Expectations between German and American teenagers are distinctly different


Anna Sauer has a different group of friends in both Germany and America, which differ greatly in lifestyle.

Anna Sauer, General Staff Reporter

The expectations between German and American teenagers are different. 

In Germany, school starts in elementary school. That is the time when we have already started learning English. 

In general, German schools are really strict and hard. The teacher should be a respected person and not someone you can talk to as a friend about your free time. 

When students transition to secondary school, it gets pretty hard. In Germany, we have 14 different classes in a week. 

We have to write tests and exams in every class. In main classes like math, German, and English, you will write four big exams during the year. In all other classes, you will write just two. 

The exams are hard. There are no multiple choice questions or filling in gaps. You have to write paragraphs where you say your opinion or you have to write about the things you learn during class and refer to those in a specific situation. 

Those exams take one hour and 20 minutes. When you enter 12th grade, those exams get longer. You will write for three hours. When you get to your last class in the 13th grade, these exams take six hours. Therefore, you have many things to learn. 

I don’t want to say that high school is very easy and nobody expects anything from American students. Many people are involved in sports or clubs. 

After school, you go to practice and all homework needs to be finished when you get home. Your days are also really full. 

However, I feel like there is more pressure in German education itself. In Germany, there are three different kinds of secondary schools. 

Just when you go to the highest level, you are able to get your A-level which means that you have the chance to go to college. Later on, when you try to get a job, people from lower secondary levels don’t have a chance to get a good job. 

That’s why you are basically forced to go to the highest level. There will be no chances to get a good job otherwise. 

On one hand, it is good because you will be prepared when you go to college. But on the other hand, you will miss your own free time as a kid. 

Here in America, I think the Seniors especially have a lot of pressure. I think the parents in the U.S. have more expectations for their children, while in Germany it is the country itself that sets expectations. 

Having a specific ACT score or getting scholarships for colleges are a big deal in the US.

Besides school, there are other differences in expectations. 

Here in the U.S., you are expected not to drink or smoke until you are 21. 

Parents are also really strict about that because it is a law not to drink and you can get in trouble for it, but teenagers do it anyway. 

In Germany, these expectations are a little different. You are allowed to drink when you turn 16. For smoking, you need to be 18. German parents don’t really think it is a big deal to drink alcohol as long you don’t end up in the hospital.

Another point is communication. When you talk to someone, you show respect by saying sir or ma’am. 

In general, people ask how you are or say that your outfit looks good, even when you talk to people that you don’t know. I feel like that is also an expectation from parents and the community to be very kind and friendly. 

In Germany, nobody does that. That’s why I don’t really feel comfortable with that. In Germany, nobody has expectations in the way of communication. 

Of course, you should be respectful to your teachers and your parents, but to be honest, in Germany, especially teenagers swear a lot. It’s not that you are a bad person or disrespectful. Even adults swear. 

In the U.S., nobody cusses. It’s just not a good thing to do. Instead, you use other words in their place. I think this is definitely a parent’s expectation not to swear and show respect. 

Also, another expectation is the church. I don’t want to say that teenagers are forced to go to church, but most people in America believe it’s kind of an expectation to go to church. 

I think that is just not a parent’s expectation. I think teenagers expect it from themselves because they believe. I don’t think it is a bad thing, but nobody goes to church in Germany. 

Most people consider themselves as Christian, but they don’t go to church. It’s just not a thing. 

Churches in Germany are really old, and most of the time, the preachers just read out of the Bible, so you don’t really “learn” what is meant in those situations because they simply read. 

Also, in Germany, parents don’t go to church. That’s why there are no expectations in going to church.

To conclude, I would say that there are definitely differences in teenagers’ expectations. I don’t think that one is better than the other. Everybody grows up differently, so we consider the expectations that we have as normal.