Wallhogs partnered with Gwen Stefani and we built out this rocking page for her custom…
After two weeks in Germany and Austria, I was somewhat excited to get back to the States. Please don’t misunderstand, like always, I had an absolute blast seeing my family and taking in the sights and sounds of a foreign country. I strongly support an extended visit, if not fully living in another country. But as Quentin Tarrantino so eloquently put it in his hit movie Pulp Fiction, “it’s just there it’s a little different.”
Vincent: But you know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
Vincent: It’s the little differences. I mean they got the same [stuff] over there that they got here, but it’s just – it’s just there it’s a little different.
So here, in no particular order, is my list of 8 interesting differences between Germany and the United States. For this discussion, I am excluding extremely obvious differences such as language, the metric system, government types, etc.
#1 Speed Limit
I love the way Germans drive. They have a way of respecting each other on the road and are much more conscious about moving into the right lane after passing. How many times can you recall driving down an American Interstate to see some person creating a bottleneck in the left lane because of no better reason than they prefer that side of the road? The autobahn, and the lack of a speed limit in some areas, is successful because Germans know that the left lane is for going fast and passing and the right lane is for slower traffic. It is as simple as that. I believe that if more Americans would embrace the idea (and in some cases the un-enforced law) of “Drive Right, Pass Left,” we would all be much better off, regardless of the speed limit.
At the age of 19, I spent a couple of months studying German, and the culture, in Tuebingen, Germany. It was the summer of my freshman year in college and I did a good job living it up. What excited me most was the ability to buy and drink beer nearly anywhere. I can recall the excitement of going, with my fellow underagers, to the bars and beer halls. It was a great feeling to not have the stress of age qualification to consume an alcoholic beverage. And because I knew it was illegal for me to do so in America, I consumed much more than I should have, or was socially acceptable.
I don’t think this should be too shocking to many of my readers. But the overall differences between the way alcohol is consumed in Germany and Europe does not stop with the age requirements, which, by the way, are nearly non-existent. Beer in America is normally poured with as little as foam, or head, as possible. This allows the recipient to consume the beverage as soon as it is received. Most German beer, and glasses, are designed to have a good amount of head. A Hefeweizen, for example, will have a nice frothy head that would measure close to an inch and a half. A good pourer takes pride in making this head float above the rim of the glass. The recipient of the beer must wait a minute or two for this to settle before consumption, unless of course they want a nose full of foam – which I’ve experience on a few occasions due to a poorly timed “Prost!”
It is almost as if the brew masters want you to take a minute to build some anticipation for their work. Their work, in my opinion, is often times some of the very best in the world. American’s should slow down and respect it.
The US tried and failed to popularize the new Sacagawea dollar coin. It is logical and would save the country millions of dollars per year, but it was a total flop. I have not received a dollar coin, in an average transaction, in a couple of years. The Europeans, however, have the Euro coins and mix them beautifully with bills. So what does this do for the average European? It changes the way they carry, and sort their money. The wallets that I observed in Germany have a much larger pouch for coins. Those in the food service industry have wallets with accordion style sections for the bills and this large flat pouch for their coins. Many of the pants in Germany have specific pouches for their coins and much larger sub-pockets than Iâ€™ve seen in America.
Beyond fashion, what else is different, why do the Euro coins work? If we review the breakdown of the buying power of the coins in Europe and compare them to Americaâ€™s, we see something interesting. The 2 Euro coin, assuming the open market values the Euro at $1.25, has the buying power of 10 US Quarters. Stop and think about that for a moment. Their largest coin has the same buying power as 10 of ours. Many of our most common transactions, a cup of coffee at Starbucks, for example, could be paid with this one coin.
I donâ€™t think that itâ€™s just the buying power argument that would make coins more popular in America
Even if the US introduced a $2.50 coin, I would bet that it would go the way of the $1 coin. Americanâ€™s like their bills. Period.
It has been my experience that Europeans, and Germans which is with whom I base nearly all of my comparisons, have a much more open stance on sexuality and nudity. I was somewhat shocked to see a topless gal on the front page of the daily newspaper. It was below the fold, and this small fact somehow made it alright. This would just not happen in America, regardless of the page location.
The openness with nudity does not stop there. If you are channel surfing European TV late at night, be prepared for some interesting advertisements. Normally very short in duration, only a few seconds, the most common ads show a topless female sharing the screen with a telephone number. A sexy voice over gives you further encouragement to call by repeating the number, usually two or three times, with some other command, like “Call me, now!” Five seconds later, itâ€™s on to the next ad which displays another person to satisfy nearly any desire, regardless of shape, size, age, gender, etc…
My cousin once took me to a club in Salzburg, Austria. I thought it was a pretty awesome place that fit my mental description of a disco better than many of the clubs that Iâ€™ve visited in America. It was a pretty relaxing evening and I was enjoying meeting my cousinâ€™s friends. A few moments later he elbowed me, nodded towards two elevated glass booths, and said, “Hey â€“ Pay Attention!” The DJ then pulled two willing gals from the crowd who proceeded to have a dance off in the glass booths – which turned out to be showers. Just like all other showers, these were clothing optional. The “better dancer” received 50 Euros. The other women who were there didnâ€™t think much of the activity and continued dancing and drinking, while the majority of the guys were focused on their jobs of deciding which dancer deserved the prize. Again, itâ€™s just the little differences.
On a previous visit, my cousins took me to the local swimming pool. I showed up for the walk wearing my long surferâ€™s shorts, flip flops and a t-shirt. They were both wearing the close they had on earlier in the day. They asked if I was not going to change there at the pool. I thought that perhaps they were just talking about a locker room. I told them that it wasnâ€™t a problem. I could walk down to the pool with them in my shorts, it was really no big deal. When we finally arrived to the pool, there was no locker room around and I was, for the first time, introduced to Europeâ€™s openness in public nudity. Everyone there would strip down and change out in the open. This was the norm for them. They changed into their Speedos and my long surfer shorts had enough fabric to make me really stand out in the crowd â€“ this was fine with me.
Americanâ€™s really love their SUVâ€™s. IKEA, a Swedish firm, has to budget for parking lots that are 60% larger in their American stores, because our cars are so much larger. Hummerâ€™s are extremely popular with my cousin and his friends. The average car I observed in Germany is actually quite small. The cars are fuel efficient- probably due to the fact that Europeans are much more environmentally conscious and due in part to the high fuel costs, usually much higher than in America. My parentâ€™s rental car prominently displayed the number of liters of fuel consumed to travel 100 kilometers. The number would fluctuate with the current driving conditions, but it was always there. I also realize that this feature is included on many American cars, but Iâ€™ve never seen it displayed directly underneath the speedometer, as it was in this car.I could also go into the quality differences- Porsche and Mercedes vs Ford and GM, but I think that one is pretty logicalâ€¦
I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s the high population density within a relatively small geographic area, but it is my humble opinion that the Germans have cell phone technology that is half a year to a full year more advanced than what is currently available in America. For example, my cousin has a phone that has a built in still camera and video camera. They can record and share movies, music and take pictures all from their phones. I realize that this might be available in America, but my point is that Iâ€™ve not observed the same market penetration that seems so natural when I travel in Europe. I did not, however, see many blackberryâ€™s. This could be because I was not traveling in the business world.
Americanâ€™s are starting to revolt against smoking. It is becoming less and less popular and major cities like New York and Philadelphia have banned smoking in bars. The Europeanâ€™s, however, love their cigarettes. Although there is a slight push for less public smoking, it is still very common to see cigarette vending machines on the street and smoking on trains and busses. For countries that are very health conscious, this seems very counterintuitive.
In Germany, the warnings on the cigarettes are much larger than in America. In big, black, bold print it will say things in a much more direct and honest way than in America. Examples of this are Rauchen ist tÃ¶dlich. / Rauchen kann tÃ¶dlich sein. (Smoking is deadly. / Smoking can be deadly. ) More Information and examples at wikipedia.
1.) Speed Limit
4.) Sex & Nudity
6.) Cell Phones
There is something exciting about walking into an American Casino. They pipe the sounds of winning slot machines through the speakers and everything seems so busy. The carpet is always a crazy design that makes you dizzy if you look at it for too long and the ceiling is either painted to appear like a perfect blue sky or so dull that you have no interest in looking at it, other than to maybe study the array of video surveillance cameras watching your every move. There are persisting rumors that many casinos pump oxygen into the air so that you feel more awake, but I think itâ€™s more of thrill of the environment that keeps you going. You can occasionally hear gleeful screams of a lucky slot machine player, or the overly enthusiastic craps table that just hit the point. In all cases, it is loud, exciting, and always going.
The casinos that Iâ€™ve visited in Europe are the complete opposite. They are refined, posh, and silent. Iâ€™ve observed, on multiple occasions, players asked to “please, quiet down.” (After winning a nice in blackjack that request was once made to me.) Proper dress is always required, and depending on the location this could include everything from a necktie and jacket to possibly a full suit or tux. The games are similar, but really loud social games like craps are nowhere to be found. The slot machine sounds are much softer, if they have any at all. The chips are plastic, not clay, so all of the poker players that have spent months mastering that 20 chip shuffle, are out of luck.