Best of German-American Bullshit.

August 7, 2017

USA letters on a table on July 4th
Celebrate your country - in the US

A short summary of all the weird, funny and sad things I discovered during my 4-month-trip across the United States. Small and big oddities. Things to laugh about, things worth crying for, things to think about. America through the eyes of a German with a German-American heart. Be aware: this text probably contains irony.

Shopping

 

Go into a supermarket, throw some things into the basket and be surprised at the check-out! In the US they add the taxes afterwards and I can tell you: that’s not always a nice surprise. Moreover, food is freaking expensive. Some slices of cheese cost $5 (in Germany $2), a chocolate bar costs $3 (in Germany $1) and a simple frozen pizza is round about $10 (in Germany $2,50). So if you’re going for a picnic in the US it feels like having a dinner party.

 

How to Fuel a Car in the US

Old Gas Station on Route 66
Old Gas Station on Route 66

Gas

 

In Germany you’re fueling, going into the gas station and pay (mostly cash because we’re still living in 1970 when it is about digitization). In the US (when you’re having a foreign credit card!) you’re going to the check-out, guess how much gas you might need, prepay, go back, fuel, discover that it’s not enough or too much and go back to the check-out to get more fuel or money back. But besides that the gas is ridiculously cheap like $2,50 per gallon. In Germany it’s around $4 per gallon or even more. So: Eat in Germany, head over the US and drive around!

 Tips

 

“For your convenience we expect a tip of 25 %”. Okay, sounds super cool. I bet I will feel very convenient now … Sorry, but I don’t need somebody who tells me what kind of tip I have to leave so that I “feel good” afterwards. On the other hand people were telling me about the poor wage people working in restaurants earn – like $2,50 per hour. That’s why tips are that high (usually 10 % in Germany). And I think this is a super sad reason.

Speed Limits and Crazy Constructions

Highway close to Monument Valley
Beautiful roads but strict speed limits
Road Construction

 

When you’re coming close to construction areas on Highways you’ll sometimes spot people waving orange flags and sings. They say “stop” on the one side and “slow” on the other side. Instead of installing a temporary traffic light those poor people have to stand close to the emissions, the noise and the heat for probably a ridiculous wage – and skin cancer.
Speed Limits
Well, I’m sorry – but in Germany only trucks are as slow as maximum speed limits in the US. When I came around Nevada I actually found those super fancy signs telling me that I’m allowed to drive 80 mph FAST. Most of the time it was 60 or 70 mph. Then I passed Mustangs, Corvettes and even a Ferrari because nobody really dared to drive 80 mph. Maybe people in the US believe that the Highway is ending behind the horizon, and they’re going to collapse right into the universe when they’re driving incredibly 80 mph. On the other hand the horizon in the US never ends – perfect!

 

Help me, it's a Roundabout!

Vintage car in Pontiac, Illinois, Route 66
It's all about cars in the US
Traffic Regulations
Amazingly efficient: You’re allowed to turn right on red if nobody’s coming. That’s super efficient and something we badly need in our cities in Germany. Amazingly funny: Most of the people in America are afraid of roundabouts because there are just very few. Amazingly relaxing: There are a lot of junctions with four stop signs. The first one who stops at the sign is the first one who’s allowed to proceed through the intersection. And all the people are so relaxed that I’ve never seen a race about that.
Credit Cards
Really nobody is interested if I am going to pay for my shopping (with taxes!) with the credit card of 60-year-old Daniel Smith. No ID is required and most of the time even no signature. Sometimes you have to sign with your finger on a touch pad. One time I drew a little duck on it and nobody cared.

Where is my Roland-Emmerich-Catastrophy?

Downtown Chicago, Wrigley Building
One of the most dangerous cities - Chicago

Danger

 

Police sirens, gunfire, thunder. Roland Emmerich is riding on a Batmobil right on Times Square while a young white lady is robbed in the subway and thrown from a skyscraper afterwards. I have no idea why American people produce American movies like that about their American cities.

I have been to five big cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles for weeks – several times alone at night – but the only thing that happened were friendly people coming towards me to help me with the map. I’m disappointed, seriously!
Of course there are dangerous areas as well. But there are dangerous areas in every big (and small) city – also in Germany! So, no worries and please don’t believe those movies!
To me the most dangerous thing in the US is the force of nature like severe storms, flash floods and forest fires.
WiFi
I only had two days without WiFi on my entire 4-months-trip. Once in a cabin in the middle of nowhere and once in an airbnb because it just broke down. It seems like even every public restroom has WiFi in the US. All the libraries, cafés, restaurants, stations and motels – and also most of the museums. You know what? That’s fabulous for travellers. In Germany you have to buy a magnifier to find a little piece of public WiFi somewhere. As I told you when I was talking about the credit cards: 1970.

Expensive Education and Awesome Strangers

Blogger and a friendly stranger in Central Park
Me and Julian in Central Park
College
To go to college in the US means to save a ton of money over years for it. When I heard about the dues they have to pay for college in the US I nearly fainted. When they heard what I had to pay in Germany they fainted, too. In the US you have to pay an amount of money for public colleges that you have to pay in Germany when you’re going to a super fancy private school. It starts around $30.000. I had to pay round about $250 (including a train ticket for the whole State, without books, food and lodging) for a semester in Germany. That’s just crazy, isn’t it?!
People
All the people I met from New York City, Oklahoma, Texas and California up to Wyoming and Minnesota were more than awesome. They offered me help, love and friendship, open doors and open hearts. I was overwhelmed by hospitality and generousness. No matter what culture, religion or age. When I was back in Germany I had a culture shock because of all the reserved and hasty people giving cool handshakes (or walking by…) instead of a warm embrace.

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