I’ve currently been living in Germany for just over 8 months, and so, of course, I believe I’m qualified to share my take on what Germans are REALLY like 😉 So, here we go…
The one thing that surprises me the most is that everything I’ve ever believed about the German efficiency (that they’ve got everything figured out, all systems are top-tuned and no time is ever wasted) seems to be one big, fat lie!
Take their sign-up system for anyone who moves here, for example. In Ireland that took me a few minutes, after setting an appointment and showing up on time. But in Germany, I had to make an appointment – it HAD to be at 7 a.m. when the office opened, otherwise I was told the wait might be longer due to delays – but even that didn’t guarantee me a spot first in line. Also, how can no one speak English in an office where many foreign people go to humbly ask permission to live in Dortmund? So first I waited, then I was finally called into an office, then I gave an official all my details, and then I was sent to wait Again. THEN I was called back in and told to go home and wait for them to contact me. Took 2-3 weeks before I was finally officially an inhabitant. Come on, Germany!
And don’t get me started on the trains! HOW is it normal to sit on a train heading to Dortmund and then suddenly hearing the following message over the speakers: “This train can not stop in Dortmund today. We don’t know yet where we will stop instead. We will keep you updated when we get closer to Dortmund”. Whaaaaaat? Of course the message is only in German, and afterward, no staff walked through the train. Wasn’t until the train reached Münster, the last stop before Dortmund, there was finally more info: “The train will now stop in Münster. Those of you going to Dortmund can either get off here or continue. This train will not stop in Dortmund today. We will see if we can stop in Essen”. I mean, whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?! Thanks for giving me some options, Deutsche Bahn. I either get off the train here or wait with no clue where I might end up. I’d say it’s almost equally appealing. When no one seemed to leave the train, I decided to stay put, hoping they’d caught a bit more of what was going on. While frantically searching on my phone for ways to get from Essen to Dortmund on a Sunday night at 11 p.m. I suddenly hear the next message being announced: “This train will not stop in Essen. We are now in Gelsenkirchen, and all of you traveling to Dortmund should get off here”. WHAT?! I jumped off the train and follow the other confused Dortmunders, and after an extra one-hour train ride (on two different trains), I finally arrived in Dortmund. Kind of – it was apparently not possible for any trains to reach the central station, so I had to make do with another station in the city. I’m now considering if it’s worth going through the system to get refunds on all my delayed train rides that have cost me hundreds of euros… Will it be a quick process? I’m not hopeful 😛
I’ve summarized all the things I’ve learned about Germans from living in Germany – maybe it’ll help those of you considering moving here, so you won’t experience a number of shocks I have 😉 You’re welcome!
– Germans LOVE drinking (beer). Doesn’t matter if it’s Saturday night at a bar or Monday afternoon waiting for the U-Bahn. But especially when going to the stadium to watch football!
– If you don’t speak any German you’ll have a hard time in some of the less touristic cities (they’re taught English in school but many seem either too shy or just unwilling to use it)
– Sooooooooo many bunnies 😀 Happily hopping around in parks, intersections, by the airport, or wherever. Cute!
– An unusual amount of Germans seems to skateboard. Pretty cool!
– Germans loooove ice cream, and I love them for that. Check out an Eis Café (they are dotted around pretty much every city), and you will find a large selection of ice cream desserts, fresh waffles, and other sweet stuff. Try the Spaghetti Eis, which is a huge portion of ice cream that looks like spaghetti – usually with a core of what appears to be whipped cream or something to that effect.
– Yes, it’s true. The people generally do seem a bit cold (maybe because of all the ice cream?), and no, they don’t seem to have a huge amount of humor. Sorry!
– There’s currywurst everywhere. And bakeries. Who fancies some sausages, bread, and beer? That’ll be the Germans.
– The Germans definitely don’t mind smoking in their cars.
I could go on and on, but… We don’t have all day. Unless it’s Sunday because then all supermarkets and shops are closed which will turn many cities into ghost towns, as far as I’m concerned. And then we really do have all day, as there’s not much else going on!
Have anything to add to the list? Or are you German with a need to set things straight? 😉 Please, bring it on!