A very popular opinion about Americans is that we are lazy. I have lived in America practically my whole life and I would not use the word lazy to describe our culture, but rather we live conveniently. America is a huge country and we love our comfortable lifestyles (most). From my research, Germany is a doing culture and from living here for quite some time, I concur.
The one thing that I wish America would revert back to, from my time here in Germany, is the ability to enjoy the outdoors. I live in Lich and every single house is covered with plants, vegetables, or flowers of some sort. Adults and the elderly are constantly in their gardens doing work (backyards or front yards in America) and making sure their homes look good. Children are outside playing games, walking with their parents, or the whole family is riding their bikes.
In Frankfurt, the majority of locals are walking or riding bicycles. Even business men and women are riding their bicycles to work in the early morning hours. The coolest experience to observe is during the lunch hour. Locals are walking to their favorite food destinations and are either standing and eating or walking and eating.
Measuring success is very important and I have witnessed this daily during my internship at Zechbau. These employees literally work until the majority of their work is completed each day. Some start at 7am and sometimes don’t leave the office until 7pm. If they have a lot of work, some may come in on a Saturday or Sunday to complete it.
Even locals in the food industry are “doing” citizens. This is exemplified by the several bakeries and meat shops on every corner, which is rarely seen in the States. To make sure the town has fresh food to eat each day, the markets, bakeries, and meat shops are open early and provide fresh food.
My host mom is the biggest German “doer” I have ever set eyes on. She goes to the market every day to purchase fresh food for our lunch each day. She even sometimes goes to the bakery early in the morning so that we have fresh bread to eat for breakfast. She prepares a hot lunch every day and is in the kitchen preparing it for half the morning. Even my host father is a great example of a German “doer.” He works all day Mon-Fri and still has the energy to mow the lawn, fix things around the house, and run errands for his wife or kids.
Success in the German business world is monitored very similarly as in the States. Producing quarterly reports, employee evaluations, and customer satisfactions scores, all help businesses analyze their profit and loss. But the gap between the doing behavior of the German culture as a whole and the American culture as whole, is unprecedented.
Americans find satisfaction going to the store to purchase everything. From my observation, Germans find satisfaction doing things on their own. Whether it is mowing their lawn, gardening, cooking meals, making clothes, or just enjoying the outdoors. As an American, I am already greatly influenced by the doing nature of the German society and love it. The culture has already taught me to value doing things on my own and taking a few minutes out of the day to truly embrace the environment around me. Once again, I chose Germany because I had prior connections and only spending 27 days here four years ago. I am blessed to have returned to spend several weeks here and enjoy most host family.