Getting StartedLiving

20 Bizarre Things about the German Lifestyle

By on March 3rd, 2016

In order to humour my other expat friends across the globe, I figured I’d share with you 20 of the weirdest things I’ve learned about German lifestyle while living here in Germany.


1. Toilet Buttons

While many Canadians have lever’s, all German toilets have big buttons. A big button for a job well done!

German lifestyle


2. Big Light Switches

Apparently the little light switches that flick on and off in North America just don’t cut it in size for the Germans. These massive buttons allow for an easy on and off. Have you ever tried to turn on the light in the dark feeling the entire wall before finding the switch? Not in Germany!

German lifestyle


3. Room Heaters

My personal favourite – they use small heaters built into every room which use heated water to warm the room. Not only do I think it is better for the environment but it gets you toasty warm without waiting hours for the heat to reach the upstairs of your home. My hero!

German lifestyle


4. Jail Blinds

…or so I call them. Many German homes have the same blinds. Though it offers a guaranteed sleep in the pitch black, I find it rather spooky. While walking down the road as it gets darker in the evening you can hear people all around you shutting their blinds. After I hear a few more slamming metal blinds I look around and all of a sudden you feel so much more alone on the streets. I love people watching – in the least creepy way possible haha, I enjoy learning other people’s stories. In Germany, it is not always so easy to know what your neighbors are doing.

German lifestyle


5. Wide Open Windows

This is possibly the best window there is! I feel so free when I wake up, open the window wide and hang half my body outside for some crisp, clean, fresh morning air. The levers on these windows don’t only open sideways but from the top too!

 German lifestyle


5a. See! These windows are amazing!

German lifestyle


6. They Have Beer – every night.

In Canada don’t get me wrong, beer is a huge part of our culture… but the Germans take it to a whole new level. Perhaps not all of them might be drinking a beer every single night, but it’s definitely engrained in their culture much more than it is back home.

German lifestyle


7. They Have Bubble Water

I am not saying this is a weird thing, what I think is weird is that whenever I ask someone for tap water they look at me like I have a third head. Bubble water might be a popular thing in many different countries, but it’s their go-to here (many of them even drink it during workouts and sports).

German lifestyle


8. They Have Style When it Comes to Buying Groceries

Perhaps not every German, but when I go to the market in Freiburg I see so many of these little wicker baskets or little canvas bags. Way to take the reins on eco-friendly shopping Germany!

German lifestyle


9. They Leave Their Milk and Eggs out of the Fridge

I have seen this in a few other countries as well but it is definitely different from the way we do things in Canada. Don’t worry, once the milk is open, it does need to be put into the fridge, but you’ll be able to find these products on any grocery store shelf, unrefridgerated.

German lifestyle


10. They Eat this like it’s Candy

Red Cabbage – definitely not a Canadian thing! Many Germans also enjoy green cabbage, brussel sprouts and a number of other cabbage-related vegetables (especially during the winter).

German lifestyle


11. They Like the way Italians Cook

Many people use these little Coffee Brewers for single cup espresso every morning. You’ll also find a ton of Italian restaurants even in the smallest of German towns. What’s there not to love about Italian cooking?! 😍

German lifestyle


12. The Germans, they use funny words like ‘Dusch’ and ‘Urea’ to explain their healthcare products. Duschgel is a body wash.

Perhaps they aren’t funny words in German, but when an English speaker reads German words the way they think they’re pronounced, things get weird, funny… but weird. Haha.

German lifestyle


13. Each person sleeps with their own blanket – either that or my boyfriends hates me.

Who here can admit that they actually love this concept though? Not more blanket thieves!

German lifestyle


14. Glühwein

A new Christmas tradition I had never heard of. You can choose red or white wine with sliced orange and Christmas spices … Yummy!

German lifestyle


15. Creative Cross -walks – only known in Berlin (I think) but so neat!

You’ll also find other unique cross-walks around the country in a number of different cities. Bremen has their city musicians in their cross-walk lights, and a number of cities have switched the walking man to a walking woman.



16. Square Pillows

I still haven’t figured out if I like them or not… you don’t need to use 2 pillows because these ones fold up so nicely, but sometimes when they twist up while I am sleeping it is hard to fold the pillow the way I had it in the first place.

German lifestyle


17. Not only are their Ingredients all in German, but they’re very different and if you’re trying to bake from a Canadian recipe, chances are there will be a lot of ‘substitutes’.

(Don’t think I’m weird… this isn’t my typical grocery shop, it was the ingredient to make a monster ginger bread house!)

German lifestyle


18. They Blow up Fire Works here like they’re Harmless.

Spend NYE in Germany and you’ll swear you’ve stepped foot into the middle of a war zone.

German lifestyle


19. They have LEGAL bonfires? Crazy!

Okay – perhaps not in a central city like Dusseldorf, but Freiburg in the black forest was never a problem. (please note: I will not be held liable if you select an illegal destination for a campfire and face fines – burn at your own discretion)

German lifestyle


20. They eat Sandwiches for Breakfast.

German lifestyle


These are all things that I found bizarre during my very first week in Germany. Of course, as a Canadian, there will be a number of things that I found odd that you don’t. I’m curious though! What do you think the weirdest/coolest/most bizarre things/traditions in Germany are? 

Do you have more questions about living #LifeInDüsseldorf? Feel free to send us an email with your question at If you have tips you’d like to share with others, we’re also accepting guest posts which include the author’s name, bio and photo. We look forward to hearing from you!

  1. Reply

    Herr Marktwert

    August 4, 2016

    What we also have is a whole bundeland so large devoid of people (Brandenburg) that you can LARP a round of Fallout with no problems. Ruins of old Industrial sites and all.

    Well ok, its a bit more green than Fallout….


  2. Reply

    Kristine Leisinger

    March 6, 2017

    Loved this! I think you basically captured many of the things I found perplexing when I first moved here. Funny how quickly you end up adapting and loving the German way. Another Observation I’ve had is the obsession with opening and closing windows during business meetings. I estimate this ritual must occur every 1,5 hours (in conjunction with a Kräuter Tee/ Kaffee Pause) or the Germans turn to stone.

    • Reply

      Jenna Davis

      March 6, 2017

      Haha, Kristine, your comment was absolutely amazing! I never actually thought about the opening/closing of windows during meetings, but I giggled reading your comment… because you are SO RIGHT.

      It is amazing how quickly we adjust to new ways of living. Sometimes when I fly back to Canada, I realize how strange some things in my home country are as well (now that I’m so well adjusted to life in Germany).


Jenna Davis
Düsseldorf, Germany

This is our online publication for sharing the best about life in Düsseldorf in a generous and honest way. We spend our mornings writing content and our afternoons interviewing locals, participating in forums and calling businesses so you don’t have to.

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