Traveling to Germany, I wasn’t expecting too much of a culture shock. They have a similar youth culture, cafes and pubs, and in the state of Baden-Württemberg, they have a close connection to nature and trees -- something I’m quite familiar with being a native Oregonian. Naturally there has been little differences here and there, but the culture shock I did experience happened in class one day. My Professor was discussing with us his time in America fifteen or so years ago, and he told us about a strange moment he had at a coffee shop. “For here or to go?” they asked him. He stared at them blankly. “What, to go? Why would I want my coffee to go? I came to this café to enjoy a cup of coffee, I don’t understand why I would want to take it with me.”
While there is certainly the option to get your coffee to go nowadays in Germany, this type of mentality is still an integral part of German culture. Unlike Americans, they are not ones to multi-task. They complete the task at hand efficiently and attentively, not allowing themselves to do a half-as-good job on man y things at once. When they go somewhere, such as a café, they take their time with it. There isn’t this feeling of needing to rush to the next item on the agenda, a blindsided American cultural trait that even I didn’t realize I exhibited until I came here. Looking around at the laughing people in cafés and restaurants, those who spend hours talking, eating, smiling, and drinking, it became clear that this laid-back atmosphere is one that I quickly wanted to adapt to.
And that I have. I take my time with meals, especially when I’m with other people. No longer is there a feeling that I am inconveniencing the establishment for staying long after my meal or drink is gone. No longer do I get food or drinks to go (except for those mornings that require just one more cup of coffee), instead I find a place I like and enjoy my time there.