Two months in Deutschland, it has been amazing experience. While I miss a lot of things back home, there are lot of things here that please me. I put it all in bucket list. Please note these are my personal observation and some may not hold true for you. I have made a fair comparison with no offence to anyone. Both India and Germany are very dear to me and I respect both the cultures.
- 1. Vehicles Never Honk
At first you’ll feel like German automobile companies have forgot to mount a horn in the vehicles. Stand by the street and just admire how Germans drive. The cars seem to automatically stop three feet behind the preceding vehicle. A German friend of mine said, honking unless too necessary is an offence. It’s just so amazing how they drive at extremely high speed and still do it without honking.
- 2. Obey the Red Man
Anywhere in the world if the traffic light is turned red it means STOP. In Germany even if you see there is no car in vicinity, it still means STOP. If you don’t do it and go haywire with passing car, you’ll be yelled at. This seems to be too strict, indeed sometimes a few people do oversee red signal and cross the street. But for sense of obeying rules, follow them. Note: At few traffic signal you’ll have to press the yellow button in order to make the signal turn green.
- 3. That Special Moment at Zebra Crossing
If you are standing at one end of street wanting to cross, the passing by car would stop way behind the zebra crossing and give you nod to pass. For a moment you feel proud being treated this way. Similarly avoid crossing roads unless on zebra crossing. Note: Avoid walking in lane marked with bicycle symbol.
- 4. Taking Public Transport?
Accepted the fact that compared to India travelling is pretty costly, but the perks are travel here is always rewarding, trains clock 150mph greeting you with exceptional view of country side. Caution: While getting on and off the train or bus keep patience, keep distance from fellow passenger. If you have travelled in Mumbai Local Train or Bangalore’s BMTC, you know what I mean to say.
- 5. There are Very Less Working Hours
If it’s Saturday, buy all the stuff you’ll need for Sunday. Sunday is a curfew. Except for restaurants and overly priced gas stations don’t expect anything to be open. Even frequency of public transport like buses is very limited. Check the schedule before you leave home on holidays, chances are you may not get ride back home if you hangout late. Even though Germans work for less number of hours than any other countries, the productivity is way higher.
- 6. The Winter Never Ends. Be Prepared for Rain!
The moment you land in Germany and walk out of the airport, you’ll feel like someone has turned on Air Conditioning and its set at horribly low temperature, for those travelling internationally for the first time it’s thrilling moment. The summers sometimes warm up to 25 midday, but come the night its 13 again. The sun shines, the sun shines not, the next moment it’s raining, ten minutes on its not. Keep a spare jacket in your bag pack. Climate is unpredictable most times. Advisable to check weather forecast before you leave home.
- 7. Practice Paying Change, If Not Wear Pants with Big Pockets
Everything under 5 euros comes in coin form. The denominations come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and 1 and 2 euros. If you run a bill of €1.58 you’ll end up getting three coins. Eventually they pile up. Keep a piggy bank, you’ll be amazed how much you have saved at the end of the month! I collected €75 in two months. Note: There is a €200 bank note too.
- 8. Don’t Freak Out At Prices
Stop multiplying every Euro you spend with 80. You’ll freak out paying €1.59 for a burger that would cost Rs. 35 in India or pay 50 cents to use restroom at station. Take a chill pill. Soon you’ll get used to it. While cost of living is still way higher than it is in India, you can’t help but get along with it.
- 9. Keep Your Voice Low
Yes! Practice this! No one back in India would tell you even if you talk too loud on phone in public places. Here you will get awkward stares from people or may even be told to shut up. On the backdrop it’s alright sometime if late night on a weekend you are drunk and shout out loud. Passerby would take it as wicked humor and ignore it. But it is advised not to do so.
- 10. When They Say be There at 5, be There at 5 minutes to 5
For people in Germany punctuality is top priority. To be in their good books, one thing you must and should follow is to maintain punctuality. Not only with Germans, but anyone here in Germany. Thereafter don’t watch the clock, if you are at a party, it may go on and on well past midnight.
- 11. Learn how to Open a Bottle Without Opener
If you are going out with a German friend, learn this skill. You may have to open endless number of bottles, saying it in exaggeration. There are videos out there on youtube showing you how to open a bottle with anything from a door knob to dustbin to even a cap!
- 12. Ask for Tap Water
Oh yeah! Most of Germans drink fizzy water. If you ask for water in a restaurant by default you’ll be served with carbonated water. Now you can get used to German food but not carbonated water. Ask for tap water, in few places they would refuse you to give tap water just because in German tap water means “Leitungswasser”, the reverse conversion of which is “Plumbing water” now they don’t want to serve you with sever water. In such a case ask for “Wasser ohne Gas” (Water with no Gas). You’ll be asked “Gross or Klien” (Large or Small). Caution: Bottled water is pretty costly. Advised to carry bottle from home.
- 13. Learn the Word ‘Vegitarish’
Back in India you could distinguish between a vegetarian and non-vegetarian food with a green or red mark on the packing. Here it’s not, almost whole of the country eats non-vegetarian. If you are a vegetarian initially it would be difficult. You’ll miss out a lot of good food thinking that its non-veg, but with time you’ll learn to differentiate. If someone has told you “everything is non-veg there” don’t believe them! Though there are very few vegetarian dishes in restaurants, they are awesome, there are lot of restaurants too and since we Indians are everywhere you’ll find a few Indian restaurants too, walk in, make friendship with them and you’ll be served exceptional Indian food that does not exist on their menu. Caution: be ready to pay big bucks in an Indian restaurant.
- 14. Dairy product! Bakeries!
The larger part of refrigerated section in supermarket has dozens of different flavors of yoghurt, cheese and milk. There are never ending options for you to choose. If you love eating pastries and cake, you can eat to death. They are simply awesome.
- 15. There is nothing called “spicy”
Germany has vivid taste and variety, but one thing every Indian would miss is spices. We are so used to having ‘chatpata’ food that you would feel something is missing. Even the chili sauce would taste pretty much like tomato sauce.
- 16. Pay Your Bill
Except if you are on a date, don’t bother about paying someone else bill at a restaurant. Back in India one pays for everyone and later you share the expenditure. Here as most of the times its pay first and then eat, one pays for their own expenses beforehand.
- 17. “Pfand”
Recycling an empty bottle can buy you same drink in India. Like in India never throw a plastic bottle in dustbin unless there is no mention of “pfand” or the symbol. While you buy a drink here you are not only charged for drink but for the bottle to. For example, if you are buying half a liter of coke, you’ll pay €1.95 that includes €0.20, which you’ll be refunded when you recycle the bottle at any store. Well, you pay Rs. 18 for a bottle of coke in India and get to keep the bottle too. LOL
- 18. Most Electronic Devices are Never Repaired, They are Recycled
If your refrigerator broke down, either fix it by yourself or just recycle it. Especially if it is more than five years old, don’t even think of fixing it. Man power is very limited and costly in Germany. To fix €500 laptop, it may cost you €150 and then too not assured that it would work like it did before.
- 19. There isn’t Just Dust Bin, There are Three or Even Five
One thing you’ll love about this country is cleanliness. Germany is one of very few countries which takes environment pretty seriously. You’ll never see anything littered on the streets except for cigarette butts. Moreover they don’t throw all the garbage into one bin. There are separate bins for Bio waste, plastics, paper and non-recyclable materials. It will take a while for you to understand which waste goes where.
- 20. They Would Never Ignore You. They Would Trust You Irrespectively
If you have read in newspaper how rudely British people treat Indians, it’s not the same here. In Germany you are ill-treated if you are dumb. If you have got brains, speak it out. Germans like people who are highly intellectual. Germans are highly qualified and they believe that Indians are very hard working and smart. Unlike in India, here people would trust you, most of the times the bus drivers would let you go even if you can’t find your pass.
- 21. Do you speak English?
When a German guy replies, “a little bit!”, don’t believe him, he is assuming that you have Phd. in English literature. His English might be way better than yours. If the answer is no, find someone around who understands English. People are always up to help you. In fact you would be amazed to see them volunteer and help you translate.
- 22. There are Endless Greetings
It starts with “Hallo” and ends with “danke schön” (Thank you very much) followed by “tschüss” (bye). In India you may leave a shop without acknowledging but mind you in Germany you must acknowledge with these greetings.
- 23. Stand and Admire, Kids are too Cute, So are the Grownups
They are cute and smart. They would smile at you and wink at you. If you feel like handing over them a chocolate, don’t do it without permission of the guardian with them. You will never be rejected. Talking about the grownups? Wait until you get here!
- 24. They Know Art of Giving, Better than Anyone!
If you find some furniture lying by street side, don’t think it’s broken. It’s there because the owner doesn’t need it anymore. It is kept there so that someone in need can take it home. Edit: It sometimes might be risky to pick up something without the permission of the owner. Please do care to ask.
- 25. Don’t speak about ***** ******!
Don’t even take the name! ENOUGH SAID!
- 26. Emergency? Call 112!
If you or your friend is in trouble, call 112. In not more than five minutes the ambulance and doctors with all necessary equipment would be right there and guess what? If you have an insurance you will not have to pay even a penny. Note: 112 is for fire and medical emergency, 110 for police.
- 27. Blazing Internet Speed. But No Torrents.
You connect to wifi, open a webpage and it loads in no time. HD videos on youtube don’t need any buffering time. Beware, with great speed comes the limitation. Torrents are strictly prohibited. The first thing you do before you leave India is to uninstall whatsoever torrent software you have. If noticed by your ISP downloading torrent you have to pay up to €800 and may even have to do jail time.
- 28. A German Visa is Ticket to Europe
If you have a German Visa or visa of any European country you have ticket to whole of Europe (Except for UK of course). What makes Germany stand out? It shares border with NINE countries, yes! You heard it right! France, Switzerland, Austria, Luxemburg, Chez Republic, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands and Poland. You may run out of time, but will never run out of options.
- 29. Keep €18 aside, Though You Don’t Watch German TV
Well this is pretty annoying, even if you don’t own a TV you will still have to pay €17.98 as license fee for TV and Radio. Sooner or later this is coming your way. Be prepared.
- 30. It’s fussball
Like cricket in India it is football in Germany. Do a background study about German football team and you’ll spark up an interesting conversation at pub with many Germans. They would love to listen to you and share their views.
So that is it! Please leave behind any of the points that you feel are important and I have missed out on! I would make sure to append them. I would love to listen from you what you feel about this bucket list. Please do comment.