Coming to Germany? Heard some things about how they operate and you’re a bit nervous? Doing none of those things, but Germany interests you? You have come to the right place. When I first came to Germany in 2015, I was shocked at the way the people operate. I use the word operate pretty deliberately here. Maybe even function would be an appropriate word..
These are the behaviors that I noticed of the native species and how they might stress you out a bit..
[Side note: none of these are meant to be taken negatively. I actually do most of these things now as well, and have come to realize how crucial they are to keeping Germany, well, like Germany. If I didn’t love Germany, I wouldn’t be here. These things stressed me out when I arrived, but now I write this and laugh.]
The German stare:
This is something that you notice very quickly in Germany, especially if you are speaking anything other than German in the train. There isn’t much talking in trains and most people is either listening to their headphones or reading a book, but there are a few people who just sit there and are doing some pretty intense people-watching.
Making intense eye-contact in Germany is just something you’re going to have to get used to, and if you’re not careful, you’ll start doing it too. Play a little game if you are on some type of public transport: look around and when you catch some intense eye-contact, don’t break. Just stare. See how long it takes before they look away.
My max is 30 seconds…a long 30 seconds…
This is typisch deutsch. This probably doesn’t surprise you, but it still might stress you out.
I was invited out to dinner with an old colleague the other day and she texted me the info. She sent me the menu for the restaurant, the time to be there (1830), and confirmed at least 3 times before the actual meeting. I asked her if I could invite a few other friends, so that she could meet more americans before I move, and she kind of short-circuited.
“ok, sounds good, but I only made a reservation for 2 and i hope they have space. Your friends can sit nearby if there is no space right? should we change restaurants?”
I immediately took it back and said no worries, it can just be us. I don’t need someone breaking down at dinner over seating arrangements…again.
We arrived at the restaurant to find it basically empty. She said she has never seen it full before but just wanted to be sure *face smack* This has happened to me a few time, I have just learned to roll with the pre-planned punches.
Calendars for everything
When I was an au pair, it was to 3 beautiful, wonderful, almost robotically smart children and their mom..even more so. She was a planning machine. What do planning machines more than food? Calendars. For what? Everything.
The boys had a calendar for school events, one for extracurricular activities (soccer, karate, piano and tennis), she had one for work, household chores and for when the husband traveled, and I had one that had my schedule and when there would be guests over.
The logical thing would be to combine all calendars, so you could see everything you had to do on a particular day. Nope. Tried that, there isn’t a calendar alive that can cope and Germans are notorious for not wanting to use technology.
If it is not on the calendar, it wont get done and if it doesn’t get done, the world will end.
Welcome to Deutschland.