Just in time for April Fools’ Day we proudly present you a practical summary (with some practical jokes in it) of what our interview partners from the past six months have told us about Germany and the Germans. Yes, you will find some stereotypes in here, you might even get annoyed by them, or laugh out loud instead. But remember: there is a little bit of truth in every joke… OK, just kidding.
50 things you need to know before you move to Germany
1. There are lots and lots of unspoken rules in Germany and you learn by messing them up.
2. Germans will know that you are foreigner. I don’t know how they do it, they just do.
3. German sense of humor is somehow different…
4. Don’t expect to get a smile when you are in a public office.
5. Germans are very traditional, very hierarchical.
6. Germans have an extra layer of formality when communicating. By extra layer I mean a really thick layer of all those unspoken rules you will break on the first months of your stay.
7. Germans are rule-oriented in every aspect, most Germans wait when the traffic light turns green.
8. Prepare yourself for the lack of flexibility in rules and regulations. In Germany rules are rules and they are meant to be followed.
9. German punctuality means arriving at least 10 minutes before the appointment.
10. German language is one heck of a trouble. And don’t worry about messing up the tenses or articles. You will be understood, but corrected.
11. Stereotypes about Germans might be true, but they have to be tested every time. Not all Germans are “German” to the core. Maybe just a little bit…
12. You will meet many overqualified expats who are doing crappy jobs.
13. German people are tall and big. Or you are simply taller and bigger.
14. They have a great sense of society.
15. Things are usually in order and work, but, surprise surprise, you will discover that Germans are not always efficient and they DO make mistakes here too.
16. There is much more trust between people. People will return you your lost keys or wallet.
17. The German food leaves much to be desired, but don’t worry you will still be able to find something good to eat in restaurants… Like Sauerkraut…
18. Learn to love pork – in all its incarnations. Learn to love Wurst and Sauerkraut. There’s no chance you can escape them.
19. The weather is unpredictable… You will miss the hot summers and snowy winters. Unless you come from Belgium or UK….
20. German people are direct and cold at the beginning. Well… not always only at the beginning: it might take a lifetime to a real make German friend.
21. Germans are cautious about new things.
22. Germans usually do one thing at a time.
23. German literature is something to be proud of.
24. Just like everywhere in the world, you will meet both good and bad people.
25. For many Germans the weekend begins at 2 p.m. on Friday. You don’t believe that? Good luck with calling an office on Friday afternoon!
26. Germans are eco-friendly. Learn how to recycle. Before you know it you will be happily recycling everything from glass bottles to paper towels.
27. Learn not to interrupt or jump into a conversation. Germans wait to speak until the other person has finished.
28. Get used to the idea that you’d have to go grocery shopping to more than one shop. German supermarkets don’t have EVERYTHING in it.
29. There is lots of paperwork waiting for you/waiting ahead… lots and lots of it. More than you can imagine, actually.
30. Dogs are nicely treated and allowed in most of the hotels and restaurants.
31. Germans are hard working, but they know how to celebrate life.
32. But celebrating life is as regulated as the rest of the things in Germany. There is time to be happy and friendly and time to party. One of those times is Karneval.
33. Most Germans speak English, and when a German tells you he speaks only a little bit of English, don’t believe him, his English is perfect!
34. Rentals often include a rental fee…. How annoying is that?
35. On Sundays shop are closed, but the museums are open.
36. Germans are a mailing and calling country. If you need to contact a person, don’t email, just pick up that phone and call!
37. Sauna = naked! That’s a rule!
38. Germans are not spontaneous. Make appointments with them to do pretty much everything! Including going for a coffee break. OK, I’ve might have exaggerated a bit…. Or maybe not.
39. Especially for Americans out there: there is NO personal space, people stand very close to each other.
40. Germans might overstep their boundaries in regards to commenting…. It has to do with that sense of community we talked about earlier.
41. And be aware: there’s a big chance they will let you know immediately if there is anything that disturbs them. That includes: standing, walking, talking, sitting, parking, cleaning, bringing out the garbage, etc., in the wrong place and/or time.
42. Germans have a culture of negativity… they often try to find a hair in the soup.
43. They love their cars, they are holy for them. An average German washes his car up to 10 times a year!
44. They have lots of holidays.
45. German men tend to be very shy and don’t take a first step…. You might feel like you are not noticed as a woman.
46. German women tend to wear jeans and are a bit more aggressive than elsewhere in the world, at least according to some of our male interview partners.
47. Germans separate their private and work life…. Don’t even dare to call your colleague after working hours!
48. Germans and queuing do not mix.
49. You will never fit in, you will be tolerated and accepted…. Oh let’s face it: you will always feel a bit different.
50. What for me is heaven, can be hell for you. But you’ll get accustomed to almost everything in Germany.