Written by Rosie Wright

Germany, as one of our closest neighbours, is usually regarded as a country not so dissimilar from our own.  But while there are many similarities, there are also differences too – which are only heightened when you live there (for example, the delicious bread on offer and the much more efficient train service.). Having spent some time in Germany on my year abroad, I learnt a thing or two about how to act like a native. So, whether you are thinking about living there and don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb, or you are simply being nosey… here’s some things you can do that might get you mistaken for a native!

  1. Recycling your plastic bottles at the supermarket: You’ll never find someone in Germany drinking their water out of a dilapidated old plastic water bottle that has seen better days. Instead, they take them back to the supermarket they got them from to recycle them. Whenever you buy a drink in a plastic bottle at a German supermarket, you will be charged a little extra for the plastic bottle. You’ll then get that back when you put it in one of their bottle machines and will be able to use it towards your next shop! So whilst it’s not technically free money, it does give you a little extra off your next shop and also helps the environment too. You’ll never reuse your Vittel bottle again!


  1. Absolutely no jaywalking: Did you know that jaywalking in Germany is technically illegal? You might have run across the street for your FlixBus in Berlin without realising, however it is not only against the law but frowned upon by the German nation. Even if there are no cars about, people will still wait patiently for the green man – not wanting to rock the boat. Indeed, if you decide to cross at a red man (or more than likely a cute little Ampelmännchen), you will be greeted with a chorus of tuts and dirty looks from the crowd of rule-abiding Germans waiting for the green man instead. And if the condemnation does not deter you, there is actually a 5 euro fine for anyone that jaywalks. Admittedly it won’t break the bank but may mean you can’t pay for your morning coffee and will hopefully make you think again!


  1. Dressing for the weather: We’ve all gone on holiday, expecting sunshine and instead being met with rain. How you’ll wish you packed your Regatta… or at least owned one. Rain, shine, snow, sleet or hail. You’ll certainly never see a German toddler out of a snow suit between the months of October and March. And while their prepared nature may be due to their harsher winters and warmer summers, it is part of the German psyche and their stereotype too to be prepared at all times. So, the next time you go out without a coat, remember to think like a German instead!


  1. Driving safely: The Germans are well-known for the Autobahns, and the lack of speed limitations on them. And whilst you may think that means they are quite lax about their driving, they actually have rather strict rules with harsh fines for those who do not obey the law. Drive as fast as you like on the Autobahn, but drink drive and be ready to receive a fine anywhere between 500 and 1,000 Euros… ouch! To be German when driving is to be efficient, so it would not surprise anyone that there are fines in place when not using your lights in fog, rain or snow… to the tune of 40 to 60 euros to be exact! Remember to be vigilant and follow the necessary advice for driving in Germany, and you’ll certainly be thought of as a native.


  1. Doing your big shop in the week: The thing that will really get you, should you choose to live in Germany, is that the shops close on a Sunday. Now, you may be reading this and think ‘well, you’d just shop the other 6 days of the week?’ And yes, you may be right. But imagine this: you awake suddenly in a hot sweat, panicking because it’s 4am Sunday morning and you’ve just remembered you used the last of your milk the previous evening. In Britain, you’d get up and be at Tesco for 10am, and be back by half past enjoying your morning cup of tea! In Germany however, you’d have a black tea and a black day. Unless, of course, you can get to a train station, where some shops are open – but you’ll likely be queuing for that one solitary litre of milk for an hour! So to be German is to always be prepared, and always have emergency milk!

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