As this is a German-american readers section, in describing the differences between cultures, yet noticing the cap is getting smaller in trying to compare the two nations, as a result of my own research, Germany is in fact moving closer to Americas direction, whether they notice this or not.
Maybe this is part of the development of a culture, yet we still try to point out certain events and traditions within Germany that we hope will never change.
The most prominent issue is actually ( eigentlich ) reading ( Lesen) how universities and schools ( Schulen ) teach in English language only, possibly trying to make it easier for foreign students taking courses, many street signs, direction signs, slang words etc. the way of life ( leben) is heading towards ( Richtung ) America.
To love Germany is to love its history, its culture, its political and economical system, the government’s institutions, the whole everything. Obviously, Germany’s history cannot be loved, and so it is a pretty safe bet that someone wearing a shirt with a German flag on it is either a soldier or a foreigner or a neo-Nazi. At best, it is considered to be in bad taste to claim that one is proud to be a German, whereas in America its consider patriotic to hang a flag outside the house.
The jobless youth in big German cities and in the eastern part of the country however often present an aggressive nationalistic attitude, to the extent of harassing, beating and even killing foreigners with the wrong skin color. This kind of violence is unheard of in the US. Yet we must not forget that in any nation such violence can exist and happens anywhere in the world, no matter skin color nationality ( Nationalität ) etc.
There is also a kind of snobbishness in Germany’s educated classes about the myopia of Americans: “they don’t care what’s going on in the world, they don’t travel abroad, they still don’t understand why they are hated around the world, they think they are always right etc.” While all of this may be partially true, it conveniently ignores the very noble and enlightened treatment that Japan and West Germany received after the Second World War, and the fact that the US was the driving force behind the creation of the UN and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ( Menschenrecht)
But because we must try and see the differences between the two, one very fine one is actually Bureaucracy.
In Germany, it is impossible to have a car with a valid license plate and not carry car insurance. If you apply for a license plate, you have to present proof of insurance; if you drop your insurance; the insurance company forwards your name to the appropriate agency, which will invalidate your license plate. Non-valid license plates are easy to spot from far away. This simple system ensures that everyone who drives carries car insurance. The US bureaucracies are apparently not able to create a similar system. Accidents with uninsured drivers are a major problem here. It goes so far that insurance companies sell special insurance policies covering the case that you are victim ( Opfer ) of an accident and the guilty party does not carry insurance and cannot pay. ( Zahlen)
And then there is privacy…
Germany has extremely strict privacy laws the supreme court has acknowledged a right ( Rechte )to “informational self-determination” and everyone storing personal data about others has to obtain consent from these persons, has to allow them access to their records, and can use the data only for the purpose they were originally collected for. The federal government and all states have privacy ombudsmen who take citizen’s complaints and make sure that the privacy laws are enforced and extended where appropriate. Germans value their privacy highly and essentially everybody agrees with this. Yet in the US this is the total opposite, credit card companies keep databases about your purchases and sell the information; supermarkets issue frequent-buyer cards in order to track your preferences; if you buy a TV set in an electronics store, they ask for your name and address; the post office sells information about who moved where; the Internet set-top box WebTV dials up Microsoft every night to upload information about your web surfing habits; automatic face recognition cameras are used in sports arenas and casinos; surveillance cameras are common in public city areas etc. etc.
In fact there are so many differences ( Unterschiede ) we could not list them all at ones, from environmental sensitivity to aggression and violence, often the US is pointed out as aggressive etc. Though your more likely to experience the opposite, traffic is more relaxed, people are more trusting tend to leave doors unlocked, something you will most likely never see in Germany. Politeness to strangers etc. is a common practice; you don’t need to watch out that someone cuts you off at the supermarket etc.
Honestly I do find it a bit funny on how Germans whom never been to America tend to have a wonderful opinion of the US, that often speaks no truth. ( keine Wahrheit ) Partially maybe this has something to do with the media, yet any German living in the US would agree with me on these few notes…Or? Because this is a very complex and broad subject, I’d like to invite readers again from all sides , whether your German in America or Americans in Germany and express what you think on this matter.
actually ( eigentlich )
reading ( Lesen)
schools ( Schulen)
Life- ( Leben)
Towards ( hinzu)
Right – ( Rechte)
Human Right- ( Menschenrecht)
no truth- ( Keine Wahrheit)
Pay- ( Zahlen)
victim- ( Opfer)
Learn the german words here