In case you’re about to visit Germany, it would be helpful to familiarize yourself with the way its citizens live, either we talk about law or social rules people follow to ensure a stable everyday life. Here, you’ll be able to find several useful advice which you should follow up in case you plan to travel to Germany, so you can avoid a potentially awkward situation and so you can easier adapt to the new environment.
Cross the street ONLY when the green light’s on
One of the things that you will notice swiftly on the streets of Germany is that pedestrians respect the rules very carefully. When you visit Germany you will notice that most of the Germans will patiently wait for the traffic light to change, although there are no cars to be seen in the street. In most cases, people that do not respect these rules stumble upon Germans who will, in a more or less polite way, be free enough to criticize him on spot. Ticket for this kind of misdemeanor, if you didn’t cause any bigger trouble, will be between 5€ and 10€.
Recycling is important
Considering how Germans care about their environment, no wonder they pay so much attention to recycling. Tourists that visit Germany, very often have a problem when it comes to a choice in which thrash cans, will they dispose of their trash. It’s very important not to make a mistake when it comes to sorting out that thrash, as it can make average German angry, even their utility service. Pay attention to the signs on those containers, most of them are marked with colored signs for plastic waste, cardboard and paper, and organic waste, electro-waste, and furniture that is being recycled in a special way. Another example of this presents glass bottles, which you need to dispose of in several different containers depending on the color of their glass (white, green or brown)
Careful with the middle lane
If you plan to visit Germany and you’re new to the German Autobahn, you’re probably not familiar with some rules. What is important to know about it, is that you must follow the rules about the speed limit and space between you and the car in front of you and rules about the use of their traffic lanes. You can make someone mad rather easily if you use the middle traffic lane or the left one, considering how these are used for overtaking the slow vehicles. In case you travel to Germany, keep in mind these things.
Respect people’s time
When you visit Germany, have in mind that being on time, as one of the famous stereotype of the German people, plays a key role in the everyday life of an average German person. Although we will all agree that not respecting someone’s time is a rude gesture, being late to a meeting is notably to every German person. When you visit Germany, if you’re starting a life in one of the cities of this nation, this advice will be very helpful, whether it’s about work, school or getting out for a cup of coffee.
Barefoot over doorstep
Daily customs are different in each culture, and that includes taking your shoes off before entering someone’s home. When it comes to this custom, or should we better say a habit, most of the German people don’t wear shoes inside the host’s house, he will take the shoes off before entering by default when it comes to visits to close people, family & friends. In case you’re not sure, you can ask the host about his house rules so you can avoid inconveniences. With that being said, if you’re fond of your slippers in your own home, think about bringing those when you visit someone.
Don’t walk a bicycle lane!
Yes, we are talking about breaking the law, but that shouldn’t be your biggest concern here. Using a bicycle lane by a pedestrian could be very dangerous, considering that cyclists got used to be mobile at great speed when it comes to their lanes. Grunting wouldn’t be as bad experience as it would be getting hurt by a speedy cyclist, who didn’t expect a pedestrian to walk on a lane designated for cyclists.
Keep empty bottles
We already mention that, if you plan to visit Germany, you should considering how much Germans care about their environment and their effort to recycle as much waste as they can. There is another great thing they do when it comes to waste management. This system stimulates citizens to, instead of disposing empty glass bottles to containers, bring those to the nearest supermarket, regardless of whether that product was bought there or not. With empty packaging, the amount of money you have to pay for your next receipt will be lowered by a value related to the returned glass bottles.
Respect public peace
Quiet hours are, by default, regulated by law about non-disturbing peace in specified time of the day, days or holidays. In case of breaking those rules, fines range from a couple of hundreds to a couple of thousands of euros. A German court has its own regulatory body (including specialized judges) for this matter. Activities, such as cleaning your apartment, turning your washing machine on in a bad moment, could make you some serious issues in your neighborhood if you live in Germany, even if you’re visiting Germany temporarily. Here is the schedule considering quiet time during which you are expected not to make a bigger noise:
- Throughout Sunday and national holidays
- From 8 pm to 7 am, Monday to Saturday (September – April)
- From 9 pm to 7 am, Monday to Saturday (May-August)
- No mowing the lawn between 7 am – 9 am and after 5 pm
- Every day from 1 pm to 3 pm (recently terminated, but it will still be viable in federal-state Hesen)
Keep the cash with you
Don’t be surprised if they decline your credit card or debit card in fast-food restaurants, corner shops or similar places. In wholesales and quality restaurants they usually accept this kind of payment, while everyday payments are still being resolved with cash most of the time. One could say that Germans prefer paying with cash although they have other options available. Credit cards, such as Visa and Mastercard, are widely acceptable means of payment, in difference to debit cards, while American Express cards are accepted mostly in wholesale markets. So, be well informed when it comes to this sort of payment if you plan to travel to Germany.
Address people appropriately
Besides many other ways, courtesy of these folks is expressed through their language. With that being said, you should pay close attention when you address strangers or people you’re not that close with. The German language differ formal and informal forms of “you”, so you’re advised to pick a suitable way to address other people in the given circumstances, considering how much this is important to most of the German people. If you find yourself in, not so familiar environment, in business communication or talking to a staff of an institution, it is expected to address that person using his last name, or polite form of a pronoun “you” – “Sie”. In presence of hail-fellow people, with similar age in less formal circumstances, it is completely acceptable to address them using their name, and instead of the pronoun “Sie” you’ll be using “du” as an informal form of the pronoun “you”. If you’re not sure how you should address him/her, it would be best to be open about it and ask him/her what would make him/her comfortable.