15 Things Germans Don't Understand About Americans
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We lived one year in Switzerland with my husbands work. My son was 5 years old. My son and I discovered a McDonalds in Basel and we went in and sat down for a meal. Of course even though there were many people, it was very quiet. Suddenly a group came in talking very loudly while ordering their food. My son asked, "Mommy, who are those really loud people?" I answered, "They are Americans." He looked shocked and then confused and asked me, "Mom, aren't we Americans?"
When it comes to shoes indoors for Americans, it varies from place to place and household to household, but generally speaking, most people I've known didn't wear shoes indoors. However, I do feel that when it comes to visiting a house, there's kind of an "unspoken rule" to not take your shoes off if you're just an acquaintance/worker or are only going to be there for a few minutes. Taking off your shoes at a stranger's house is kinda considered rude because you're "making yourself at home" so to speak. Maybe this is just a California thing
I was stationed in Würzburg and Stuttgart and was in Germany for most of the 80’s. I accidentally found your channel because I’m planning a trip back soon and I wanted to see what has changed in the 20 years since I was last there. When I was over there I totally got into the culture. All my years back in the states I’ve never felt at home. Germany became my home in my heart.
I think the "loud" aspect of being an American can greatly depend on where you were brought up. I was raised right off of the Navajo reservation in New Mexico and have been accused of being VERY quiet after I moved to California. That was until I took my husband home for the first time. He tried to order at a Burger King and was like "It's not just you...It seems like everyone around here whispers".
Having a German mom because of my former GI dad, I grew up with German family visiting us in rural Missouri. (One of mom's brothers came over, stayed, and lived the American Dream.) They're amazed at how isolated we are with neighbors a mile away and nearest town being 10 miles away. We always take them out target shooting which they always seem to enjoy as it's something they cannot do in Germany. They in turn once bought out the entire supply of Budweiser and Bud Light from my small town after going through about 40 cases in 2 weeks. Our diet beer simply has no effect on them as they would point to the 'Rice' ingredient and laugh. My Dad and his old Army buddy said that they had to take a break after about a week of drinking beer with them. They play hard, but they also work hard. When you find yourself with a group of them in full party mode it's some of the most fun you'll ever have.
about that alcohol thing, you forgot that you can get low amounts of light alcohol with 14 in germany, but then only when your parents are present and pretty much only one beer. I know this because I am german myself and I made use of that right at every opportunity I had, even though it wasnt a lot due to covid (I just turned 14 when covid started being a big deal) and now I am 16.
Every time I hear the "Americans wear shoes in the house" thing, a piece of my soul dies as a Minnesotan. We don't do that here. Shoes are removed at the door, and most living spaces will have a shoe rack right at the entrance.
There's something to be said about not going to college. My parents, especially my dad, did not want me to go to college, he wanted me to work for a living, so I was an electrician/mechanic, also known as maintenance, and with plenty of overtime and a union, I averaged around $100 K a year. But I have always have missed the nice college girls and spring break, though. I speak and understand a little German. I could have learned the fluent language from my grandparents, but when I was a kid, that was the old country 'n I didn't care.
I live in Belgium, also lived here previously for work and lived in Germany as well.
On the manual car, there are just so many subconscious and conscious benefits to driving a manual. 1) You are more innately aware of your speed because you have to change gear to change speed. 2) You have to be more preoccupied with the current driving situation: oncoming traffic, intersections w/ right-of-ways, pedestrians....all of which force you to be mindful of what gear you're in and how fast you're going 3) Far more control over speed in braking and cornering by holding gears (gear braking). 4) Safety as you stated!
With tailgating, here in the EU parking lots are not typically public space. Space is a premium, and if it is public space, it will be a park or a garden. Most cities, towns, villages you go in the EU, finding parking will usually be at least somewhat of a challenge, and not meant to be "hang-out" space because space is tight and usually not where you want to be.
For instance, like I said I live in Belgium which is approx. 1/5th the size of the state of Georgia with 11.5M people (slightly more than the state of Georgia)...and much like Georgia, there's countryside and farming but the majority of people live in cities. To put it into perspective, just on a quick G search. Atlanta in size is 353 KM^2 and population of just under half a million. Brussels Belgium has just over 2 million people squeezed into 32 KM^2....basically 1/10th the size with 4 times the population. Not a whole lot of room for parking lots to tailgate, and you don't need to know the metric system to understand the difference between 353 and 32 in terms of size.
I lived in Germany for 13 years, it was culture shock coming back to the US haha. This makes me want to go back
I think the street shoes in the house in America is a relatively new thing. My mother always taught us to take our shoes off at the door - this was back in the 60's or earlier. I've gotten a bit away from this behavior as I''ve gotten older, but I still feel a twinge when I wear my tennis shoes in the house - usually because I forgot something and need to go back into the house for it, and don't want to have to take off and put back on my shoes. When I go visit my friend in Germany, I've always forgotten to bring some sort of house shoe (slipper), and I really do need to remember it the next time I go. Verdamnt Americanerin! LOL
I remember one time me and my sister were buying clothes at an H&M and it was so peaceful and quite there and suddenly there's a noise coming from another place I turned and it was a group of Americans who were taking so loudly that me and my sister just looked at each other with shock
But at the same time I really love how warm and friendly Americans are
The 21 drinking age thing is relatively recent, at least for this 60-year-old. States used to have different drinking ages and many were 18, especially on the East Coast. The federal government basically forced them all to go to 21 in the 1980’s by linking highway funds to the 21 drinking age. It did reduce drunk driving deaths. Probably in Germany there are more public transportation options so drunk driving isn’t as much of a concern.
I was one of those kids (teen) who learned metric in the “70’s when Jimmy Carter was in office. To this day I think in a mix of both systems: weight is in pounds, small lengths are in cm, large lengths are in miles. I had to teach myself inches because men at hardware stores didn’t have a clue what a centimeter was and would get angry. I’m glad to see that American kids today are learning both, though I have no clue what “New” math is. How can you know how much your groceries are going to cost if you get three answers to every math problem?
Re: shoes inside… i built my first new house ~30yrs ago, and other than marble & stone in baths, all other floors were mahogany or oak. I did not have a house “rule” to remove shoes, but after some friends visited I noticed in the reflection of light on the wood floors that there were all these round scrapes, like from sandpaper. I finally determined that someone’s shoes had grit from outside stuck on the bottom, so every time they turned on their heel, it put a bunch of scratches in the wood. NO MORE SHOES! Only exception is a formal or cocktail party, where shoes are likely part of the outfit. And when i go to people’s homes, I ALWAYS ask, “shoes on or off?”
I started school in the US during the push toward metric conversion. Then one fall, I started class and suddenly everything was all inches and pints. Add to this that I lived near the US/Canada border, watching mostly Canadian TV, and to this day I get horribly confused. Like, just hearing the temperature doesn't tell me whether it's going to be hot or cold outside. I always have to look it up.
A friend of mine spent a lot of time in Germany growing up and was completely confused by the bizarro-world American version of Oktoberfest beers.
American Oktoberfests are usually heavy lagers flavored with spices and fruits (made for smaller-scale gatherings and holiday get-togethers) but the beers served at the actual Oktoberfests in Germany are usually much lighter, golden beers (so people at the festival can enjoy the food more instead of filling up on heavy beers).
Later on, the same fraulein was actually more surprised to learn that nobody in the US ever saw the comedy short Dinner For One. Though that one's a bit more understandable because... well... it isn't funny.
In the Netherlands it's not only that you as an employee can claim a minimum of a certain number of days off a year, you are obliged to take up at least a single consecutive period of two weeks each year. As you can also save up part of the time, a colleague of mine this year was away for a mont and a half to the walk through northern Spain of the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella.
This theory with larger personal bubble of Americans is a bit weird. When I was working in the US, a lot of Americans wanted to hug me (mostly female coworkers) and not the polite, lean in, air kisses kind of way found in Germany, but a real hug. That was way too much physical contact for this German girl. Okay, I also hate hand-shakes and air kisses, unless it's really close friends.
Drinking age is also an interesting thing. Because the high age kind of hypes up being legal to drink? I found that so odd when I was watching another youtuber and she really went on and on about turning twenty-one soon and being able to drink. And on the day of her birthday, she went out to party and got really drunk with a bunch of cocktails. And cocktails are dangerous because they often contain a lot of hard alcohol but taste like fruit drinks. Even if you're used to harder stuff it's easy to misjudge them.
And of course at twenty-one all of them already have a driver's license so drinking and driving is an issue, while Germans at sixteen don't. When my friends and I wanted to get drunk we met for a party with sleep-over. And often our parents bought the alcohol and laughed at us when we came home with a hang-over. Public transport with a hang-over is also fun.
If you don't do the 20 countries in 8 days guided tour, every country opens your eyes to them, and then mirrored to your "regular" life... but this time it's forever changed. I love this and my travel was Germany/Europe 1989 from Australia with my German partner and her 6yo daughter. I have a lifetime of stories from 4 months travel but the awareness gained is forever valuable.