What’s different about Germany? Everything January 14, 2014 • Megan Hultquist
BANN, Germany — If you look up “different” in the dictionary, you will find the definition to be something along the lines of “not the same as.” Different is hardly adequate to describe the comparison between Germany and the United States. Everything is “different.” The food. The language. The towns and roads. Everything. Different is not always better or worse; it is just not the same.
The food in Germany is amazing, especially if you’re not a vegetarian. When you go to the festivals, you have many different options of what you can devour for a meal or for a snack. You could get a footlong bratwurst in a 4-inch-long bun. Compare that to the U.S. standard of a 10-hot dog package with a package of eight buns.
Move to the next vendor to pick up your fried potato — a potato cut into one, long spiral, put on a stick, deep fried, and seasoned. Saving the best for last (or sometimes even an appetizer), there are the crepes with bananas, Nutella, sugar, Kinder chocolate, and countless other toppings, but who’s counting? There’s bier und wein at every festival, and depending on where you are you might see teenagers drinking because it’s legal here.
For fast food, you can still find a McDonald’s or Burger King. They have their own unique differences. The McDonald’s staff members are in noticeably different uniforms. Here the restaurants look newer and more upscale.
Many have two levels, and we’ve been to one with a karaoke stage and DJ booth. Of course, they sell bier here, too.
When you’re sick of the U.S. staples, you get to experience a cornucopia of flavors at your local Imbiss or Kebap House. An Imbiss is German for snack, and they sell pommes (the best-tasting French fries EVER), schnitzel (flattened/pounded meat), and spaetzle (egg noodles in a cheese sauce). At a Kebap House you order döner meat, which is like Greek gyros and can be served in pita or off a plate.
In the German schools, the kids are taught English, and by the time they are in the high school equivalent they are very close to being fluent. Almost everyone, where I live, speaks at least some English; however, the Americans who live in Eastern Germany aren’t so fortunate.
One of my mother’s friends lives north of Munich. After living there for about a year and a half, she was able to talk to Germans and carry on a short conversation with some.
There are different dialects throughout Germany — for example, one in the North, the South, and in Bavaria, but that is beyond my level of Deutschlish (Deutsch and English mix).
There are thousands of little villages throughout Germany with a population between a few hundred to a few thousand people. Each of these villages has a bakery, bank, church, and some form of a bar. The larger villages also have a gas station, a small grocery store, an apothecary, and multiple places to eat. There are lots of small, privately owned hotels, but very few chains. Right outside some of the cities’ limits, some towns have a fussball (soccer) club. Soccer is the biggest sport in Germany, and it’s a good way to make German friends.
How does one get to these great places? Either on the narrow two-lane roads that are rarely marked with a centerline or the multilane autobahn. On the autobahn you are either going super fast or not moving at all. Pray there isn’t an accident or you may be stuck in a “stau” for hours. Every exit is marked with the word “Ausfahrt.” Also, you can’t always get back on the autobahn where you exited; you would have to ride along on side roads until you got to one of entrance ramps.
Even with all these crazy differences I’m still excited to continue on my journey here. I’m going on trips all over and learning a few words of the local language in most places.
I learned a bit of French when I visited France and Belgium in October and November, and Italian when I went to Rome for Christmas. My mom and I are always thinking of new places to visit so we can learn about all of Europe, and maybe some of Asia.
While everything is different, it’s nice to have one thing that never changes: family.
Megan Hultquist, the daughter of Minden High School graduates U.S. Army Lt. Col. Marc and Crystal (Stratman) Hultquist, lives in Germany where her father is serving in the U.S. military. She is writing a column periodically about her experiences there. To leave a comment for Megan, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-461-1255.