Unusual things for an exchange student from Olemiss in Germany (1)  



Hi everyone! My next posts are going to focus largely on some of the things I have observed and find atypical or quite different when I compare the student life at Olemiss with that in Potsdam, Germany.

One of the things I observed almost on arrival is to be prepared to take cash around: Here in Germany, most payments are made by cash. Unlike in the US where you would pay for almost anything with a debit/credit card, it is quite the opposite here in Germany.

Displayed price of products in German shops, supermarkets and restaurants is “ final”, as it includes the net cost. Unlike in the US where the displayed costs of products do not include taxes, the opposite is the case in Germany. Someone actually told me Germans MAY feel cheated if the displayed price differs from the amount they have to pay at the counter/ on check-out.

The German “Pünktlichkeit”.  Another thing you are bound to experience is the German punctuality. When the train or bus is scheduled to arrive by 4:00PM, you will see it approach its stop by 3:59 and arrive at the exact time as scheduled; almost punctual to the nearest seconds. Of course, you get an update if there are any unforeseen delays.

If by chance you think you’ll need a personal means of transportation here in this part of Germany, that would be a bicycle. The streets and cities are so well connected with the trains, trams and buses. In Potsdam, I believe the max you have to walk to a nearest bus stop would be 10 minutes. You do not wait too long to catch your bus, train or tram. It is always recommendable to check the schedule and get to the stop on time. If you plan to go somewhere and all you have is the address, just google it and you will get a detailed connection of buses, trains and trams as well as an estimated arrival time to your location. In fact, you will be guided step by step by google maps till you get to your destination. In Germany, you absolutely need no private car to get around daily, including on weekends. In Oxford MS, bet you need a ride to go groceries shopping at Walmart or Kroger on a Sunday.

Be prepared to wonder why and what German describe as a “beautiful weather” if you visit Germany in the late Spring / Summer. Anything from 77 – 94 Fahrenheit is a “beautiful weather” to Germans. Of course, you may not understand why it is described as being beautiful if you are coming from Mississippi. You will learn to love warm weather the way Germans do, if you experience winter in Germany, or early Spring. I realised what beautiful weather was when I experienced low and high temperatures within a month of my arrival in Potsdam. Truly, a beautiful weather is a warm weather with the sun smiling at you, making you smile at others. I personally think the weather affects the mood of the people (Just my opinion).

If you get a SIM card here, it is usually going to be a pay-as-you-go SIM card. You buy airtime to call every time you want to. You do not have the luxury of unlimited calls/SMS as you normally would in the States. You do not have to use a post-paid SIM in Germany and pay monthly bills. I personally find this the pay-as-you-go SIM preferable to paying monthly fees/contracts.

All these are my personal observations. They are all perspectives of an exchange student from Ole Miss. I spoke with Sarah Kaschuba who studied in Fall 2015 at Ole Miss as a graduate exchange student in Sociology from the University of Potsdam and I learned from her perspectives about studying in the US as a German exchange student. Sarah is a great person.  She had been a nice tour guide, advisor and friend.

I will continue the second part! This would include some other observations I have made as an exchange student in Germany which differ slightly or largely from the student-life at Olemiss.

Disclaimer: All these observations are purely subjective 🙂

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