A country with unlimited speed highways, no telephone poles, no pick up trucks and dessert before dinner: German culture differs greatly from the American lifestyle.
Germany is far different from America in many ways including different varieties in food, efficiency, cultural history and forms of transportation. This reporter took a deeper look into German lifestyles vs American lifestyles and had the chance to interview citizens from Germany and also former students from Triton.
“German culture and customs are much older than in America,” said Helmut Ernst whose parents were world war 2 survivors. Ernst grew up in America learning many German habits but also lived in Switzerland for two years. Ernst explains that there are many differences that are easily noticed when visiting such as food. Ernst describes that In Germany there is an extremely large variety of bread, meats and cheeses as compared to America. He said that even in the smallest grocery stores it is not uncommon to find many varieties of fresh baked goods and deli foods that are locally produced.
“In general the food is purchased more locally and people are very skeptical of foods that contain a lot of preservatives or come from far away,” said Peter Henrich who has lived in Germany his whole life.
Henrich said that Germans have embraced a culture of energy efficiency in their homes and automobiles. He explains that homes have modern and efficient heating systems, very little air conditioning and automobiles are generally smaller and use less gas. In the countryside and small villages everything is extremely orderly.
“Most all garbage is sorted and recycled and waste bins are in many public areas and even along rural paths as to make it convenient to keep things clean,” said Ernst.
Ernst explains that large cities in Germany are more crowded than in the USA and the cleanliness is a bit less than in smaller towns and in the countryside. Ernst went on to say that one of the most noticeable things you will see when driving around Germany is that there are no telephone poles and wires along the roadways which makes the landscape look very uncluttered.
Culture and History
The history of a country can shape culture in different ways. “Europe’s history is much older than the US and it is not uncommon to see buildings several hundred or even a thousand years old,” said Henrich. He explains that one of the most noticeable things one will experience is that most people can speak a second or third language other than German. Henrich explains that many cities and towns have large museums, many historical sites, buildings and a very active schedule of concerts and artistic performances, as money from taxes support these things much more so than in the US.
“The German culture is very organized but also very bureaucratic and there seems to be a law regulation or paperwork required for almost everything,” said Henrich.
Wilhelm Kanenbley has lived in Germany his whole life and has travelled all around the world to America and other countries. Kanenbly said that people are basically the same wherever you go on this earth, and he has noticed German people are more reserved than Americans and conversations are very structured.
“In Germany there is not the ethnic mixture of people and races are less pronounced than the ‘great melting pot’ of America where people of all parts of the world have emigrated to,” said Kanenbly
The Autobahn and other roadways
Roadways and transportation differ in Germany than here in America.
Hans Ernst a Triton alum who has spent whole summers in Germany described that roadways are generally narrower than in the US. “Much like Americans the Germans love their cars and driving them, many highways or Autobahns as they call them there is no speed limit,” said Ernst. Ernst described that on their highways it is not uncommon to drive at fast speeds over 100 miles per hour.
Driving fast requires practice, and the process for getting a license is much more strict than here in the U.S.
According to a buisness insider article by Aaron Brown “you are required to take tons of driving lessons, including several where you’re taken on the actual Autobahn and put into real, high-speed traffic. Drivers must receive basic first-aid training, and on top of that, you still have an incredibly difficult multiple choice exam and the road test,” (Business Insider, Aaron Brown)
However Henrich explains that one exception to energy conservation is that Germans love to drive extremely fast on highways and this is not very energy efficient at all.
“Driving speed limits are strictly enforced on local roads within town or city boundaries so it is rare to see a police car pulling over a vehicle for speeding,” said Kanenbly. Kanenbly explains that Germany has an extremely developed network of trains, railways and trolley trains connecting all cities and most all towns with populations greater than 10,000 people.
“Many people living in cities in Germany do not own a car due to the convenience of public transportation,” said Kanenbly.
Germany is full of surprises from houses that look centuries old from the outside and are completely modern and high tech on the inside including a finger print entry scanner to even finding houses on turkey farms.