Cultural differences? Germany vs. Canada
Nadja Sayej

Okay, okay. So there may not be a huge difference between living in Berlin or living in Toronto. But when it comes down to the subtleties – or cultural differences – you may notice a thing or two.

Scenario: It’s Christmas. You’ve got to get your family some presents before it’s too late. Where do you go and what do you buy?
In Germany: The Christmas Markets flood the streets of any German city, from Dresden to Leipzig and Düsseldorf selling “glühwein” the heated equivalent of red wine, ornaments, bratwurst on a bun and knitted, wholesome handmade goods. From Coburg to Bremen, Christmas markets are an ongoing tradition in Germany, and even though it’s really cold outside, everyone is standing outside greeting and selling their wares.
In Canada: Go to the mall.
doener_rosenthaler_platz_250px.jpg Scenario: You’re hungry. Like super hungry. There isn’t time to sit in a restaurant and wait around for your food to arrive – you’ve got to chow down now. Which fast food can you snag right away?
In Berlin: What about a döner kebab? It’s only 3€ and filling enough to get you through the next few hours. This Turkish special is located everywhere in Berlin – you get a toasted bun (often triangular-shaped) with slices of chicken or lamb, garlic sauce and oodles of vegetables topped off with a generous helping of salt. But be prepared to pay with cash – as most places, at least in Berlin, don’t take plastic.
In Toronto: Go to McDonalds. Pay with your debit card, credit card, or both.
The scenario: You’re grocery shopping. You have to bargain.
In Germany: You have the options of REWE, Lidl or Aldi. I was astounded by the low price of wine – going for 1.69€ especially, but also cheese – like Brie for as low as 1€. I never spend more than 17€ per week on my grocery bill.
In Canada: You have your options of Dominion, Sobeys and the bourgeois Loblaws (okay, No Frills, too). Whenever I walk into any of these places for my weekly groceries, I spent at least $35 getting milk, cheese, meats, and more. But you can get local Ontario products like fish and meat.
me_on_new_years_eve_250px.JPG Scenario: It’s 11 p.m. on a Saturday night and you’re feeling restless, you need to get out of the house.
In Germany: The best parties don’t start till 1 a.m. and the bars close… whenever. I got home on New Years Eve at 7 a.m. and the parties were still going. Still, on weekends, some bars stay as late as their last customer, be it 3 a.m. or later. The parties seem to go on all night here.
In Canada: Leave the house at 11 p.m. and hail a cab at 2 a.m. They’re really strict with their liquor laws here. Hey, who said Germans like their rules?


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NADJA SAYEJ, host of ArtStars*, writes about art for artUS, Border Crossings, C magazine, Canadian Art, the Globe and Mail, the New York Times and was splashed the cover of Eye Weekly as “the next Jeanne Beker.” She was called “Center Stage in Toronto in an Art in America cover story. She is a columnist for enRoute and is busting her ass in Berlin, Germany, and surrounding countries. Follow the adventurous fun on Twitter or her ever-popular Facebook fanpage or even on LinkedIn, as well. artstarstv.com_250px.jpg

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My experience in Germany has been invaluable. In addition to learning German and taking part in another culture, I have learned so much about myself. I am confident that I can thrive away from the comforts of home and that I am dynamic and flexible. This is exactly what today’s employers are looking for – giving me a competitive advantage in the working world.
Kate from British Columbia – working for an international not-for-profit organisation.