Non-Kebab German Takeaways

St. Michael’s Church

    One thing that I learned quickly during my first two weeks in Germany is that, in this day and age, speaking very limited German doesn’t pose much of an obstacle to enjoying a trip here if you can speak English well. I’ve been taking German classes since I arrived, and at this point I have enough vocabulary to make my way around a restaurant and grocery store, but in terms of actual knowledge of the German language I’m not even close to a preschool level yet. I’ve seriously considered watching Paw Patrol in German to help me learn shapes and colors. With that in mind, I haven’t had any problems communicating with people in Munich because most of them know English very well. I’ve been trying to speak what German I know when I can, but I’ve frequently encountered situations where I begin talking to someone in German, but they respond in English since it isn’t hard for them to tell that I’m from the United States and my German is not particularly good. It’s a little embarrassing when it happens, but truthfully it saves time for both of us since their English has always been leagues better than my German. For situations where I need to read German to get around, Google Translate has been my best friend. It may not be perfect, but it gets the job done, and has helped me out on countless occasions.

One interesting cultural difference that I’ve been experiencing is how people express etiquette at restaurants. I knew coming in that tipping was a uniquely American practice, and frankly I wasn’t sad to see it go when I arrived. It’s been nice to not have to think about how much I’m willing to tip for take out kebabs. Another difference is that servers won’t bring you the bill unless you ask for it, and it is seen as rude to do so as it looks like you are trying to force the customers out of the restaurant. On my first trip to a restaurant here, I was eating with other students who didn’t know this, and we waited for quite a while before deciding to just ask for the check without realizing that that was what was expected here. Later that week our German teacher explained that concept to us in class, which thankfully definitely saved us from any future confusion (at least in that specific scenario).

Another thing I’ve noticed was that in Germany it can take a little effort to stay good and hydrated at times. There aren’t typically water fountains or water bottle filling stations in public buildings the way there are in America. Additionally, at restaurants the water isn’t free, which has caused a couple of occasions where I’ve decided to skip getting with it my meal because I’ve become too accustomed to free water to pay 4 euros for a bottle. It hasn’t resulted in too much of an issue though. The tap water here is incredible, so I can top off my bottle any time I go to the restroom and not have to worry too much about it.

Maybe not the most German, but some homemade entomatadas courtesy of some very talented Mexican classmates

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