towns, people walking or riding their bike
isn’t really a thing. For everything else, like the street signs, speed limits, and driving on
the highway, the Autobahn you can check out my video on Driving if you wanna learn more!
This one might be kind of shocking to Americans: In Germany, it’s legal to drink alcohol in public
and Germans do that a lot too – especially in the summer, so don’t be surprised by that and
who knows, maybe you're gonna try it too and get a cool experience out of it if you can just
sit by the river on a warm summer night with a 50 cent beer from the corner store. And yes,
beer is pretty cheap in Germany but is still very very good.
Now if you visit Germany as a tourist you’re probably gonna spend a lot of time at restaurants
so here’s a few things that you should know about that. When you walk in you can usually
just seat yourself and don’t have to wait for someone to show you to a table. Then,
you won’t get ice in your drinks unless you ask for it but even then, it’ll probably just
be a couple ice cubes. The sizes of drinks are also pretty small in comparison to the
States – just like almost everything in Germany. And, water is NOT free at German restaurants,
so if you order water you’ll usually get bottled water – either still or sparkling which Germans
are huge fans of! Once you’re done, you have to ask the waiter for the check, they won’t bring
it to you automatically. And you're probably gonna have to flag them down because they're not going
to check on you all the time. And then they’ll usually have you pay right at the table – either
with cash or you can also pay with your card in most restaurants but you’ll have to let them know
because they’ll have to get the little device first. Now when it comes to tipping, we tip
around 10% in Germany and the way it works is that you just tell the waiter directly what you wanna
round it up to. So if your check is 20 Euros and you wanna tip them 2 euros you just tell them to
make it 22 and you’ll get the change for that. It works the same way with card payments too so make
sure to tell them the tip BEFORE you insert your card. Also, just a heads up the waiters in Germany
might seem kind of cold compared to the ones in the US. You’ll have to flag them down if you
need something and they’re probably not gonna be as friendly which has to do with the fact
that they don’t have to rely on tips as much but also with the German customer service in general.
Please don’t let it scare you off but the customer service in Germany is pretty bad
compared to the US, at least in my opinion. I know that many Germans
are gonna disagree with me in the comments but if you’re used to American standards,
it’s very likely that some of the people working in German customer service will make
you feel like you’re bothering them or annoying them. If that happens – please don’t think that
it has anything to do with you being a tourist or not speaking German, it’s nothing personal,
they treat me like that too. Of course, there’s also many great people working
in customer service who are lovely to talk to but unfortunately that’s not the standard in Germany.
One of the most popular topics of complaint among tourists is that you have to pay
to use the bathroom in Germany. Now it’s POSSIBLE that that’s gonna be the case,
like at rest stops on the highway you’ll find these bathrooms with turn styles
and at some public bathrooms there will be a person sitting with a tipping plate but that’s
not ALWAYS the case and at restaurants it’s usually free. But yes, sometimes you’ll have to
pay for using a public bathroom so it’s always best to carry some change on you just in case.
Germans like rules and they like to follow the rules and that includes stopping at a red
pedestrian light. So no jaywalking in Germany! And by that I mean that you won’t see a lot of
Germans jaywalk and many of them don’t like it when others do it either. Which by the
way applies to other rules too. You may even get reminded by strangers to follow the rules.
Besides the whole no jaywalking thing, some of these rules are to stay right
on escalators to let people pass on the left AND very very important, don’t walk
or stand in bike lanes. Next to the sidewalk there’s usually a bike lane and there are many
many cyclists in German cities and if you block the bike lane you may either cause an accident
or you’ll probably have a person on their bike ring their bell at you or even yell at you.
In case you happen to turn on the TV or wanna go see a movie in Germany,
don’t be surprised if your favorite American actor suddenly speaks German
because almost everything is dubbed in Germany. We do consume a lot of American
movies and shows in Germany but Germans aren’t big fans of subtitles and even though
more and more people do consume English movies in their original version nowadays, the norm
in Germany is the dubbed versions. Some movie theaters do show movies in the original versions
too though you’ll just have to look out for the little addition behind the title that says “OV”.
Many of you have probably heard the cliché that Germans are pretty reserved and rather cold
and there’s actually a lot of truth to that so before you go to Germany you should definitely
know that Germans don’t usually talk to strangers a lot and we aren’t big on small talk so don’t
expect to have some nice conversations with people at the store or something. It depends on
who you interact with of course but at first sight, Germans can come off as unfriendly
especially when compared to Americans. It’s nothing personal though,
it’s just a cultural difference. But if you ever have a concrete question,
don’t hesitate to approach a German and ask them because Germans are usually very glad to help.
Now HOW should I ask someone for advice if I don’t speak German? Well most Germans do
know some English. They may have a thick accent and may not be able to have a full conversation
but they’ll definitely be able to give you directions or tell you the price of something.
Many Germans also speak pretty good English so to those of you who come to Germany and
do speak some German and wanna use it, don’t be thrown off if you speak to someone in German
and they reply in English. It’s a thing that many Germans do and I know that it can come off as rude
in a way but they usually just wanna make life easier for the two of you cause they know that
German is a difficult language and if they think that their English is better than your German
they may think that they can make the conversation more efficient by switching
to English. So please don’t be offended by that. If you really really wanna practice your German,
I’m sure you can just ask them to stick with German.
The last point on my list is mainly targeted at people who wanna move to Germany. Now when
you move into a new place, be prepared that it might come entirely empty and by that I mean that
there won’t even be blinds, curtains, or light bulbs in it and oftentimes not even a kitchen,
so the space where the kitchen is supposed to be will just have a bunch of cables and pipes stick
out of the wall and you’ll be responsible for getting all of the appliances and cabinets. Also,
leases are usually unlimited in Germany unless it’s like a sublease or something but in the
US I’ve found that a lease usually has an end date, one year in a lot of cases and then you
can either renew it or end it. You won’t have to do that in Germany. Also when LOOKING for a place,
you should be aware that a bedroom can be really small in Germany so you should always
look at the size of the room or the apartment and not just the number of bedrooms cause a 3
bedroom apartment in Germany could be smaller than a 1 bedroom in the States. Also, bedrooms
don’t have closets in Germany so you’ll need a wardrobe or a dresser to put your clothes in,
and there are many many more differences regarding German and American houses – so
if you’re interested in that you can click here and check out my video about differences at home.
So those were 13 things that I really think are important to know as someone going to
Germany for the first time. Especially the whole friendliness thing cause I know of several stories
where an American thought the German cashier didn’t like them cause they didn’t speak German
or where an old lady yelled at them for standing on the left side of the escalator
and they let that affect their experience in Germany and I really don’t want that to happen.
If you have more tips, feel free to share them in the comments below and of course subscribe to my
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Thank you guys so much for watching and I hope I’ll see you next time! Tschüss!