Espresso: Germans do not accept that you have to pay so much in order to drink so little
My name is Giovanni. I currently live in Dusseldorf where I moved 15 years ago from my little village in Tuscany for work. I’ve read your article “25 things you have been living in Germany for too long and have become a little bit German” and in fact many of the things written there are sooo true; I totally recognized myself in them and I was laughing like a fool by myself, while my German wife could not understand why :-).
I wanted to tell you about my experience here in Germany, but I thought to make it slightly different from your website’s style. I want to tell my “20 Italian habits that I lost when I moved to Germany”. I hope you post it.
Thank you Multicoolty!
20 Italian habits I’ve lost when I moved to Germany
1. The ritual of aperitif and dinner whenever it happens (usually very late)
Young Italians love to “approach” dinner among friends with long and ever lasting sessions of drinks accompanied by delicious snacks, followed by dinner at an indefinite hour of the evening, simply when the hunger comes.
In Italy during dinner hours at home, TV is always on and it even considered your family member. You eat replying to questions from TV quizzes. And then the evening news makes you comment on what Berlusconi was up to today.
In Germany, you often either eat out or your dinner is frugal and fast.
In any case, there is no Berlusconi with you at the table.
3. Doing noisy works around the house on Sundays or during bank holidays
If you have to hang a picture or want to mow your lawn, then you better do it during the week, unless you want to receive an unexpected visit from the police. And they can make noise…
4. Kissing (on both cheeks) and hugs
The first days after you move to Germany, it might cause trauma and embarrassing situations. No kissing is the rule, but if your German friend is open enough to such a great intimacy, then you’d better watch out … the kisses are maximum 2 and you start with the cheek opposite to the one we Italians are used to.
Our country is well known for the amount of expressions that are not exactly friendly. Once in Germany, due to your limited language skills, you find yourself with a blunt weapon – Scheisse – that neither has effect nor gives you any satisfaction. Then the real integration begins when your vocabulary grows and you know how to use it properly.
6. Bringing an umbrella as you leave your house when you think it’s going to rain
There is nothing more useless than carrying around an umbrella in Germany (perhaps sunglasses are even more unnecessary). Surely, it will rain and be windy. And if it rains hard, oh well … you better stay at home or find refuge in a Kneipe drinking beer and forgetting about the weather.
7. Buy wine at the supermarket next to your house
The quality is low, the price is high… Stick to the beer…. and read the next point.
8. Drinking Italian beer
When you make the switch to German beer of good quality, you just never go back. And if you’re still unsatisfied, Belgium is a few steps away …
9. Parking you car where you are not allowed
Parking where you are not allowed is practically impossible because Germans like to put all kinds of obstacles along your way (stakes, bushes, trees, vases, bicycle parking racks or sidewalks 20 cm high). Yet if you’re lucky and you managed without having caught the attention of an old, grumpy lady, perhaps you got away…
10. Expect surprising visits
If you run out of sugar or you need an egg and you want to ask your neighbour, you better announce your visit a few hours in advance. Many relations between neighbours were interrupted because of the lack of sugar …
11. Enter any bar and drink a coffee
In principle, there is NO bar, as we Italians know it. And coffee has many kinds of sizes, blends, flavours…and names.
Espresso: Germans do not accept that you have to pay so much in order to drink so little. The last time I ordered an espresso here, I could have had my breakfast together with a whole packet of biscuits (Danish, obviously).
12. Complaining about Italy
Germany is symbol of efficiency… well, a symbol … until you come and live here. I mean and don’t get me wrong: things work well, services are many, and they are on time and accurate. The rules are respected. But the bureaucracy and above all, the lack of flexibility and strictness – the values that we Italians do not know, sometimes make us regret that not everything can be resolved in sweetness and light.
I have yet to understand this mystery, perhaps its use is taxed or punished with imprisonment.
In Italy, for example, honking is widely used in case of the “emergency” to communicate to the drivers next or ahead of you that the light turned green since at least a millisecond ago! In Germany, the honking is unknown… you hardly ever hear it. But when you do hear it, and somebody actually dared to use it, that somebody is probably an Italian tourist.
14. Interrupt while speaking
The Italians love to interrupt each other and raise their voices to be heard over others while speaking. In Germany, you NEVER interrupt because the probability of not understanding what is said and meant is high. It is a matter of syntax; negation or a part of verb (Oh Dear! Verbs can have separable parts…) may be the last word of the sentence. And it can, as you imagine, radically change the meaning of the sentence.
15. Use hand gestures
True descendants of Toto and Peppino, when we Italians speak we love to animate our discourse with hand gestures and facial mimic to punctuate the meaning of an expression or our mood. After having lived in Germany for a while, you stop doing it just to avoid being mistaken for a violent person or for someone who is perhaps suffering from nervous tics….. Or when you do not want to be recognized as Italian.
If you tell a joke here, you run the risk of laughing all alone. And then our jokes always begin with: “Once upon a time, there was an Italian, a Frenchman and a German….” … oops, a diplomatic incident is guaranteed.
17. Drying clothes outside
Cloudy sky and persistent humidity do not facilitate the drying and, above all, holy condominium rules often prohibit the exposure; you have learnt to rely on clothes dryers. On the contrary, in Italy everyone knows the colour of your neighbour’s sheets and pillowcases.
18. Going swimming or to the spa
You go there, for sure, but, if you don’t know the place, you better inform yourself beforehand what kind of swimming suite, if any, is allowed.
19. Use a bidet
In Italy, bidet is a must: to have it and to use it. In general, there is no bidet culture in Germany and if you ask a plumber to install one, just with his gaze he makes you feel filthy. With time and using new skills and alternative techniques, you learn to live without it.
20. To be (always) in fashion
In Germany, all in all, people dress simple but well. There is no obsession to “appear” better than others following latest fashion and expensive brands.
And to walk your dog around the house, a sport suit and a pair of old sneakers will do just fine …. and even the dog can be an ugly one.