16 little german things…

… Germany is so different. I just thought that I would write down a few of the things (little and big) that I have noticed in Germany, that I have found either strange or fascinating since being here.

1. Germans drive on the other side of the road

I knew this before I came but it’s still weird for me.

2. The steering wheel is on the other side of the car

It kind of goes along with the first point but I’ve lost count how many times I have gone round to the passenger side forgetting that it’s actually the drivers side.

3. They sell flavored water

I went into Mueller the other day and saw that they sold flavored water and just had to buy it! Well they do sell it in England, but I had completely forgotten about it until I saw it.

4. They charge you 25 cents (amount varies) on top of the price when buying a bottled drink

They call it a ‘pfand’. I was a bit annoyed at first as I had calculated exactly how much the two bottles I got in Mueller were going to cost me but then the actual amount that I was charged was 50 cents more. It was explained to me later that when you return the empty bottles to a store, you can get your money back, but even so it seems a little strange to me. Nevertheless, it is a very effective way to be environmentally friendly, albeit a bit annoying.

5. The trains and buses are almost always on time

I was actually surprised when my 4:31 pm bus showed up at exactly 4:31 pm as I was so used to having to be at my bus stop in Australia at least 15 minutes early in case it was early and left without me only to be waiting there for over half an hour because it was late.

6. Trams in the city

Well I kinda knew this too, but I still find it cool 🙂

7. The way every German shop attendant I have encountered have all given the kids in my host family something for free.

For example we went to the bakery and when the lady behind the counter saw the baby, she immediately gave him a soft bread roll. And we went into a shoe shop after that where the kids were given balloons. I am not used to shop assistants paying such attention to children in that way!

8. How much Germans love Robbie Williams!

Since I have been here they have played at least one Robbie song a day and last week it was his birthday, so every second song was a Robbie song!

9. There is no speed limit on the German highways

We were driving to Fulda the other day and we went on the Autobahn. We were driving at 180km/h for the whole way!!

10. How environmentally conscious Germany is

I had learnt about this in German class at school, but it is still strange to see all the giant wind turbines everywhere (there are literally 5 every 5 or 10 km) as well as all the fields that are filled with solar panels. Almost every house has solar panels and there are so many different types of bin. In our house we have an organic bin, a plastic bin, and cardboard bin, a bin for plastic bottles to return to the store, and a bin for everything else.

11. Sparkling water

Everywhere I have been to if someone asks if you want water, they will give you sparkling water. Personally I find it not nice, so once I have had the glass, I go and refill it from the tap.

12. Daylight

I guess I had forgotten how early it gets dark in the evening and how late it gets light in the morning in winter in Europe. I arrived in Germany at 6:30 am and it was still completely dark until 8 am.

13. The lack of normal tea 🙁

For some strange reason, all the German supermarkets sell the most varieties of tea than I have ever seen, even when I was living in England. They sell varieties from fruit teas to energy teas but no matter how hard I looked I could not find a normal packet of English Breakfast tea! I did manage to find a tea named ‘Klassik’ which is okay for now. To solve this dilemma of mine, we went and visited an shop in the city centre which sold a lot of British items, from masks of the royal family, to English china sets, to dairy milk chocolate to toffee and finally to tea! We bought a box of Yorkshire tea which did cost a bit more than the ones in the supermarket but which will be okay until I get used to the other teas. 🙂

Update: they call it ‘Schwarzer Tee’, but I still found it difficult to find in Bavaria.

14. The variety of bread and sausages

I know Germans are known for their extensive range of bread and most of all sausages, but it still never ceases to amaze me how there can possibly be so many varieties!

15. The language

Even though I learnt German at school, I still feel way out of my depth, as though I have never studied it at all. I mean I understand a lot of what people are saying, even if I don’t understand some of the words themselves, but I keep second guessing myself and think that I am interpreting it wrong. So at the moment, I haven’t spoken a lot of German as frankly, it’s a bit embarrassing to talk to a native German in their language knowing I am completely mispronouncing it and that my grammar is terrible! So when I went to the language course this week, it had been the first time that I had really spoken in German, other than the odd phrase here and there when ordering food in the city.

and finally …

16. TV

What really annoys me is that when I turn the TV on and a show like HIMYM is on, even though it is an american show, they have the German voice overs on and there is no way to switch them off. You also can’t turn English subtitles on. So the only channels I can watch in English are the news channels like Sky UK or BBC international or CNN. The family are looking at getting the guy who installed the satellite dish last week to come back and re-tune it so that it can pick up signals for English channels such as the BBC’s and ITV, which apparently you can do!

…And a bonus one: Markets

Germans love their markets, as do I! The city I’m staying in seems to have them all the time, and I’m certainly not complaining! They sell anything from intricately carved ornaments, to roasted sugared nuts, clothes and even household cleaning equipment. My favourite markets are definitely the famous Christmas markets!

German Internet Radio

Here are some recommendations for German internet radio stations (with no adds)!

All the Antenne Bayern radio stations are great, but here are the ones which play at least some German songs. I highly recommend Antenne Bayern Party Songs!

  • Antenne Bayern Party Songs (http://antenneparty.rad.io/)
    German’s have some wacky ideas about what is and isn’t a Party Song, so expect a lot of Karnevalslieder, Spanish songs they’ve picked up on Mallorca as well as good old hits like ‘Mambo No. 5’. This is the best radio station for dancing crazily around the house! It plays a great mix of songs I know and love intertwined with a diverse range of German music and other European songs.
  • Antenne Bayern Soundgarage (http://antennesoundgarage.rad.io/)
    This station contains mostly German language alternative music. I hardly know any of the songs they play on it.
  • Antenne Bayern Top 40 (http://antennetop40.rad.io/)
    This contains all the songs you’d hear on a conventional hit radio station, but with the occasional German charts songs.
  • Antenne Bayern Schlagersahne (http://antenneschlagersahne.rad.io/)
    Schlagermusik is what your average German Granny listens to. The songs are generally kitschige love songs from the 50s-70s. Everyone learning German should attempt to listen to Schlagermusik for 5 minutes.
  • Antenne Bayern Hits für Kids (http://antennekids.rad.io/)
    This station is absolutely terrible, unless you’re into Kinder playing recorder and singing shouting at the top of their voices.

Here are some other non-Antenne Bayern stations:

That should be enough for you to get started! Internet radio is really a great and low-effort way of discovering German music.

Freie Sprachinitiative

Hallo und ein herzliches Willkommen zu der ANU German Society Freie Sprachinitiative!

We are a group of ANU students who believe that high-quality language tuition should be free and available to all school students and who are passionate about sharing the German language. We are launching a new programme to provide free German tutorials to college students for 1.25 hours per week.Tutors are uni students with a high level of German (the level of Advanced German at ANU or above) who will run tutorials for a very small group of around 3 students. Currently, tutorials will be held on Mondays 5:00-6:15pm (small group) and Thursdays 5:00-6:15pm (main group) at the ANU, although we may be arranging new times in the future.

To sign-up for the Freie Sprachinitiative tutorials, please submit this online form:
We will contact you and invite you to our tutorials.

You will automatically become a member of the ANU German Society and if you enjoy our tutorials and other events, you may pay our voluntary $5 annual membership fee.

Monday tutorials are held in BPB W120 and Thursday Tutorials are held in BPB W118. The last Monday tutorial for the term is on July 1 and the last Thursday tutorial for the term is on June 27.

BPB is not far from the Street Theatre, just walk around 50m down University Avenue into the ANU, turn left after the Family Court, walk straight (past the multi-storey carpark) and BPB is on your left. W118 and W120 are on the ground floor. It’s easy to find, there’s a big sign! Map: http://campusmap.anu.edu.au/displaymap.asp?grid=ef32

Thank-you for your commitment to foreign language learning!

Eure Freie Sprachinitiative