Posts Tagged ‘Living Abroad’

German Oddities: Part 2

*NOTE: these are complete generalizations that I’ve gathered from only a few days in Magdeburg and may not be an accurate sample of Germany as a whole*

There are no Scoop-the-Poop Laws

As evidenced by my walk to the tram stop every day, the city apparently doesn’t care about dogs crapping on the sidewalks. Although the sidewalks are covered in snow (and ice) at the moment, you have to be extra careful not to step in the (probably) more slippery substances that are so carefully placed every few feet.

Shuffling Cards

Tonight, I learned that most Germans are not adept at shuffling cards in the Riffle bridge format ( This is quite common in the US–but maybe it’s more common to play card games there…

Pushing Buttons

If you want something to happen, you have to push a button. The trams (streetcars) have doors that will not open for you unless you push a green button on their middle. The trains work the same way (most of them).

Ready Made, Chilled Cheeseburgers

You can buy ready made cheeseburgers in the meat section of the grocery store… bun and all.

Sit When You Pee

In nearly every restroom I’ve seen, there is a sign insisting that you sit while peeing.


In the two apartments I’ve visited, both have keys in all the doors.


You can drink just about anywhere. People drink on the train, walking down the street… pretty much anywhere.

Zwei Bier, bitte!

Other Photos From Our Trip

Want to buy a rock?

Here’s an example of 4 different trash receptacles on a train:


I am now uploading all of my trip photos to Facebook–but you have to be my friend to see them :)

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German Oddities

We’ve now lived in Germany for a few days and I have noticed a few things that I find odd. Here they are for your amusement:

Peanut Butter is not that common

We have been spending time playing board games and getting advice from one of our neighbors, a 20-something college student here. Until last night, when we made rolls and had them with various spreads (including peanut butter), he had never in his life tried peanut butter.

“It’s not common here.” He said.

Looking at the bottle, as our housemates pointed out, sure enough, it was “American Peanut Butter.”


Garbage and Recycling Separation is on a Whole New Order of Specificity

Everywhere you go (even on the train) there are at least 4 different bins to put your garbage, organic compost, recycling and recycling of many various types. It’s nice to see that they care so much, but I haven’t gotten used to it yet in our kitchen.

We have a place for compost, another for newspaper and other papers, another for glass bottles, another for wet garbage that cannot be composted, another for dry garbage that cannot be recycled or composted, and if we wanted to comply fully, we could start more buckets for things like corks that you might get from a wine bottle (which have to be taken to a special place).

It’s Helpful to Always have a Euro… and Bags

The grocery store has a neat system for shopping carts. You have to unlock it by depositing a 1 Euro coin into the key slot. When you return your cart, you get your Euro back. Now I keep a special Euro with my keys in my pocket :)

The grocery store also charges for bags. Everyone brings reusable bags with them shopping. What we tried to pass as a law in Seattle is just common practice here.

Apartments Don’t Come with Anything

We viewed an apartment today and noticed it has no ceiling light in the bedroom. It has the wires for it, and a light switch but no fixture. Apparently, it is up to the renter to supply these things. In fact, the apartment we were viewing was particularly unusual for an available rental in Germany because it had cabinets, a refrigerator, an oven, a kitchen sink, etc. Normally, apartments come with no appliances at all. When you move, you take everything, including the kitchen sink.

Electric Bills are Guesstimated then Fixed

When you rent an apartment, you pay for your rent plus a utilities rate based on your square meters. When your lease is finished (not every month), they calculate your real usage and either pay you back the overage or send you a bill for the unpaid amount used. I’m sure you can see issues that could arise from this.

I’m sure there are many other differences that I either haven’t noticed yet or have already become accustomed to. I’ll keep you updated with what I encounter.

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