In the U.S., “Hi! How are you?” and “Hey! How’s it going?” are commonly used as greetings and pleasantries (for example, when passing by someone in a hallway) so it can be a surprise when the person you are asking in Germany responds with anything besides “fine” or “okay” and start telling you how they are (because of course you just asked them). And it can be awkward (and even rude) if you don’t stop to talk and keep walking past them, because you expected the chat to end there. This habit I still fall into sometimes (even after some months here), but now most times when I ask, I am planning on having a real conversation. (dl)

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