So when you live outside your home culture, you can't help but notice cultural differences, and one of those things is what people are good at. There are certain generalities that can be made ... of course, it's not true about every single person (I don't think opening a beer bottle with your teeth is a genetic trait), but there are common learned skills. In the last few years I've noticed quite a few things that Germans tend to be good at, including the following:
This one is a little obvious and doesn't really require further explanation. I mean, everyone knows the German national team is the best in the world - or at least they soon will! Okay okay, don't want to jinx Sunday.
2. Football Fandom
What the world doesn't know is how great the German fans are. They are supporters in the extreme (one in three Germans watched the semi-finals on Tuesday. Certainly, everyone I know watched it). Football fandom crosses gender, economic, and social lines. People are passionate about football; they know the sport, the players, and the stats. They support their national team with fervor and class. Even when they're drunk.
3. Opening Beer Bottles
Okay, now we're getting into the real nitty gritty stuff, but these are the things I really notice. Germans are good to have around at a barbecue or a picnic, especially the spontaneous type where someone forgot to bring a bottle-opener. Because these guys can always figure it out - using a rock, another beer bottle, or even their teeth.
Everyone in Germany can somehow still do basic math in their heads without a calculator. The waiters and waitresses at restaurants will quickly add up your bill for you, and well, everyone can still add and subtract. It shouldn't be remarkable, but in this day and age it just kind of is.
They have to pay a lot and take a lot of lessons before getting their licenses, so it better be worth it!
6. Staying Slim
You don't see many overweight people here, which is kind of a miracle considering how much beer, meat, and potatoes are consumed in this country. But it's real food, not processed crap, and Germans are active, and they practice restraint in their everyday lives. Apparently that's the secret?
Well, first, they're just generally good at winter sports, which includes sledding. Germans own high-quality wooden runner sleds and they start sledding as small children and continue on into adulthood. And these sleds are fast and the courses are dangerous. And it's all just really awesome.
8. Bargain Hunting
I have to premise this point by the fact that there aren't actually any really good bargains in this country. It's an unfortunate truth: 20% to 30% off is about the best sale you will ever find. But, Germans know about all of those sales and they price compare every single thing before they buy. And they do some serious shopping in the U.S. while on vacation, because they know where to find the real deals.
Well, that's a random grab bag of things to be good at, but all very admirable. I'm taking lessons.