July 17, 2024

American in Germany: 4 Things That Surprise Me

American in Germany: 4 Things That Surprise Me

The author says that there are not as many choices in Germany as there are in the United States when it comes to food.
Alliance photo / Westend61 | Alina Kuznetsova

I am American, but I have been living in Germany with my family for over ten years.

Here grocery stores are closed on Sunday and close at lunchtime on Saturday.

You have to pack your purchases yourself and make sure it doesn’t take too long.

This is a machine translation of an article from our American colleagues at Business Insider. It was automatically translated and verified by a real editor.

If you are planning a trip, a long-term stay or even a move to Germany, I have some tips for you. I am American, but I have lived in Germany with my family for over ten years.

One thing you’ll probably notice right away is that your purchase process may be a little different. There are a few reasons for this.

1) There are fewer brands and product variants.

Since the United States is simply much larger than Germany, it makes sense that there would be a smaller selection of brands and items in German grocery stores.

A good example is orange juice. In a typical American supermarket, you’ll find a number of very specific orange juice brands, such as “with added calcium,” “with pulp,” or “heart-healthy with omega-3 fatty acids.”

American misses different types of fruit juice.

American misses different types of fruit juice.

In Germany, this is not so much the case: here you usually have a choice between several brands, which may be limited by the indication “with pulp” or “without pulp”. While larger grocery stores offer a larger selection, they are generally not as large as American supermarkets.

Even within Germany, brands are often regional. If you buy milk in Bavaria, the brand choice will likely be limited to Bavarian companies exclusively. Of course, the region also plays a role.

For example, urban grocery stores in Germany simply do not have the physical capacity of many American grocery stores, allowing American stores to stock multiple brands and varieties of the same product.

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Speaking of space: Since many people in German cities don’t have a car, you also have to keep in mind that not every German grocery store has a parking lot or simple street parking if you’re in a big city like Frankfurt or Hamburg.

2) You have to pack your own things.

Most large American grocery stores will usually bag your groceries for you. If you are shopping in Germany, you should be prepared for some work:

Cashiers scan items quickly while you have to carry them yourself, and sometimes there is a long line of people behind you when it is busy.

In the United States, shoppers receive their merchandise in bags at checkout.

In the United States, shoppers receive their merchandise in bags at checkout.
I-Main Technology

It’s almost an art, with customers having to act quickly and strategically to prevent their purchases from piling up before the next shopper’s turn. The only other effective strategy is to try to do your shopping at odd hours of the day – or have your groceries delivered.

3) There are a number of grocery stores, from health food stores to discount grocery stores.

As in the United States, selection in Germany is greater in larger urban areas than in rural towns and villages. Most Germans shop at regular grocery stores and discount stores.

Even some German grocery stores are global successes, so many Americans are particularly familiar with Aldi and Lidl products. There are also “mega” markets that are comparable to the larger American supermarkets, such as Hit, V-Markt and Kaufland.

Aldi is also available in the USA.

Aldi is also available in the USA.
Image Alliance / Shoining | Shoining

Organic and biodynamic foods are very popular in Germany, and there are a number of organic stores across the country, including some national chains.

Certified organic produce is generally cheaper in Germany than in the United States, although it is still generally more expensive than non-organic produce. Most cities and towns have regular farmers’ markets where locals can buy fresh produce, dairy products, and meat from nearby farms.

There is a large Turkish community in Germany, and there are many Turkish grocery stores throughout the country. You can also find other international grocery stores in urban centers.

The author still finds the “old-fashioned” shopping malls and arcades interesting today.
Sean Gallup/Staff/Getty Images

A unique German element are some of the well-established traditional food departments in department stores or gourmet food stores, which are legendary in certain cities. These stores have been around for generations and are usually expensive and exclusive. Famous examples are Kaufhaus Des Westens (KaDeWe) in Berlin and Käfer Delicatessen in Munich.

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4) German grocery store hours are really short compared to those in the US.

Many Americans visiting Germany are surprised to find that German grocery store hours are shorter than they are used to. For starters, almost all grocery stores across the country are completely closed on Sundays. The same is true on public holidays.

Closed on Sundays?! That's hard for an American to get used to.

Closed on Sundays?! That’s hard for an American to get used to.
Kaiki Rocha

If you’re completely lost, there are still some grocery stores in most major cities that are open on Sundays, for example at the main train station or at the airport. Gas stations sell a variety of basic necessities, but in most cases your options are very limited or non-existent.

Americans who live in cities where grocery stores are open until 10 p.m. or are open 24 hours a day won’t find that in Germany. Most German grocery stores close at 8 p.m., and smaller stores in rural areas close earlier, around 6 p.m. on weekdays and 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

I had to get used to all these differences.

Read the original article Interested in trading.

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