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Thursday, January 25, 2007

TT #38

Thirteen Differences between Germany and the U.S.
Part 1
disclaimer: This is from my experience and observation only, from living as an American in Germany for 12.5 years. YMMV.

United States
The most obvious difference is unlimited speeds on the Autobahn. Now, whenever I mention this to German friends and family, they're quick to point out that the places where speeds are unlimited are... limited, and becoming fewer, and that's true, but they're there. And where there is a posted speed limit, it's often 130 km/h (~80 mph).At least the speed limits aren't still 55 mph (~90 km/h) everywhere, but 70 mph (~110 km/h) is the maximum.
It takes a long time and a lot of money (3 months at least and 1000-2000€) to get through driver's training and get your driver's license. My father-in-law was working on getting his a few years back, but quit after several months when he ran out of patience and money. Requirements vary from state to state, but in Texas, driver's ed can be from the public school, a private driving school, or taught by the parents. My daughter took driver's ed in high school for one semester, and it cost under $300.
Minimum age to get a driver's license: 18.Varies from state to state, but almost all states allow a license at 16. Driving permits, which require an adult licensed driver in the car, can be given to teens as young as 14, depending on the state.
No right turn at a red light, unless there's a green arrow on the stop light, something you don't see very often.Right turn on red is allowed in all 50 states.
You stay in the right lane unless you're passing, and absolutely nobody passes on the right. On those rare occasions when you do see somebody passing on the right, it's often *wincing* an AmericanYou're not supposed to pass on the right, but people do it all the time, because so many people stick to the left lane even when they're going slow.
Autobahns go around cities, not through them. To get to the center of, say, Frankfurt, you've got to take narrow winding streets. Or, better yet, park outside the city and take the street car.Interstates go through (and over) cities. It can get confusing, when the highway connections look like a Dr. Seuss drawing, but it's easy to get to downtown.
When I first came to Germany 22 years ago, stores closed on weekdays at 6 p.m., except for Thursdays, when some stayed open until 8. They were open Saturdays until 2, except for one Saturday a month, Long Saturday, when they were open until 4. They were closed all day Sunday. When we came back, stores were allowed to be open until 8 p.m. six days a week, and just recently, the law's been changed to allow stores to stay open until 10, but very few stores take advantage of it. Autobahn gas station stores are an exception, but they're not stocked like the American equivalent.You can go shopping somewhere 24/7. If you need diapers at 3 a.m., you can get them.
Store clerks here do not subscribe to the "the customer is always right" dictum. They're doing you a favor by allowing you to shop there, not the other way around. You always say "auf Wiedersehen" to the clerk when you leave a store.Store clerks tend to act eager to help, even to the point of being annoying.
Sales tax is 19% (it just went up the first of the year, from 16%). You don't see it, though, because it's included in the price of the item. Sales tax varies from state to state. It's 6.25% in Texas, but San Antonio adds some of its own that varies with the type of item. The sales tax is added at the cash register, so unless you're in a state where the sales tax either doesn't exist or is a nice round number, it's hard to know exactly how much it's going to be until you get your bill.
Houses here tend to be much smaller, with correspondingly small yards, and they're all clustered in towns, cities, or villages. There's no such thing as "a house in the country," or if there is, it's extremely rare and I haven't seen it. My mother-in-law finds it wasteful for people to have larger houses than they "need."Obviously, it depends on where you live, but it's not uncommon to have a 3000 sq. ft. house on an acre of land. Our house in Texas is in a suburb, but both the house and the yard are almost exactly twice the size of where we live here.
A garage here is rare, and it's just large enough to fit a mid-size car in, and maybe squeeze out of it, if you're not too fat. We've had a garage twice while we've lived here, and were never able to use them because they were so small.Garages are common, and tend to be for a lot more than just a car. Our garage in Texas houses the Mustang, Carl's motorcycle, the water softener, the water heater, the bicycles, lawn mower, tools, the trash cans, and a large model train layout.
Windows do not have screens. You can buy nylon screens and glue them to the outside of the window frame. The windows can tilt inward, or open like a door, which makes them very easy to clean. Most houses have Rolladen on the windows. Much to my disgust, ours doesn't.Windows have sturdy screens in frames outside the window. They generally slide up and down, with only the lower part of the window opening. They're a pain in the butt to clean.
Bedrooms do not have closets. You buy a Schlafzimmerschrank to fit your room and your needs.Bedrooms have closets. The closets were what sold me on our house in San Antonio--that and the back yard, and... well, okay--they didn't sell me on it, but they were a factor. Every bedroom has a huge closet.

Well. I got to 13 before I ran out of things to say. That doesn't happen often. I'll be revisiting this topic.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

  1. Amy: healthy food
  2. SciFiChick: Star Trek IV quotes
  3. Christine: stretching
  4. Thomma Lyn: poets
  5. Gattina: owning cats
  6. Babystepper: a mini-teenager
  7. Carmen: Hawaii
  8. Colleen Gleason's vampires
  9. Doug: childhood movies
  10. Annie: favorite smells
  11. Frances's week
  12. Julia's first TT!
  13. Sparky Duck: moooosic
  14. Tink: artists
  15. Gabriella Hewitt's good mood
  16. Candy Minx: struggling artists
  17. Alyssa Goodnight: children's authors
  18. ANC SweetNSassy Gal: TV shows
  19. Racy Li: Ninja debut day!
  20. Raggedy: church bulletin announcements
  21. Melody: booking through Thursday
  22. Trish: gift ideas
  23. You're next!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



Great list..thanks for teaching us some things..Also, I love your blog design!
Wow, very interesting!
A question(s) I've always wondered about with the autobahn though.. How many auto accidents do Germans have as opposed to US? Is speed a factor? Are Germans better drivers?
Very cool list! I too have often wondered about the autohahn. I'd be scared to be a passenger let alone a driver on that.
Wow, what a fascinating list! Thanks so much for sharing. :)

Happy TT!
I agree with everything except houses. All of my friends in Germany have big houses and big gardens. It all depends where you live and garages too. My cousin living near Frankfurt has even two.
The person who doubles on the right sight must be me, and not americans, lol !
I also know the States quite well, I have been there a lot, visiting my aunt and combining it with travelling through. The worst bill with added taxes was in New York, it was nearly half a meter long !
But it is very true that in Germany usually rooms etc are quite small and built in a completely different way. Even to Belgium, where we have big rooms, big kitchens and big garages. My neighbour can put 4 cars in it and ours has room for 2.
Fascinating! I've always wondered what a common sense approach to the differences between our countries would look like. Now I know. I feel a bit like I've visited.
Germany's on my list to visit. :)
Angela, my impression is that accidents are fewer but more serious here, but that's only my impression. I have no actual data to back it up.
Neat comparison.

I rather wish we had more stringent driving rules here in the US, to be honest. We had a young man come from Germany to stay with us and help take care of our children for a year (an au pair) and he was 21, and the best driver ever. I felt safe letting the kids be in the car with him.

Great blog!

My TT's up...things you should know about the vampires in my books, The Gardella Vampire Chronicles...
you can find it here:
I remember our bedroom closet in San Antonio -- big as a bedroom. Those Texans!
Some of the things you talk about in Germany I rememerb being true for Sweden. Such interesting differences.

Happy TT
Now that was interesting especially about how much it costs to get a license. Guess if you have unlimited speed you want to make sure people know what they are doing.
Thanks for stopping by my site.
Looking forward to more lists like this.
Waving at you from New York
good list, though I still dont think Im moving to Germany anytime soon
Interesting! Some things I knew from Germany, some from the USA.
Thanks for visiting my art TT.
Hey Darla - thanks for sharing facts between Germany and U.S...I learn something :) I hope one day you'll come back down south and then it'll make easier for me to come and visit you then ;)

Hey I did my first TT - thanks to you! :)

Here Mine!
LOL. The customer is right...only if they know what they want and leave me the heck alone... Soo funny... Poland and Germany have commanlities. I had that same experience:)

Excitement. Suspense. Passion

Dark Water -- Samhain Puablishing; Fall 2007

PS. Please do tell me how Catherine Spangler's latest novel is. I love her work!
Very clever comparrison really shows the difference between geography and legislation too. I think even Montana has a speed regulation, although I had several visits back in the 90's where there wasn't a speed limit still. A bit of fun I must admit.

I think I would like the excitement of the autobaun, but not so much if I focused on the stress or potential. Interesting that there are fewer accidents with a no speed zone highway huh?

Good fun list...I love driving and did drive from Straussberg to Franfurt with friends once, beautiful area!

Here is my Tt list:

Gabriella, I have finished Catherine Spangler's Touched by Darkness and enjoyed it very much--I'm just a wee bit behind in posting about books. :-/
I like having something open 24/7...it's just a comfort, a just-in-case. And I like spacious houses--it's easier to find a place to be alone.

Wow! 12.5 years! Do you love it?
Very interesting post. I had no idea houses there didn't have closets. Although a lot of older houses in the USA didn't have closets or had extremely small ones. (My grandmother's small house in KY didn't have one). Thanks for visiting my TT.
SALES TAX IS 19% ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! wow. That's just crazy.

Last time I was in Germany, it was 2 euros=$1 . yea, it's been awhile :)

thanks for stopping by! :)
Great list!
Thanks for sharing.
My TT is posted
Have a wonderful Thursday!
What a great list! Thanks for sharing.
What do you mean by 'closet', Darla? Is it some kind of built-in wardrobe? I'm in the UK.

The standard rate for VAT is 17.5% here, and it's also included in the price of items.
How do people live without closets?!

Loved your list!
Thanks for visiting my TT.
Laura, here you go: Closet. You sort of have to see the pictures for it to make sense. Yes, basically a built-in wardrobe, but much larger--almost a room--at least the ones in our house. :)
Thanks Darla. Those closets look big! Almost a boxroom (you maybe don't have those in the US? They're a small room with just about room for a bed and not much else) or a tiny little computer-room.

So do Americans have a lot more clothes than Europeans?
Hey hey cool list.
I can say as a german guy, its almost exact.
But what i muss in your list is something about the mentality, for example most of the germans are prude and not that crazy than americans. Americans are more broad minded.

PS: Im searching for american contacts to talk to. (write me on stiffler@ush-network.de)

Best greetings
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