Ever wondered about the differences between Germany and Australia. Planning a trip there or recently been? Here are some cultural differences from the perspective of an Australian. You can find part one here.
Feel free to comment below with your thoughts, abuse, or to add any other differences or peculiarities about either country.
6. Customer Service
Germans have only very recently discovered customer service and it exists in some small, clandestine, underground retail circles. For the most part though it is non-existent, especially at one particular company that you may or may not come across called the Deutsche Bahn. The first and most important rule of the Deutsche Bahn human resources department is that it is forbidden to hire anyone a) under 43 years old and b) anybody remotely attractive. They must also require a keen and ruthless hatred for anyone who has ever caught a train or considered catching a train, or just thought about trains.
If you have the misfortune of not booking your ICE (Inter-City Express) train from the internet then you must go to the Deutsche Bahn Reisebüro to do it. It doesn’t matter which city you’re in or Hauptbahnhof you’re at, the process will be the same. You queue for anywhere up to 45 minutes but never less than 10. When you reach the purple haired lady at the counter she will look you with great scorn as if you’re an estranged sibling who stole the inheritance she could have bought more cigarettes with. You’ll then tentatively make your request for a ticket to Berlin on the soonest available connection and she will wait a full five seconds, emit a sharp sigh and shake her head as if that’s simply not possible today. Then she’ll stare at her computer screen and just at the point where you think that she’s experienced a small stroke she’ll print a timetable out, put it in front of you and say “there’s one leaving in 10 minutes from platform 5…”. “…GREAT!” You’ll say. She’ll charge you a punitive rate for your foolishness at not having used an internet discounter and you’ll be on your way to Berlin, albeit slightly confused. Deutsche Bahn.
7. Street drinking
In Germany you are allowed to drink on the street and rainbows follow the footsteps of semi drunk revellers everywhere, it’s 100% paradise. In some cities you can even bring your drink with you onto the train. In Australia street drinking is illegal and if you’re unlucky the police will hit you up with a $200 fine for the pleasure, usually though, they’ll just ask you to tip your $7 beer onto the ground, it’s awful.
8. Kiosks / Spätis
Speaking of street drinking, it’s much easier in Germany because of all the wonderful kiosks (in Berlin they call them Spätis because they are open late, it’s a better name). Kiosks line the streets and are packed with unbelievable amounts of alcohol. They sell beer for as low as 70 cents or a bottle of vodka for 8 euros. In the clubs you should be indignant if your beer costs anything more than 2 euros ($3).
Ausralia’s alcohol laws are bewilderingly prohibitive and the tax is sky frikken high. A six pack of beer will cost on average $15-$20 (about 12 euros) and the only place you can buy it is a bottle store (supermarkets and petrol stations never sell alcohol). If you go to a pub or a club it gets worse, your beer is going to cost you $9 (6.50 euros) on average.
Despite all these liquor regulations Australians seem to get much drunker and more aggressive than Germans, and alcohol tends to cause more problems… the answer? More regulations of course!! Maybe the aggression comes from drunken frustration with all the rules? Who knows.
Germans don’t know what coffee is yet. They make black liquid which they put into burnt milk which is vaguely reminiscent of coffee… sort of like a facsimile of an etched painting of a cave drawing… but it’s not coffee.
Australia on the other hand is the hands down, irrefutable and indisputable world leader in crafting rich, beautiful, brown espresso that seeps into our souls every morning and makes us such benign, supple and wonderful creatures who cavort majestically over and under our beach strewn urban landscapes calling out to our dogs in the balmy, crepuscular madness of the dusk… I think I’ve had too much coffee, but for more information please see my article on the flat white.
10. Not saying how good everything is all the time
In Australia you can’t go to the beach with someone without them saying “how nice is this!?”. You can’t go for coffee with anyone without hearing how nice the café is at least 3 times, and family lunches/dinners consist only of everyone exclaiming how nice and fantastic everything is for 2.5 hours before everyone goes home, and nothing of any value gets said for the entire time. If one ever has the gall to point this ridiculous behaviour out to the Australians they’ll defend themselves with something like “oh well we’re just being positive!!”.
Germans, on the other hand, tend to take a more traditionalist approach to socialising and actually hold substantial conversations with each other. I think the real key to this is that they’re not afraid to talk about uncomfortable or serious issues without instinctively changing the subject as quickly as possible to ‘anyway that’s all very horrible, but isn’t this just a lovely dessert!!”.
Note: this point could be applied to most European countries.