When my husband and I first arrived at the Frankfurt airport, we had no idea the adventure we were beginning. Here are just a few things that surprised us after we touched down.
- Everyone obeys the rules. In the States, speed limits are a suggestion. Everyone drives in whatever lane they want. No one recycles. That is not true in Germany. After I learned the rules of the road, I fell in love with driving here. Speed limits are enforced by cameras. I never feel the need to go faster because someone is tailgating me. If you need to pass, there is never a slow driver in the left lane. German’s recycle nearly everything and will tell you if you put your plastic bottle in the wrong bin.
- There are very few homeless people. This surprised me the most. When I lived in San Jose, every street corner had a homeless person begging. In Germany, the only time I see someone asking for money is in the larger cities. I asked a German friend. She said that Germany has programs that help people find work or take care of them if they cannot work.
- There are bike trails everywhere. Germans love biking and have done a great job of creating trail networks all over the country. In a lot of areas, you can bike from village to village without ever going on a road. Each trail has a sign that shows how far to the next village.
- Public transportation is easy, but a little expensive. Because gasoline is more expensive here than in the states, they can charge more for their trains. That being said, you can get almost anywhere by train.
- Everyone speaks German. You would think this was a given. We just touched down in a foreign country. In reality, it’s hard to prepare yourself for not being able understand anything. Coming from the States where everyone speaks the same language this created more culture shock than any other difference in Germany. It took my husband 30 minutes of driving the rental car in circles to find me waiting at arrivals with our luggage. The small amount of German we had learned was very little help.
These are just a few of the things that really stuck out when we first arrived here. We’ve learned more German and even more from the friends we’ve made.
What did you notice the first time you left your home country? Let me know in the comments!