I recently travelled to Munich, Germany on a recent exchange (1st-9th Feb, 2006). Not knowing what to expect, I found a very different Germany from the text book one you read about (Bavarian Trad Dress, Beer-drinking, Pretzel Eating, Sausage loving etc!). Of course all of these elements were present, but I think a modern German society closely reflects American one, in a lot of ways. Germans are the largest group by ethnicity in United States, so maybe its just German culture prevalent in America?
Here is a short explanation of what I found as I wrote to Family, explaining how I was getting on:
Their school system is very different. Students talk over teachers, play with their mobile phones or throw things at one another! Its a continous assessment system with A-F represented by numbers 1-6. I have had a trip to Friedberg (Watch capitol of Europe once) and a brief visit to Augsburg(guided tour with trip). Also visited Dachau KZ (Konzantrationslager - Concentration Camp) its very sad, the words “Arbeit Mich Frei” (Work will set you free) are on the front gate. Lots of people were there, but you could literally hear a pin drop. I also visited Bavarian Alps, got a ski lift to a traditional restaurant they were all dressed in green and white! Got loads of photos! English usage is very heavy, most Germans have a good command of it, the radio plays exact same songs as ours.
I am also getting on great with all the girls (mostly girls chose to go), now that I have seen what there really like, there even sounder outside of school. I get a bus to school with Jens (My Exchange Student), sometimes his mother drives us. It is very cold here -10c most of the time. Snow can be upto 1m high, then again I am told they get nice summers! Turkish influence is very noticeable, every town nearly has a kebab shop. Houses here are a lot cheaper(than Ireland)! Approx 3 times size of my house is only €20,000 more. I should have photos soon!