Questions and Answers about Life Abroad

by Christina Geyer on March 6, 2010 · 44 comments

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Expats, immigrants, and even people who have travelled internationally often get asked some odd, awful, and humorous questions about what life is like abroad.  I thought it would be amusing to answer some of the questions I’ve been asked, sometimes even by close family members, during my almost eight years of living in Germany.  I hope you’ll share some of the questions you’ve been asked in the comments.

Do Germans have refrigerators?

Yes, Germans do have refrigerators.  They tend to be smaller than American refrigerators, often because German kitchens tend to be smaller than American kitchens.  People in expensive cities (say, like Munich) are often most limited in space and may have what an American would call a large dorm-size fridge.  We had one of these in Berlin. It was about three feet high and had a tiny freezer compartment.  But we also bought a large refrigerator in addition to this one, because we had space for one.  Here in our village, everyone I know of has a large (say, 5-6 foot tall) fridge, and most have a freezer in the basement or garage in addition.

Another reason for the smaller fridges is that Germans go shopping more often and that there are less preservatives in food here.  Stuff goes bad much more quickly, so you don’t stock up here as much as the average person in the US.

But I thought Germans don’t have fridges because they never put ice in the drinks over there?

No, trust me, they do have fridges, they just don’t like ice in their drinks in general.  It’s a cultural thing.  There are some American places here that put ice in drinks, and occasionally, if someone recognizes my accent as American, I get a big glass full of ice cubes.  Seriously bugs me because even before moving here, I didn’t like ice in my drinks.

Do Germans have cars?

Yes, Germans have cars.  A German, Karl Benz, is generally considered the inventor of the modern automobile.  You may have heard of some German-made brands, like BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen.  Not all Germans own cars, because the public transportation system here allows one to get about without a car, but Germany is a country that loves cars and driving, you know, Fahrvergnügen.

Are the roads paved in Germany?

Yes, they are paved.  It goes along with the whole love of driving thing.  The roads tend to be in pretty good condition because Germans like to drive fast.  You might have heard of the Autobahn?  That is the German highway system and some parts have no speed limit.  You can feel the joy of passing a semi truck going 80kph (50mph) while you go 150kph (93mph) and a suped up BMW is crawling up your tailpipe with lights flashing because they want to go 200kph (124mph) and you are ruining their Fahrvergnügen. 

Do all Germans wear Lederhosen?

No, it’s traditional wear (that means for formal occasions or festivals) mostly for southern Germans (like Bavarians).  Most northern Germans wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of Lederhosen.

Is it true that utilities are so expensive that Germans can’t afford to have clothes dryers and take hot showers every day?

Electricity and water do cost more here, but I don’t think it affects most peoples’ decisions to have a dryer or affects their bathing length or frequency.  You can buy clothes dryers here (we have one) and we know Germans who have them.  I think it’s more about Germans being more environmentally conscious, in general.  Many people here just don’t see a need for a dryer, they can dry their clothes on a line for free and it’s a much better choice for the environment.  They also don’ t tend to take long showers because Germans are very conscious about water conservation.  Around the world, especially in industrialized countries, bathing frequency is a cultural thing rather than a cost issue. I find most Germans do shower plenty, they just don’t always use deodorant (it is getting more and more popular as time goes on, but deodorant use is also a cultural thing). 

Is there bread in Germany?

Boy, oh boy, is there.  Bread is an art form in Germany.  Germans are bread connoisseurs who often don’t consider the stuff sold in the US to actually qualify as bread (same as with beer).  After almost eight years of living here, I kind of have to agree.  (Yes of course you can find good bread in the US, but it’s not available in anywhere near the same quantity or variety).

Is the water safe to drink in Germany?

Yes, the water is safe to drink.  Germans tend to prefer sparkling water though, which they buy bottled, but many people drink straight tap water or use a Brita-style filter at home.  If you order water in a restaurant and don’t specify if you want still or sparkling, you may very well get sparkling.  You can order tap water in a restaurant (Leitungswasser), but most places don’t really like giving it out.  German restaurants often have the bulk of their profits coming from the drinks.  I usually only ask for tap water if I want it alongside a fancy cocktail or something.

I’m sure I’ve been asked other similar questions by my fellow Americans, but that’s all I can think of at the moment.  Just to be fair, I thought I’d throw in a question that my husband Rainer was asked by a hairdresser here in Germany after she found out he’d lived in the US for a time:

How could Americans elect someone who is illiterate to be president? (this was during the Bush administration)

Try as he might, he couldn’t convince her that Bush could actually read and had graduated college.  So you see, these kinds of questions come from all sides.

What questions have you been asked about life abroad?


  • xen

    That brings back memories. My family lived in Canada for a few years in the late 90’s, and I attended both elementary and high school there.

    When my parents were looking for a school for my younger brother (he was about 10 years old back then) they were asked if he had been taught how to read and write. Both teachers and students were apparently convinced that Germany was a third world country, because for the first few days both me and my brother had to put up with some truly ridiculous questions.

    People were also constantly trying to explain everyday things to me (computers, television, and even pizza). One child’s parents assumed that me and my family were refugees and were baffled when I told them that we didn’t plan on staying in Canada forever.

    People like that were the exception, of course, but it really does seem funny looking back.

  • http://chroniclesofdebt.blogspot.com/ Sunflowers

    Those questions are nuts. I mean, seriously, “is there bread”, “do they have cars” – wtf!! Who in their right mind thinks Germany is a third world country? I’m hoping some of the people who asked these questions were under the age of 5. 😛
    .-= Sunflowers´s last blog ..1099s and W-2s =-.

  • Karin

    Oh boy, I have had to put up with plenty of questions like that (esp. of the Germany = third world country-type)…

    I’ve also been asked
    – if it’s true that Germans have an extra tap in their apartments for beer (in addition to hot and cold water),
    – if Hitler is a) still alive and b) our current president (sadly asked by more than one person),
    – why Germans don’t speak Dutch, after all, they live in “Dutchland”,
    – if there are TVs in Germany,
    – if every German has Hummel figurines and cuckoo clocks in their homes.

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina Geyer

    @xen: Hmmm, I hope I never said anything stupid to any of the exchange students I went to school with 😀

    @sunflowers: Surprisingly educated people can ask dumb questions sometimes. The “paved roads” question came from a friend of ours who is a research doctor at a top hospital in Manhattan :-)

    @Karin: LOL, the beer tap question is awesome! Hahaha.

  • http://whereintheworld-stephanie.blogspot.com/ Stephanie

    People ask those questions about Germany? Really? I get most of those same questions about Africa, which is reasonable. But Germany?

    For the record, here in Burundi we do have two little boys who wear lederhosen. Their mother is Burundian and their father is German and the family hosts an Oktoberfest every year. It’s a pretty awesome party, for Burundi. (And they only wear the lederhosen for Oktoberfest, not as regular clothing.)
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Mountain View Day =-.

  • Dana in Munich

    I’m from Oklahoma. When I’ve gone home, I’ve never had anyone ask me these questions. Maybe because so many people know someone in the military and stationed in Germany. Mostly they ask me if it’s really true that you can drive as fast as you want on the Autobahn.

  • http://lulusbay.blogspot.com/ Lynda

    Funny questions. I have been asked some of those too – and not by people under 5. But I have been asked far more bizarre questions about Australia.

    Posting again… does this mean you are feeling healthier? Hope so. Cheers L
    .-= Lynda´s last blog ..Why… =-.

  • GermanintheUS

    Hello, I would like to comment on this post. I have been living in the United States for more than 6 years now and I was asked all kinds of weird questions. However, some people asked me really smart questions, too. Here are some examples:
    Weird questions:
    Do Germans have cars and light switches?
    Do you still celebrate Hitler’s birthday?
    How long does it take to drive to Germany?
    Did you always live in Pittsburgh? No. I lived east of Pittsburgh. Philadelphia? No. Boston? No. Even more to the east. Cape Cod? No, more to the east. But, there is nothing east of Cape Cod!!!
    Do you feel safer now that you are in the United States?
    I heard Germans drink their beer warm. Is that true?
    Why do Germans eat lunch meat for breakfast?
    Is there a McDonald’s in Germany?

    Smart questions:

    How is Germany dealing with the economic crisis?
    Do you believe that the reunification process happened too fast?
    Are Germans upset that they lost the “Mark” as a currency?

  • http://expatraveler.blogspot.com expatraveler

    That was a good laugh! It just shows how closed and sensored US society really is. We get the same questions here in Canada.
    .-= expatraveler´s last blog ..A Photo Tour =-.

  • http://rita.1on.de rita

    once having been caught reading a book i brought along to the states, my favourite question of all times still is, and please do read it with a puzzled voice (and midwestern accent) in mind: your book is printed in german?

    answer: yes? (do read that with an equally puzzled voice)
    .-= rita´s last blog ..fun with photoshop =-.

  • Sebastian

    I’m actually quite surprised that these questions still exist, but I have to admit they have improved over time. When I was still in high school we had a few American exchange students in 12th class. I still remember we had to assure the parents that we indeed had indoor plumbing and that their kids were save despite the war in the former Yugoslavia. It was actually quite funny to repeatedly assure them that you couldn’t hear the artillery fire from the war here in Bremen ^_^

    Sadly the exchange was cut was cut short after the American kids figured out they could legally buy alcohol here and got really hammered on the weekend. Lets just say their parents were not amused but the kids were really sad the had to go *g*

  • http://expatsagain.blogspot.com expatsagain

    I am going to have to agree with Expatraveler on this one. The U.S. is a “closed and censored” society.” What was the last year that the U.S. schools taught geography in grammar school? Why did they stop? How much World news is in our local newspapers? It’s alarming how little U.S. citizens know about the rest of the world. Shocking really.

  • Suzanne

    I’m sure it’s as closed and censored as each individual lets it be!
    Welcome back to blogging Christina, you’re back with a bang!

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina Geyer

    Love some of the questions you’ve all been asked. They’ve brought me a lot of chuckles.

    I think with Americans, the news media makes it easy to not know anything about the world. You really have to go out of your way to get world news. So many of the news programs there are now what I would call “info-tainment.” However, there are plenty of people who do know what’s going on, and I’ve also been asked great questions about social systems in Europe and how Germany is dealing with the economic crisis, and what my thoughts are on the Greek economy and the Eurozone. The questions I blogged about above aren’t questions I get all the time, just ones I’ve been asked every once in a while, and they were so funny they stuck in my head.

    @Lynda: Unfortunately, I’m not feeling any better. Seems like I’m going to be sick the whole pregnancy, but luckily I’ve only got about another 3 months to go. I’ve just got all these blog post ideas running around my head and finally decided maybe it would feel good to just get one of those ideas out onto the blog. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I can get some more posts written. And I would love to hear some of the questions you’ve been asked about Australia. I’ve got an Austrian friend who said he was sick of being asked about kangaroos, so I can only imagine what Australians get!

  • http://lulusbay.blogspot.com/ Lynda

    Good luck with the next 3 months. I had shocking morning (24hr) sickness for 15 weeks of the last pregnancy and that almost wrecked me, can’t imagine it for the WHOLE 9 months. Poor you! At least you know it will pass…. and for your Austrian friend… just imagine how tired I am of having to explain I come from Australia – NOT – Austria! LOL Yes.. perhaps I should do a Aussie question post… that would be a corker.
    .-= Lynda´s last blog ..Suffocating in Suburbia – The next day. =-.

  • http://homecookingwithsonya.blogspot.com/ Sonya

    As an american living in the netherlands I get more wacky questions from the dutch..mostly about the south. It’s imposible trying to tell anyone from Europe that you can not compair me who moved from Oregon with a southener or someone from new york and so on and so on. Here is what I’ve been asked
    Do you eat Squirrels?
    Do you know Oprah?
    Do you know any Southern Belles?
    Is everyone really related in the south?

    The list goes on and on..lol
    .-= Sonya´s last blog ..Buttermilk Banana Nut Muffins =-.

  • Stacie

    I enjoyed your post! Once, while preparing for a trip to Germany, my husband and I stoped into a unique little gift shop. We were searching for a gift for my husband’s Oma and my husband started a conversation with the shopkeeper. She seemed fascinated with the fact that we were traveling to Germany in the first place. When I mentioned that I was also looking for my husband’s cousins (both teens at the time) something as well, the lady suggested I buy them jeans. I think I gave her the craziest look imaginable and she said, “they can’t get blue jeans there can they?” I could only answer, with just as much confusion, “yes they have blue jeans.” She went on to say something to the effect of they aren’t like american blue jeans. I was truly shocked at that question. Other questions I have gotten typically are if prostitution is legal, if marijuana is legal, and of course about the drinking age.

  • Pam

    I have to say I agree with the German hairdresser!

  • Alyson K

    *sigh* the only question I ever seem to get asked is “What about all the Nazis?” It utterly confounds people to learn there’s probably more Nazis in the US than in Germany, and that Nazism has in fact been illegal for years…..

  • Erika

    I have German relatives in Germany and here that wondered if some of these questions were asked my people who seemed not to have learned in school that Germany is not a 3rd country and couldn’t believe the questions are about cars,roads, and water..good grief.. At Germans don’t want the Nazi’s there and there are more in the US then over there. It’s illegal.

  • http://www.decoybetty.com Deidre

    I’m an american living in Australia and I get a lot of silly questions about if I see kangaroos all the time (you do in the country!)…
    My brothers always make all kind of assumptions about what food I can get here – like I’ll obviously be able to get all kinds of ingredients for mexican food (you can’t!).

    My grandfather is concerned about me dying from a sting ray like Steve Irwin.
    .-= Deidre´s last blog ..How about we NOT draw swastikas anymore? Just an idea, I am throwing to the people. =-.

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina Geyer

    @lynda: Thanks. My doctor just wrote a prescription for me to get an almost full-time household helper, so maybe that’ll help with feeling better (well, first we need to find out if insurance will cover…)

    @sonya: That’s funny, I could totally see that happening, but nobody’s ever asked me anything like that here, and I am from Virginia and lived in NC. I do find that Germans have a hard time with the concept of how large the US is. Often they’re surprised to hear that DC and Florida are not at all close.

    @stacie: We have gotten blue jeans for my husband’s nephew. They’re available here, but the “cool” brands, like Levi’s and CK, are much more expensive than in the US (probably cause they’re imported). Of course, you can get Wrangler and other brands for regular prices. Maybe the lady had heard something about this and got confused? :)

    @pam: I can’t say much, I was a Republican when I moved here and voted for him the first time around.

    @alyson: There are some neo-Nazis here, but you’re right, there are for sure a lot more in the US.

    @erika: I think some people have had it drilled into them that the US is better and richer than anywhere else and they just can’t imagine what anywhere else might look like.

    @deidre: That reminds me of my mom. She heard on the news over there that the State department issued an alert that Al Qaida was targeting US citizens in Germany and she called me completely freaked out that I was in danger of imminent attack. I was like, mom, you live just outside of Washington DC. It’s much more likely something happens there than here.

  • Eric

    If you told these people that Germany was the first country with an interstate network, that germans actually invented book printing, the refridgerator, the car and that german tap water does only lack that familiar chlorine taste their brain may explode. Too much information. And mine actually hurts right now, from laughing. Thanks for these anecdotes and get well soon ^^

  • http://www.young-germany.de younggermany

    wanted to subscribe to your rs feed just now, but it just keeps giving me the “this link is f-ed” page. what should i do?

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina Geyer

    @Eric: Thanks :)

    @younggermany: Not sure how that happened, but it’s fixed now. Thanks for letting me know!

  • http://blog.daviddouglasbooks.com Dave

    I can’t count the amount of times I was asked questions about Bush during “those years.” I’m so glad they’re over!

    The best was when I was helping someone move, and the apartment painter arrived. As I walked down the stairs, a box in my arms, he stopped me and asked, “You’re the American guy, right? Do you like Bush?” Umm, no. Just let me put this box in the van, then I have a question for you about refrigerators 😉
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Frostbite and the Captain Morgan Twins =-.

  • seliger weise

    I’ve been asked whether I came by car (from Germany to the US) and whether there are refrigerators in Germany. Those who asked were just about to start their university education. And it is a long time ago (1990)

  • Rachael D

    Seriously?! What a crazy bunch of questions. It is true about general “worldliness” being pretty lacking here in the US, though. News programs aren’t global, really — just hitting some major events like the earthquake in Chile. Tonight, we got to hear about the Tiger Woods release of the repoert form the ambulance crew. Sheesh. And yet it is in a small paragraph in the paper that I read about things like continued issues between Turkey’s gov’t and military. I learn more news from Newsweek and the newspaper than the TV news.

    Only about 1 in 4 Americans (I think this is right) can even point out the US on a globe. And as we are conditioned to think the US is the best place ever (wealth, freedom, creature comforts, etc), we find it conceptuallty hard to believe that there are other places that match of exceed what we know. My theory, anyway…

    My favorite statement about mixed up geography, though, came repeatedly when I lived in Sante Fe, New Mexico for a summer… “We don’t SHIP to MEXICO”. Or, “You live in Mexico?!” I had to explain to at least a dozen people that New Mexico is indeed a part of the USA last time I checked. LOL. These were from folks who live here in the US…

  • Anja

    Do they really think Germany is a third world country? You often hear that Americans were uneducated, but I can’t believe that they would consider Germany a third world country. I’ve been to Michigan last year (an exchange) and nobody asked me whether we had fridges or paved roads. The questions were mostly about Ramstein and the speed limit on the autobahn.

  • Ric

    Well, another “incident” I experienced was an argument which got kind of out of control. During small talk I complimented some guy at the gas station for his new BMW, he replied something like “Yeah, I love british cars”… it turned out he thought the “B” in the acronym would mean “Britain” instead of “Bayerische” (Bavarian). First he was really puzzled, as if I managed to bring his entire world view down.

    Then I explained him I knew ’cause I’ve been growing up in bavaria all along and the only reason for me being in the US temporarily is that my father is american and therefore I’m just visiting my family overseas right now. In essence, can’t really remember my exact words. I then learned that there are still people out there who have genuine anti-german hatred, the scene turned into pure “road rage” (just that we weren’t on the road yet again, but that’s the closest description I can think of).

    I thought he would beat me up or such but he just left after calling me lots of things and yelling at me. What an oddball. Ever since I just smile and nod, not going to lecture some stranger ever again.

    …but I also experienced the extreme opposite, there is a vast number of “german americans” overseas and they may not be as openly proud of their herritage as the irish are but it is still remarkable how much they are aware of their ancestry. I often got almost adopted by people who found out by my accent I was german / asked me about it and then they told me their family’s story and everything. Made me also rethink about my german identity and value it a little more than I used to, back when I grew up in germany.

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina Geyer

    @dave: I got asked about Bush a lot too, I was even accused of starting the Iraq War by some dude who recognized my accent when I ordered a Döner at the Friedrichstrasse Bahnhof in Berlin. That was fun.

    @seliger weise: I’ve been asked by Germans about driving from New York to San Fransisco and there’s often been shock that this would take several days driving straight through to accomplish.

    @rachael: I’ve heard that 1 in 4 statistic before and it’s just so hard to really believe. No one I know or went to school with would have trouble finding the US on a map, so I have to wonder where all those people are and what survey methodology was used 😉

    @anja: I don’t think the few who ask these kind of questions think Germany is a third world country, I think they just have no idea what life outside the US is like, except for natural disasters in the third world, world news is hardly on the radar of most Americans. I have also been asked a lot about Ramstein and the Autobahn though :)

    @Ric: I have noticed there are a small minority of Americans who are running around with a lot of pent up rage just waiting to spring it on an unsuspecting person. I had a woman try to run me off the road in Richmond once and I have NO idea what her problem was. I drove straight to the nearest police station and she backed off. Stuff like that rarely happens here in Germany, I think (although I don’t know for sure, but you don’t hear about it and I haven’t experienced it).

    There are a lot of Americans who are very proud of their German ancestry and know a lot about Germany because of that. I’m one of them. Last summer I searched the church archives in Würzburg and found that my great, great grandpa Franz Geier emigrated to the US from a small village outside of Aschaffenberg.

  • Julia

    The Ignorant American vs. the Worldly German comparison has always bothered me. My brother has lived in Germany for 20+ years and I visit him often. Every time I go there I am asked questions about the US equally as absurd as those you posted. I agree that Europeans tend to be much more informed about current world topics than Americans but (based on MY experiences) they don’t know much about how average Americans live. I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel to many countries in Europe and the Mideast but for most Americans overseas vacations are just not possible. It’s so much easier to hop in a car or get on a train and find yourself in another country in a couple of hours (as Europeans can) than it is to have to fly for 10 or 20 hours (or more depending where you live!) as Americans need to just to get to Europe. So many Americans have only 2 weeks vacation so a trip to another country is often just not an option. While I wish more Americans could be as “wordly” as Europeans I also wish you’d be more understanding.

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina G

    @julia: I think maybe you should go back and read some of my comments on this post, specifically comment #14 and the comment I left right before yours, #31. When people have commented about how Americans in general are ignorant about the world, I have answered that while I have been asked a few humorous questions, I’ve had many more intelligent, thoughtful questions come my way and there are plenty of Americans who do know a lot about the world. Understanding goes both ways, Julia. I believe you just accused me of being an American-basher without reading hardly any of my blog (and only skimming this article, apparently, or being unwilling to see the humor meant in it).

    It is a lot easier to travel internationally in Europe than it is from the US, but there are still plenty of Germans who have never left Germany. I’ve met them. That being said, there are many more Germans who have traveled far abroad than Americans, and it’s not just a vacation time thing. My husband has traveled the world, spent extended time backpacking through Egypt and through Southeast Asia, and lived in the US. His experience is not so rare to find here. However, the most extensive traveler I have ever met was an American who had taken two years off between college and grad school and backpacked across every continent but Antarctica, visiting almost every country in the world. Stereotyping Americans as unworldly and Europeans as worldly is just that, a stereotype, and I have never said anything different.
    .-= Christina G´s last blog ..Questions and Answers about Life Abroad =-.

  • silvia

    wow, I am kinda shocked that you even had the guts to post these questions…there must be some really dumb, uneducated, selfcentered people on this earth to ask such questions! I can only shake my head.

  • http://russia101.wordpress.com Maria

    Questions about Russia (my home country):
    -Are there long lines? Do we have cars? Would I be executed for commiting a minor crime?
    Questions about the USA (where I spent some time):
    -Is everybody fat? Why does everyone have a (and I quote) “a fake smile” on? Why do high school seniors so old?

  • Rachael D

    I think that crazy questions are everywhere. Some of them are about cultural differences– but, clearly there are questions of all sorts. A friend of mine with twins (one boy and one girl) has been asked numerous times “Are they identical twins?” I love that question!

    I think our questions come from how we interpret what we see or have heard (especially stereotypes). For example, things like wondering if Germans drink beer and other drinks warm comes from the American love of ice (gross generalization). Most drinks I have had abroad have very little to no ice, whereas in the US there is lots of ice (not in the beer, but in soda and water). So, to explain the “ice shortage” abroad, we may wonder if others like the drink warm and/or cannot afford the ice! IMHO, some beer taste better when slightly warm (and not in that frosted mug)!

    Cheers.

  • seliger weise

    Yes, silly questions are everywhere. And cultural hybris. For example, I know many Germans who believe that it is easier to buy high quality food in Germany than in the US. Complete BS of course.

  • http://www.creativestructures.blogspot.com diana strinati baur

    Q: Is there running water/indoor plumbing in Germany?

    A: (I could never be as nice as you are in your answer because the urge to strangle the question asker was alway too great)

    No, there is no running water in Germany, in fact, at the Porsche factory, they have to go down to the creek and get pails of water to do the final washdown before the cars are delivered to Southern California.
    .-= diana strinati baur´s last blog ..Farewell to a Friend =-.

  • http://www.creativestructures.blogspot.com diana strinati baur

    Sorry, seliger, it is easier to buy high quality food in Germany than it is in the states. This is upsetting to me as an American but it’s true. Chasing down local ingredients in the states takes not only all your money but all of your time too. Food in general is better in Europe from many standpoints. I am not saying that good food is not to be had in America, it is, but at a high price and to a limited audience. People are starving from obesity in America. I won’t even begin to address the difference in food quality between Italy and America ( I live in Italy now) – the quality is of the charts better here because we can buy from local producers as a matter of course.
    .-= diana strinati baur´s last blog ..Farewell to a Friend =-.

  • seliger weise

    Diana, I guess I understand what you mean. I fondly remember the fruit and vegetables marked in Bologna. Second to none. And we might start an argument on whether the prduce at WholeFoods really is wholesome. I don’t really know. But I guess that it is ok at least, and the mind blowing number of choices at places like Whole Foods does not compare to anything I’ve seen in Germany. While living in Columbus, Ohio, I could shop at several smaller organic shops, a farmers market where local produce was traded, and the bespoken Whole Foods supermarket. When I returned to my smallish German city, I was really really seriously deprived. But even when I visit my parents, who live in a city comparable to Columbus, I am shocked by the limited choice in food products.

    I know that I am mainly talking about choice here. I see that the quality of products might be inferior at times (although I’d like to see evidence for this assumption), but still, if I had to choose, I’d opt for the Columbus, OH, possibilities. There were only a few products which caused some issues or were painpfully expensive (e.g., white asparagus, Wine).

    But then I agree, food in Italy or France is a whole different ballpark.

  • http://www.creativestructures.blogspot.com diana strinati baur

    Seliger, I know, I don’t really either know if Whole Foods produce is wholesome or not. I know it is continuously pumped up with sprayed water to look great but when you get it home? hmmm. I suppose in Germany I am thinking about the Turkish markets, where the selection was always incredible, the prices very fair and the people just oh so nice :) We had a great neighborhood Turkish grocer in the Schanzenviertel in Hamburg and going there lifted my spirits. I could come home with two bagfuls of produce for under 20 euro, and have enough for almost a week of dishes. My girlfriend who moved back to DC after 8 years in HH had to pay 14 bucks for two pounds of really great looking tomatoes at Whole foods and just about lost it…

    And you are right… here in Italy… are we blessed!
    .-= diana strinati baur´s last blog ..Renovation: The Stairs, Revisited =-.

  • Joanna

    I live in Germany now, (after growing up in the USA) and cannot count the number of times Germans have commented something about “Santa Claus being made up by the Coca-Cola Company”.
    The funniest thing about it is that he originally is GERMAN! =)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06121686507934885254 Weissdorn

    This was fun to read, and I know this reply is about two years late, but it reminded me of some of the questions I used to answer for About.com
    _
    My favourite:
    “Is Hitler still your president?” They can’t believe he never was president, and find it even harder to believe he wasn’t born German.
    _
    But it wasn’t as funny as:
    “What language do they speak in Germany?”
    “Do kids wear Nazi uniforms to highschool?”
    “Is is true German women don’t shave their legs?”
    “Is it true Germans don’t use deorderant?”
    _
    Or this one, which is made me draw a blank how to answer, usually asked by people planning to migrate from India to Germany: “What’s it like to live in Germany? Please do not write me a long answer.”

  • http://www.travelingigloo.com Brea Darnell

    My favorite question was back in November. Almost everyone we called on Thanksgiving asked if they celebrate Thanksgiving over here! After living in Germany for a mere 7 months, I am getting the impression that many Americans think the world is centered around the U.S.!

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