On the Saturday before Easter, it’s German tradition to light a huge bonfire – the so-called Osterfeuer, or Easter Fire.
Growing up in the U.S. with people in service roles bending over backwards to cater to customers’ every will in a strange cultural phenomenon called Customer Service, it can be hard to get used to the lack of customer service in European culture at first. Waiters aren’t as attentive, grocery store workers won’t offer to help you find what you’re looking for, and if someone thinks you are wasting their time, they will let you know with a sour look on their face – or they might even tell you so.
I see nothing wrong with this directness – indeed, most of the Europeans I’ve talked to find it refreshing, and are instead distrustful of Americans’ fake smiles and over-friendly mannerisms. While I can’t say I prefer European culture, I respect it was a cultural difference that is – as my friend Tommy would say – neither better nor worse, just different.
However, one cultural aspect I’ve noticed that I DO dislike is how it’s much more socially acceptable, or at least more common, to be completely rude to strangers. Now, #NotAllGermans are like this – I’ve met loads of really nice Germans who are perfectly capable of superficial politeness and passive-aggressive smiles. But already in my short time here, I’ve experienced or been witness to many unpleasant experiences involving usually-older Germans being incredibly and unnecessarily rude to other people, which shocked me as you almost never see that where I’m from.