Before you begin working your way to foreign language fluency, it helps to understand the culture behind the language you’re learning. After all, language exists to help a group of people express their ideas and beliefs. Germany is an old country with a rich history and culture. As you begin your German language program, gaining a strong grasp on this history, the values, and the etiquette will help you rapidly achieve success. In particular, German daily life shares some similarities with American life, and discover its unique differences.
Germans usually get up between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m., and the adults usually start working between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. If you’re staying with a German family, you should ask what time they have breakfast, since they usually have breakfast together. German breakfasts generally include bread, cheese and cold cuts, cornflakes, muesli, and yogurt. Germans don’t eat fried foods at breakfast, but they do eat soft-boiled eggs, ham, salami, and/or sausage. Breakfast drinks include orange juice, milk, coffee, and tea.
School usually starts at 8:00 a.m., and the schools are more local than in Britain or the US. Children usually have a light lunch of sandwiches and fruits. Lunch for adults is traditionally the main meal of the day and consists of an appetizer, meat or fish, a vegetable or pasta dish, and a dessert.
Children usually leave school at around 4:00 p.m., but the primary schools close earlier. Supper is usually between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m., unless the family is having guests, in which case it will be between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. During supper, the Germans eat a lighter meal of cold cuts, fish, cheese, and rolls or bread (“Abendbrot”). They may drink beer, wine, cider, or herbal tea. During the week, people usually go to bed early between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m.
As is the case in most countries, shopping in Germany is as much for leisure as it is for sustenance, but German consumer habits have changed to suit the times. Germany is now second only to the US in terms of online shopping. Online shopping has begun to replace the local “mom and pop” stores, as have supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl.
Nevertheless, in most towns there can be found a market, usually advertised in the local newspaper, which will be held in the city center and offers fresh flowers, meat, fish, and vegetables.
The German attitude towards shopping may take some adjustment for those who have just moved to the country—a shop is not just a place to procure various goods but rather a communal space. Especially in rural areas and smaller towns, people are expected to greet one another while out shopping, and the fondling of various produce items (like fruits and vegetables) is considered quite rude. Moreover, German shoppers tend to be orderly, content to wait in lines and observe the order of service.
Although credit and debit cards are accepted all over Germany, most Germans state their preference for paying cash. This is because many believe that it helps them to keep better track of their money and spending habits than charging it to a card.