Dear Americans

15 Dez

this is for you. This list was created on December 14th 2012 and does not claim to be objective. It will be continued at multiple occasions so please don’t consider it done. Ever.

There are so many lists about Germans or about Americans and the differences between them, the advantages and disadvantages of both countries. This list is supposed to clarify some things and to express my feelings about some other things.

I would like to get started with

1. Angela Merkel. She might be one of the most powerful or influential women in the world. Although she is listed in many magazines aiming to put focus on feminist achievements by displaying influential women, she is not a feminist. She is, if anything, an anti-feminist, and an anti-woman, as well as her family minister, Kristina Schröder. These women are members of a conservative party that wants to tell women where they belong: in the kitchen. Besides, this party makes it difficult for women to get back into their jobs after birth by failing to provide daycare options to young families. So please think again before calling Merkel a feminist or a woman of achievement.

2. Climate. It is not true that Germany is all about rain. We have quite a lot sunny days but they don’t tend to occur on German TV shows or movies because they truly are gloomy. Always.

3. Sunday evening Tatort watching. I may be the only one, but I’m not afraid of admitting I DON’T DO IT. I only watch Tatort when it is the Münster episode with my favorite actor.

4. Seniors, handicapped people, children. In the US, people have a lot more respect for those who are old, very young, or handicapped and interact with them in a very kind way. It is refreshing to see that and I’d like to see more of this kindness in Germany where the equivalence to the r word is still used as an insult by some people and where crying babies are frowned upon. On the other hand, our social system takes better care of them. Nevertheless, we Germans need to change our attitude towards these people.

5. Politics. Politics may seem a lot more neutral or sensible here than in the US. In the US, politicians will want to make sure to include a dash of patriotism, half a tbsp of „God bless …“ and a pinch of the American dream in their every speech. In Germany, however, politicians and those interested in politics have bitter and heated arguments about male circumcision and tuition fees of approximately $700 per semester. You could only shrug your shoulders or laugh incredulously when reading that, huh?

6. Recycling. When American recycling freaks me out, I feel more German than ever. I have a guilty conscience throwing a soda can into a garbage bin even when it’s labeled „recycling“, doesn’t matter. Why? There is a deposit on multiple kinds of beverage containers in Germany. In addition to that, I grew up with a container for compost (that went directly to our garden’s compost heap), a blue bag for all kinds of metal (cans, aluminum, milk containers), a white bag for all kinds of plastic, a bin for paper and cardboard, a normal trash can, and of course, separate places to recycle white, green and brown glass, batteries, and lightbulbs. Oh, have I mentioned cell phones, computers, and ink cartridges can also be brought to special recycling places?

7. Gun control. Sadly, there was a shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut today. I feel sorry for the families, relatives, and friends of the victims. Nevertheless, this is an issue to actually talk about. Republicans as well as NRA members say „guns don’t kill people, people kill people.“ False. The damages of the impact of the bullet kills people and those are caused by a person loading up a gun, cocking it, and pointing it at a human being. It is the person who turns an object, be it a gun, or a pan, or a pen, into a weapon. So we should make it more difficult for people to have access to weapons that are made to kill people (like, um, let me think, guns!). And please don’t get me started on the Second Amendment. It was made in another era and in another situation. You don’t have to protect your home with guns. The outcome might be fatalities in your family because you had your gun ready on your nightstand. And yes, there have been recent school shootings in Germany, too, but one of the shooters actually only got his weapons because his father failed to store them safely.

8. Staring. Yes, Germans stare. A lot. It’s a good thing that Americans teach their kids that it’s rude to stare. Sometimes I catch myself staring at someone and will apologize the next second. Thanks for that, America.

9. Starbucks. Sincerely, I hate Starbucks. What have we done to you that you float our country with lots and lots of Starbucks branches? On the other hand, there are so many second and third wave coffee houses here in the US, and they are a bliss! Please bring them to Germany. I will support those, I promise.

10. Sugarcoating everything. I know the conflict you are in when someone asks you for your honest opinion but you have been brought up too polite or too desperate for harmony or too afraid of an argument to tell them the truth. I really do. But sugarcoating everything and not speaking your mind will neither help you nor the person asking. Gimme the truth, I’m German, I can take it!

11. Size. America is a huge country, we all know that. Nevertheless, there’s so many differences in geography, climate, ethnicity, ancestry, lifestyle, occupation etc, and yet, Americans manage to get along with each other. Of course, this statement is quite superficial – not counting cluelessness, arguments, fights, and crime – but it works. Americans have come top at overcoming long distance while Germans would start whining over a two-hour trip by car on the autobahn. Also, Americans leave it up to their fellow Americans how they want to live. In Germany, the know-it-all strikes again and again by saying „you should do this and that“ and „it’s not right how you do that“ etc. If they claim to be tolerant, they just shove their opinion in your face instead of accepting that your business is your business and not theirs.

12. Track pants. Maybe I am too much of a German (or I have read too many books about Italian lifestyle) but I feel kinda weird going grocery shopping or even to a mall in track pants. Just no. You won’t see that in Germany except maybe on unemployed people who like to keep it that way.

13. Christmas trees before Christmas? Why? It’s beautiful, it really is, but it takes so much out of Christmas Eve somehow. I must admit, though, I grew up with extreeeemely traditional Catholic, Bavarian christmas.

That’s what came to my mind for now, I’d like to include a few links I found useful when writing this blog entry. Also, they’re quite entertaining. Of course this list will grow in the next weeks. At least, I hope so.

This woman has an excellent understanding of Germans

Another anglophone yet Australian point of view

Being an Ausländer in Germany basics

South African observations, positive and negative. Besides, her blog is pretty cool in general.

Quite seasonal as christmas is approaching

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