German Habits I’ve Adopted, 1 1/2 Years Living Abroad


The beginning of August marked the one and a half year anniversary of us living in Germany. (If you need a refresher or are new around here, here’s the story of how we moved abroad in February 2016). When I think about our first few days in Germany, I can’t believe how far we’ve come. We know where to go for most things, can speak enough German to get by and are loving all the traveling we get to do. It is so strange to say, but Germany kind of feels like home now!

Now that it’s been longer than a year, I feel like we’re basically Germans. Of course, there I things I miss about America, but we have adapted some parts of the German lifestyle that are making our stay here better, and, honestly, making us better people. Here are the five habits that we’ve adopted since moving to Germany.

Following the rules more

Germans follow every rule, every law, every “you should do this,” to a T. If the walking sign on the sidewalk has a red hand, no one moves, even if no cars are coming, even if it’s 3 ‘o clock in the morning. When I lived in Chicago, if no cars were coming, I would cross the street regardless of what the sign said. Now, I stand on the sidewalk until that light turns green. No matter what. The strangest part is that it’s become normal. When we went back to Chicago a few months ago, I waited until the sign changed while all my friends started walking.

German phrases in everyday life 

This past month, I’ve started noticing that even when I am speaking English, I have a German accent during certain words, especially words that start with ‘S.’ The s sound in German has more of a ‘sch’ sound, so instead of saying small, it comes out schmal. Ugh. It is much more common for the area where we live, too.

I also started putting “or” at the end of sentences. This is a super German thing! A very common phrase is to say, “Yes, or?” and I’ve started putting or at the end of sentences when talking to Vinn, my mom, anyone really.

Vinn also has some that are also funny and just a testament to how much we’ve been studying German and embracing the language in our everyday lives. It is wild to hear us putting German language rules and idioms into English.

Paying for more speeding tickets

This one definitely is more Vinn, but it is much easier to get a speeding ticket in Germany. There are speeding cameras on the highway and on some side streets that automatically take a picture if you are going even slightly over. Vinn got a speeding ticket for going three over the limit. When Vinn got his first speeding ticket, his colleagues told him, “You’re definitely German now.” Well, he’s German several times over now!

Carrying a lot more cash

Germans love cash and hardly ever use their bank or credit cards. If you use your card at the grocery store, you get bad looks because you’re holding up the line for not using cash.

In the States, I never carried cash. Like never. Now, I always have at least 20 euro in my wallet ready to go just in case I need to run to the store and get face wash or a cappuccino somewhere. It also makes splitting bills easier.

Developing a thicker skin

I thought I had pretty thick skin before but it’s even thicker now. Germans are stereotypically straight forward and tell it like it is. I have had some situations at work that would be considered rude in the US but are normal here. After struggling through them and coming to terms that it is a cultural difference and not to take it personally, I realized that are worse things than being told exactly what someone thinks. I can handle it better, too.

There are other smaller things that we have adopted, too, but these are the biggest changes since moving to Germany. Overall, life is pretty fantastic and it’s interesting to see how we are evolving into this new culture of our’s.

What habits have you started noticing about yourself that are different? Did you get them from family members or a different culture?


German Habits I've Adopted Since Moving to Germany

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