German habits

There are some things in Germany that might be different to your home country:

  1. Most shops are closed on Sundays. That means you cannot do grocery shopping or go to the hairdresser. Cafes, restaurants, gyms and the library are still open, but opening hours might vary.
  2. You don’t cross the street at a red light! People might shout at you if you do and the police can give you a fine for it. If you are on a bike you can even loose your drivers license.
  3. There are also many rules for public places. There are regulations for BBQs in parks (e.g. grill has to be 30 cm over the ground) and at many beaches you are only allowed to do your BBQ in certain places. It is forbidden to swim in the Förde at many peers or to park your bike at certain railings. If you are not certain if something is allowed, see what most people do.
  4. We separate waste and throw it in bins of different colours. Yellow is for plastic, cans and other wrapping material. Blue is for paper. Green or brown for organic materials. Black is for everything else. Batteries and glass must be disposed in special containers. If you are not sure what belongs in which bin, check out our guide.
  5. Most bottles have “Pfand” on them (you pay 15-25 cents per bottle when you buy them). They are not thrown away, but you bring them back to the supermarket and get your “Pfand”-money back. With this system the bottles can be reused. You might see people on the street and in parks who carry big bags of plastic bottles. They collect bottles and bring them to the supermarket for the “Pfand”-money. That’s why people place bottles with “Pfand” next to the waste bins, if they don’t want to take them to the club or where ever they are going.
  6. Speaking of bottles… in summer the most favourite sport of german students is “Flunky ball”. There are two teams, that stand about. 10 meters apart with a bottle in the middle. Everybody places a bottle of beer infront of their feet. The teams then try to hit the bottle in the middle with a ball and empty their beers before the other team can put the bottle back up and collect the ball. When every member of one team has finished their beers they win.
  7. One stereotype about Germans is that we are obsessed with beer. We actually do drink a lot of beer and there is a big beer section in the supermarket. But if you think this means that there are a lot of fancy different flavours, you are wrong. The “Reinheitsgebot” states that beer is only allowed to consist of water, barley, hops and yeast. So you will find mostly „Pils“ (like Heineken or Carlsberg) and „Weizen“ (tastes more malty) at the supermarket. But there are also special craft beer shops where they offer beer with almost every flavour (try cucumber or chocolate).
  8. Always have some cash on you. There are still some places where you cannot pay by card in Germany. Especially small cafes, bakeries and some small shops. Bus and ferry tickets usually have to be paid by cash, too.
  9. People shake hands all the time. To greet each other and to say goodbye, to introduce yourself, to sign a deal…. But around close friends and younger people it is more common to greet each other with a hug or a shoulderclap. (Important Information: Due to the Coronavirus you shouldn't shake hands at all to make sure that you keep enough distance!)
  10. Germans are not only more distant in their greetings, but also when it comes to flirting and dancing. Getting near somebody you don’t know might be considered rude, even on the dance floor. It is always better to talk to them first and to dance with a distance of one arm length between you. 

What you should know about Kiel

  1. In northern Germany not only the weather is cooler, but also the mentality of the people. At first sight everybody might appear a bit gruff, but the Kielers are very warm and welcoming once you get to know them better. A short nod with the head can mean the same as two kisses here. After a few beers and they even dance arm in arm with strangers. And if you have a problem with someone you tell them right to their face. That might be a bit startling at first but you will get used to it.
  2. Likewise you will get used to the weather. It can change from sunny to stormy to rainy very fast and it is almost impossible to foresee what’s coming. Here, the weather forecast is as useless as an umbrella. It is better to wear many layers and to invest in a good waterproof jacket with hood and raintrousers for biking. And NEVER leave the house without a pullover or jacket! In Kiel the rule “If it’s sunny / summer, it’s warm” does NOT apply.
  3. Also, beware of seagulls! If you want to eat your food yourself, you should never leave it out of sight. Not at the seaside, not on your balcony and not on campus! They are everywhere! Speaking of animals: if you come across a blazing red jellyfish better not go for a swim. You will get stung when you touch them.
  4. In Kiel it is very important to know when to go where. Instead of fighting your way through the crowded city center, you can stroll along Holtenauer Street. There are many different local shops and you will find everything you could possibly need there.
  5. The nightlife in Kiel is very busy and you can go out almost every day of the week. If you want to know where to go, check out our Party-Planner (about to come)!