Dos and Donts of Germany
I just stepped over an interesting video which describes the cultural specialties of Germany:
Hope that helps, if you should ever decide to visit Germany!
BTW: The statement about smalltalk is not true. Everybody uses smalltalk in order to prevent an embarrassing silence ;)
- have some warm clothes with you
- be punctual on appointments, neither early nor late
- shake hands when meeting someone in person
- have some money in cash available in your pocket, credit card only for larger amount
- bring a bunch of flowers when visiting a woman
- be prepared to discuss philosophy or politics
- say "Guten Appetit. / Danke, gleichfalls." before starting to eat
- call doctors with "Doktor" in front of their last name
- leave the table before everyone has finished eating
- walk on the bicycle lane
- cross the street while the red light is on
- take books out of the bookshelf without asking
- walk in the bedroom without permission
- belch loudly
- call people in advance of their birthday
- call any German after ten o'clock in the evening
- call families before ten o'clock in the morning
- try to talk to your host in a drunk state
not true! That is something that divides Germans 50/50. When I invite people I expect them to be on time, and I am on time too --this works well with most people I know. But I (and my friends) have definitely also showed up at a 9pm party, at 9:00pm, and the host was not there yet…. So this one is to be taken with a grain of salt, and varies a lot amongst Germans.
Fair enough. I guess it also depends a lot on how big the party is and how well you know people. If you do not know them very well you would probably come later to make sure you are not the first one there. But for close friends I def expect them to be on time. But yeah, this is one where people are certainly varying in thinking what degree of 'punctuality' is required :)
Depends on the party. If it’s a house party with students and booze, then nobody expects you to be punctual.
However, if it’s the birthday party of the lady in the house shown in the video, then it’s better to do it like the guy did. Otherwise the hosts may wonder: “Wo bleibt er denn?”
Yes, that seems to be about the correct criterion. When I lived in Spain, the first time I was invited to a student party I thought it would be like in Germany. Turns out they got seriously worried when a German, of all people, was half an hour late. This actually became a running gag not just with parties. As usual, individual variations are more significant than national averages.
Yes, but the question is: Around what time? If the party is to begin at 9 and the non written codex is to appear at 11 then I would expect the distribution around 11.
That said, coming late is only valid for student parties, and even there only for a subgroup that, in my experience, is in reality quite small but loud and talkative about their party experiences and thus appears bigger. If you don't know in advance that you will visit this kind of people than you should be there in time.
Of course bigger, organized "parties" (like clubs, dorms, student organisations) are something completely different. If you appear on time there you probably could still help with the arrangements.
I haven't been running away from them :) I was a kid by then, and just rode without noticing a sign it's pedestrian area only. (that was a large paved square that seemed ideal to ride on). Actually I didn't even understood that they were after me, until few lowlifes sitting idly by the church begun to cheer me for having police run after me. (they were both rather fat) and a dog sprinting in my direction. :D
well, it is hard not to belch when you need to.......or are you a trained yogi who is able to supress reflexes? :-) ........to make it clear: it is NOT right to LOUDLY or PURPOSELY belch in the whole Central Europe, if you belch, you should apologise to people around, but, since young people already know that it is just a need, they usually just laugh and do not need to hear any apology........in Czech it is even more liberal, they have a saying: who belches and farts, makes his health hard (the rhyme is better in Czech and Slovak).
I took it as "don't get so drunk that you embarrass yourself". Necessary advice, since there are a lot of countries (or, more precisely, sizeable social groups within those countries) where the goal of drinking is usually to dissolve your inhibitions so that you can act like an idiot.
My impression was that among most of the population it's pretty much accepted or at least tolerated behaviour in the UK. It never ceased to shock me - both at university parties in Cambridge and in front of discotheques elsewhere. You see a lot less of that in public in Germany, and definitely not at official university parties.
I believe that's a general difference between North European countries and the rest of Europe. Or perhaps more generally between regions traditionally dominated by beer-drinking and those that also have a significant wine tradition.
For fast-food and drive-by shops usually the exact amount is paid, but in stationary restaurants a tip of 10% is considered polite if you were satisfied with the quality of food and service. If you're very low on money, you will not be punished for not paying the 10% tip though ;)
A common complaint made by waiters/waitresses at every restaurant I've worked in (over 20-ish years) is that most Europeans are unaware that in Canada (and I am pretty sure the USA too) servers are often paid peanuts (often less than minimum wage). A tip of 15% (+/-) is expected. So a meal that costs $100 ends up being $130 after adding tax and tip.
I'm pretty sure that my Canadian behaviour will follow me if I ever get to Austria and the missus and I will be tipping left right and center.
Yes, that's why North American waiters absolutely love German guests. A German can feel very generous when giving 5% For a typical German giving more than 10% is really, really painful :) (A trick that works: you have to add the tip to the prices on the menu before you order your meal. Afterwards it's pretty much hopeless)
This is of course because we tend to feel cheated when additional costs are added after the purchase of the meal has been settled. In Germany and some other European countries that's actually illegal. As a German in North America, you have to first know about the difference, and then actually accept it. Apparently some people fail at one of the two stages.
(German restaurants have other traps, though. What may appear to be complimentary bread rolls, salt sticks etc. put on the table in a basket is actually an offer to purchase some of these objects for a price that you should find on the menu. It's not a very common practice, so it also catches some Germans by surprise.)
Spare change is the rule for France, and as far as I can tell it still applies there. Apparently they are paid enough there. In Germany it's somewhere between the French situation (with rounding up rather than spare change) and the American one. A 10% tip for a meal is definitely always enough, and in a fast food restaurant it may be unexpected. Giving nothing or rounding up to the next Euro is OK for fast food that you pick up yourself (even if you stay there to eat), and it's OK everywhere if you have a reason such as being unhappy (not necessarily outraged) with the service or making sure you have enough money left for a metro ticket. You needn't explain that reason.
A good strategy for typical situations in normal restaurants is to round up so that a tip of about 5%-12% results. Just pick your own limits or better yet determine the appropriate amount instinctively; the trick is to make the amount of the tip appear to be determined by convenience and the sum of the bill rather than a percentage.
It's actually common to round up the bill, not to strictly give 10%. Sometimes you give less, sometimes more. Not giving a tip, however, indicates that the waiter, food or restaurant was bad. In places without waiter you normally don't tip. Some of these places now have a tip jar next to the counter, but I guess that's an imported custom, possibly from the US.
and the "nightmare" about tipping in Germany is that you have to directly tell the waiter how much they should get. This is really unusual in most other countries, and therefore difficult to get used to. They tell you how much your bill is, you have to directly calculate how much tip you want to give and tell them, what a stress! :) Although most people just round up, it is still usually around 10%. if you have a 14,50 euro bill, I think it is rude and unusual to give just 15.
I don't think it is rude. You're probably eating out a lot with academics who tend to be more generous than the general population. I think a lot of working class people would totally go for the 15 even if they are really satisfied with the meal. (Not telling you to adjust downwards, though :))
and the "nightmare" about tipping in Germany is that you have to directly tell the waiter how much they should get. This is really unusual in most other countries, and therefore difficult to get used to.
I cannot agree with that. In fact I find throwing coins on the table, as is done in Southern Europe, terribly rude.
Speaking about Southern Europe: if you are going to tip in Italy ask first, politely, if it is OK. Some Italians take offence at being tipped. Others will accept the odd tip as the token of appreciation that it's meant to be, but will return the courtesy to you at a latter time, usually by offering you coffee or desserts.
One last thing: I do not know about Germany, but in Austria you do want to tip, and it should not be just rounding up to the nearest Euro or two. If for whatever reason you cannot, better to tell the service, apologise, and pay the exact amount. Likewise if you're unhappy: you are expected to tell people why you are not tipping.
Yes, I'm a native speaker, and I've worked in factories/companies in Karlsruhe and in Berlin. Of course you can also say "Mahlzeit" at table instead of "Guten Appetit", though I'm more used to the latter.
Keep in mind that, as with many customs, there could be regional differences.
Well, depends. If you're invited to someone's home, it's better not to show up before the actual time. Your host may feel stressed, still being busy with preparation. Also keep in mind that people are different: These rules obviously are a generalization.
For professional appointments, however, better arrive a little earlier.