Differences between living in Germany and the US
As some of you may know, I grew up in Germany, but for the past 13 years, I’ve been living in the US. First, I’ve called beautiful San Diego my home and after a short stint in Beijing, I moved to San Antonio, and now I am back in San Diego.
During this time as an Expat in the US, I’ve seen and experienced the differences between living in Germany and the US firsthand. I don’t want this post to turn into a stereotype kind of post, I merely want to point out tendencies that I, as an individual, have observed as someone, who has lived in both countries for extended periods of time. If you have any other observations or opinions, please feel free to share them in the comments! I am looking forward to reading your thoughts!
9 Differences between living in Germany and the US
1. Customer Service
Compared to the United States, Customer Service is a dry and barren, almost dead land in Germany. Returning something to a store? You need a receipt, the product in its original packaging, and must return it within 7-14 days. No questions asked return policy like at Costco? Doesn’t happen in Germany. Need assistance in a German store? You better be ready to hunt down a store employee and pin them down, or otherwise, you might never get any help.
Politics is a hot topic and I don’t want to start a heated debate here. But one of the differences between Germany and the US politics that stuck out to me the most is how much more polarized political opinion is. In my opinion, this stems from having a two-party system versus a multi-party system. In the US, the parties have to differentiate themselves more and more to appeal to the more extreme points of view within the party.
In Germany, parties never form a majority and therefore have to build a coalition to reach a governing majority. While the parties still each have their own point of view, they are forced to work together and compromise. They also cannot burn bridges, because they might find themselves in a pickle, when they have to work with that party after the next election.
I feel that the US could do with a little more working together rather than building up more walls, whether it is around them or within their own boundaries.
To be honest, the whole US gun culture thing still freaks me out. I understand that if you live in the middle of nowhere or pursue hunting as a sport, you want/need a weapon. If I’d lived in some remote part of Montana, heck yes, I would have a gun in the house. But the idea of going to the grocery store and buying semi-automatic weapons off the shelf seems just completely bonkers to someone from Germany.
I see the historic relevance of why the first settlers depended on guns for their survival and to bring order to a brand new and very diverse nation. Things have changed since the 2nd amendment has been put in place. We have a stable political environment, a functioning society and the US is no longer the ultimate frontier that it used to be.
4. Everything is bigger in the US
Well, for starters, the US is about 26 times the size of Germany. It takes me longer to drive through Texas than it does to drive through 5 countries in Europe. I love to drive long distance and enjoy the wide open space of the United States. There are really remote places, where you are the only human being for hundreds of square miles. This is something that just doesn’t exist in Germany. It is beautiful to have the opportunity to jump into the wild like this and disconnect from society.
But it isn’t just the size of the country, everything else is bigger too. The cars, the houses, the grocery stores and everything in it is just ginormous. A bag of chips would fill half a grocery cart in Germany.
Another thing that makes the eyes of Germans pop out during their vacation in the US are the restaurant portions. A typical burger in a restaurant in the US is about the size of three burgers in Germany. And lets not even talk about the taste. Germany has some great food, but when it comes to burgers, the US is simply in a league of its own. This is probably one of the biggest differences between living in Germany and the US that is also obvious to people who only visit each country briefly.
5. Taboos and Prudishness
When I told my host mom in Louisiana that many German girls don’t even bother to buy the top to their bikini, I saw an expression of shock and surprise. Topics like nakedness and sex are much more openly discussed in Germany.
It is not that Germans are talking dirty all the time, but they tend to see it more as a matter of fact and a natural thing. Women have breasts and men have a penis. Ok, let’s move on.
6. German Bluntness
If you ask a German friend for their opinion, you will get it. In all its honesty and, sometimes, brutality. “Does this dress make me look fat?” “Well, yes, your ass looks huge in this one. Try the blue one, I think it’ll look nicer.”
Germans are very blunt compared to Americans. In the US, parents teach their children: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” This is quite a different culture and sometimes can lead to some hurt feelings and misunderstandings.
7. Renting vs Buying Houses
The decision to rent or buy a house is also one of the big differences between living in Germany and the US. The dream of the house with a picket white fence is alive and well in the US. Due to low down payments and relative easiness to get a home loan, buying a house in the US is something many young adults can already achieve.
People also tend to buy homes for their current situation rather than waiting for their “Forever Home”. The Real Estate market in the US is much more fluctuating, house prices are much easier to compare and people tend to buy and sell houses much more frequently. The majority of houses in the US are also built by developers and even brand new homes are built in a cookie cutter style.
In Germany, on the other hand, most people buy one house. THE house where they will settle and live the rest of their lives. This is why many people in Germany build a custom house to make sure it will fit their needs in the long run. Also, in most cases, the bank requires you to have a rather high income, a stable job and a minimum down payment of 20% (most people tend to put up more down payment though).
I always feel that there is probably nothing that you cannot buy in the US. There is a gadget for everything. Americans buy a lot of stuff and in huge quantities, sometimes even more than they need. Food waste is a real problem in the US and I have to admit that I am sometimes guilty of that as well, especially when I travel a lot and don’t get around to using up all the things in my fridge. Luckily, my neighbors are happy with my frequent food donations 🙂
I find it fascinating that Americans found a way to make a business out of almost everything. While I love that many of these products and services free up your time and make things easy on you, it comes at a price and I sometimes wonder, if people just spend more time working so they can afford the luxury to pay someone to do other tasks for them.
9. Work-Life Balance
For me, this is one of the biggest differences between living in Germany and the US. In Germany, people get a minimum of 21 days of paid vacation a year, unlimited sick leave and paid maternity leave, and workers are protected by a variety of laws to ensure that they are fairly compensated for their work.
On the other hand, when you look at the output of a German employee, you can see that they are very productive. They tend to be highly focused on their work and chitchatting and dilly-dallying is kept to a minimum. Meetings have an agenda and are to the point. There is a different mindset as well. If you work overtime every day in Germany, you’ll leave a negative impression with your boss, because he/she will think that you don’t get your stuff done in 8 hours and are not efficient and productive enough.
In the US, there is no minimum number of vacation days or even sick days, there is no maternity leave and you can get fired if you get sick. People work very long hours and if they are lucky enough to get vacation days, they don’t even take them. Did you know that last year over 50% of paid vacation days were not used? On the other hand, people can earn a much higher income in the US, taxes are lower and it is generally easier to find a job.
These are some of the biggest differences between living in Germany and the US that stood out to me as a German expat living in the US for the past 10 years. Each country has its advantages and disadvantages and it depends on your personal preferences of which country’s values and believes fit best with your own. I have to admit that I sometimes suffer from the “the grass is greener on the other side syndrome”. Some of the things in the US still don’t make sense to me, even after such a long time.
Have you lived in Germany or the US? What were the biggest differences between living in Germany and the US in your opinion?
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Fascinating, Maria, especially as you’ve lived in my home town (San Diego) and have been in Texas (one of the most polarized states as my outsider eyes see it.) I hope to call another country home (at least for a few months) to open my eyes more to what I have being an American and see more clearly where we could do things better. Thanks.
Thank you for your comment Elaine. Living abroad really gives you a different perspective and I have learned a lot through this experience. I think any country has things that they excel in and do great, while they can learn from other countries in different aspects. But I think this diversity is what makes this world such a great place to live in and explore.
Were your parents in the army?
No, my family is from Germany and I grew up there. However, I have been living in the US for 11 years now.
GERMANY IS BETTER THAN THE USA
Really agree with the political point, there’s such a difference in different countries! And I think Germany is so much better for not having guns!
Yes, Claire, you are right, the politics are very different in Germany and the US and I feel a lot safer in Europe than I do in the US, because of the lack of guns. But in other things, the US beat Germany as well.
My wife[50 years together] are traveling to Germany for our anniversary. Your insight has been helpful. Thank you.
I am German, and my Country has the highest rate on gun ownership worldwide
We do not have fundamental rights to bear arms, like Americans
but we have very strict laws, to obtain a gun.
Read about right here:
Actually, Barbara, you are mistaken. Germany is nowhere near the top spot, when it comes to gun owner ship per capita. It has only about 1.45 million registered gun owners that own about 5.5 million guns. This puts registered gun owners at a little over 1% of the overall population. Source http://www.zeit.de/2014/04/waffen-deutschland
Your very lucky, germany is the best country in the world in my opinion, USA is trash to me and I’m stuck here I’m only 12
I live in Australia and many things you mention apply here too. Some are different. Interesting read overall (but a lot of pop ups, my dear, it’s quite annoying!). All the best from Sydney.
Hi Silke, first of all, I am sorry for the pop-ups. It is set up to only trigger them once. I changed the settings and hopefully they don’t bother you anymore. I appreciate your feedback!
I have never been to Australia, but from what I have read, it seems to be a mix of European and American influences. I would love to visit and see this for myself one day!
Maria, I read your article with interest. Having known you all these years, it’s an eye opener to see things from someone else’s perspective. BTW, employers are required to provide maternity leave and sick leave is based on the number of hours worked. Unfortunately, vacation is considered a benefit and not an entitlement. I will keep up with your articles.
Thank you for your comment, Kathie! Thank you for making me aware about the maternity and sick leave. What I meant was paid maternity and sick leave, so I changed it in the post above. Sorry this wasn’t clear.
I am glad you enjoyed the article. I would love to talk to you about this next time I am in San Diego and learn about your perspective 🙂 Take care and see you soon, hopefully!
It is a very candid comparison which highlights differences which lie deep in each country’s cultures. Each has its pros and cons, and the best way probably is to acknowledge and understand the differences.
You are right, it is important to see and understand the differences. Unfortunately, we cannot pick and chose what we like from all the countries. Would be nice though, woundn’t it? 🙂
Great comparison between the two countries, especially the bit about the workers rights in both countries! It’s crazy that workers aren’t protected more in the US, I don’t understand that at all!
Thank you Tom. Yes, you are right, I find it also disturbing. This was one of the main reasons why I decided to work as an independent consultant, so I can get the insurance I want, take as much time off as I need and work from anywhere. Large corporations have so much power here in the US and the development in this direction is starting to affect people more and more.
In my opinion it is a more subtle difference about the work-vacation balance. Marian, after 10 years in US, you must have noticed that MOST AMERICAN HOMES have the luxury and the comfort of a resort in Europe. And the weather. Let’s face it, in Europe and Germany most people live in small apartments in high risers, in some blunt area with dome trees being all the landscaping. Americans, either owning the suburban house with picket fence, huge backyard and pool( and beautiful weather year round for the Southern half) , either in the gated condo complex that they live in they have resort style facilities, things that you have to be very wealthy to acquire in Germany. So Americans in reality NEED MUCH LESS VACATION time than Germans, cause they already live in a place that resembles the touristic destination that Germans are craving for. Think about it, if you live in a nice condo in San Diego, with the ocean close by, pool, gym, tennis courts, with the possibility to take weekend trips to marvelous places like Lka Jolla, Carlsbad, Laguna Beach, why would you need to travel elsewhere so often? But if you live in an apartment in rainy Kiln, you really need to recharge your batteries in a Spanish or Greek resort
I have to disagree with Adrian P. First we need to remember that the majority of Americans don’t live in sunny California with spa-like pools in our backyards. Additionally, we all, regardless of backyard amenities or the locale we live in, need to get away for awhile. Many of us have children and work crazy hours. I had a “cushy” 7 to 4 government job with plenty of leave and still found myself stressed, working till 6 pm many a night to meet a deadline amidst government personnel cut-backs. Then I had to drive 30 minutes to pick up my children from day care and another 30 minutes to get home, which isn’t a bad commute for American standards. After homework and household chores, there was precious little time to connect with my family, let alone to seek nature. I lived in Germany for the first 24 years of my life and then moved back to the United States. I’ve been living here for 35 years. Germany had just as much beautiful nature and much more culture within any German’s close range. I love living in Colorado (especially now that I’m retired :o)), but you can’t deny that the work-life balance in the US is in need of repair, especially since so many social woes are blamed on the collapse of the family unit.
I found this so interesting. We might move to Berlin and this was helpful to prepare. #5 Made me laugh! I feel like such a prude on European beaches.
Haha, yes, the German nakedness is something that you’d have to get used to, especially in Berlin 🙂 My husband and I are thinking about moving to Germany next year and I can’t wait to see what he will say about every day life in Germany.
I have travelled through Germany for more than 2 weeks, and I have lived in the U.S. for more than 3 months. I am neither German nor American, though. Still, I agree with the things you wrote. I found the food waste in the U.S. appalling. I vividly remember the first day a guy dumped more than 100 doughnuts. I was shocked.
About consumerism, I believe there are some websites in German that have the option of when you go out of your home, your supplies can be donated to other people.
Probably this can be done (if not already) in the States too. 🙂
I really enjoyed reading your article, Maria, thanks! 🙂
You are right, Svetoslav, it is a shame how much we waste water, food, oil and other natural resources. The problem, if you live in a society that acts like that, you sometimes slip into similar behavior. I am glad that I get to travel a lot and be reminded of how little some people have. That makes me strive to be less wasteful and conscious about the resources I consume.
Hi Maria, I found most of your comments to be true! I am an American living in Germany for six months now. We are very impressed by the recycling in Germany, but back where we are from in Oklahoma, we recycle too! Since I have a Garman ancestry, we grew up not wasting food! Texas, is just that, Texas our saying back home is everything’s bigger in Texas, hair, guns, etc. Where I grew up and lived in Oklahoma, things are much more laid back. Germany is very pretty and we came from a suburban/rural area back home. The adjustment has been fairly easy, but we are very friendly back home and we have a hard time with some of the people here in Germany. We knew that the vacation/leave policies are better here and I for one commend Germany for these policies! I worked back home in Oklahoma with only 12 days of leave per year to take when I was sick, or for vacation! Needless to say, I don’t miss my job! Thanks for your take on America, but travel in the Midwest, and don’t judge all Americans by Texas and California! I am a Registered Dental hygienist and practiced for 35 years and your health care here in Germany is very similar, and adequate. I was given the impression that it was not before I got here! Thanks Maria?
Hi Lisa, thank you so much for your comment. Where in Germany do you live? You are right, the US is a very big place and the is a lot of local variance between the different regions. I was fortunate to have lived in California, Texas and Louisiana and have traveled to over 30 states and it really opened my eyes.
Germans are hard people to get to know. They can appear rather brash and not very open. But once you make a German friend, they are a good friend. They tend to be reliable and will do anything for you to help you. Give it some time and I hope you will experience that as well! Enjoy your time in my old home 🙂
As a child of The German, I can attest to #6!
I always find it interesting to see what differences there are between countries and cultures. It’s cool because while it’s clear that they have differences, they both have ‘positives’ and ‘negatives’ and therefore you can’t really say that one is better than the other. I’m sure that it also has to do with personal preferences. I would much prefer to have Germany’s work-life balance over USA’s, but I’d also prefer to have USA’s approach to buying properties over Germany’s. Thanks for sharing your insights!
You are right, there are certain aspects that one perceives as better, depending on their personal point of view or their current situation. When I was a student, I did not care about work-life balance and so that didn’t bother me. Now that I am thinking of starting a family, it does matter to me. Wouldn’t it be nice, if we could pick and choose from each country what we like best 😉
1 made me laugh by 3, 5 & 9 are especially frustrating!
I am an American currently living in the Rheinland-Pfalz area of Germany. I agree with your statements but I think you left out a big one. DRIVING. German drivers are, generally, so much better than US drivers. No one lingers in the left lane of traffic on the autobahn, you pass and you get back over to the right lane to allow others to pass. Germans use their turn signals, I am not sure Americans even know what those are!! Everyone follows the “zipper” rule in merging traffic during a Stau (traffic jam); Everyone lets one car merge ahead of them. I love that the traffic lights in Germany not only turn to amber before they turn red but they also turn amber before going back to green giving you a heads up to get moving. Traffic cameras instead of police risking lives by pulling you over on the highway – Brilliant!! All in all, Autobahn speeds not withstanding, driving in Germany has been much more pleasurable than the US.
You are so right. I currently live in San Antonio and we got into 3 accidents since we moved here. I do like that the traffic light are on the opposite side of the street in the US, because it can be hard to see sometimes.
I like your article. I’m german/french born and raised. My husband and I moved from Germany, where we met to Puerto Rico, crazy driving, then Virginia, which is a wonderful place, back to Germany, after almost 8 years being in Germany we moved to San Antonio. I refused to drive for many weeks and still I don’t go far. We’re animal lovers and we both can’t handle the animal protection here. It hurts to know how many innocent dogs and cats get euthanized daily here in the US, beaten or neglected by their owners and if you say some you have a big chance to have a gun pointed at your nose or people saying “” Whats your problem its just a dog”” An other reason we love Germany.
I loved reading your article. Nicely written and every point is well described. I think public transport and employment laws makes Germany unique. Language is a big barrier in Germany but the benefits Germany provides makes us overlook about the language.
Portion sizes, definitely. When I moved to Berlin, I was glad of the smaller packaging and portions. I felt like I could get enough to eat for a week and fit it all in my bag easily enough to be able to walk back to my apartment. I always ate everything I bought and never felt wasteful. Only problem would be if I ran out of food and it was a Sunday. I was not used to most shops being closed on a Sunday. A grocery store closed on a Sunday in the U.S. is almost unheard of. When I came back to the U.S. and had my first meal out, it was a shock to me the amount of food on the plate and the size of a burger. My stomach recoiled in horror. I think someone even asked me if I wasn’t feeling well because I didn’t finish my plate. I just wasn’t prepared to eat my weight in prime beef!
Interesting post! Every country has its pros and cons, so I guess it’s just a matter of figuring out which ones work best for you! And I agree, food portions in the US are WAY out of control!
Enjoyed reading your article as a German that has lived in the US for about two years.
Regarding the payed vacation days 24 days per year are the legal minimum, lots of people have 30 or even slightly more.
And don’t forget the 13 public holidays (differs by state) where offices are also closed 😉
Public healthcare is also a big advantage in my eyes: if I have an itch anywhere, I sometimes even go to two doctors to get a second opinion.
Downside is, if you run a business and have some employees with a 25% sick rate and a low performance, it is really hard to get rid of them.
You are absolutely right, Health Care is another big one. The cost and inefficiency in the US is really worrisome. When it comes to firing employees, you are also right, it is much harder to get rid of them, if they don’t fit into your company or don’t perform as well as you had anticipated. But on the other hand, you don’t have to scramble and find someone new, because they quit from from one day to the next. You can take your time during the selection process, which in turn might lead to a better fitting candidate.
This is brilliantly written. As an Indian who lived in the US the differences were shocking, of course – but your comparison is an eye opener.
Thank you Vaibhav. The cultural differences between India and the US are huge, but the ones between Germany and the US are a bit more hidden and less expected.
Very interesting read! I enjoy learning about the differences between different cultures. Thanks for sharing your perspective!
Thank you Brianna. Living in between cultures certainly makes life interesting 😉
When you talk about nakedness, you fail to mention vaginas and buttholes. Speaking of buttholes, can I bury my face in yours?
While we Germans have no problems with nakedness, we can still be classy, now, can we Sam? The point I was making is that nakedness isn’t seen as exclusively sexual, just people feeling comfortable in their own skin.
I have to say I do truly love German bluntness, most time I am blunt and honest also . I was born and raised in Texas. My mom has raised me with the phrase “if I don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.”
I have learned to be blunt to everyone but try and also be nice. So I say my opinion, I just say I’m sorry I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings after my rude or blunt comment.
My friends have learned to live with it. Others just think I’m a bitch. Most of the time I’d rather be a bitch then a liar so I’ve learned to like the Bitch nickname.
I lived in many countries during my childhood.i n the states for all.ost 50 years. Returned from a visit a month ago for 4 weeks in Germany and seen lots of the culture differences. I was able to adjust to dome of the ways I. Germany but also was glad to return back home. I can say is a is my home.
Hi Maria, I think one could write a book about all the things that are different in the Us compared to Germany. I am German born and grown up in Frankfurt . My family welcomed my sister in law from Finland ,and my Brother in law from Austria., I thought me marrying an American I would be kind of prepared already knowing that each country has its own unique style. plus growing up watching on TV all the American shows and having the Us military force everywhere present, I thought I know quite a bit already about the states. Well I was wrong.. I lived two years before I met my husband in England . the first thing that came to my mind after I was living in the US was that the US had much more in common with England than with any other country, from the bread to the prudery . I lived half a year in upstate New York ,three years in texas eight years back in Germany and than 18 Years in Virginia. ,In Virginia I learned the most, maybe because my kids went to school here. the materialism shocked me .In Germany the difference between a bad company and a good one is much more clear cut, the consumer has more rights and protection. I also found that in the German TV were more documentaries about the world , environmental protection ,conflicts and so on.. When we came over 18 years ago to Virginia there was no special trash collection. I heard gunshots in the middle of the night ,not knowing if it was somebody that fired a weapon back in the woods ,or if it was criminals ,police couldn’t do anything since I didn’t know were the shots came from. The school system was so different , I didn’t really understand that college here in the states were like the berufsfachschulen in Germany. sure I asked my husband what the difference was between college and university but didn’t really get an satisfying answer.. Now I know ..so that is one more of a difference that in Germany one can get college and a job training for free and gets paid for it. I always liked when my kids were small when we went to the burger king and got ketchup and so on for nothing , we could fill up our drinks a second time for nothing ,something the burger kings in Germany don’t do. But my husband couldn’t get a beer there either or in pizza Hut , were in Germany one can get one.. Than there are the italien Ice cream parlors (in germany) were one can get the Ice cream with a little bit of alcohol . kindergarten in Germany is about learning to be social, to get along and play with each other, here they have to learn to read and write. Dogs are never kept in kennels in Germany, owners go every day two or three times for a walk with them. One other thing I found strange, in the states, that some parents wanted that their kids say sir and mam to them . Coupons are an other typical American thing . An American neighbor said to me in my first year that in each state things and people are different, which makes sense , in Germany its the same, I never could get the beer I was used to from frankfurt in wuerzburg , sometimes I thought I would be better suited for California , at least there, no one would tell my 10 year old son to get a haircut, lol now he is grown up and has constantly a military haircut.
In my 73 years of living in the US I have never know of any grocery store in the US where guns are sold.
Hi Mary Ann, it may be different from state to state, but Walmart sells guns here in Texas.
Thank you for the interesting article. About the guns…I have lived in Houston, Tx for 11 years, never seen or knew a Walmart who sells guns or other stores that have them on the shelves like you’ve said. I’ll search into it though. It’s not like that…you have special stores that sell guns and you need a permit to own one.
I’m an American who has lived in a few US states and spent a semester of university living with a German host family in Bielefeld. From my experience, I think you’ve captured many of the differences I noticed between the two countries.
The three other differences I noticed are:
1. Trash/Recycling: In the US, we often have trash and recycling pickup in residential neighborhoods. Urban apartments often have trash chutes or dumpsters, and they often offer recycling collection somewhere, too. I’ve seen more and more recycling canisters in public areas in recent years, but we are still far behind the German model of separating trash. I remember seeing separate bins for paper, plastic, compost (food), and other trash at the Berlin train station. I was so impressed. Leave it to Germans to even throw out their waste efficiently.
2. Drinking Age: When I was young, I didn’t really fully understand why the US drinking age was so much older than in other countries. But, after living in Germany, I get it. We still have a big problem with drinking and driving in the US. As you pointed out, everything here is so much more spread out. So, you often can’t walk home from a neighborhood pub because the area of town with the bars and restaurants is downtown and away from the residential area where you live. In the US, a residential neighborhood has homes, a park, a school and maybe a church or two. In Germany, I noticed the residential neighborhoods often also had a grocery store, maybe a restaurant or tavern, and, of course, access to public transit. Which leads me to my next point …
3. Public Transportation: It is so abundant and efficient in Germany. In the US, there are bus systems, but never have I wanted to invest the time in figuring out how to use one. Only big cities have subway or street-car systems. And, often we drive instead of taking a train when traveling longer distances. Partly this is due to the lack of infrastructure, but I think it’s also part of our culture to rely so heavily on our automobiles.
Both countries can learn from one another, but I really do hope that the US looks to Germany as an example of green initiatives that work.
The first thing I noticed when we lived in Marshall Heights was how clean it was with no trash on the roadways compared to the way it is here in the US! I was amazed to see a woman sweeping the sidewalk and street outside there home. Germany is a beautiful country and we enjoyed our 3 years stationed in Kitzingen.
What a small world. I grew up in Schwarzach, less than 10 miles from Kitzingen. This is so cool 🙂
My husband and I lived in Germany for a year (we are from the US) and I can relate to pretty much everything you wrote! I really like the way that Germans don’t over consume food or material items, instead focusing on recycling and using exactly what they need. And I think that the bluntness is pretty refreshing, you don’t have to worry about hurting people’s feelings as much and you will be corrected if you’re making a mistake. The nakedness did surprise us a lot at first, particularly at the doctor, but it’s just an adjustment. We really, really miss the German vacation days though. My husband had thirty days in Germany and in the US for 2017 he only gets seven!! It infuriates me enough to make me want to move back to Germany.
Thanks for this great post!
Hello Mariah, Tnx u for this post and every wonderful comments.. It helped alot.. I want to relocate wit my 4 yrs old son and I want a safe place 4 us…
Was contemplating btwn USA and Germany…
This post was indeed helpful
Well written Blog. I enjoy learning about the differences between different cultures. Thanks for sharing amazing blog.
Hello Mariah, as a German who has lived in the USA for 18 years now I experienced one live changing difference between Germany and America. I lived on the west coast, east coast and now the south. When as a single woman, with no dependent children, I was diagnosed with cancer 9 years ago, I lost my job, had to file bankruptcy due to medical bills and if it wasn’t for a friend, I would have been homeless. There is no financial assistance for adults without dependent children, who leave a job. There is food stamps, and now basic healthcare (no dental), but no help to keep a roof over your head. During that already hard time, putting hardship like that onto a person is hard. In Germany I would have only have to concentrate on fighting cancer, which is a battle in itself. There is unemployment benefit, but only if you get fired due to no fault of your own and you can prove it. So benefits for me are another big difference between the 2 countries.
Maria, thank your for this article!
I think it is worthwhile to mention, that education is very cheap in Germany. Except of living costs and moderate semester fees of 200 to 600 Euro every 6 months, there are no high burdens for students to go to Germany.
I love Germany. My mother took me there from Puerto Rico with 4 years old. Left Freiburg in the Black Forest with 17, and have been living in Florida for 20 years now. I would move back in a heart beat. Once I arrived in the states my priority was to finish high school, and then college. I always planned to move back to Germany once I graduated. Not a conversation my mother wanted to have. My mistake was to take out a student loan which took me 15 years to pay back. Finding a job that paid enough enabling me to pay back the loan took a few years… I very much miss the German culture, conversing in German, and spending time with my friends. I find American relationships very superficial and had a very tough time making friends and fitting in. Especially as a Puerto Rican, I was lumped in with all the Spanish kids with whom I could not relate to either. I wish I would have met a German girl to merry and eventually move to Germany with. I miss that cultural and verbal connection. To this day I sometimes unintentionally come across as rude due to pronounciation or bluntness. Attaining a German visa proved too difficult, and I never met my German princess… in the end, I fell in love with an American girl, got married and am now expecting a child. I do consider myself blessed in many ways but my heart still aches for Germany. It may not be fair towards my now wife, but one cannot always simply change what the heart desires. Both countries have their pros and cons. I definitely agree with your article 100 percent. I like reading articles from people who were raised in Germany and now live in the states to see how they cope with the move. Many end up moving back. Not one day goes by that i don’t feel home sick. I wish, despite all odds, that I’ll get the chance to live there again. Puerto Rican on the outside, German on the inside, living in the dog-eat-dog states.
I have lived in both countries for a long time (15+ years) and I would choose Germany anytime. The USA is all about money. There is no sense of coziness (Gemuetlichkeit) in the US at all. And once you have had a bad spell financially in the US you will know that the government could not care less about you. In Germany they will support you if you don’t have work, etc. If you have known hardship you will understand that help in need is the best thing that can happen to a person. People that like the US are usually the kind of people that have no appreciation of quality (food, public transit, cars, etc) and have a good job without any real problems (health, etc.). For such people, the US is great because it let’s them do their thing and be enjoy a carefree life. For more mature, responsible thinking people with a sense of what is right and wrong, caring and helping, the US will seem like a very shallow “La-La-Land”. To summarize this in one sentence: A child would like the US, while a mature seasoned adult will appreciate Germany.