I’m a British girl who studied Japanese and English teaching at university, then went on to be a junior high school teacher in Japan for a few years after graduation. After the tsunami happened, I thought it’s probably best if I returned back to somewhere closer to home, but I didn’t want to go back to the UK, so I was so happy when I moved to Frankfurt! I write a blog called Sherbet and Sparkles. Sherbet sounds a lot like Charlotte in Japanese so it was a name my students used to call me a lot.
After being in love with Japan then getting heartbroken every time culture shock happened, I came to Germany with absolutely no expectations at all. There are some days when I feel a little like I can’t cope with German attitudes and so on but overall I’ve not had that much culture shock at all. After living in Frankfurt for a year and a half, I decided it’d be better for my integration if I lived with lots of German people, so I’ve been living in a massive apartment with 5 German people for over a year now and I love how much I can learn from them all.
In my experience, German people care a lot about the environment and the impact their actions have on the physical and economical surroundings. However, I feel that German people are often not so mindful of people in their surroundings. Whether it’s someone smoking very near to someone eating, or someone bashing past another person on a shopping street or even being polite to customers in your shop, I sometimes struggle with German characteristics.
The reason why German coldness to other people bothers me so much is because back home I’d say German people don’t have such a good image at all. People still think of WW2 as soon as you mention the country, and lack of humour and rising early to score the best places by the pool would be the next things people think about with German people. But I know from working and living with German people that people here are really amazing. My flatmates are hilarious and my German colleagues are so wonderful. I want more people to see the Germany that I see every day and forget stale stereotypes.
Last year some time I found a really nice German guy. We kept going on coffee dates and I thought he was great – charming, worldly, intelligent…it’s just I had no idea if he liked me or not! After the 6th or 7th date I finally gave up on him. My female flatmates have since told me that in the German dating game women have to be very forward. Their words actually were “if you find a German guy you like, get him drunk and kiss him!” But for me, British guys (and Japanese guys) are usually very obvious if they are trying to take things a step further from coffee dates!