Living here in Germany has changed my whole perspective on life. From learning a new language to a whole new culture, it is an experience that no one can take away from me. To read my post about how I was able to teach myself German (with one hilarious miscommunication story) click ‘here‘.
I’ve now lived in 2 different cities (in 2 different states) in Germany; now in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemburg. From each experience I have learned something new – mostly, how undoubtedly fortunate I am to have been able to have this experience. And from that, I want to share what it is really like to live in Germany, with hopes of others who are even remotely interested in moving (anywhere) abroad, to actually consider it. I can tell you that you would never regret it!
Before I get to a list of the most notable differences for me living in Germany, I want to explain what it is that has had such an emotional impact on me.
Of course it hasn’t always been easy. When I first arrived in Germany, I barely spoke a word of German. I had to learn to speak slower, clearer, and use body language. When you grow up in a world of only English, this can be and is a shock to your system. It’s a huge eye opener to experience life in another country that doesn’t operate solely on English. If you’ve never experienced, I highly recommend it, as it can really change your view of the world, at least for me it did.
I think one of the most amazing things for me that came from living in Germany and Europe, is the amount of friendships I have made with people from all over the world! Since living here, I have made friendships with people from Spain, the US, France, Romania, Jordan, Egypt, Chile, Mexico, Hungary, Slovenia, Brazil, and of course Germany. These friendships I would have never made from staying in Canada. I can also tell you that the bond that is formed with someone who is also a foreigner is something so unique because you are able to relate and compare stories with each other about your own learning experiences. These are the friendships that really do last a lifetime.
I never would have thought living abroad would have turned out to be as amazing as it has been. I want to emphasize that I think it’s an opportunity that everyone should experience, at least once, in a lifetime.
So now, after living in Germany for almost a total combined time of 10 months, I have gathered a few thoughts, which I have noticed stand out the most for me as a Canadian living in Germany. Let’s get to it.
10 Things About Germany That Are Different From Canada
1) Grocery stores are not open on Sundays
This one threw me waaaay off when I first arrived 2 years ago. Even still, I have to remind myself that I need to get everything done on Saturdays or I will either need to wait until Monday after work, or the next weekend.
Once you get used to it though, it can be a little refreshing. Sundays now, for me, are days to relax or catch up with friends.
2) There are no dryers in apartments
Also something to get used to – having to hang EVERYTHING to dry. In some apartments here dryers do exist, but it is rare. Neither of my flats have had dryers. I love my life in Germany, but I sure do miss the softness of my towels dried in the dryer with a floral smelling bounce sheet.
3) You have to pay for monthly radio/TV subscriptions (even if you don’t use them)
For each flat, a small fee is charged for a radio and TV subscription. Even if you don’t own/watch/listen to either of these, it is a non-negotiable fee that must be paid. Luckily, if you have roommates, the fee can be divided and in some even luckier cases, the landord will take care of it for you.
4) You can take a train basically anywhere
There is absolutely no need to own a vehicle in Germany. Public transportation is amazing! I don’t know why I love the trains so much, maybe it’s because I’m not used to having them available to me which makes it so much better, but I just find them so amazing.
In the cities, there are inner city trams that take you to basically anywhere you want to go. Then between cities, there are a multitude of trains to take you anywhere in Germany and even to neighboring countries.
5) 30 vacation days and 10 hour max working days
This one is amazing! Germany offers 30 vacation days per year to employees and these days are enforced. It’s not like in Canada or the US where they are available to you but maybe you don’t end up taking them for some reason.
Another great working regulation is that working over 10 hours is absolutely restricted. Not that I ever worked over 10 hours in Canada, but knowing that there are these rules which look out for my personal well-being gives me a comforting feeling.
6) There is a Döner store on every corner
Just like the stereotype “There’s a Starbucks on every corner” you would have to be completely blind to miss all the Döner stores available here.
Döners are a turkish style Donair and they are AMAZING. Quite cheap too – usually for about 5 euros you can get one and (for me at least) it is more than enough food for lunch and dinner.
7) Bars don’t close at 2
Want to go out with your friends but not ready to go home at 2? No problem! It is so common to find pubs and bars which you can stay at until 4 or 5 in the morning.
Then, when you are finally ready to go home, you can easily find a
Döner store in exchange for your late-night McDonalds runs 😉
8) You can walk down the street with a beer LEGALLY
The first time I walked out of a pub with my beer in hand for some fresh air with some friends, I had so much anxiety. Was someone going to yell at me? Chase me down? Kick me out? Nope. They don’t care at all. I mean, as long as you’re not acting like a complete mess, it’s completely OK to be on the street with a beer.
And its not uncommon for small festivals to be thrown in the city centers which serve alcohol. While there are still areas which most people will be found drinking, they are not confined inside a fenced square with security guards watching your every move.
9) There are more castles than you could ever dream of
No lie, there are over 20,000 castles in Germany and I have seen maybe 10…
There is of course the most famous castle, Schloss Neuschwanstein found just south of Munich. Not only is the castle beautiful, but the view surrounding it is the most picturesque German view. No wonder it is also known as the fairy tale castle. To make this trip even better, there is another castle (Hohenschwangau) right next to it that you can visit the same day.
Another amazing castle I visited this year was Burg Hohenzollern; about and hour south of Stuttgart. It is an old war castle which sits on a hill over looking a small German village.
Unfortunately visitors are not allowed to take pictures inside the castles, but fortunately, that just means when you finally visit them, you will be really experiencing them for the first time.
10) Rollladen – The most amazing blackout blinds
Finally, last but not least, Rollladen. This invention, to me, is one of the most amazing. They are actually not very visually appealing, but man do they do the trick.
On the inside of every window is a pulley system which releases the Rollladen from the outside. When it is down, you literally see nothing!
I need total darkness when I sleep, so I had used sleeping masks in the past. If there’s anything I’d stay in Germany for, it’d be the Rollladen 😉
So there you have it. I hope just the fascination of it all inspires you to just try it, because you never you what you might find.