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LIVING IN GERMANY

5 signs you’ve settled into life in Germany

From stripping off to keeping your paperwork in order, here are five indications that you're becoming a true German.

A woman goes swimming at a nudist section of the Baltic Sea resort in Rostock.
A woman goes swimming at a nudist section of the Baltic Sea resort in Rostock. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Bernd Wüstneck

Germany can be a difficult country to settle into and there are a lot of strange traditions and cultural quirks that take some getting used to. But if you find that at least three of the following apply to you, it’s a sure sign that you’ve adapted to life in the country. 

You’re comfortable getting naked

One of the biggest shocks ex-pats often experience when first arriving in Germany is the ease with which Germans take off their clothes.

In saunas, spas and the changing rooms of sports facilities, it’s perfectly normal to walk around with everything on display in Germany. In the summer, the fondness for nudity becomes even more visible, as lovers of Frei-körper-kultur (FKK) bare all while basking in the sun on beaches and in parks.

So, if you find yourself happily shedding your clothes without a care in the world, it’s a sure sign you’ve become accustomed to life in the Bundesrepublik.

READ ALSO: Why do Germans love getting naked?

You don’t do anything on a Sunday

A young woman wears sweatpants in front of the TV in Offenbach am Main, Germany. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Christoph Schmidt

Nowhere is the saying “Sunday is a day of rest” truer than in Germany, and it’s a principle that can be baffling and frustrating to ex-pats who first move to the country.

The Sonntagsruhe (Sunday rest) principle is so important in Germany, that it’s even written into the constitution.

Article 140 of the law says: “Sundays and state-recognised public holidays remain protected by law as days of rest from work and spiritual upliftment.” 

This is why shops are closed on Sundays and why some home DIY could end up with a visit from the police – as making excessive noise is, in some cases, a criminal offence.

So if you find yourself shushing your neighbours for hoovering on the sabbath, you’re very well on the way to being a German.

READ ALSO: Why are shops in Germany closed on Sundays – and will it ever change?

You’re always on time

It’s no secret that punctuality is a big deal in Germany, and it’s a cultural trait that foreigners have to get on board with quickly.

Turning up just a minute late can result in missed appointments and a black mark against your name with your employer. 

It’s wise, therefore, to adopt the German practice of planning ahead, and aiming to arrive early.

So if you now consider arriving on time as already late and a meeting with friends organized with less than two weeks’ notice to be spontan (spontaneous) you’re 99 percent of the way to becoming German.

You have a filing cabinet

Getting to grips with German bureaucracy is one of the biggest hurdles newcomers to the country have to grapple with.

Tabs with the names of the different types of taxes such as “wage tax”, and “dog tax”, in a file folder. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Tobias Hase

There are countless Bescheinigungen (certificates) to keep hold of, you’re obliged to keep wage slips for at least a year, and health insurers and state authorities still love to send out paperwork. 

READ ALSO: Germany ranked as ‘worst country in world’ for essential expat needs

Once you’ve carelessly thrown away an important document or two, you quickly learn that the only way to survive in Germany is to keep track of your paperwork – and the best way to do that is to get yourself a filing system.

You go prepared to the supermarket

In Germany, grocery shopping is a serious business. 

Expats are often shocked by the lighting-fast check-out workers who expect you to bag your own items in an equally speedy manner to keep the queue moving. 

Supermarket trips for Germans also entail the return of bottles to the machine to reclaim their deposits. 

So, if your trips to the supermarket are accompanied by a bag full of Pfandflaschen and some sturdy, reusable bags, you can consider yourself well acclimatised to life in Germany.

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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Long-distance train boost, confusing kitchens and Hanover highlights

In our weekly roundup about life in Germany we look at plans to invest in the train network, the perplexing lack of kitchens in German flats, the arrival of Herbst and some cool things about Hanover.

Living in Germany: Long-distance train boost, confusing kitchens and Hanover highlights

German long-distance travel set for modernisation programme

There are some really positive things about train travel in Germany, but there is definitely lots of room for improvement. So we were glad to report this week that Deutsche Bahn is planning a €19 billion modernisation programme. The operator says that an extra 450 high speed – or ICE – trains will be added to the country’s network in the coming years. CEO Richard Lutz said the aim is to invest in “the trains of the future”, and even unveiled new double-decker models that will include special office cabins and family areas. The aim is to encourage people to leave their car at home and take the train. Let’s hope that punctuality gets better along with the style of trains. And there is good news when it comes to local public transport: German transport ministers plan to thrash out a plan next month for a €9 ticket successor. Although details are thin on the ground at the moment, it is likely to cost €49 and will be valid on buses, trains and trams throughout local transport networks. 

READ ALSO: How did train travel in Germany get so bad?

Tweet of the week

We relate to English footballer Georgia Stanway, who plays for Bayern Munich, and her confusion about German flats being rented out without a kitchen.

Where is this?

Pumpkins being taken by boat.

Photo: DPA/ Patrick Pleul

You know it’s Herbst (autumn) in Germany when the pumpkins are out in force. This photo shows Harald Wenske steering a Spreewald barge fully loaded with pumpkins across the water. The 72-year-old also grows potatoes, horseradish and beets in addition to pumpkins on his farmland, which is surrounded by waterways. Now is the time when you’ll start to see Kürbis (pumpkin) on the menu everywhere. 

READ ALSO: 10 ways to enjoy autumn like a true German

Did you know?

Situated on the River Leine, Hanover is the capital of Lower Saxony, which has a state election coming up on October 9th. But did you know it is also home to the World of Kitchens museum (or das Küchen-Museum), the first of its kind in Europe? The museum houses a cafe and cooking school, and features dozens of real kitchen exhibits from different cultures and eras starting from the Middle Ages. Visits to the museum are only possible with pre-booked guided tours, but are well worth it for food and history lovers.  Either at the end of your tour or before, make sure to indulge in traditional German cake and coffee at the Museum’s Schloss Cafe. While in Hanover, you should also check out the Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen, the New Town Hall and Eilenriede Forest. 

Thanks for reading,

The Local Germany team

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