In this picture, I am overlooking Esslingen, a town in Southern Germany, where I am studying for half a year as an exchange student from Finland.
Before traveling to Germany it would be good to learn some German. German people do speak good English but it’s always polite to know basic expressions you need in everyday life in German. In restaurants they usually have the menus both in German and in English so eating out is not a problem.
German people are punctual, quite straightforward and effective when it comes to business or schoolwork. I find it comfortable because as a Finn I have gotten used to starting the meetings when planned and getting errands done at once and not having to wait for half an hour or so. It’s always easier to blend in when people think in the same way. In Germany people are really friendly and they want to help you if you are lost. Once a bus driver interrupted a conversation between my friend and me to tell us the right way to go.
Only one thing, or actually a habit, has shocked me in Germany. People drink a lot of beer. I knew beer is kind of a national drink here, but still it got me by surprise. There is no other lunch/dinner/party drink other than beer. But no worries: if you want to try something else every now and then, in southern Germany they make really good wines and sparkling wines. Still, don’t forget the Oktoberfest, the biggest beer festival in Germany, or other smaller ones, like the one in springtime called Fruhlingsfest; it’s really worth a visit even just for the atmosphere and the theme parks at the festival areas.
Traveling inside Germany is quite easy and roads and railways cover the country from East to West and from North to South. Trains and buses are new and in a good shape and the newest and fastest ones are more expensive. Traveling with your own car might be the fastest way to get from a place to another because of the autobahns, the high-speed intercity highways.
Germany is full of nice cities with museums and amazing architecture and castles with interesting stories behind them like the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein. On the other hand if you want to know more about the history of Hitler and the Nazis, you might want to visit the documentation museum in Nurnberg or one of the concentration camps, which are open to public and full of information. The Second World War is not a taboo among German people, but I wouldn’t start the conversation with that topic.
Read Laura’s blog at: www.lauraniemi1.blogspot.com