A quick story about me calling mugs "cups" and vice versa, fruitlessly looking for a small package of Skyr and wondering if Fränkisch is even real (I still have a hard time believing that).
Disclaimer: this text does not provide accurate information about German culture, as it is impossible to get to know it well enough in a span of a few months to put it into this amount of words. This text aims to be funny and it's about my extremely personal experience, not general conclusions about a whole, incredibly diverse and wonderful country.
1. A mug is not a mug, it's a cup.
There's a significant difference between a "Becher" and a "Tasse". I was sure it works like in the English language - a cup is something fine, smaller, preferably with nice ornaments, typically used for drinking tea.
No, in Germany it's simply a container for drinkable fluids that HAS a handle. And a "Becher" (a mug) does not.
Which makes no sense to me, but okay, Germany, I'll take that.
2. Germans are big on big containers
I mean food in the supermarket. Skyr? Sure, get a half kilogram, not less. Tofu? Sure, two pieces in one package. Cottage cheese? Like 1,5/2 packages in Poland.
I'm not saying it's bad, but let me tell you, my first few visits to Lidl were a true joyride down the "how on Earth am I supposed to eat all of that before it goes bad" lane.
3. German keyboard is different and if misspelled something you know why
Because "z" and "y" are switched, signs like "#" and quote signs and "><" those things are all over the place and yes, it took me quite a lot of time to figure out how to navigate the keyboard on my laptop at work.
Now I'm having trouble switching between my polish one and the one at work. That's approximately a lot of spelling mistakes.
4. My German books were lying
I've never heard a single "Guten Tag" and "Guten Abend". If you go to a store, you'll most likely hear a "hallo" regardless of the time of the day. They don't really say "Auf Wiedersehen" either, usually going for "Tschüss!" or "Tschau".
Let's just say that for the first week I sounded overly polite and a bit stiff when shopping.
5. I was sure that Germans don't eat cottage cheese
And it took me three months to find it in a store.
6. Google is your best friend when shopping
Because if you know the name of the thing you're looking for, you can ask someone where to find it.
Provided you'll understand the answer.
7. Fränkisch is something else
I was trying to learn German for a year before coming to Germany. My grammar was all over the place, as I focused primarily on vocabulary (good move, I could understand a lot, but a bad move, as my spoken German was broken and butchered), but I was trying my best to manage.
And then I realised some people use words that don't even sound like the German I know or they use them in places I was taught to use different words (like "gar net" instead of "gar nicht").
Suffice to say that when someone speaks with the dialect, I usually don't understand much.
Check it out yourself: https://staubsauger-franken.de/fraenkisch-deutsch/
8. Pfand, Pfand everywhere
Wanna buy a coke? Pfand. A beer? Pfand. Bottled water? Pfand.
Reusable and non-reusable but recyclable containers usually come with Pfand. You pay for it in the store when buying your items and you can get it back when you bring the empty containers. Eco!
9. Best backpacks I've ever seen
I mean seriously, the most beautiful backpacks I've ever seen. They seem to be a very popular choice (probably because they are way more practical than handbags) and come in so many different shapes and sizes that it shouldn't be hard to find something that will go nicely even with a more formal attire.
10. It can get really dark
Literally. I don't know what's up with that, but apparently Germans are not very big on having the streets with the appropriate amount of lights, which can be a real issue in the nighttime. I had to use the flashlight on my phone a few times to go through the park from my workplace to my home because there was literally no street lamp to be seen. What is going on with that? No idea, but I'm not a fan.
11. Unsurprisingly: a lot of good chocolate
I'm in heaven and I had to get back to working out regularly to save myself from the acute and urgent need to replace my whole wardrobe. Suffice to say I intend to try every single chocolate I've never seen that I get my hands on.
Long live the sweets!