In an earlier blog I wrote about the many little differences in daily culture that can sometimes frustrate expats in German-speaking Europe. I listed 15 “Kleinigkeiten” that may or may not be minor matters – from traffic signal placement to the bare kitchen. But today we’ll discuss a different sort of pesky cultural difference, and how to cope with it.
This almost exclusively concerns US-Amerikaner (as the Germans so accurately say). It so happens that we US Americans are the last of a dying breed: people who do not use the metric system. The United States of America is one of the few places left on earth where average people still measure things in feet and inches or yards and miles. Americans are also left out in the cold when it comes to measuring temperatures. No one else uses degrees Fahrenheit any more. Even the British have moved on to the Celsius system, although in their muddling way road signs are still in miles and you can still order a pint of beer. Metricizing (metricising) has its limits in the UK.
Metric measure is not a problem for non-Americans moving to Austria, Germany or Switzerland. Even the Canadians went metric back in the 1970s. (It is only commercial and cultural ties to the US that keeps some vestiges of non-metric alive in Canada.) Because metrication never really caught on in the US, we Americans are handicapped when we leave our familiar shores. READ MORE »