Before the trip, Janet gave us a presentation on cultural differences we should be aware of while traveling through Germany. For example, although it might be tempting for one to release her inner Julie Andrews while hiking through the Alps, Germans are typically quieter than Americans, and singing or speaking loudly in public is not advised.
However, some of the cultural differences have been less obvious and sometimes rather unexpected. When dining out, for example, Germans typically order and then receive silverware from the waiter. This saves the restaurant workers from wasting utensils. When the food comes, one is expected to start eating - even if others have yet to receive their meals. This is because food is greatly valued in Germany, and Germans believe that it is best eaten when it is as fresh as possible. At the end of the meal, patrons are expected to place their silverware off to the sides of their plates (at 4 o'clock) to signify to the servers that they are finished. The communication is subtle, yet key.
I came to Germany with the goal of learning German. Little did I know I'd be leaving here with more than one language under my belt.