1) Compared to other nationalities, Germans smoke a lot of cigarettes – 1,045 per adult, per year – which seems odd for a country so concerned with organic foods, herbal cold remedies and wellness spas.
2) German customer service can be a shock if you come from a country where friendly, enthusiastic customer service is the norm. But don’t worry; it’s easy to melt their frozen hearts with a smile and some basic kindness.
3) It’s not that Germans are afraid to cross the street on a red light, it’s that they hate to break the rules. Germany is lousy with rules and regulations, many of which come with hefty fines when violated. To Germans, jaywalking would probably be considered thrill-seeking behaviour.
4) Germans pride themselves on efficiency – they want to do everything schnell, schnell schnell! – and they can’t stand delays. Taking too long to pay for groceries will likely earn you an annoyed sigh or two, and forget about traffic jams; Germans can only endure a few minutes of traffic before they come completely unglued.
5) German cities are old so they weren’t planned according to traffic flow. They blossomed around central locations, like churches, so their streets just go around things. This is why German people tend to think in terms of landmarks, rather than compass points. They aren’t used to just, “driving north,” because doing so would likely put them at the bottom of the nearest pond.
6) Germans have no problem with public displays of affection. As a people, they are very compartmentalized; irritated by the slightest hint of unprofessional behaviour during work hours and then head for the park with a loved one for an uninhibited make-out session.
7) Certainly there is a trend in Germany towards straight, gleaming white teeth, but it’s mainly with the younger generations. Older Germans are still the crooked, yellow, snaggletoothed folks we know and love.
8) A lot of Germans are highly conservative with money. Spending cash you don’t have and racking up mountains of debt are cultural norms in other parts of the world, but German people tend not to flash around a credit card. Unlucky.
9) Germans can be rather depressing. The history of their country reads like a roller coaster ride, with its dramatic ups, downs and nail-biting barrel rolls to the side. Some might say Germans are afraid to get their hopes up. Others might say they simply enjoy the sight of optimism being snuffed out like a candle.
10) From spreadable, rendered goose fat (Schmaltz) to blood sausage and pickled herring, traditional German food can be unsettling for the newly inducted. Unfortunately, if you are a squeamish expat, you are likely to become a very hungry expat.