When I first came to Germany in autumn 2010, I was surprised by the short opening hours of shops and public services. After having lived half a year in this country I still cannot completely get used to the empty streets after eight pm in the evening – especially in summer when there is still much daylight outside. As I observed, the offices and shops normally close at 7 or 8 pm on working days and even shorter on weekends. On Sundays all the businesses are closed. Back in China, the shops open seven days a week, normally till 21 or 22 pm at night, with extra opening hours during public holidays. Some public service institutions such as banks also open throughout the week. I realized in Germany that I am spoiled by the incredibly long opening hours of businesses in China – that’s also where my homesickness comes from.
Germans seem to differentiate strongly between leisure and working time. So they are normally against working extra hours, sometimes even if it is for a few more minutes. And it is very likely that all businesses are closed on Sundays for religious reasons so that people have time to attend the church service.
In China, people take holidays and weekends as an opportunity to make profit because people do not have time to do shopping during the week days. On weekends it is almost a routine that the whole family goes shopping for clothes, food and all kinds of stuff. On special public holidays such as the spring festival it is a tradition for Chinese go shopping for the new stock for the coming year.
The Germans think public holidays are the time to rest and enjoy themselves with family and friends, so the people who work in the shops also deserve normal weekends and holidays as other people do. There is also a different habit of spending leisure time. In China, it is popular among friends to hang out together in big shopping malls, chatting about recent events.
After my first six months in Germany, I feel already “Germanized” to some extent. I am getting used to rush into supermarkets on Saturdays, stocking up, enjoy the German “tradition” of walking at the Rhein, sunbathing and barbequing at Rheinaue Park or having parties with my IMS fellows on weekends – of course, sometimes I still miss the shops in China, especially on Sundays.