Last night I was asked what I thought of German people. I explained that, although my experiences with my German flatmate may have made me make outlandish decisions on how I feel about German people, I find them to not have so many strange habits, and are very easy to get along with and are always helpful and friendly.
However, there is one area that most Brits over here will tell you is very annoying about Germany and German people and that is train travel.
To people who are not British, or who have never been to Britain, who have never encountered a British person before – our national sports are queuing, and travel etiquette. So, when we come to Germany and find German people pushing in front of you in a race to be the ones to open the train doors before the train has stopped, or when trying to get off a train you’re faced with a group of people trying to get on the train and so your path is blocked… you can understand our frustration!
I haven’t had much negative culture shock here but I do get a bit passive aggressive when these two things happen to me. I usually stand blocking peoples’ way until they let me off the train, or when someone pushes in front of me to open the door I usually tell them that actually I’m getting off as well. The race to open the door is just comical – they’re like children fighting over who gets to press the button to cross the road.
Train life in general here is very good though. Despite the frequent protests and strikes, the trains are usually on time and reliable. There are no wickets so people are trusted to be holding their ticket, or their monthly card. Monthly cards cost 78 Euros a month but a very good tip is that if you don’t have to take trains before 9am, you can get a “9 o’clock ticket” which only costs 62 Euros. This is a tip that I didn’t know until recently, and a friend of mine complained that I hadn’t instantly shared the information. It’s worth noting that you can have one non-ticket-holding friend with you after 7pm on weekdays and at weekends. More info on monthly tickets can be found HERE.
Although you are trusted to carry your ticket with you, there are of course people who go round and check tickets. I find this quite funny too, because these people dress like ‘normal people’ and as soon as the doors are shut and locked, they stand up and announce themselves. I’ve been here 10 months now and I’ve been checked maybe 5 times in total. If you ask different people, they’ll have different theories on this. I feel I’ve been ticketed more on trams, but other people say they are ticketed mostly on the S Bahn on the way to work. I’ve only had that once though.
If anyone else out there has interesting information/stories about German train life, I’d love to hear them!