What surprised me in German everyday life?
When I moved to Germany, I started to notice things that differ from the everyday life that I was used to. Here are some customs that surprised me!
Shops are closed on Sundays!
If you need some food from the supermarket, or if you want to check out winter sales in the department store…you have to do it on Saturday, or wait until Monday!
I had to learn to schedule my time around it. I was used to going shopping whenever I wanted. However, now I started to appreciate this custom.
I noticed, that without open shops on Sunday, it is actually easier to find some time to relax. The employees are not the only ones who have a day off—the customers too! 🙂 I love seeing German families taking a Sunday walk together, or drinking a late coffee after going to church. It seems that nobody hurries anywhere on Sundays. When everybody around is enjoying their free time, I also find a moment to take a long walk and rest from my student duties.
If you forget to do your shopping, some restaurants and cafes are still open on Sundays (though not as many, as during the rest of the week), so you won’t starve 🙂 Also, don’t worry about the pharmacies—most of them are closed, but every night (including Sunday nights) one pharmacy in my city is open for the “Notdienst” (“Emergency time”). They take turns doing this, and you can always google the currently open pharmacy.
Sundays are also very quiet—for example, in Nordrheine-Westfalen you are not supposed to throw away glass to the recycling container (it makes noise) or engage in other loud activities, out of courtesy to your neighbors.
Main shopping street in Münster – on Sundays it is not as busy as usual
If you’re a student, you might be able to ride the train for free…or you might not get any price reductions at all!
My Semester-Ticket was an extremely positive surprise to me! While enrolled at the university in Muenster, I can use the public transport in the whole land for FREE (including regional trains, buses and trams—everywhere!). It’s a huge saving, because the train tickets are quite expensive. For example, a 40-minute ride from Dortmund Airport to my town costs over 16 euro one-way. If you are a student from another country, or another German land, there are no reductions for the train prices.
You don’t have to be a student to eat (cheaply) in student cafeterias.
At my school in Chicago, only students, faculty and staff had access to the student cafeterias. In Germany, Mensas (that’s how student cafes are called) are open to everybody. If you are a student with a Mensa-card, you enjoy lower prices while eating there. However, even the normal prices are quite inexpensive (3-4euro for the big meal—hot dish, and a salad), so I often see people of all ages having lunch in “student” buffets 🙂
All movies are dubbed!
I was used to watching international movies with subtitles. I thought that dubbing only makes sense in children movies. However, in Germany, every movie is professionally dubbed. It is quite weird to see famous Hollywood actors, speaking with different, German voices. Fortunately, the dubbing is done professionally, and the voices are often matched very well. Going to see movies in German is a perfect way to practice the language—and if you’re lucky, you can see some blockbusters earlier then the rest of the world, because all movies premiere on Thursdays in Germany!
If you really want to see a particular movie in English—no worries. Cinemas in Münster screen movies in original every Monday.
Depending on where you’re from, and how quickly you adapt to the new places – there are more things, that might surprise you, and that surprised me. But no worries – most often, they are very positive! Personally, I find everyday life in Germany very organized and convenient.