German habits I am not eager to pick up

I believe some of the things I will mention in this post are not necessary German, but more European and others are more Swabian, more local, and I might not observe them in many other German regions.

Here we go:


Eating huge Döner/sandwiches/French fries, etc. while walking fast

I cannot imagine combining walking through the crowd and eating a sandwich with mayo and ketchup that drip down my hands. I do not think we look well while eating in a hurry and I am sure our stomachs are not happy about that. If I am hungry I will eat at home or at least I will have something really small that I can eat on a run. Once I saw a woman eating an apple on the bus. Oh God, the apple juice was all over her face and the whole bus could hear her biting that apple. She was really hungry I believe. I do not want to eat anything while running late and the only thing I can enjoy eating while going for a walk is some ice cream.

Putting bags on empty bus seats and not moving your bag away when there are people standing

The bus seats are not limitless, so why do you think your bag shall occupy the seat that is for a person to sit on? When there are no people on the bus I put my bag on a seat next to me too sometimes. However, when the bus is full I do not occupy the seat with my bag and I am reluctant to accept this common habit here. Additionally, I am not used to the fact that very often people do not give up their seats to the elderly. I have to say though that this is just one of the cultural differences. I remember when I let an old woman to get on a bus before me and she (so it seemed) did not understand why. I guess if the elderly does not expect any help here, so there is no reason to be helpful… This just sounds wrong to me. That’s why I do not want to accept this strange concept of ‘age equality’

Staring. Yep. In Tübingen people do stare a lot. I would understand if I had a tattoo on a half of my face, or something like that. Actually, when a German friend of mine came to visit me last summer and we went for a walk one man not only stared, but also gave a comment about her appearance (she does have a huge tattoo on her arm). Funny enough, that a man from Cuba who attended the languages course with me said that in Germany everyone wears what he wants to wear and no one cares. I believe in bigger cities people do care less, but not in small towns. You will get looks even if you wear a T-shirt and jeans. Why do people like to stare so much here? My answer is because life in a town is boring.

Also, I really do not understand why some people like to turn their heads back if I walk behind them on a narrow pedestrian walk. First of all, I like to hold a distance or I try to go faster than a person in front of me. I do not enjoy walking behind your back, but that’s how the road is. So, why are you surprised you are not the only one who is walking there? When people turn their heads back I can imagine they are scared because they walk alone and they want to check who is behind them. That’s understandable. But when people turn their heads back more than once that really irritates me. I might be walking behind you, but you are the one who scares me. Can’t you just walk faster, so we do not need to stay on the same path for too long? Because sometimes it is awkward when the street is empty and we are the only two strangers walking the same direction.

Loud nose blowing. This is just another cultural difference. I find it very unattractive when people do it so loudly here in Germany. I have noticed that not only Germans do it here, but also many other foreigners I met. I guess it is a cultural thing. I think that if you are in a restaurant or a shopping mall there is a bathroom for doing that.

Walls in my apartment are so thin; I can hear my neighbor downstairs blowing his nose. At the same time, I do not hear him talking/watching TV. Just imagine how loud this particular sound is. Absolutely horrible.

Putting your handbags on dirty surfaces. I rather put my bag on the same seat than putting it on the floor when I have a choice. You never know if you have to put the same bag on your lap later and I want my bag to be clean. So I cannot imagine first putting my bag on the ground while waiting for a bus, then putting my bag on a seat next to me and occupying the space, then putting my bag on a floor next to my table in a restaurant and so on. Your handbag shall stay clean and not carrying bacteria from a restaurant floor back home.

That’s my observation about Swabia so far. Foreign customs always feel strange at first, but that adds the color to our exploration of living abroad. Cultural differences are not bad; they help us not only to learn more about another culture, but to look differently at our own.



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