Observations of Daily Life in Germany

9 10 2008

One of the best parts of traveling is being able to see how others around the world live normal life. As a visitor, I love discovering mundane things that are completely normal and unremarkable to residents but novel and interesting to me.

Let’s start with breakfast. In Europe, many brands of milk and orange juice are not refrigerated until opened because they have been ultra pasteurized. This is mostly because refrigerators in Europe are tiny compared to their gigantic American cousins. As a result, a lot of liquids such as milk come in cute little stackable cartons.

It seems that in Europe, everything is at a smaller scale than the United States. Cars are smaller, fresh food is often local, and housing is more compact. You won’t see a 1,000,000 square foot building like the Merchandise Mart here. Cities have definite boundaries and there is no suburban sprawl. It’s a given that space is always at a premium, which comes as no surprise since the individual countries in Europe are much smaller than the US. It’s no wonder that at times Europeans feel that in America everything is bigger, fatter, and more wasteful.

Even trashcans in Europe are smaller (and cuter) than their American counterparts.

Everyone has an incentive to recycle plastic bottles in Germany. You get 0.25 Euros back for each empty plastic bottle you return to the supermarket. Of course this is already priced into the water bottles.

The German supermarket was another source of interest to me. L and M often shop at LIDL, the German discount supermarket chain that is similar to Aldi. For some reason, almost all the interesting and funny things seem to happen at this particular chain.

This must be the funniest mustard I have ever seen.  First of all, the fact that this supermarket had an American section was pretty cool.  Secondly, look at the name of this brand.  Apparently, it combines the two most American things this company could think of – McDonald’s and the Kennedys!  To top off the cheesy American-ness of this mustard, it of course has a picture of the Statue of Liberty on the label and the boxes in which they are stored are decorated with the American flag.  This mustard is more patriotic than a Fourth of July picnic!!!

This next LIDL exclusive is the rotisserie chicken truck. It’s like an ice cream truck, but for whole roast chickens. The fact that a functioning rotisserie chicken truck driving around in Germany exists is just too funny. Maybe they have this in the US too, I don’t know, but I love this concept! L tells me that it doesn’t actually move, however, after you set up the ovens.

After the supermarket, it follows that we should move on to the hardware store. Do you notice something familiar about this store?

Maybe it’s because it looks exactly like a Home Depot!

That’s actually not the funny part. In Europe, bread is much more important to people than in the US. Sure, we have bakeries everywhere in the US. But do we have full bakeries inside the hardware store???

This is a far cry from the usual hot dog stand and vending machine combo we see in the Home Depot out here!




2 responses

3 11 2009

Thank you so much for this article! im writing a paper and this is so helpful!

10 03 2014

thankyou so much for this article, i am using it for a helpful tool because i am going to germany as a foreign exchange student. thankyou for helping me with the customs and daily life.!

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