My name’s Kate and I’m a British expat living in Germany. As much as I like a good cup of tea, I decided to leave England in April 2012 in the pursuit of an adventure and discover myself. Along the way I partied in Amsterdam, spent 6 months working in a bar in Greece, lived like the French for a year and finally came to Germany, where I’m slowly transforming into a German with each passing day. I came here to be with my boyfriend (also British), who is now my husband, and have begun to set up our lives here without really realising we were doing it! My husband works in a kindergarten and I am a web designer & travel blogger. Out of everywhere we have been so far, German life is our favourite and we can’t wait to see where this new adventure takes us!
It was ridiculously easy for us to integrate into German society. German and British culture is not so different and being so geographically close, we tend to already know a lot about each other’s cultures before we meet, which I think can really help in social situations. Knowing a British person is overly polite can be useful when they say something is “fine” and you know it isn’t. Equally, knowing a German person can be very direct helps when a polite question is met with a “No”. It takes time to adjust, as all new places do, but I definitely feel at home here and did almost as soon as I arrived!
What I like about Germany is the efficiency. I love it. When I first arrived, I was a mess at the supermarket checkout when I realised I needed to bring my own bag and that I had exactly 30 seconds to remove all my items off the checkout counter. However, now I love that I am in and out of everywhere in 2 minutes and that I never wait more than 2/3 days for a response on anything here. My life has changed here, it’s simpler! I worry about things less, take chances more and despite not being fluent in the language, I understand things more. I guess German life is the way for me!
Can you tell us about a cross-cultural blunder you have committed in Germany?
Pretty much any time I meet a new German person I feel the need to bring up Hitler and WW2. It’s usually over dinner with wine and always ends up with me feeling uncomfortable. The reason why? I feel like it’s the elephant in the room. For the record, it NEVER is. To me, I feel like I want to address it so they know I don’t have any bad blood with Germany about the war. A lot of people my age had grandparents fighting in WW2 and can have grown up with a negative impression, whilst I am not one of them, I feel the need to overcompensate for this. It’s my equivalent of being told not to press the big red button, I just can’t help myself. Luckily, most Germans forgive the faux pas and understand where I’m going. But it’s not without several awkward silences.