Well, this is it, the start of my last week in Europe. As part of my wrap up I'm going to talk about the differences between Germany and America a bit, think of it as the conclusion section of this blog. Today I'm going to talk about some things that are undoubtedly better about Germany (this will be accompanied by pictures of lake Konstanz and its' many ducks).
Keep in mind these are just opinions so you don't have to get all huffy. Also it's by no means a complete list, so maybe I'll add more later when I think of it
1) The whole traffic system. Not only does Germany have the famously speed-limitless autobahn which I've had the pleasure of driving on several times, but everyone follows traffic rules here. I'm not talking about senseless things that you'd get a ticket for in the states but common coutisies that you just usually don't expect. Not a single time, for example, did someone pass me on the right. Traffic in the right lane always moves slower and the left lane always moves faster. If you're in the left lane and someone is coming up really quickly behind you, you simply get out of the lane and then they pass. It's like everyone really has agreed to all this, there hasn't been a single exception. Another thing is that I haven't heard anyone honking their horns. They're all just cooperating to make driving as efficient an experience as possible. How very German of them.
2)Related to above, the laws. They are way ahead of us in social progressiveness in Germany and not just because posession of small amounts of marijuana is decriminalized. They just don't bother with victimless crimes here. I have never gotten a parking ticket in Germany and you'd better believe I've done some illegal parking. Additionally the cops themselves are courteous and helpful, almost as if they got into this job not to tourture teenagers but actually to assist people. I was pulled over once because I was driving poorly. It was really late at night and I was nearly falling asleep. The police officers didn't even test me for drunkenness, they just took my word. Not only that but I got the impression I wouldn't have gotten a ticket even if I were drunk. No harassment, no intimidation, they just helped me. They told me not only how to get to my destination (I was a bit lost) but they even told me of a nearby hotel that wasn't too expensive. Now THAT is a public servant.
3) This is a tough one, but the way they have dealt with their grusome past. Almost everyone here takes the whole WW1, 2, holocaust thing very seriously. The anti-nazi movement is much bigger than the nazi movement, they teach about it in schools non-stop, there are memorials everywhere, and everyone is really, really sorry. More than that though, the government actually admits wrongdoing, and actually pays for it. My grandmother still gets checks from Germany. Classy. I don't see Japanese or African Americans getting any reperations and the bone we threw to the Native Americans is insulting. This is the only way you can deal with a thing like this and they really get it right.
4) Non-standardization. Of buildings, restaurants, stores, people. Nothing is the same here. The rooftops are slanted and the streets are often not a uniform size and direction. People aren't trying to fit in to one particular mold here and you can't find more than one of the same restaurant in almost any town. Sure sometimes you long for the safety of standardization, but most of the time it's oppressive. They have chains here and there, but it's not like America where most small businesses have been swallowed up by enormous chains.5) Environmental stuff. They really take it seriously here, it's something I just assumed people didn't have the capacity for after living in America for so long but boy was I wrong. The amount of recycling is astounding. Every trashcan is subdivided into 3-6 sections and everyone does their part. There is almost no litter and everyone is also conserving water and electricity. It's like someone sat Americans down and told them how serious everything was going to be if they didn't clean up their act AND they actually listened. It really makes me wonder what is wrong with my country that we are so behind on this.Ok, that's all I've got for now I think. I am sure there's more, but this is already like the wordiest blog entry even and this gives you an idea. Love this country, xoxo, Jesse