Europe meets D.C.: WTOP interns share their culture clashes

They traveled 1,230 miles to come to Washington, D.C. — Christine Amdam flew all the way from Norway and Alina Braun from Germany. This fall, they are studying journalism at American University and working as interns for WTOP. They quickly discovered that Washington and the American culture are very different from their hometowns Oslo and Mannheim and decided to document their experiences. Check each weekend to read about Christine and Alina’s “culture clashes.”

American Friendliness 24/7

Alina Braun,

“Hey! How are you doing?”

This is the question I hear the most in Washington, and it represents the greatest cultural difference between Germany and America for me. Coming from Mannheim, Germany, I still cannot get quite used to it.

In Germany, nobody you are not friends with would come up to you on the street, say “Hey, how are you doing?” and start chatting. If somebody did that in Germany, we would probably give the person a weird look and ignore him or her. This might sound really mean. However, Germans do not mean to be rude. It is just our culture. We have our friends we meet and chat with, and we don’t see the sense in greeting “strangers.”

Thus, during my first days here in Washington, I was confused by all the people in stores and on the streets saying “Hey!” to me. It confused me when a waitress introduced herself while waiting on my table at the Hardrock Caf