Do's and Don'ts in Germany
Generally, people will understand if you make a mistake. Don't worry, they have been abroad and made such mistakes themselves. But if you want to be polite and behave in the right way it might be sensible to do some extra research on the do's and don'ts in Germany.
You should always be friendly and helpful to everyone. You shouldn't make differences between people from Germany and people from other countries. Spitting on the floor is prohibited in some towns and you’ll be penalized if you do anyway. Pay attention to areas where smoking isn't permitted. The reason is that in Germany it’s very important to follow these instructions. Many people are bothered by smoking in non-smoking areas. Furthermore you shouldn’t scream or speak too loudly. You’ve got to adapt your voice to the situation. It’s perfectly acceptable to say `NEIN` if you don’t agree or you can’t perform what it requested from you.
Be friendly to elderly persons because they’re very sensitive. You should know that many of them have preconceptions and other opinions to most of the things. Normally this is no problem if you’re friendly, courteous and decorous to them. Moreover, your language should be relatively formal. This means that you shouldn’t use rude or colloquial language.
To people your age you shouldn't talk too formally. Make jokes and have fun, in order to get along well with everybody. You can use colloquial language, of course. The most important things are that you aren't xenophobic and use no billingsgate (i.e. abusive language).
In Germany you aren´t allowed to go by train or bus without a ticket. If you are controlled and you have no ticket, you have to pay 40 Euros. So never drive without a ticket, because it´s too dangerous, a ticket just costs something between 2 and 15 Euros.
At a red traffic light you have to stop and wait until it´s green. If you keep driving although the traffic light is red, you also have to pay a fee. Don’t drive faster than the speed limit because if you drive too fast you have to pay; and this can get very expensive. Moreover, you’d endanger yourself and other people.
In Germany we drive on the right side of the road. It´s very dangerous to drive on the wrong side – the left side – and it's forbidden to drive there. If you have an accident, call the police (110) or if you have a breakdown, call the ADAC (222222) and drive to the breakdown lane and warn other car drivers with your breakdown triangle (you have to place it on the streets 50 meters away from your car).
If you drive faster than another car you can overtake this car but only from the left, never overtake from the right! And you're only allowed to overtake, if the white line on the street is dashed.
For some parking lots you have to pay. I’d recommend you to pay for it, because if you don’t do you’ll also have to pay a fee if you get controlled. It´s not allowed to park or to stop the car in the middle of the street.
As you'll have read in our youth guide, there are many possibilities to go shopping in and around Rastatt. Shopping in Germany is similar to shopping in other countries of the world. For example you can pay with an EC-card in most of the shops. But there are some rules you shouldn't break:
Of course don't try to steal clothes or other things from a store, discounter or boutique. If you do so, the police will be called and in the end you'll have to pay more than the value of the stolen thing!
If you want to pay, you should stay in the queue and wait until it's your turn. Otherwise the other costumers will be angry with you!
If you're not sure if the clothes fit, can't find your size or have any other question you can always go to a shop assistant. He or she'll be happy to help you with your problem.
If you search for something particular, you shouldn't rummage around and leave it untidy, but ask someone for help.
If you try some clothes on which don't fit, you shouldn't leave them in the fitting room, but bring them back to the place you got them or bring them to a shop assistant.
For German people the behavior in a café or a restaurant is very important because it shows a lot about this person. In Germany you demonstrate a good character when you are polite and friendly to others. Now there are a few important rules, which you should use when you eat something.
In Germany it´s always good when you say “please” and “thank you” to the waiter.
Moreover, it looks well to sit up straight and to look into the eyes of the person you speak with.
If a person – especially a woman – comes to your table, you should stand up to be polite. The next thing you should do is smile a little bit at her and if she smiles back you can say hello. Before you talk seriously it might be better, if you did small talk to see whether she or he wants to have a conversation.
Moreover, you shouldn´t speak or laugh loudly so that people from another table can hear you.
And it would be very nice of you, if you passed drinks or a meal on to somebody when the waiter has a full tray.
When you want to pay for your dinner, you should remain seated until the waiter comes.
When you pay your bill, you should give the waiter a few Euros tip. The amount of the tip can be between 5 and 10% of the whole bill. For example, if your bill is 10€, you should give one or two Euros.
We hope you´ll enjoy trying out these suggestions of right eating.