Welcome to Germany, a neighbor to nine bordering countries and the land of beer, bratwurst and history. Germany has a long and complex political history, and locals have struggled to put the events of the WWII period them. Many Germans are reluctant to express any national pride even today, but the country is full of cultural richness. The country is famous for the Black Forest, cuckoo clocks, chocolate, cars (Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen), wienerschnitzel, sauerbraten, sauerkraut, beer, wine, and schnapps. Germany is a democracy. There is a president, but his role is more or less ceremonial. The true head of government is the chancellor. The official language is German, though English is widely taught and often spoken as a second language.
German families have an average of two children. Furry friends are fairly common for people who own their own home or live in suburban areas, their favorite pets including dogs, cats, birds, and hamsters.
Family time and charitable donation or volunteering is common. Recycling is also widely practiced in most places.
Germany is a meat-and-potatoes country, although recently a healthier diet has become popular. A typical meal contains a lot of fresh bread, meat (very often pork), and potatoes. A typical breakfast might be granola (muesli), bread with cold cuts, and a cup of coffee.
Secondary education is a three-track system. Upon the completion of primary school, pupils, with the recommendations of parents and teachers decide which track to pursue and, therefore, which school to attend.
The three types of school are the Hauptschule (short- course secondary school), the Realschule (intermediate school), and the Gymnasium (academically oriented high school).
The Gymnasium takes nine years and is the highest level of secondary education. Gymnasium graduation is a prerequisite for university entrance.
Teenagers are similar to those in the U.S. – they like to meet friends, go to parties, play sports, date, go to movies, go shopping, etc. Going to dance clubs is probably more common for German teens than Americans.
Team sports, bands, and orchestras are not usually a part of school activities. Students who like sports or music usually belong to community- based clubs, which are very popular and cater to all ages.
Teens start dating in groups when they are 13-14 years old (going to movies together, etc.). When they are 15-16 they often begin steady relationships.