#66: Never Tap Water

Scientist Tests Water
Testing Water, Germany

Despite the fact that German tap water goes through more rigorous checks and testing for quality than bottled water, Germans seem to be obsessed with buying their water.

If you are someone who has spent your life grabbing a glass and filling it to the brim with cold water from the tap and taking a big gulp, then in Germany you could land yourself in hot water, because nearly everyone here drinks bottled water.

If you are a guest at a restaurant, asking for a glass of tap water with your meal is pretty outrageous, as in DON’T EVER DO THIS. However you will find that this is not limited to dining, it also extends to being a guest at someone’s home. Nearly every household will be able to offer you chilled bottled water, both still and fizzy, to not have these on hand would be similar to going to a house in the UK and them having no tea!

Culturally in Germany, bottled water used to be a way of displaying wealth and over the years has simply become culturally ingrained, so what this means as a citizen of Germany is that every week, I have to schlep 12x 1.5-litre bottles (18kg) of water through a supermarket, out to the car, then from the car up to my 5th-floor apartment, despite having a ready supply of perfectly healthy, fresh drinking water in my kitchen.

I have to admit though, I am now on board with the whole drinking bottled water thing – not still water, that will always be odd for me, but I have become addicted to fizzy water (Wasser mit Sprudel) . Flat water doesn’t  do it for me anymore and I blame Germany.

Fizzy water used to taste gross, probably because you are waiting for that hit of sugar that you associate with a fizzy drink, but don’t get, it was bottled disappointment.  Now though, it is my nectar, on a hot summers day an ice cold fizzy water is like heaven on your palate… All that plastic though, is not heaven for the environment, hence the German Pfand system – read more about that in my Pfand blog.

#68: Qualifications

5 Years experience? Sorry, you have no degree.

If you want to move to and work in Germany, you had better be qualified. German’s take qualifications VERY seriously and as a result, their whole education system is set up differently from that of the UK, or the USA.

Here in Germany you either get a degree or work as an apprentice in your chosen field in order to gain certification for almost all jobs. This even includes general administrative jobs, like bank clerks, or car dealership workers, it’s not just formal trades like plumbing or carpentry as is popular in the UK.

Without these qualifications, you will find it nearly impossible to be hired for a job. If you did somehow get a job without a qualification, but at a later stage want to go for a promotion, it is highly unlikely you would ever get the job over someone who has a relevant qualification – even if they had little, to no experience.

So how is it different in the UK at least? Well if you have 5 years experience in Estate Agency, versus a University graduate with a relevant degree, your experience is pretty likely to be regarded by the employer as worth as much, if not more, than the degree. In Germany, the person with the qualification would get it.

The disadvantage I see to this, given my very diverse work history, is if you did an apprenticeship in something like Tax advising, then after 5 years want to do something else, essentially, you can’t. You would first have to study and get qualified in order to move fields. I find the whole balance toward education frighteningly restrictive. But then I would, seeing as I am a dumbass college dropout.