Culture Shock: When it’s hard to be a German Overseas

We Germans are known for many things. Our diligence, our conviction to make quality a priority, our scientific and cultural mind, our historical heritage, as well as World War I & II, our technological contributions to the world, like the car and engines, and last but not least soccer, cakes and beer, of course. 

This post is free of judgement. I pretty much write as I see and experience it without judgement.

So what most Germans usually aren’t famous for is being great in adapting or adjusting anywhere, especially not to overseas customs or foreign language accents.

I’m not only talking about us too often trying to set a German standard wherever we make camp in the world but the inability to relax, adapt, be open and let things flow. So if you meet a grumpy German in an Australian, or Indian supermarket, now you know. 😀

For a German, it’s pretty tough adjusting to people coming late (Australians usually come 15-30min late on regular dates, and at parties about 1-2h). If you’re German, my advice is to cook later than you think you should cook, then the food will be ready when the guests arrive. If you’re invited for dinner, I found most Aussies start cooking when you actually arrive, not having even begun. Strange, eh? So we Germans have several options here: either we’ll go there with our own food, eat before we come, or prepare ourselves for a late dinner (and ask for nibblies).

 Hm, and don’t get me started about eating bad, cheap bread, terribly iced cakes or super spicy food (borrowed from Asian countries), or worse the combination of all three.

Drinks? Usually, when I announce that I don’t like alcohol, especially not beer, that I had never been drunk in my life, the reaction are bulging eyes.

It is hard to accept you won’t have a traditional German Christmas, meet the efficiency one is used to from home, or to constantly being reminded of our traumatic past. It doesn’t matter if we were there, responsible or not. And as if no other country has messed up, with anyone before. Right? Shall I name some countries?

No, being a German is sometimes rather tricky. We’re always looked at through a certain type of glasses, expected to behave, look and ‘drink’ a certain. In the movies, we’re portrayed as blonde military brutes whose language is as hard and sharp as rocks, or emotionless scientists that have no regard for human life, and it’s kind of bugging me.

The hardest part is that I see myself through other people’s eyes, and imagine what they must connote when hearing of my background.

The truth is, it seems to depend on to whom I’m talking. Older people appear to be most cautious. Middle aged people look at us usually with admiration for our German accomplishments in various industries. Young folks see us as experts in drinking and partying Love-Parade style.

This gives me hope. The apprehension about us Germans seems to go extinct, and younger generations form their own views and opinions uncoloured from most past events.

We Germans are awesome company, especially if we left Germany. In my area, the Northern Rivers in NSW, Australia, many Germans have settled. Sometimes I think someone must think we’re planning this and soon take over. However, most of us Germans here are rather unconventional and behave very NOT-GERMAN like, so if it as not for their horrible German accent, no one would know.

It seems like we are slowly adapting, we Germans. I even catch myself eating that horrible white bread and to come late. A lot late, not just 5 minutes.

Because otherwise, I’ll have to wait until everyone else turns up. So yeah, there’s a plan to my tardiness. Because let’s face it, I’m German. I’m organised.

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Hey, thanks for contacting me. I will get back to you as soon as I can. Have a lovely day, Jolene

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