The big A to Z of Germany
Autobahn – autobahns
Worldwide the German autobahn enjoys a legendary status. No speed limit, driving as fast as you want, when you want. Correct, in principle – but contrary to popular opinion there are speed limits on almost one third of German motorways. A general speed limit is also regularly a hotly-debated topic.
Bargeld – cash
True love for it might be gradually diminishing but the Germans are still very passionate about cash whether in a restaurant, at the supermarket checkout or in a taxi. According to the Bundesbank on average every German carries EUR 107 in their purse. Despite Apple-Pay, Google Pay, creditcards and debit cards the cash culture is part of the German mentality.
CO2-Bilanz – carbon footprint
The global youth movement Fridays for Future has resulted in a lasting awareness of the importance of environmental protection and above all carbon dioxide emissions. Many people insist there should be a radical CO2 emissions tax. 2019 saw some good climate news: Primarily because more electricity is being produced by wind farms and solar energy, carbon dioxide emissions in Germany have dropped sharply.
Duzen oder Siezen – first or second-person singular
Do I call my boss Frau Maier or Sabrina? Do I use the informal “Du” or the formal “Sie”? Du and Sie can be worlds apart. Ultimately, the various forms of address in Germany serve to form hierarchies. Using “Du” creates familiarity, while “Sie” establishes distance. When you start a job in Germany you should avoid using “Du”. And another rule to consider: In the job context only the person higher up in the hierarchy should suggest that you change from using “Sie” to “Du”.
Essen – cuisine
Not only curried sausage, but also roast pork and Swabian raviolis: German cuisine is constantly changing, varies tremendously and alters from one region to another. Vegetarian or vegan food is also gaining in popularity. And on the topic of food: There are many German initiatives committed to reducing food waste. Click here for three examples.
Fußball – football
Four time World Cup winners, internationally-renowned teams and thousands of clubs – soccer is the most popular sport in Germany. The German Football Association (DFB) has over 7.1 million members. And asking someone who their favourite club is can often reveal a lot about how they see their identity. And a topic that can take up an entire evening.
Germany is diverse and international. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, in 2018 Germany was home to almost 21 million people who were born in other countries. In a best case, migrants and native Germans should live together in a spirit of respect, mutual trust, a feeling of belonging and shared responsibility. Many people in Germany from all walks of life are committed to achieving this goal – whether as a district ambassador in Frankfurt or Migrants’ Counsellor in Berlin.
Jahresurlaub – annual leave
Working hours in Germany are often very flexible, because high priority is given to a good work-life balance. People in full-time positions are entitled to at least four week’s paid holiday a year. This is very fitting as Germans really enjoy travelling. Preferably in Germany.
Krankenversicherung – health insurance
The German health insurance system is one of the oldest in the world and still a successful model today. We explain how it works!
Mülltrennung – garbage separation
The brightly coloured bins in Germany are not only intended to add a touch of colour to everyday life but also serve an important purpose, namely recycling. The Germans are very environmentally conscious and separate their garbage into organic waste, wastepaper, packaging waste and residual waste. Glass has to be taken to bottle banks. If waste is put in the wrong bin it is not collected.
Nachbarn – neighbours
Neighbours are the Germans’ best frenemy. They water the plants and feed the cat when you are on holiday. However, they also listen to loud music, clomp up and down the stairs late at night and plant their hedge one metre beyond the plot boundary. The Germans are past masters when it comes to feuds over the garden fence. The best way to pre-empt disputes is to call by with a cake soon after you move in – after all, cake melts the heart of just about every German.
Öffentliche Verkehrsmittel – public transport
Tram, suburban train, underground and bus: When you travel in German cities you are spoilt for choice. But the situation is different out in the countryside. Many communities only have sparse public transport services. Which is why in many rural regions the car is often the only feasible option. Anyone without a car is advised to get on well with their neighbours. Then they are sure to give you a lift now and then.
Pünktlichkeit – punctuality
There are few things foreigners associate more with Germany than punctuality. Children learn to arrive at school on time and be home for lunch punctually, too. Anyone who arrives late at work will soon get in trouble with their boss and is generally considered unreliable. After all, being late is deemed to be rude! That also applies to private invitations.
Qualität – quality
The designation “Made in Germany” is considered a guarantee of great quality. This was not always the case, however. In 1887, the British introduced the label to protect people from poor-quality goods from Germany. The reason was that German knife makers copied English goods and offered them at a cheaper price, but they were of a lesser quality. The designation has a different standing today. For years Made in Germany has topped the list of global quality seals.
Regionen – regions
Leather trousers, beer in huge tankards and Oktoberfest – those things foreigners consider to be typically German are primarily Bavarian. That said, there is much more to discover across the some 357,386 km² between the Baltic Sea and the Alps The East Friesians for example make the best black tea on the European continent, people from the Rhineland region go about dressed in costumes for one fifth of the year, while people in the Rhineland-Palatinate know how to enjoy life – especially when it comes to sausage and wine.
Supermarkt – supermarket
Regardless of whether it is organic, vegan, inexpensive or expensive: In Germany there is a supermarket chain or a discount market to suit every taste. Then there are numerous pharmacies, health food stores and department stores. In Berlin alone there are over 900 supermarkets. Handelsverband Lebensmittel, the German Food Trade Association, counted 12,027 supermarkets and 16,054 discount markets in Germany as a whole in 2016.
Tagesschau – Eight O’clock News
“Here is the Erstes Deutsche Fernsehen with the news.” Evening for evening on the dot of eight many Germans sit in front of their TV sets and watch the evening news, which is known as the “Tagesschau”. And have done so for almost 68 years. In 2019, an average of 9.8 million viewers watched the Eight O’clock News. This makes the Tagesschau the most popular news programme in Germany.
Umweltschutz – environmental protection
How harmful are the New Year’s fireworks? Should organic cucumbers be wrapped in plastic? And is there perhaps some threatened species or other living on the land where I’d like to build a house? Environmental protection enjoys a high standing in Germany. And no other creature is so much in focus as the bee. It is the creature the Germans feel most motivated about protecting and has already been the topic of countless referendums on species conservation.
Versicherungen – insurances
Everyone is familiar with insurance. But what about liability insurance for pets or rental deposit insurance? In Germany there is a suitable insurance for everything and everyone – be it a dog, house, car, child, spouse, job or grandparents. Everything can be insured, and some things are mandatory such as health insurance and unemployment insurance for salaried employees.
Waldwanderung – forest hikes
There are over 90 billion trees in Germany and especially at the weekend they entice people to get out of the house and into the woods. Forest hikes are a traditional Sunday occupation for the entire family. You simply need to breathe in that fresh, moist forest air and you are fit to face Monday!
x-Chromosom – x-chromosome
There are around 41 million women in Germany, roughly two million more than men. They not only live longer but are also better educated. Even though one of the most powerful women in the world heads Germany it is still the exception today to find women in executive positions. To help remedy the situation since 1 January 2016 around 100 large firms have been legally required to ensure 30 percent of the members of their advisory boards are women. And Germany is also strongly committed to equality worldwide.
They meet in the park for “Power Flow with Tanja” or “Sun salutation with Birgit” on the roof terrace – Germany would not be complete without its yogis. Some 6,000 yoga schools are regularly attended by 2.7 million friends of yoga. What might seem like a new trend, came to Europe from India back in the 19th century together with tea and spices. In fact, in the inter-War years people used it to relax – often favouring the Downward Dog pose.
Zug – trains
There are few topics that the Germans enjoy moaning about as much as the German train operator Deutsche Bahn: Cancelled trains, expensive tickets, broken air conditioning systems and patchy wi-fi connections are some of the nuisances that almost everyone using the train in Germany has experienced. That said, in 2019 three out of every four long-distant trains reached their destination on time – and that trend is on the up!