I spent 2 days in Munich, 4 cities in Austria, and 2 days in Riga in Latvia. These observations are only from my experience and not blanket statements. I’m also bunching together Germans and Austrians which undoubtedly Austrians would take offense to.
No Chatting – A culture of keeping to yourself. American’s have no problem engaging in friendly conversation at the bar. If you go up to strangers, and are looking to make a friend, these are not the people. I’m not saying that they are unfriendly, but the vibe isn’t let’s all get along. I was told if you’re a male and engage in conversation with a female, they think you are trying to take them to bed. It was also mentioned to me if you try to talk to someone out of the blue they’ll think, “what’s up with this weirdo?”
Germans are Not Obese – This is not a culture of gluttony. Food portions are meant to fill the human and everybody finishes their plate. They are mindful of not being a pig. I didn’t notice the gym scene as much as I see in America, but they seem to live a more active lifestyle, thus not being fat. Americans get an appropriate bad rap for not taking care of themselves.
No Guns – There is a semblance of safety when there are no guns in the cities. There could be more stabbings, but for me coming from Philadelphia, it seems much easier to run from a knife. I understand the argument behind having a weapon to defend yourself from tyranny, but being in a city with no guns felt undeniably safer and I’d imagine far less crime.
Germans Drink Lighter Beer – Where are the IPA’s and beers in the 7% range? The more common drink was lagerish in the 4% range and people drink them all day. It was more of a “let’s have a beer” instead of “let’s drink away our sorrows”. I saw this at the trade show especially but that’s to be expected.
No Litter – Cities are undeniably cleaner. I’d guess it’s a combination of people respecting it more and having more dedicated people to maintaining. It’s not that hard and the city comes across in way better shape.
No Homeless – There are a few people sleeping on steps in front of cathedrals, but I didn’t see a ton of randos roaming the streets begging for money. I’m not sure if they take care of these types of people better or I was in a location that didn’t have any. This aspect of a city is noticeable and feels like it’s kept better. I can’t say the same about Philly.
Germans Smoke Often – I have no statistical evidence to back this up. It feels to me that more Europeans smoke more in general. I’ve noticed a mixture of hand rolled and filtered cigarettes and people take many smoke breaks.
Lazy & Stupid
A Latvian told me our perception of an American is lazy and stupid. Awesome. Coming from someone 5,000 miles away, that’s not a vote of confidence our country is as well respected as I hoped. Why do they think like this? Well, if you take my points about their cities and look at our cities, it makes sense. We have rampant crime, homeless, and our urban cities are filled with trash. Our people don’t respect the country, the city, or themselves. This isn’t to say we don’t have an incredible culture, but it seems like we are devolving. We can be so much more with simple steps to rectifying our issues like cleaning up trash and promoting ideas like math is fundamental, instead of math is racist. Sad but true.