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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: German rules, finding a flat and why do children carry cones?

Each week the team at The Local Germany sends out a weekly newsletter to members looking at some of the quirks, perks and big issues for people living in the country. Here's the latest round-up.

Living in Germany: German rules, finding a flat and why do children carry cones?
Photo: Flo Kar on Unsplash

Just like many of our members, The Local Germany team is navigating life abroad, from the harder bits (like German bureaucracy) to the highs of learning new words and making local friends.

That's why we want to share more about life in Germany with you.

Today we are launching a new members-only weekly newsletter to give something back, and to give you a platform to ask questions, share your anecdotes, photos or get something off your chest.

We hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps you'll relate to some of our snapshots of life in the Bundesrepublik.

Only in Germany

Many of us are familiar with the stereotype of rule-loving Germans.

But it might actually be true, if this tweet about rules for school kids is anything to go by. We laughed out loud when Ciarán Ó Fathaigh tweeted that he’d found “peak Germany”: Seven pages of rules for his son’s school that parents have to sign.

Germany’s Big Issue

Germany has been talking a lot about its coronavirus testing strategy,especially when it emerged Bavaria was struggling with the amount of people getting tested, with many having to wait over a week for results.

The Local Germany reader Scott McLaughlin had to wait over five days for results for him and his family after doing roadside tests in the southern state, despite being reassured the results would be available in one to two days.

“I've never checked my email as frequently as I did during those five days, awaiting the news that we could be released from our home prison,” he said.

Now Bavaria says it’s going to get rid of its testing stations on the Autobahn. Is this the right move?

Did you know?

Now all schools in Germany have returned to the classroom after the summer break. Perhaps you were wondering why lots of children were carrying cones?

That would be the Schultüte (literally school bag or cone) tradition.

It’s a cone that children get when they start school and it’s usually filled with treats like toys and sweets. It’s meant to signify an important milestone in life. Well, starting school is a serious business.

The tradition dates all the way back to the 1800s.

Where’s this?

Any idea where this pic was taken in Germany?

The Local’s editor Rachel Stern is on holiday this week (yep, we’re a bit jealous). She took this snap at the top of the Zugspitze, Germany's tallest mountain of almost 3,000m, which stands on the border with Austria.

Do Germans do this?

This tweet, which pokes fun at the culture of splitting costs down to the last cent, suggests Germans aren’t the most generous when it comes to hosting.

 

It certainly provoked a strong reaction, with most people on Twitter saying they’d never experienced anything like this and that German people in general are very generous.

What about you?

Help us

The Local’s Rach Loxton has just moved house and is still recovering from the amount of paperwork needed for a rental contract in Germany, and the stress of finding a place to live in the German capital.

We’ll write about these topics in the coming weeks, and we also want to know – what’s your experience of searching for a flat in Berlin with the rent freeze law in place? Email [email protected] if you want to commiserate or to share your experience.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to send feedback on what you’d like to see in these weekly newsletters. Our format will be slightly different each week.

Have a good week,

The team at The Local Germany

[email protected] 

Rachel Loxton and Rachel Stern from The Local Germany.

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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