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Five differences

5 Things in Madeira, that are completly different in Germany

First of all, I have to admit there are way more than five things that are completly different in Germany than in Madeira and it is most liky impossible to write all of them down. For me, as I am living now already 6 month here on Madeira and lived nearly my whole life in Germany, there are some small things that not only I find remarkable, but also german tourists were noticing.

Obviously there are several things that the Germans are well known for, e.g. never to cross a red street light, and you don’t have to lived there for several years to realise that there are big differences. But I tried to focus on small things, that are neither better in Germany or Portugal, things that are just different.

1) Students carry most of there books in their hands

As I was working my first month here in Madeira in the Armazém do Mercado, which is right next to the Jaime Moniz School, I was seeing everyday students passing by, most of them carrying there books in their arms, not in their school bag. For me, this was something completly different, which I just have seen before this in Brazil. Last year I graduated from the High school myself, so I know, that this is not common at all in German schools. Maybe it is due to the heat that the back would start to sweat, with all those heavy books that students have to carry, while in Germany your hands would freeze during winter, if you would carry your books in your hand?

2) The queues in Madeira are way longer

When on my first day I bought some food at the local super marcket, I felt unlucky, as I had the feeling to arrive in the rush hour of grocery shopping. When I came back the other days, I realised that I never was so wrong. Eventhough most check outs were open, it took me (compared to Germany) ages to finally get the possibility to pay. First I was really frustrated that I have to stay all that time in the queue, but after a while I realised how relaxed most of the Madeiran were. This calmness is something really beautiful…unless you are actually under pressure to be on time.

3) The small talk when you meet people

The small talk is something that is so natural for most of the Portuguese (and southern countries in general) that they most likly don’t know what I am talking about. It is the fact, that wherever you are, in the backery, in the bar or just on the street. When you meet somebody quickly and you don’t want to talk or don’t have the time for the conversation, the Madeiran always ask if everything is fine. It is a really nice thing and something that the northern countries should deffinetly adopt.

4) Dentinho

Another amazing thing here on the island is the simple fact that nearly every time that you order some beer or coffee you a also get a small snack. It is really rarly that you get this in Germany, eventhough you pay way more for your drink in a restaurant than you do here.

5) The restaurants are closed on sundays, but the supermarkets are open.

That is something totally different in Germany. As a lot of Germans go out on Sundays with the family to have a fancy dinner, so all restaurants are open on sundays. When I was my first weekend here and wanted to go to find something nice to eat, as I forgot to buy some food for the day, I found out that most restaurants were closed. I was really desprite, until somebody told me that I simply could go to the supermarket, which is open all day.

All in all those differences are really small, but especially this small differences make it worth it to make a voluntary service. There are tons of things to discover and even after 6 months I still found out new things, which make the madeiran culture so intersting and worth it to discover.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Jan Michel Kühn was born in Brazil, but lived nearly all of his life in Germany. He finished High School in 2016, without knowing what to study at University. For think a bit about his future path, he deciced to make a Gap Year. He is since September 2016 in Madeira, working in the tourism department of AAUMa.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.
We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.