Germany has a lot of laws and rules that are sometimes difficult for us to understand, but if you know the reason why it is that way perhaps it will be easier to live with. Germany is about the size of Oregon with a population of about 80 million people (1/3 the population of the US). They must have laws in order to live so close together peacefully.
Monday through Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. there is a lunchtime quiet. In the evening you are not permitted to mow the lawn after 8 p.m. General evening quiet time begins at 10 p.m. SUNDAY ALL DAY (includes lawn mowing, car washing, loud children, stereo or radio (loud)--if it can be heard outside your dwelling or vehicle it is too loud.)
If you live in an apartment building, you cannot grill on the balcony, you must be at least 8 feet away from the building; depending on the direction of the wind, maybe further.
Windows and Stairwells
You must keep your stairwells and windows clean. If you don't have time to clean all your windows, at least clean the ones facing the street.
Garbage and Recycling
Germans are concerned about the environment, so you'll notice a significant difference between trash collection here and back in the States. For one thing, your trash and recycling are collected much less frequently--because you're expected to generate less of it.
In most communities, your refuse is collected once a week--and different materials are collected each time. Your city will provide the refuse containers. For example, your paper may be collected once a month at the beginning of the month, your biodegradables may be collected once in the middle of the month, and your trash may be collected the alternate weeks. The Housing Office or your landlord can give you specific information about your town's collection schedule and how to sort waste.
You must take glass to special collection centers or back to the store where you bought it. Many communities have receptacles set out for you to sort your glass--clear, brown and green glass go into different containers.
You can take hazardous materials, electronic scrap and appliances to one of the military recycling centers at Ramstein, Pulaski or Sembach. Each city has special days for collecting bulk items like furniture and carpets.
Contact information for recycling centers:
Ramstein: DSN 480-4191 or commercial 06371-47-4191
Pulaski: DSN 489-6473 or commercial 0631-536-6473
Sembach: DSN 496-6392 or commercial 06302-67-6392
Hours of shopping are difficult to get used to at first. During the week, the shops stay open until 8 p.m. On Saturdays, they normally close about 4 p.m. Most shops do not open on Sundays. In January and July, the shops normally have an end-of-season sale.
Flea markets are great fun as are the antique markets. The markets are quite festive and have lots of good food and drink as well as lots of "stuff" to see. They are usually held on the weekends and usually go until 4 p.m. There is a list of flea market dates and places in the Kabel magazine.
There is also a unique custom in Germany called Sperrmull--to Americans it means "junking." In most villages, there are two days a year that are dedicated to this custom. Everything that is no longer of use or not wanted and won't fit in the regular trash is put out on the street for pickup (furniture items, etc). However, if someone else wants it, they are free to pick it up and take it with them. This is fun to participate in and as much fun to watch. Many communities have adopted a policy where you call and get told a specific date for when your Sperrmüll will be picked up. Contact the German American Community Office
or your individual community administration for more details.