Individual/Personal Issues: I noticed in my first few weeks here that my interactions with my coworkers and friends in public was different. After hearing about popular mannerisms and cultural no-nos, I took those to heart. For example, I heard that talking loudly on the Ubahn and Sbahn is looked down upon. Partially, this is true. My morning and after work commute is so silent; you can hear a pin drop. I would notice if someone spoke loudly, the surrounding people would look at the offender in an annoyed expression.
When comparing the average German to American, the average German tends to have a better idea of politics and events around the globe. Europe is very interconnected, so news and events travel fast. Many of the countries are also reliant on one another, especially being a part of the E.U. The average person is also not likely to own a home, but rather an apartment. Personally, I think there are two reasons for this. First, Berliners live in the city, so homes aren’t that prevalent. Second, Germans get paid less, so spending an enormous amount of money on a home does not seem like a smart economical decision.
In the States, politics is very US-centered. Not many are fully aware of politics beyond the border, nor do many care unless it directly affects them. Also, Americans are known for being loud, patriotic, and talkative. Not to mention a lot of Europeans think we smile a lot!
Updates: This past weekend, Michael, Rob, and I visited a few of the many tourist sites scattered around Berlin. We went to Topography of Terror, Palace of Tears, and East Side Gallery. I’m glad we went to the tourist-y places! I’ve been waiting to visit them. We also ate delicious food this weekend, including the best doner in Berlin, Mustafa’s. Gourmet waffles were also on this list, in addition to KFC (a bit disappointed in myself for getting this). Overall, it was a great weekend in Berlin.
Next stop: Amsterdam!