Better Know a Classmate’s Country: Guten tag auf Deutschland

Having worked as a cultural representative for Germany, I am certainly aware of the different images people have about Germany.

Yes we do drink beer, but which western country does not? Germany is rather small at only 137,861 square miles, yet it is home to 82 million people.Almost the entire country is urban, and public transport, such as trains and buses, are available everywhere, which technically makes driving a car a waste.

Therefore, Germany barely has any DUI’s, a fact also related to the cost of getting a driver’s license. The process takes around half a year of intense theoretical and practical exercise, with costs easily adding up to at least $1,500 to $2,000.

Such intense training is required in order to keep traffic safe on German highways, better known as ‘Autobahn,’ since, to a certain degree, they do not have any speed limits.

Although Germany is well known for its fast cars, like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Porsche, it was home to scientists that changed the world, like Albert Einstein, who came up with the general theories of relativity, and Max Planck, who immediately recognized its importance and made sure that it would be recognized by others as well. He also came up with the quantum theory.

Planck became Director of the University of Berlin, which enabled him to employ Einstein in 1914.

Students that want to go to a University have to go to school for thirteen years first, and the last year often includes classes that are comparable to college level classes. This way, students get their Bachelor’s Degree within three years.

On campus housing, which is part of the American college experience, does for most cases not happen at German universities. Instead most students rent apartments with other students.

Also, Germany has a special type of vocational schooling; called ‘Ausbildung,’ which involves students in on the job training and attending vocational school throughout the work week.

Germans also really like to eat, offering a lot of different cuisine depending on the region. While Bavaria for instance offers Bretzel and Weisswurst (sausage), Hesse, a state in the middle of Germany, is well known for its Applewine and Handkaese, which is chesse with fine sliced onions and literally translates to ‘handcheese.’

Following World War II, Germany was divided into Eastern Germany, which was under Russian sovereignty and better known as the German Democratic Republic, and West Germany, under American, French and English sovereignty, also known as as The Federal Republic of Germany.

This lasted from 1961 until 1990 and throughout that time, families were separated and for citizens of the GDR, it was almost impossible to get out of the country. Every October 3, Germans celebrate the end of this separation with Reunification Day.

JP Busche can be reached at

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