As an American...I’ve noticed a few inherent cultural differences while living in Düsseldorf, Germany.
1. Traffic Lights: The sequence is as follows: green, yellow, red, yellow (?), green. You won't ever see the extra yellow light signal in the US.
2. Jaywalking: To jaywalk or not to jaywalk. If thou shall, thou art stupid. Basically, if you dart out without the little green man giving you the "go", then prepare to experience the German stare off. Although an American instinct screams, “Run buckeroo! TIME IS MONEY,” it probably won't look so good here. Especially in front of the kids.
3. Biking: Loving it. Once a Bostonian biker, fighting for my life everyday against crazed Masshole drivers with their poorly-timed car door openings as they park idle, I appreciate the bustling biking community here. Grandparents, kids, pretty girls, and everyone from far and between bike here. It’s a norm, not an annoyance. Plus the bike lanes are roomy and generously bigger.
4. Pick-ups: Generally, women get picked up from 2-5am. During a pub crawl in Altstadt, while your friends argue where to go next, don’t be surprised to find that drunk guy, way past his tolerance level, stumble upon you, give you the stare, and make a gargling remark. You will be serenaded. I promise.
*Note: From my experience in normal waking hours, German men are actually some of the most polite and reserved men on the planet. Still, everybody has a breaking point. It just takes them a whole lot of beer for them to get there*
5. Trash: The Germans are considerably neat and tidy people and if there's one thing that holds true, it's their practices on managing rubbish. One should always abide by the rules when delegating trash. Bio waste, green glass, brown glass, white glass, cardboard, plastics, canned goods, did I forget something? Probably. They have it all. Plus, what's quite admirable is their impeccably clean, trash can free, streets. I was dumbfounded when I first spotted a garbage man who would open each basement trap door, take a long chained hook and throw it down the shaft which he would hoist up the garbage bins, empty them, then place them back down into the basement. Besides the large community bins, sidewalks will never show any household garbage cans, at least this is what I witnessed in Düsseldorf, cities may vary.
6. Public Behavior: Don’t you dare break the silence of the German trains! Put that phone away and if it rings, use the “indoor voice” you learned in 2nd grade. As an American, sometimes we can be overly loud, boisterous and openly friendly. Here, you must recognize that this behavior isn't always welcomed. Try not to say, "Wie gehts, how are you?" when you approach the checkout line. Germans take it literally. Small talk with strangers isn't normal. Save it for late night drinking :)
7. Weather: For the first time in my life, I actually appreciate weather back home. When the sun comes out in Germany, I cry a little inside.
*Note: From September to God knows when, it will rain constantly, but my camera absorbed the rarity of these sun rays back in October*
8. Prices: Although Düsseldorf is considered a wealthy city by German standards, the quality of life is pretty evident based upon their subsidized prices. I don't feel guilty when I shop in a DM store and get my 3 month supply of hair products, 10 euros.
Or when I buy my full load of groceries for 30 euros a week without skimping on the basics. There are many sites to compare the pricing index or cost of living like Numbeo. My recommendations for groceries: buy the “Ja!” brand. It will give you a reason to scream, “Ja!”
If you've ever lived in Germany, what is your take on this? Do you agree on some points or am I crazy?