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“Just 30 cents - she didn’t do that much, after all”

“Just 30 cents - she didn’t do that much, after all”

Jesler in Freiburg

“Germany and The Netherlands are basically the same.”

Secretly, I used to think that too. Oh, how wrong I was. Just one example: the legendary German Trinkgeld.

Whenever I ask a German about the tipping culture over here, I always get the same answer: “It’s not as bad as in the US.” By now, I think they’re more trying to convince themselves than me.

After a little over a week of close observations, I’ve come to the following conclusion: you tip 5-10% of the initial price - more if it was really good. In general, you do this by rounding up the price. So, if something costs 4,20€, you pay 4,50€. 5€ if you’re feeling fancy.

To me, this came as a major surprise. I never learned how to tip - during my teens I lived in China, where tipping is simply not done, and sometimes even considered rude. I took over the Chinese perception that tipping is a way of saying that the waiters/waitresses are not paid enough.

Then came Maastricht, where the whole tipping question somehow passed me by. In retrospect, I might be on a couple of black-lists across Maastricht because I hadn’t adopted tipping as a habit. 

Enter Freiburg: all of a sudden, I’m painfully aware of tipping and tipping enough. The beautiful idea of restaurants and bars being cheaper than in Maastricht shattered, and by now I probably overtip just not to get on another black-list. Though, in a city filled with over-tippers, I doubt my effort even gets noticed.

Let me illustrate the extents we’re talking about here by using my housemate - who works as a waiter - as an example: He makes 10 Euros an hour, which means that during a normal shift from 6 to 10pm he earns 60 Euros. Seems fair, right? Well, on top of this, he earns an additional 30 to 40 Euros just in the form of tips. Doesn’t seem too shabby to me.

“Just 30 cents - she didn’t do that much, after all.”

This is what a fellow UCFer tipped for a 3,70 Euro glass of wine (rounding it up to 4 Euros).

The culture shock has officially started. 

Jesler van Houdt



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