Wisconsin is the most German state in the U.S. We are considered to be the most drunk state, the one with the most German heritage and who knows what else.
Now that I am finally in this beautiful country, I am so excited to release a list of things I’ve learned when comparing the two. Agh, the comparison between my heritage and home.
1. Sparkling Water vs. “Still” Water
Over here, when you ask for water, you get sparkling water. They sell “still” water for your drinking pleasure but I have been the only one who enjoys it. Everyone here drinks bubbly water, even chugging it after a tough workout. I can get used to it if I am forced to, however carbonated water just doesn’t feel right when you’ve been drinking still water your whole life. Do you feel fancy as hell though? Yes, yes you do.
2. Beer and Wine in Germany vs. Beer and Wine in Wisconsin
The beer here is as I expected, way stronger and very delicious. You will not find a can of Busch Light over here so don’t get your hopes up. American beer is often much more watered down than in Germany which is why I constantly get picked on for just drinking “water” in the US. Also, their wine is amazing but also much stronger. Where as a few glasses can hold you over in the states, one glass can get the job done here. I went to a wine tasting ready to experience the delightful squished grapes of Germany and left unable to perform a line test. To lighten the content, they mix their wine with sprite, lemonade or water. My personal favorite is to mix red wine and coke.
My favorite beer that tastes like sunshine and happiness? Bitburger Radler. Amazing.
3. The roads.
The streets here are very narrow compared to the US. When you’re going through a town, it’s not uncommon to pull over to let the oncoming car get by first.
Speaking of their cars, they’re much smaller and more compact. It’s because of their roads that this is more common but it was quite the adjustment from the room you have in the states. So you’re giant Dodge Ram truck that roars down the highway? That is unsuitable here. You’d take up the entire road and probably still look like a hick doing it.
Also, you get your license when you are 18, not 16. Is this because of the Autobahn that has no speed limit? Who knows.
4. The Drinking Age and Rules
This is obviously one of the biggest differences people notice. In Germany, you are allowed to drink beer and wine when you are 16, any kind of alcohol when you turn 18.
The U.S.? 21. In all honesty, I have seen 18 year olds handle their alcohol so much more maturely then 21 year olds back in the states. I think the lower drinking age teaches responsibility at a young age and you learn how to control yourself by the time you are an adult.
In the US, there is so much underage drinking as well as binge drinking. People often go way past their limit and I have not seen nearly as bad behavior in Germany.
Also different, you can have open alcohol in the car as long as you are not the one driving. Roadies, anyone? You can also have it on the streets or sidewalks if you’re going somewhere. It was so nice to go for a casual stroll with my Bitburger Radler in hand.
Stick vs. Spray… I must say I have been converted. The best comment I hear about this from the Germans was “Why would you put sticky stuff on your armpits to prevent your armpits from getting sticky?” I just sat there because I could not come up with an answer… they’re right. It doesn’t make sense.
6. Drinking games
In Wisconsin, the games we play are based on trying to get the other team to drink. Here? The one game we learned is about your team chugging your way to victory. You are the ones who want to drink in order to win. Let me tell you, drinking with Germans is not for the light-hearted. You have to have a stomach of steel and an eye for victory.
7. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Here, your breakfast will never be pancakes or french toast. It’s usually bread and meat. Which, by the way, the bread here is different but so darn delicious. The biggest difference I noticed is that it isn’t sweet. When I flew back to the states, I could actually taste the sugar in bread. GROSS. There is so much less sugar abroad. Lunch is usually heavy and dinner is pretty light. Think meat, bread, cheese and veggies.
8. Smoking Cigarettes
I have never seen so many young people smoke so many cigarettes. Smoking is so common here for young people and I am actually looking forward to going back to the states so I don’t come into constant contact with smoke. Back home, I don’t have any friends that I know of that smoke cigarettes. Here, I have seen 80% of young adults smoking. It made me appreciate how far America has come with the smoking population.
In Germany, there is country for miles and then a small town where houses all touch and are crammed together. There is no country living. There is beautiful farm land all around you and barely any random scattered houses. This is much more common in Wisconsin where you’ll see farms and the houses that are occupied by those who run them. There are backyards and country living. It’s definitely two very different ways of living.
10. European Hair
Can we just talk about the hairstyle men have here? They all have shaved sides and a nice floof on top that is styled to perfection. The men here just seem to care way more about what they look like then back home. I don’t really have a preference but it’s definitely very different when you grew up around guys who strictly wear steel toe boots and camo.
Overall, the differences that differ between cultures are just wonderful to experience. What have you learned from your experiences abroad?