Ada Abroad: Living and Working in Germany

An online journal recording two years spent as a Fulbright/Pedagogical Exchange Service Teaching Assistant at secondary schools in Germany. (2003-2004 I was in a village near Bautzen; 2004-2005 I will be in Nordrhein-Westfalen.)

Location: Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

I'm an American living in Germany, working as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school. Future plans: getting my Ph.D. (probably in Germanic Linguistics), becoming a professor, living an ethical and meaningful life.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Best of Both Worlds

Since my last post, I've successfully readjusted to Eastern Daylight Time, and (somewhat less successfully) readjusted to the ever-colorful sideshow that is daily life in the United States.

(Why is this "small" skirt falling off my hips? Why does that car display both 1.) a bumper sticker comparing the Internal Revenue Service to Nazis and 2.) handicap plates? Why is cheese so expensive? How come every program on television-- even the news-- assumes that viewers have the IQ of Forrest Gump?)

Culture shock notwithstanding, I'm glad to be back. It's nice to have virtually unlimited access to books written in English. (I enjoy reading in German too, of course, but in English it goes oh-so-much faster...) In the past few weeks I've spent a lot of time reading, partly because I'm a natural bookworm and that's what bookworms do, and partly because I'm unemployed, low on funds, and basically bored. Thank God for public libraries! (Also for Harry Potter.)

But enough rambling. The actual point of this entry is a list I've made, highlighting the best of both worlds: what Germany and the United States could learn from each other. (In no particular order.)

Things that Germany Does Better
1. Bread. Germany makes the best bread in the world, and it also produces more varieties of bread than any other country. Even the cheap, mass-produced stuff is made by real bakers who've gone through a three-year apprenticeship program. Granted, you can get good bread in the US, too-- but it's expensive, which is why so many Americans eat cheapy, spongy white mush.
2. Chocolate. Chocolate is less expensive in Germany, and it's better, and it comes in infinite varieties. Maple, blood orange, or blueberry yoghurt, anyone?
3. Cheese. The kind of cheese that Americans reserve for dinner parties and wine-tastings is everyday fare in Germany. Why? Because it's inexpensive. A wedge of brie that costs $3.99 American can be had for $.79 on the Mother Continent.
4. Public Transportation. Virtually all cities of 40,000 or more have their own train stations with regular (usually hourly) transport options. Buses and streetcars run where trains don't. Result? It's perfectly possible to lead a "normal" life without owning a car!
5. Knowledge of Foreign Languages. All Germans learn at least one foreign language (generally English, though in the former DDR it used to be Russian), usually beginning in the third or fourth grade. Lots of people take a second foreign language, and learning a third or fourth language is not uncommon. (In contrast, I doubt that more than 10% of the US population has more than a "tourist" command of a second language.)
6. Doner Kebabs. Like a gyro, only Turkish. This delicious and ubiquitous German fast food is entirely missing from the US. (Might I suggest a trade? You send us some Turkish immigrants so that we can have Doner stands, and we'll send you some Mexican immigrants who can teach you to make salsa properly.)
7. Clothing. First: when I say that Germans are better dressed, I basically mean West Germans, as should be clear from my previous entries. Really, Germans are not spectacular dressers-- they're not like the Italians, who put on $500 slacks to go grocery shopping-- it's just that they look so much better in comparison to Americans. Especially in summer, lots of middle-aged Americans wander around dressed like oversized nine-year-olds: jean shorts, baggy T-shirts with cartoon characters on them, and athletic shoes. (Not just at the beach. In restraurants, and at movie theaters.)
8. Health Care. Like most of the world, Germans subscribe to the belief that health care is a basic human right, and not a privilege for the rich. We're a bit backward in this respect.
9. Vacation Time. 4 weeks paid vacation are guaranteed by law. And, as generous as this sounds to Americans, it's actually standard in many countries. Germans are shocked when they hear that many Americans have no paid vacations at all and are even required to work on public holidays!
10. Public Television. German public TV is better funded; hence, it's of better quality.
11. Fewer Nut-Jobs. Germany has a few people who advocate for the common man's right to own an Uzi, or who don't accept Darwinian evolution, or who go door to door to try to convert you to their religion. But in Germany these people are looked upon as reactionary nuts akin to flat-earthers or the Branch Davidians. In the US, they run the government and are looked upon as pillars of the community.
12. Maintaining a Healthy Weight. Portion sizes are smaller and people get more exercise. So people are trimmer and healthier.
13. Classical Music. They have Bach, we have Sousa marches. There's really no comparison.
14. Environmental Friendliness. Recycling is mandated by law, grocery stores charge for bags (so most people bring their own reusable bags), gasoline costs around $7 a gallon (which encourages people to drive less and use transit more), electricity is pricy (which encourages conservation). They are now where we might be 20 years from now-- and then only if we can get a Democrat in office!
15. Attractive Cities. German cities are, on average, prettier than American ones. (Granted, a person who had seen only Chemnitz and San Francisco might not have this impression, but then, there are exceptions to every rule.) In addition, there is virtually no suburban sprawl. The countryside starts at the end of the city, town, or village-- densely populated residential street here, rye field/forest/meadow there, with no transitional McMansions between them.
16. Pedestrian- and Bicycle-Friendliness. There are pedestrian-only zones, sidewalks and bike lanes virtually everywhere in Germany. Many communities in the US are sidewalk-free, and if you use a bicycle as a means of transportation you're viewed as some kind of social deviant.
17. Not Being Homophobic. In Germany, gays and lesbians are fully integrated into society and can legally register domestic partnerships with most of the privileges of marriage. In the US, gays and lesbians get blamed for terrorist attacks perpetrated by frustrated heterosexual Middle Eastern males, and are faced with the prospect of Constitutionally-mandated second class status.
18. Beer. I don't drink beer, so I can't speak from personal experience, but almost everyone I know who does prefers the German kind. Germans think that American beer tastes like dishwater.
19. Taking It Easy. On Sundays and holidays, businesses shut down and almost no one has to work. Germans actually use these days for relaxation-- as opposed to going shopping, which is not the same thing.
20. Sense of Place. Germans are sentimentally attached to their home towns in a way that's quite rare in the US. Probably because many German families have lived in the same community (or even the same house!) for generations, if not for hundreds of years. There's more regional diversity in German, and more local traditions. Lubeck does not look like Munich, and the Black Forest is very distinct from the Lausitz. In contrast, American suburbs in Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Colorado look pretty much the same.
Things that the U.S. Does Better
1. The University System. Our university system is more intellectually rigorous, especially at the graduate level, and especially especially in the sciences. This is why Germany is now attempting to restructure its "Unis" along U.S. lines!

2. Integration of Ethnic and Religious Minorities. Citizenship laws aside, there is an unwritten rule that in order to be considered German, you have to be northwestern European and (at least nominally) Christian. (My students never really grasped that in the US, black people and Jews aren't considered "foreign." ) Both the United States and Germany encouraged immigration at certain points in their histories. But while the US encouraged the immigrants to settle down and helped their children to integrate into society, Germans avoided them socially and encouraged them to return home. (Most didn't.) Result: while we aren't perfect either, we have a much less ghettoized society.

3. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. They're less expensive here, bigger, often more flavorful, and available year-round. Germany lacks our secret weapon. (California.)

4. Salsa and Barbecue Sauce. Both German salsa and German barbecue sauce have the consistency of ketchup and don't taste much different from it. I plan to bring jars of the American version over with me for next year. (Tip for expats: German barbecue sauce can be greatly improved if you mix it with German mustard!)

5. Popular Music. My (German) students listen to cheesy pop; my students' American peers listen to indie rock. My parents listen to Bruce Springsteen; their German peers listen to Schlager. No further comment is necessary.

6. Service in Stores. American salespeople smile and tell you to have a nice day. (East) German salespeople scowl and bark at you.

7. All-Around Friendliness. An adjective that Germans often use for residents of the English speaking world is scheissfreundlich, meaning "shit-friendly." This means that we say "please," "thank you," and "you're welcome;" we apologize if we bump into strangers on the street; we open doors for people (especially if they're on crutches, or have their hands full, or are elderly); and that if you walk past a person on a quiet residential street (or share an elevator with them), you're supposed to acknowledge them with eye contact, a quick smile, or a "hello" --even if you don't know them well. While we think of this as good manners, Germans see it as superficiality. Perhaps they're right... but it's a lot more pleasant to be smiled at by strangers than to be scowled at. The German attitude of indifference (or outright aggression) to strangers causes their society a lot of unnecessary stress.

8. Volunteering. From what I've seen, Germans don't really have a concept of volunteering or public service as we understand it in the US (or in Britain, for that matter). Ordinary citizens don't help out at soup kitchens or animal shelters on their days off-- as Germans see it, that's what the government and paid employees of private charities are for. In a way it's a logical side-effect of their well-developed welfare system, but it still strikes me as kind of sad. Germans care about their acquaintances deeply, but don't seem to care as much about the well-being of strangers as Americans do. In a way, it's like their attitude is that social problems are concern you only if you're directly affected by them, or if you're a social worker.

9. Personal Hygiene. Welcome to America, land of the well-scrubbed! While the stereotype of the smelly European is (mostly) wrong, we still have the upper hand in the hygiene arena. Almost all Americans shower daily, wash their hair at least every other day, and put on fresh clothes every day (not just when they smell strongly or are stained). Say what you like about Americans, but opening classroom windows in January to let in fresh air because the pupils stink is rarely necessary.

10. Hair. Here I'm mainly talking about East Germany. West Germans' hairstyles, from what I've seen, don't differ too significantly from what you see in the US. But, oh, do we have better hair than the Ossis! East Germany is Mullet-Land, and the place where every female between ten and seventy has dyed her hair one or more weird day-glo color (usually at the same time). In addition, the East has recently pioneered two new Hair Don'ts: the "Mullet-Flip," which is a mullet flipped up at the bottom (sort of like Marilyn Quayle's "style"), and the "Mullet Mohawk" (use your imagination).

11. Old Farmhouses. Much as I loathe McMansions (with or without fries), I'm a sucker for American farmhouses. You know what I mean: simple two-story wood-frame houses with wood siding (freshly painted... or maybe not!), big porches, and well-hidden detached garages. They're like the Shaker aesthetic: "simple, substantial, and beautiful." German houses, in contrast, leave me cold. Stucco-coated cinderblocks don't do much for me. (Note to European readers: No, our wood-construction houses are not hard to keep warm in winter! You'd be amazed at what one can do with fiberglass insulation.)

12. Discouraging Smoking. In Germany, if you manage to find a restaurant with a non-smoking section (good luck!), don't be shocked to see people lighting up at the next table over. Don't be shocked by the smoking lounge at the school (in some places, it's also for the students!), the cigarette vending machines on every corner, or the cigarette commercials before every movie in the theatre. If you work in a school, don't be shocked by the much higher percentage of kids who smoke-- even those cute little seventh-graders!

13. Flexibility. Germans are rigid. They do not cope well with changes in circumstances. This is why, when Germans lose their jobs, they will draw unemployment checks for years rather than relocate (sell the house? you can't be serious!) or find another line of work. This is also why my former boss (an extremely rigid person, even for a German) kept two of her colleagues at work for five hours to supervise the students during a strike-- although no students had actually shown up for school that day.

14. Gender Equality. There are still strong cultural assumptions that 1. all women want to be mothers (though if you look at the actual birthrate, this is ludicrous!) and 2. mothers should not work. And there's very little legal protection against gender-based workplace discrimination. Welcome to the US circa 1973, or to Germany today! An American woman with children who also has a job is not labeled a "raven mother." She doesn't have to wait five years to get her kids into a reputable day care center. And prospective employers can't ask her whether she has kids, whether she's pregant, or married, or plans to encorporate either pregnancy or marriage into her future. German women aren't so lucky.

15. Early Childhood Education. Just about all US kids attend kindergarten (free and usually compulsory), in effect beginning school at age 5. Many also go to preschool at age 3 or 4-- we even have large-scale programs offering free preschool to children from poor families! In contrast, only a minority of German kids have attended any type of school before they start first grade. At age seven. And when they do go to preschool, they don't learn start learning the alphabet or pre-reading skills. Preschools are strictly places to learn social skills and to play.

16. Natural Beauty. Let's see here: we have the Painted Desert, they have "Saxon Switzerland." We have actual rainforests along the northwest coast, including several primeval forests (i.e., they have never been logged); Europe has only one primeval forest-- and that's in Poland! We have the Rockies; they have the Alps (ok, so maybe this one is comparable). We have the Great Lakes, they have the Bodensee (a.k.a. "Lake Constance"). I'd say we beat them hands-down.

17. Public Libraries. Public libraries in the US will not ask you for a membership fee. And public libraries in Germany will probably not organize Summer Reading Clubs or Story Time for your children.

18. Social Mobility. You are ten years old and in the fourth grade. Your name is Fabian, or perhaps Anna, or Aziza, or Mehmet. You live in the Ruhrgebiet. Both of your parents left school after completing the ninth-grade. Your father is a steelworker, and your mother is a housewife. Next year you will begin attending the Hauptschule, in affect condemning you, too, to leave school after nine years and become something like a steelworker or a housewife. In theory, the decision to send you to the Hauptschule was based on your abilities. But little Susanne, whose grades were only slightly better than yours, will be going on to the Realschule. Her father is an accountant. And Felix, whose grades are about the same as Susanne's, will attend the Gymnasium (college-preparatory school). His parents are a business executive and a pediatrician. ---Social mobility is limited everywhere. But the child of blue-color workers in the US (or Britain, or Norway, etc.) has a much better chance of attending university than the child of blue-color workers in Germany.

19. Optimism. An American magazine might run an article entitled "The Ten Best Things about Public Education Today." A German magazine would be more likely to run an article like "Ten Good Things about Public Education--- Do They Exist?" Americans are a sunny people. We insist that the situation in Iraq is improving even when the country is going to hell in a handbasket. We look for the silver lining on dark rainclouds. Germans interject that this "silver lining" is probably radioactive. Really, they're probably right. But all that gloominess gets tiresome.

20. Macaroni and Cheese. We have it, they don't. Yes, this is trite and insubstantial. But bear in mind that I had my mother ship several dozen boxes to me while I was overseas. Indulge me!


Anonymous Anonymous said...


that's a great list.

I have written a post on The Atlantic Review and linked to your blog.

The Atlantic Review is edited by three German Fulbright alumni and recommends texts on transatlantic relations.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Ada said...


Thanks! That's really cool!

Glad my blog is attracting new readers!


2:58 PM  
Blogger kodali said...

hey Ada...amazing work..i have never been to US but i can now imagine the diff btw Germany and US...really enjoyed reading ur post..Keep goin..

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good list. And as someone who has worked over a year in the Fatherland I think you've hit it on the head. But to be fair I think comparing the natural beauty of Germany, which is smaller than Montana, to continental USA which is 15 times bigger than Australia is a little unfair! Can you think of a single state, roughly equivalent in size to Germany which can boast Alpine mountains, dense forestry, rolling plains, wide marshland, coastline, farmland, wide rivers, lakes... But like I said. Good list. And whats wrong with mullets? The Canadians love'em!

4:11 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Ada,
I'd be happy to tell you about Muenster. It wasn't my favorite city... but it has its charms, and the University is supposedly one of the best for linguistics in Germany. I don't want to post my real e-mail, but I do have a "junk" address that I could check if you want to send me an e-mail, it's
hope to talk to you later!


4:53 AM  
Blogger Ada said...

Hi everyone!

Kodali-- Thanks!

Festinog-- You're right, given the size of the countries, the comparison of their natural beauty was a bit unfair. But so what? Given the size of the countries, the comparison of the public transit systems was ALSO a bit unfair. With a much lower population density, the US will probably never be able to compete with Germany's well-developed train system. (I.e., why send a train to a city of 40,000 people when you have to travel through 5 hours of corn fields and one-horse towns to get there?) But I'm glad you liked the list. As for mullets: let's face it, they're just not flattering (especially when combined with a mohawk!). And I will assume you are kidding about the US being "15 times bigger than Australia." :)

Anne-- Thanks for the email address! I'll write you soon.

4:57 PM  
Blogger otvs74skij said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Ada said...

Note to the guilty party: While I welcome comments from my readers, both those I know personally and those I don't, I do NOT appreciate unsolicited advertising, promotional announcements, or "informational" announcements that have no connection to the contents of my blog.

"Big News from the Health Care Industry," this means you!!!!!

Please do not let it happen again.

Note that I have deleted your "comment," and that I will continue to delete any posts that do not relate to the content of my blog.

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, Germany is not changing their University "unit system" because of America, but because the European Union tries to unify the grading systems in European universities, so that it is easier to compare degrees within EU.

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


it's 1.45 a.m. and I have spent more than three hours reading your blog. No regrets, it's just fantastic to read. Your comment about your mom and you being the only two people in the world recognizing your humor is nothing but fishing for compliments. So I won't tell you that I had a blast ;-).

Do you know about the international fulbright mailing-list? For your next adventures in Germany this might be helpful: FULBRIGHT-L@LISTS.UFL.EDU
A bunch of German Alumni are on this list.

I personally have been to Hamm (by bike ;) and I have to disappoint you: it is HaMM, no "hahm"-pronunciation. Dortmund is very close by and Münster, too. I know a couple of people in Dortmund because one of my best friends lives there. And my cousin studies in Münster. She is writing her final paper right now. To make it short: As compensation for this hilarious blog, I would like to offer you some starting support. Just drop me a line (my name leaving this comment

I definitely need to take a nap now


1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great list,
got to it as fulbright alumni.
One big thing to add on the plus USA side: ADA

even a new publicly funded school building at my kids school in Germany has NO handicap access to the upper floor and people if asked even don't understand the issue.
same on a new suburban train platform - new station - no ramp.
my favorite in Germany: an architect won the court case fighting a ramp for a public bldg. because the ramp would insult the eye...
if you are wheelchair bound (I'm not) - the U.S. is the better place to be

12:49 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Ada,
I don't know if you are planning on heading over early at all, but I'll be in Muenster Sept 3-7, before orientation. if you'd like to meet up I could show you around town and introduce you to some nice folks.
e-mail me,


5:03 AM  
Blogger Ada said...

Hello again--

Anonymous: I wasn't just talking about the university unit system (by this, do you mean the move away from the Magister and toward Bachelor's and Master's degrees?) but also the move to create "elite universities" on the level of Harvard, UC Berkeley, etc. From the articles I had read about this in the German popular press, I got the impression that this was a conscious move to imitate (and rival) US elite universities.

Felix: Thanks for the compliments and the info about Hamm! (When I said it was pronounced "hahm," I wasn't trying to indicate a long vowel, just to prevent my American readers from pronouncing it with a midwestern "a" sound.) I'll try to write soon.

Juergen: Since I spent 2 months of my stay in Germany on crutches due to a broken leg, I know what you mean about handicap accessibility. I can't believe I forgot to put that onto my list! One memorable incident: going to a restaurant in Bautzen and not being able to get to the toilets because they were on an upper floor. This shocked me, since handicap accessibility laws in the US stipulate that restrooms have to be accessible to EVERYBODY. When I expressed my surprise to my German acquaintances, they agreed that accessibility laws are a good idea... but said that in Germany, cost considerations would probably prevent them from being passed...

Anne: Unfortunately, I won't get to Muenster until Sept. 9th or so--- but I'll write to you soon. Sorry I haven't yet; I've been EXTREMELY busy.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ada,

Your page looks GREAT! I'll get back later when I have more time (I’m moving in three days) and read every word on it!...

As for today’s list:
Overall: cool (of course!! :o)).
As for some details... Germans: 4) I wish you were right... there’s quite some "forgotten places" in Germany as well, though...
6) Yea!!! I hope our countries' immigration officers don't spoil that innovative step??
10) Esp. the Volksmusik shows ;o))
14) ... thinking it's been started in the US!...
17) Wish you were right... but they're not as fully integrated as in some other countries (same with the registrations: Germany still allows no official marriages!)...
20) cf. Americans-No.-13 (lack of flexibility)!?

Americans: 1) I heard that some American universities looked at the German system (apparently esp. the university at Frankfurt, don't ask me why) to draft their 4+1 year MA programs... looks like the Germans (or: Europeans) might be quite behind once again, failing to recognize which strengths and weaknesses they have themselves, and trying instead to mimick someone else who's himself already looking yet elsewhere for further improvements...
2) Though I generally agree--which German kids would consider Jews (and in the US: African-Americans) foreigners? Germany is far from being a Christian country, and from my own experience, kids don't expect anything else. - Sadly, that doesn't prevent us from making integration horrible for "foreing-looking" immigrants!! :o(
3) ??? I paid *much* more in the US (Virginia)!
7) Nice irony! :o) (BTW, at least to my understanding, the term "scheißfreundlich" means something slightly different--more like acting nice and being nasty at the same time, or also being *overly* friendly... Can any German confirm that???)
9) All a matter of taste... :o)
14) This one really astonishes me!!! I've made exactly the opposite experience: I know no (?) Germans with that view (except for one German-American couple), but several Americans. Maybe a matter of region and/ or social background?
15) (BTW, German kids usually start school at age 6; exceptions [5 or 7] occur when kids are born close to some deadline...)
18) Many Susannes and Mehmets won't even have the same grades--not so much a single arbitrary/ unfair decision, but rather a general neglect of special needs?

Sorry, that's gotten far too long... anyway, again: Interesting, cool list!!

3:24 PM  
Blogger Ada said...

Hi Amelie--

Thanks for checking out my blog! I'm very happy to have so many new readers. Seeing Germans' responses to my list is very interesting, too... I'd like to see a similar list made from the German perspective. Anyhow, I'll respond to a few of your comments now.

4. I'm sadly aware that public transportation in Germany doesn't run everywhere (for a couple of months I lived in a village of 130 that didn't have a bus stop!) but it's still a lot better than the US. In the state of Michigan (my US home), there is NO public transportation in the majority of towns. Even large ones! I live in a community of 70,000-- and we don't even HAVE a public bus system! The assumption here is that everyone has a car. And pretty much everyone does (even if they can't afford it) because getting around without one is virtually impossible in many areas.

17. Well, I know that gays and lesbians don't have marriage rights in Germany... but in the US, one of our two major political parties is actually trying to pass a constitutional amendment to prevent that from EVER happening! And it's not just that. My home state of Michigan passed a state-level amendment forbidding cities from even offering domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian couples. (And since we don't have universal health insurance, this is a pretty big deal! Getting covered through a partner is the only possibility for some people.) The general opinion in the US is still that gay people are a threat to the very fabric of civilization... and that we're second-class citizens. I didn't see that attitude as much in Germany. Even if Germany's not quite the Netherlands, it's still a lot more tolerant than most of the US.

20. You're right; sense of place and flexibility about where to live are the flipsides of the same coin. But I think (or at least hope) a happy medium might be possible. Perhaps people could care about the places they live and hold on to their local traditions, but be willing to relocate temporarily in order to make ends meet? I lived in a rural area of East Germany that had a very high unemployment rate, and I met a few (unemployed) people who'd been offered jobs in the west... but they didn't want to move (even temporarily) because they didn't want to leave their homes behind. So they remained unemployed, by choice.

1. Both university systems have strengths, and they could probably learn from each other. 5-year Master's programs are a possible example of something that the US could adopt from the Germany system. (Incidentally, a Magister is not usually seen as equivalent to a US Master's degree. For example, incoming 'foreign students' at my old university who had a Magister were treated like students with a Bachelor's degree-- they still have to put in one to two extra years to get a Master's.) But in many disciplines, the attitude (in the US) is that the US system is superior... at least at the graduate level. The main reason for this is that, as I understand it, German Ph.D. students are not expected to do as much independent research: they basically act as the assistants of their Doktorvater/Doktormutter. Consequently, I've been repeatedly warned NOT to get graduate education in Germany-- because a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Germany will not get you hired in North America! But this could vary from discipline to discipline.

2. Someone I don't think you're from rural East Germany... and there's nothing wrong with that! My students (16-year-olds living in a village near Bautzen, Saxony) really didn't get that Jews and African-Americans (especially African-American) aren't "foreign." They kept referring to them as "foreign people." Even though I explained that most African-Americans have ancestors that have been in the US for close to 250 years-- a lot longer than many white Americans! And a TEACHER (!) at the school once said, in a lesson, "Some students in the picture are black, some are Asian, some are Hispanic, and some are just 'American.'" Implying that the non-white kids in the picture weren't 'really' American. But this was a pretty backward area... probably equivalent to rural Alabama in the US. If the rest of the country is more tolerant, then I'm glad to hear it.

3. Hmmm... Maybe prices depend on what part of the country you're in. It could be that fruits and vegetables cost less in Michigan than in Virginia. I know that I paid more in Germany, though, at least in winter.

7. The Germans where I lived were of the opinion that Americans ARE insincere and overly friendly! (And probably some of us are.)

14. Region and social background probably do have a lot to do with it. I was in rural East Germany (probably the least progressive part of Germany) and you were in the South (definitely the least progressive part of the US, at least outside of major metropolitan areas like DC and Atlanta), so both of us may have witnessed more sexism than is typical for our respective host countries. But... statistically, there are proportionally a lot fewer women in management positions in Germany than in the US. And what's with have to list your marital status on resumes? (In the US, even posing that question is illegal! Same with asking whether someone has kids!) Societal attitudes may not be better throughout the US... but I think that legal protections for women are stronger.

15. I read somewhere that the average age is close to 7 (6 years, 8 months or something). That may have been inaccurate, though.

18. Out of curiosity, does Germany have anything like "German as a Second Language" classes for immigrant kids? (There were literally NO immigrant children at the school I worked at, so I really have no idea...) I noticed that my school didn't offer after- school help for weak readers or kids with mild learning disabilities (pretty standard in the US). I suppose this may vary from Land to Land. Do the richer Laender offer more support programs for their pupils?

2:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ad Schooling age:

move clearly towards lowering age together with g8 (shortening gymnasium to 8 yrs) "German kids are too old when leaving school" argument.
Also, since kindergarten is mostly NOT academically oriented in Germany (what kids learn in 1st grade in Germany school is comparable to the curriculum of pre-K ed in the US (numbers, colors, reading, season, time,...)) one needs to be careful with comparing years...

1:17 AM  
Blogger Ada said...


Thanks for the link to the article.

I noticed that in Sachsen, where I was assigned last year, the Einschulungsalter actually is "6/7." (I think it's usually seven, since most of my seventh-graders were already 14 by the end of the schoolyear.)

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's an interesting list. I do have to point out, though, that I think you meant "blue-collar" workers, not "blue-color". :-) Could this be a little bit of the language interference you were describing?

And on the topic of "blue-collar", I for one find the widespread German respect for tradespeople, farmers, bakers or whatever preferable to the widespread American attitude that if a child does well in school he or she should aspire to attend college and become something respected, like an engineer, lawyer or doctor. My husband, e.g., was told that he couldn't be a tailor (his career aspiration) because he was good at math and science and should be an engineer. Consequently he studied automotive engineering, though he has scarcely worked as an automotive engineer. He realized during his first year on the job that he hated it. Knowing him years later, I think he would have been much happier and perhaps more "successful" if he had been encouraged to pursue a real interest of his.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Ada said...


Actually, that was just a typographical error! :) I mean to write "blue-collar."

German society does show more respect for skilled trades than American society does-- as someone whose brother is a mechanic, I'm aware of this. I think that part of the reason is that most tradespeople are better-trained in Germany: Germany actually has apprenticeships, whereas most trades in the US just use on-the-job training. (Interestingly, auto mechanics are an exception to the general US rule!)

One thing I dislike about the German system, though, is that non-college-bound kids don't get more than 10 years of comprehensive education. Frankly, I find this horrifying. I worked with Haupt- and Realschueler last year, so I know where these kids are at intellectually when they leave school. Their knowledge of world history and geography were generally poor, and their critical thinking skills were abysmal! Another two years of comprehensive education (before moving on to apprenticeships, Berufsschule, etc.) would give them the opportunity to broaden their understanding of the world and, hence, become better citizens.

The push in the US to get kids to go to college isn't just because people want their children to have lucrative careers in the professions (though, sadly, there is a lot of pressure toward that in many upper and middle-class families). It also reflects a difference in the way the LOWER-middle and working classes in the two countries view education.

Neither of my parents went to college, but both of them always stressed that my brother and I should get at least a Bachelor's Degree. Not because they wanted us to earn a lot of money or have "respectable" jobs (they were much more concerned that we do something that makes us happy), but because education opens doors for people-- the more education you have, the more opportunities you have. They wanted us to have the opportunities that they didn't. This is the typical attitude toward college education among lower-middle-class and working-class people in the US.

In contrast, I found that many working-class parents in Germany were resistent toward sending their children to a different kind of school than the one they themselves attended. I also picked up on a similar attitude among my students. They'd talk about the Gymnasium-students as "wanting to be something better" (in a negative sense). It amounts to the opposite problem-- pressure NOT to attend college.

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8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We lived only a brief time in Munich last year, but it was practically standard for the children in that area to attend Kindergarten. Two of my children attended. We met many German and foreign families and I never came across anyone whose child did not or would not attend the Kindergarten, prior to 1st grade. Just a bit of information for you.

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Blogger Adam said...

Hello Ada. I stumbled on your site from the Atlantic Review. Great list of comparisons between the U.S and Germany. I'm with you on most of them. Having been a Halfbright myself in 2001 in Goettingen, I came up with many of the same generalizations as you did. Here's my two cents: I totally agree on the music. By the end of my time there, I couldn't stand any more of the pop music. I found that ironic too. In a country that is usually deeper intellectually than the US, the mainstream music certainly didn't reflect anything more than bubblegum--no more Sara Connor, please! I'm not too sure about the physical beauty though. It's quite a majestic country. I think the beauty is just different, rather than better or worse. Also, I think the U.S. does in fact have a sense of place, even if it isn't as overt as in Germany. What about college football team rivalries? In live in California, and there is a big rivalry between the north of the state and the south. How about the different styles of barbecues that you find in the country that reflect their origins? One thing that really made an impression on me was the year after my fulbright year. I spent my second year in Holland and was able to see what was uniquely German but not necessarily shared by other Europeans. For instance, the Dutch were generally less pessimistic as a people as the Germans. I started, at that point, to realize that many of my comparisons were between what was "American" and what wasn't, realizing that just because the Germans didn't share an aspect of our country, it didn't mean that the trait was necessarily unique to us. I had a roommate that was from New Zealand and during that time I learned that we shared the same cultural frustrations. A lot of the ideas that I thought were uniquely American, were actually shared among the other New World countries. By New World, I mean the commonwealth countries and the countries on the whole American continent. Take care. In the meantime, I could really go for a Reinesrogenbrot right now! Yumm. Cheers, Adam

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed "festinog"'s comment: Can you think of a single state, roughly equivalent in size to Germany which can boast Alpine mountains, dense forestry, rolling plains, wide marshland, coastline, farmland, wide rivers, lakes... and felt compelled to reply. I visited Germany twice and am now living near Kaiserlautern for 3 to 5 years. The similarities to Washington State and Germany are quite uncanny. Washington has both the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges and Mt. Rainier! And dense forestry? It is everywhere in Washington. Eastern Washington is covered by rolling plains and the state is well known not only for its Delicious Apples but many other crops. Ada mentioned the Rain Forest in the Washington State Olympic Peninsula but the state is also boarded on the West by the Pacific Ocean and the South by the Columbia River and the East by the Snake River. And there are sizable lakes scattered throughout Washington State. The only thing that Washington has that festinog didn't mention as a German attraction is a desert, sand dunes and all. So, that's my "can you name one similar state to Germany" response.

Great blog, by the way. Loved your list! I found the comments from you and others about American fake friendliness a bit confusing. We were told that it is considered rude NOT to greet individuals and bid them farewell. And I notice everyone speaks to us immediately in restaurants, shops and markets and we greet them in kind and say our farewells.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Vivi said...


My dad referred me to your blog, and I have to say I'm really enjoying reading it, however...You're really making me miss Germany!!! I'm half German, I have citizenship, and used to go every year of my life, but haven't been back in 5 years. Makes me really sad.

Oh well. Anyway, I will continue to read. It's fantastic. ^_^

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ada,

I like your list. You are absolutely right about the insufficiencies of the German school system. The division at age 10 is ridiculous, but I'm pretty sure that this will be overcome in the next ten years or so, because even conservative politicians have to accept the fact that it just does not work any longer.
As for the university level, I know that in the sciences, Ph.D. students in Germany (i.e., those aspiring for a "doctor rerum naturalium") have to do independent research and publishing.


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12:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your list is great. I have lived in Germany for 6 years and live in the U. S. now ( for the past eight years.)I'm not a native of either country and feel that your observations are very accurate.
However, you have not mentioned the tax differences or the fact that it is much easier here (U.S.) to make money and find a job.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there!
As a 23-year old Ggerman, I have to say that list by far ther best and (overall) most accurate I've ever seen. I've been an anglophile ever since I was 8 years old. (and, -I just got to say this- a huge Harry Potter fan, since you mentioned it :)
However, there are 3 or 4 points with which I can only disagree.

The higher-education is better in the U.S.? Err, as I see it this statement is wrong for two reasons:
1) If you don't happen to have rich parents or happen be a footbal-star you're not very likely to be able to attend a college/university where your degree is really going to count for something later on. At whatever university you get your degree in Germany, it counts about the same later on. And you don't get a degree from a high-ranking university here if you're a sports-star with no brains, or the son/daughter of a politically or economically influential family.
2)More intellectually rigorous? What we learn in Gymnasium is usually the first two years of liberal education in U.S. colleges. I study philosophy, philosophy of science and logic at Munich University - and I can say it is probably as intellectually rigorous as it gets. Also, studies show that the average student at a German university is more learned than the average student at a U.S. college or university.

Considering natural beauty the U.S. beat Germany hands down? When it comes to diversity of natural beauty, I agree... but I don't know if you've ever been to the "Fränkische Schweiz" for example... sitting on top of a ruin of a 12th century castle, watching the sun go down over endless hills, woods and fields is something you just can't do in the U.S. - Of course it's a matter of taste, but the variety of natural beauty Germany has is probably only riveled by Ireland and Scotland.

Volunteering - as such, you are right. But you're forgetting that a) volunteer fire-depts exist in about every "Gemeinde", however small here. AND, most importantly... you say that Germans seemingly care less about the welfare of people who are not as close to them. (Americans volunteering at a soup kitchen is great, but what does disregarding international laws, waging wars of aggression and disregarding basic human rights in such situations say about caring for people who aren't close to oneself?) What do you think is the reason we put more effort into keeping the environment clean than almost every other country in the world. Alternative energy-sources, recycling, emmision-trading, limits of CO2-exhaustion etc. - it's caring about what the world will look like decades and centuries from now. Also, waging wars of aggression and violating human rights (see Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, - Iraq in general, (the Patriot Act), Afghanistan, not to mention the 70s and 80s) would be impossible for a government to do in nowadays Germany. Not to mention how appaling most Germans find it that large parts of the U.S. populace support this... and most who change their mind do so because many American soldiers die, not because of the suffering and injustice this inflicts on the people of these countries.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not at all anti-American, I have a lot of friends there, and I love so many things about the U.S. - I'm just talking about politics and the people who support the current policies.

And lastly - the optimism-thing.
Sure optimism has its good sides, but I'm positive most of that is due to naivety, and the above mentioned things about political atrocities are to some degree caused by this naivety/optimism. Germans are more critical, that's also (IMO) why we are by far not as susceptible to religious fairy-tales and anti-darwinism. I would state it differently - we might lack (though it's been getting a little better as of late) some sort of enthusism, energy, drive...

Anyways - great comparison, and I hope you don't take this criticism the wrong way.
(July 23rd - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - are you as excited as I am?)

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh... and I forgot:
You're right - tha average pupil in Germany listens to stupid, boring pop-music. But there's much more to it than that. I've grown up in a town of 80.000 people (Bayreuth), and even with 80.000 people, there's a huge fandom of alternative music here. Between the age of 14 and 19, I belonged to the scene of metal-heads, punks and left-alternatives in town. It was huge - hundreds of people. Local rock and metal festivals draw thousands of visitors (mostly in exactly that age-group between 14 and 25), jazz is very big here... even much more in Köln...

I consider myself quite well-read and pride myself on my taste of music and literature. I enjoy mostly progressive music, Zappa, metal, jazz of all varieties and also especially classical music. (if it's complex, sophisticated music, there's a really good chance I know it and love it :)

And I just have to say: You'd be hard-pressed to find even nearly as many fans of classical music in the U.S. than you can find Germany (overall and especially between the ages of 10 and 20; I know so many families who enroll their children in musical pre-schools and/or interest their children in classical music; I myself visited a musical pre-school -while also visiting regular pre-school- and later visited a Gymnasium with exceptionally good education in literature, languages, arts and music) (you mentioned Bach - my favourite up to the mid 19th century)
Naturally, the higher the school-form (Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium), the higher the percentage of people who have a refined taste in music.

BTW, I may have just not looked close enough, but where at what kind of institution did you teach?

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dammit - discovered a misleading formulation in the section about "natural beauty" in my reply...

"the variety of natural beauty Germany has is probably only riveled by Ireland and Scotland."
-was not meant to be understood as saying that when it comes to variety in natural beauty bla bla, but that when it comes to that specific variety of natural beauty which Germany has, it's probably only rivaled by Ireland and Scotland.


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3:16 PM  
Blogger Georg said...

having lived 7+ years in the states (chicago suburbs) and a few months in the 'great' south (TN)....
regarding the 'natural beauty'...well we could debate there for hours i guess.

I love the diversity of the states, from the pacific NW, to the desserts, to the subtropics in FL and so on...

But, honestly, i am overwhelmed by the beauty in Germany too, now after i returned after 7 years...i am in Bavaria and there are places where there's no comparison AT ALL....especially to really, really boring areas in the states like the endless flat midwest.

You cannot seriously go on a boat-ride, say, on the bavarian danube...towards Kloster Weltenburg from Regensburg....and then SERIOUSLY say that the states has more natural beauty ;)

I do, however, see your 'problem' and maybe you lived in northern/middle german...which is no comparison to the beauty Bavaria. Seriously.

() stupid pop-music of the WORST thjings over in the states was the poular music, their radio-stations and whats on MTV.

In the south you get COUNTRY music (well, a matter of and my GF hate it, and we lived 1hr from NASHVILLE ;)

you have GHETTO and Gangster Rap on MTV 24/7.

The US music-scene is the WORST in my opinion. You dont need to like HEINO or German Schlager....but there ARE people who like modern and good stuff like Drum'n'Bass, Trance, Dance, Industrial etc....stuff many people in the states dont even KNOW.

Whz do you think Germany (Berlin) is usually seen as the capital of eg. Techno ;) said...its a matter of taste.

ALSO...regarding the job-market....we would debate here whether the statement 'its easier to get a job' in the US is true or not...i had a HARD time in TN. And *if* jobs were offered they were horrible paid and under extremely bad circumstances.

$6/hr...NO HEALTH INUSRANCE, at 96 degrees outside temp in an UNCLIMATED WAREHOUSE..where people literally passed out like flies......etc..etc..just to mention an examples.

However, i do agree that its easier to eg. found your own business and do freelancing work in the states, because we have so many regulations here in Germany.


Georg, back in Germany

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2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Ada for your comparison list. Of course many of the topics are simply a matter of opinion but there is something to be learned from reading the impressions of others.

MikeB's post made me laugh. He can't seem to see beyond some of the most silly and, unfortunately, widepread stereotypes many Germans have about the USA.

I divided my time between Germany and Colorado while growing up and studied at the university level in both countries. I have an American parent and a German parent and speak both languages at a native level. I hope this speaks to my credibility (at least as far as possible on an anonymous message board) when I say he is deluding himself if he believes all the drivel he has written.

German education fails to impress me from the earliest years. See the two most recent OECD PISA studies. Germany and the USA are statistically tied in both raw scores and in every subject area. Having spent time in both university systems I can say that from my experience my American coursework was substantially more challenging than anything I or my German family and friends have encountered in Germany. I know several Germans (current colleagues) who were very disappointed to find out they weren't any more prepared for the first year of an American undergraduate program than their American peers despite the percieved advantage of a German Abi. They had been told the myth about the Abi being equivalent to the first two years of American higher education. If he claims otherwise I'd like him to prove it.

Higher education is not free in the USA. You get what you pay for. Additionally, most if not all Americans who have applied themselves in high school can apply for grants, scholarships or government sponsored loans to attend university. It is a myth that only the rich attend university. I paid my student loans back over ten years. Best investment I ever made!

Any claim that Germans are more intellectual than Americans is simply silly. I live in Germany and know better.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the list and will recommend it!
A German living in the US for 10 years.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for you blog. Most of the comments are very interesting. I am the child of a German mother and an American father. Unfortunately, I lost my natural German at an early age and now speak it very poorly. ( BUT I try!)
I have a question: What is it with northern Germans and their rudeness? My mother's family live in a small village near Hannover and my visits there have not been too pleasant. The people ( young mostly) are very unfriendly and rude. I have not found this the case in other parts of Germany. My young nephew recently returned from there...a brief visit to see his Oma's hometown, and was treated similarly. Is it anti-American? Cultural? ( He spoke limited German), or is it just us? :) We are considered friendly and likeable by most other people, but we are starting to get a complex.


7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great comparison, Ada! Excellent job! I agree with the recommendations of MikeB too. :)
I am from Ticino, Switzerland but now I am doing my Ph.D. at U. of Toronto, Canada and I have travelled across Canada and few US States, so I'd also like to share my thoughts.
The only thing that I would add is that I do hate North American style wooden houses. It might be a matter of taste, but for me they are ugly and unreliable against natural disasters. Brick is brick :)
And, I just want to add that thanks to the great transportation system in Europe, even if you live in a remote village, you can easily reach within a few hours Berlin, Vienna, Paris or Milan and enjoy world-class cultural events, museums, concerts. So, you don't feel stuck in the middle of nowhere. Whereas in Canada and the US, if you live in the middle of nowhere, you are simply screwed! If you live in Arkansas or the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, you might drive 1000 km around and the only "culture" you'll get will be plazas with Wal-Mart, McDonalds and Pizza Hut. :( But, at the end of the day, there is no perfect place, so we have to choose what is the best one for us personally. :)

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great you are up to date with your information and it is very useful for someone who wants to know how Germany REALLY is and not how you read it in the traditional "About Germany" books. Thanks

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10:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi, just came across this while searching for information on how to open a German bank account without any German residence. Any information that can be provided (other than "forget it") would be appreciated.

Now, onto topics at hand. My experience with Germany has been as an American, not particularly well-traveled but educated beyond schooling. My German language skills aren't that great, as I only had one year of University training in it. I've studied on and off since that time. I have traveled to Germany for a music festival each spring from 2000 through 2006. Each time I try to learn more about Germany but yet know that my limited experiences do not even begin to tell me what Germany really is.

Rudeness: I have noticed Rudeness when I was in Duesseldorf, but kindness in other areas. I found the people of Altenburg to be most friendly, going out of there way to help me when I was in a real bind. My limited experience with that city left me most impressed. I found Leipzig people to be not as rude as those of Duesseldorf, but not as friendly as those of Altenburg. As Leipzig has been the city which has made up the majority of my German experience, it is the only one on which I feel that my comments really have any weight.

The Germans smoke so much! Every place had the stench of old cigarette smoke. I think Americans have gone too far in their banning of smoking, but the Germans haven't made enough effort.

But I really enjoy how the Germans can drunk, and even be quite drunk, and seem to not get obnoxious. Boisterous, sure. But I saw lots of drunk people at Wave Gotik Treffen and I don't call anyone picking a fight. In the US, you can't have such a large gathering without violence. However, this may be partly because the Gothic/Industrial crowd tend to be less pugnacious as many other music scenes.

The Germans like to drink beer, but I was actually quite disappointed in the quality of the beer they were drinking. Perhaps it's just the music festivals that don't have the good quality, and instead you get "lager" or "schwarz". I am somewhat of a beer snob so generally the lowest I'll stoop in the US is Sam Adams. Good American pubs have at least half a dozen good beers on tap, and often two dozen or more.

I found the transit system to work well, and then was great. I live in Boston, which has a workable system public transit, but what I was really impressed was with the DB vs. Amtrak. DB, in spite of its high cost, is great quality!

Another thing I liked about Germany is how law-abiding motorists seem to be, and pedestrians as well.

One thing that bothered me was the real lack of knowledge of history in the Germans I met and had the chance to talk to. I am not saying that Americans, in general, have a great understanding or appreciation of history, but I had expected Germans to know more of at least their own history.

I have thought for a time on the idea of professions which are preferred and those which are disdained in the US. In America, there's too much pressure on students to do well in school and get into a good University, which will allow them to become a doctor, lawyer, etc. There is no glamour in being a plumber, someone once told me. The truth is, we need more good, honest, skilled plumbers more than we need more doctors or lawyers. This doesn't seem to be as big of a problem in Germany. In fact, it may not be a problem at all. There might be more concentration in Germany in training students into professions most needed by society, and giving all skilled trades respect, be they veternarians or machinists or scientists. I can't stress how important it is for the longer-term economic health of a country that there are enough skilled tradesman, and no surplus of people holding degrees in more academic disciplines which do not translate to direct public benefit.

I think I'd like to move to Germany. I continue to work on my language skills.

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Blogger xiani said...


Beware of racist and racially intolerant white canadian males and white canadian females
wilfully engaging in ugly deeds of racial profiling of non-whites, in racial harassment of non-whites, and in racially dehumanizing attempts to racially harass non-whites through intimidating physically, mentally, and spiritually; portraying their racial hatred of non-whites through provocations and false implications, through causing wilfull and dehumanizing disturbance to non-whites through using illegal wall-see-through technologies and audio-bugs on non-whites' homes; through listening and watching through the walls of
non-whites' rented and owned homes, through infiltrating into their internet and private telephones, and through using tempest technology to infiltrate as ugly parasites into others' computers' hard-drives that amounts to illegal plagiarism and privacy violations.

The perpetuators of these evil deeds do this from their cars and from neighborhoods on and off work, using illegal equipment slyly given to them by the unworthy cops, and then accelerating their cars loudly and intimidatingly near non-whites' homes and driving intimidatingly in presence of non-whites on streets, making threatening u-turns, driving intimidatingly right up and over sidewalks when a non-white is on the sidewalk, throwing their ugly bullying weight around, in their shameless acts of cowardice. It is all done
slyly, supposedly smartly, either loudly or silently; however, they cannot fool all the people all the time.

The cops also participate themselves to wail their sirens abusively everytime non-whites
move and talk inside their rented and owned homes in daily routine living, in addition to having their henchmen and henchwomen, and often, using their non-white gutless henchmen and henchwomen in cars, transport, shopping centers, neighborhoods, etc, to commit these ugly harassing racially profiling deeds at all times day and night. Using non-whites to engage in racial harassment of other non-whites is an obnoxiously evil sinister humanely disgraceful intelligent move of the whites well-known for their ugly divide and rule tactics through using their non-white henchmen and henchwomen who just do as they are told and are full of racial intolerance towards non-whites.

It's a shameful disgrace when the so called protectors of law turn into abusers of law themselves and throw the weight of their uniforms and law around as cowards. So, they and their henchmen and henchwomen, appear to be very law respecting on the outside; however, they network cowardly to commit sly acts of provocation to non-whites all the time, which
is supposed to be legally acceptable. Is watching through walls of non-whites homes,
bugging their homes, working in networking syndicates against them, committing human rights
and privacy violations against them, slyly committing heinous deeds of planned provocations
against them, falsely implicating them, etc, supposedly lawful for the whites? Who makes those laws that favor only the whites? The law itself has racism in its clauses. The ugly inner dirt of the perpetuators of these evil deeds of racism do not deserve to step into religious institutions for their ugly deeds - such as, if you ain't white, you ain't right?

Oh! Really? The white colonialism is responsible for the world's evils today. Nicely dressed, beautiful people, magnificient concrete jungles, clean roads and lawns, sweet polite talkers on the outside, full of ugly stench in their souls, that is the cause of
these racist policies that are outrightly biased against non-whites. What a shame! Most of
these ugly acts of dehumanizing racial profiling depict the cowardice of the doers of these
deeds in the real sense, and are done at the behind the scenes insistence of the racially intolerant white cops and racist white societies through their frontline stooges. However,
without physical evidence, the white cops, security, societies, and their henchmen and henchwomen are laughing sinisterly at their heinous deeds and the legal system seems to support this evil through its inability to take action without physical evidence. Their
racial profiling penetrates public transport systems, shops and stores to do all they can
to make the non-whites feel unwelcome in their dehumanizing acts of racial profiling
against non-whites and those who don't conform to their nonsense. The white cops, security, and white communities use their henchmen and henchwomen who do just as they are told and from behind the safety cushion of their oil-guzzling, pollution creating, often dark-glassed vehicles to intimidate and harass non-whites in obnoxious racial profiling
that reflects the immoral, despotic, and cowardly behaviour of racially intolerant white
cops, security, communities and their dumb henchmen and henchwomen who do just as they are told, fuelled as they are in their racial frenzy, thanks to the racially manipulative corporate controlled media. Additionally, they twist the word of the Lord against those who dare to oppose their racism. This reflects that they cannot bear the truths of their racism exposed.

Volunteers are welcome to circulate this information to all they know to put an end to this
abuse and violations of human rights committed by immorally misbehaved white cops, security, white communities, public transports, shops, stores, etc, and their dumb henchmen and henchwomen who do just as they are told in their racial frenzy.

Save this information on your computers before any cowards remove it from the websites.

Racism is immoral and dehumanizing behaviour that reflects the "incapable to perform
humanely" quality of those who are racist and are being watched from God's court above in ways they cannot be expected to be capable to perceive yet.

It's a shame when obnoxious stench of racism comes from people in so called rich countries.

It's even more of a shame when words are twisted by media to influence young minds with lies. It's even more of a shame when so called authorities perpetuate racism and behave racistly and enforce racist policies and behaviour through intimidating means amidst outer sweet and polite talks. Racism seems to be prominent among so called white people in rich countries who cannot bear non-whites from other countries of origin. Planet Earth belongs to people of Earth. Highly educated people of high intellectual calibres, rich bosses and CEOs, etc, of rich countries are a blotch on humanity and their material levels when they haven't yet evolved to basic human concepts of all humans have red blood irrespective of race.

Racism stems from social attitudes that are perpetuated by racist societies, the media, the authoritarians, and the peers. It's time to say, shame on all those who perpetuate racism
and racist attitudes.

For more information, visit:
ream-media-ignores-story'kmaq.html … mp;lang=En

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my opinion we can't really speak of good and bad sides of whole countries, we should rather point out that things are just different, but not necessarily better or worse.

Anyway, I really find that you've come up with a great list here and that there are many things I never noticed before. I am a German and I've spent a high school year in the US. Compared to what I've seen I can agree to you in many aspects, however, one thing really disturbs me about that list: the comparison between East Germans and West Germans. Yes, it's true that unemployment rates are much higher in the East and that there are different mentalities, however, I wouldn't state that West Germans have a better clothing style than East Germans (I might be wrong, but I don't think so). Furthermore I can really disagree with the view that women in Germany are tied to their classical role as a mother, or that they are not as lucky as other women because of fewer chances to start a career. This is just not true. You see many women doing jobs that even Americans would think of as typical jobs for men, not to forget that we even have a female chancelor :-).

8:35 PM  
Blogger Are we there yet? said...

Macaroni and cheese?!? You would rather eat Macaroni and cheese than Kässpätzle? There's no accounting for taste....

But thanks for your fun blog. I've lived in Germany for 13 years now--just became a citizen--and enjoyed reading your comments.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for comparing our people ;)

1. """And a TEACHER (!) at the school once said, in a lesson, "Some students in the picture are black, some are Asian, some are Hispanic, and some are just 'American.'"

Your impression is right. Most germans don´t see the children of immigrants from southern states (especially turks and other muslims), but also from Russia or Serbia as germans. They dont understand, that a boy of turkish origin for example in berlin hosts YOU though you are a visitor with german origin. But berlin is HIS town, not your town. Many germans consider immigrants as guests and don´t want them take part in decisions! In general, people don´t treat anybode with foreign origin and some (considered) foreign attitudes and traditions as a german. He is a turkey, an arab or a russian. And so do school directors, teachers, employers, politicians and so on. Therefore the turks or russians themselves don´t want to deal with germans and are proud to the land of the origin of their parents or grandparents.

But you must differ between the regions. In the rhine area f.e. people are more open minded than in my homeland bavaria or in the eastern parts of germany.

In america blacks, asians or europeans are considered as americans, but i think that there is also much rasicm. I guess that rasicm is more discussed in the public live, while in germany people think to be open mindend and tolerant ... because they don´t ask themselves, what "open minded" or "tolerant" means. They think, that they´re tolerant, if their state accepts immigrants.

But don´t forget, in the usa structural discrimination of ethnic minor groups is worse. Think of the live circumstances of many natives in their reservations (it´s a very, ver, very ashaming thing, which breaks my heart), look at the poverty and prison rates of blacks, latinos and natives!

2. I didn´t visit america yet, but i saw and read many reports about poverty in low- income- classes.

About 37 Million (one in eight!) are considered poor (and i think, that the national poverty line is lower than in germany because of the lack of public welfare services)
Already 20 Millions of americans are in need of food stamps.
Poor families especially in rural areas haven´t access to basic medical care. It sounds strange, but many of these obese men, women and children don´t have enough to eat. Their nutrition habits are wrong and they can´t afford healthy food.

3. Job- market: I think americans tolerate tooo much and germans tooo less (f.e. flexibility, low income, taking a second or thir job ...)

4. A big difference: In germany the state wants to control everything, while in america the state doesn´t care about so much about the needs of its citizens, but also doesn´t force him to the public services. Wooden houses without flowing water, home schooling or living in caravans or having a gun for self-defending isn´t possible in Germany.

5. Foreign politics: We have a very black history, but in my opinion the power of the USA is built on privat bank-, oil- and weapondolars. This elite needs warfire in all parts of the world since the second world war or even earlier

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"""I worked with Haupt- and Realschueler last year, so I know where these kids are at intellectually when they leave school. Their knowledge of world history and geography were generally poor, and their critical thinking skills were abysmal!"""

Unfortuntely this is also true. In Germany the thres types of school(or even four, because about 5 % are at schools for pupils with special need) after elementary school (in most german states after four years of school!) is really poisening our community.
So the gap between the social classes is always at a high level. So working class people tend to see the place of their children in the same social class.

This is different from america, allthough you need pay less money than in america for education.

But in america for poor people it´s harder, to let the vicious circle of poverty, low education, unemployment and crime behind.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a last thing ;)

I don´t like, that some germans are proud, if they travelled to AMERICA. They consider it as a prestige. I don´t know why ...

while many germans have prejudices towards the american livestyle, they copy it step by step

We let the companies steal our culture like they´ve done it in america

It´s disappointing ...

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked your list, but I have to disagree with 2 points. I find American public tv better than German public tv.
And in Bavaria, we certainly have great fruits and vegetables. The US has California, but Germany has Italy and Spain right nearby. Aldi and Lidl have wonderful produce and that coupled with local German produce from the weekly farmer's market makes for a pretty great selection.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

to point 20. Mac'n cheese:
Germans have NUTELLA !!!

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3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ada

This list is great, I ran into it while deciding to go for college in Germany or U.S

Just a note, I am sorry you had to conclusively determine that Middle eastern males are the perpetrators of terrorist attacks. They are not, the real perpetrators are haters and extremists who claim to be Muslims, while Islam has nothing to do with them, and also organizations that want the World to stay in trouble.

Anyway this aint a political post so we dont have to extend it.

Thanks alot again for a cool list. Good luck.

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Bitplanebro said...

Thx for this helped me a lot.
i am a german who wants to imigrate to the USA.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having traveled and lived around the world (and not as a wealthy elite) I have found your listing for Germany refreshing. Every country has its Pro's and Con's, and the best thing is to be able to see each one of them. Oh, and I have found the people in and around Duesseldorf to be quite friendly as opposed to those in Los Angeles!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay my comment is in response to this person's comment:

festinog said...Good list. And as someone who has worked over a year in the Fatherland I think you've hit it on the head. But to be fair I think comparing the natural beauty of Germany, which is smaller than Montana, to continental USA which is 15 times bigger than Australia is a little unfair! Can you think of a single state, roughly equivalent in size to Germany which can boast Alpine mountains, dense forestry, rolling plains, wide marshland, coastline, farmland, wide rivers, lakes... But like I said. Good list. And whats wrong with mullets? The Canadians love'em!

uhh hello... California has all of those attributes!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your your list really (I used it for a resaerch paper) ... but I am from the Eastern part of Germany (lived there for 18 years) and moved to Munich, so I know both sides - of course there is a difference but not in their qualitiy - the cities in the East are pretty nice, they are growing and blooming out. Mabey try a new visit in Leipzig or Dresden or Jena or or or! So I think it's not fair to speak so negative and depractive about this part.

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Anonymous Shudity said...

I like you list - you are writing are lot of very nice things about my country! I believe, however, that you are quite wrong about social mobility. There is definitely a lot of room for improvement in Germany, especially when compared to Sweden or Norway, but social mobility in the US is even lower. See for instance this study:

Also, I honestly believe that most German children go to a Kindergarten from age 3. The problem tends to be the quality of the Kindergarten as the tachers are not university educated, and many are not "Erzieher" where you have to do three years of specialised training, but "Kinderpfleger", which get only one year of training. There is a lot of lobbying for university education of kindergarden teachers right now. In addition, opening hours tend to be ridiculous, especially for working parents.

When it comes to university education, I think both systems have their advantages. In Germany, the quality of universities doesn't vary nearly as much as it does in the US. If you want top-notch science, yes, the US is the place to be. But then very few people in the US actually study in Harvard or Yale, etc. Still decent education at a reasonable price - I think I'd prefer a German university to an American community college. BTW, every university (in Germany and other places) I have ever studied or worked at, has discriminated against students coming from different systems with different degrees, insisting that they need to take extra classes to make up for it. To me, that says very little about the actual quality of the degree and a lot of the distribution of power within the university...

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Hello Ada! Thank you for your entertaining blog on the Best of both worlds...having lived in Pre-unification Germany (1978-1981) I saw much of what you described and then some. It was really fun to re-live it all through your perspective.
Thanks again for sharing,
Linda O.
P.S. I don't know if this has been already addressed by another comment, but may I offer a minor correction to one of your comments? RE: the expression "blue-color" worker you used should actually be "blue-collar" to denote the service sector worker as opposed to the "white-collar" worker who would be an office or administrative type. (White shirt with tie-office dress code vs. blue-shirt with name embroidered on a label dress code for the manual labor jobs.) Just FYI. *smiles*

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is a pretty good article. There is one point I'd like to question though. The US is better at integration? Perhaps in the American pursuit of individual enrichment American's turn a blind eye to the cultural transformation taking place around them. Also, as you noted, Americans have less connection to birthplace, and the mobility that is a trait of the American vs. the German is often expressed as something that may be alien to the German - "white flight". That is how American's deal with integration. Salsa and doners may seem like a wonderful trade off to some for the ills that mass importation of foreigners from very different cultures. But only to those not paying attention.

In the trade you suggest, only a few for a few, how about 40 million Mexican-Americans for the 3.5 million Turkish-Germans. Even if you were to compensate per-capita we have far more. And that is only Mexican, if you say Latin-American or Hispanic, then increase that number to about 48 million.

How about education? Some 41% of Hispanic adults age 20 and older in the United States do not have a regular high school diploma, compared with 23% of black adults and 14% of white adults. How about crime?

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All countries have their own historical reasoning for creating policy but Germany is being naively optimistic if it is attempting to mirror a more "American" immigration and integration policy. Germans would probably do better if simply one of every 2 or 3 German women had just one more child and stabilized the decline of the German population instead of pursuing a radical policy of replacing the dead Germans with foreigners.

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Hi Ada, it's your list, but I just wanted to say I don't like number 11 :( Those are some pretty controversial things and I think you exaggerated...

While there are true "nutjobs" like the thieving fake preachers on T.V. and Nazi-types with arsenals for basements, it's unjustified you would label people who merely reject a humanistic worldview as nutjobs.

I'm an American in Germany and know in this culture even someone who just privately believes in God or keeps a weapon at home for self-defense purposes is considered strange by most.

It was worth mentioning the difference in German/American mentalities, but you could have been less extreme...
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Anonymous Chnny said...

Ada, I've been thinking about relocating to Germany to continue my nursing career or study medicine. I have a family in Germany but I'm worried about how my 9 yrs and 2 yrs old sons will fit in. My family lives in Nuremberg. What do you think. How is the medical system. I know it doesn't pay well but I don't mind.

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Ada, My family said that they've never seen or heard of a black nurse in Germany and my chances of succeeding as a nurse or doctor are slim. Is that true. Is medical school cheaper there.

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