My name is Irene Rodriguez. I come from a small town in Spain. Years ago I made up my mind to live in Germany, as soon as I finished my Studies at the University, I started to learn German and went to Berlin for a few months. I came back to Spain and soon after in July 2011 I took another plane to Cologne, where I currently reside and work in a Physiotherapy clinic.
The integration process into a host country is something really important to me, but luckily Spain and Germany are two countries that aren’t all that different. We come from the same Continent, we share common history and we also have the same religion…something very noticeable. Of course the culture shock exists, however for people coming from Spain it is not a big deal, as to compare it with someone coming from some Asian country, for example. Integration is never easy and I think many years have to pass to firmly say: “Yes. I’m now integrated in the country.”
There are lots of good and bad things Germany, but if I am asked to highlight just one, I would not hesitate and say RULES, meaning both good and bad. If things are done in a certain way here, that’s it. Don’t try to think differently! You can agree or not, but that’s the way Germans do it, so you have to adapt! And there are no exceptions. For example, if you have to take your car to a garage without an appointment, you can’t just go there, even if the operators don’t seem to have a lot of work they would not take your car just because you did not have an appointment. That’s it, so you just always have to follow the rules!
Spain and Germany are not the countries with opposite habits or values, and the differences are not that big to make you change your life. What’s true is that eventually you have to get used to the things. You know if you have to buy something in a supermarket, that must be before 20 o’clock, otherwise shops will be closed. You learn how to avoid bikes on bike lanes, how to sleep with the day light coming in to your window (especially during summer), you have lunch at 12:30 or even earlier, and you prefer to eat fish only in Spain. 🙂 But at the end, those are just small or tiny details…
More than the cultural shock, what really had an impact on me is to realise and prove that the clichés we have in Spain about the Germans are often a fake. I had heard before that in Germany all movies are never dubbed and until now I haven’t found a film which is not. What about the so-called German efficiency? If the working day is 8 hours, Germans would work 8 hours, not even a minute more. At 10 a.m. they would be at their desk ready to work and at 18:00 they would leave the pen, without finishing what they were doing. Tomorrow will be another day, and don’t think about asking a German for something which is not perfectly in his competence…simply because you would get a big “No” as an answer. They also say that Germans only have holidays on Friday or Monday or that they don’t make long weekends…. what a lie. Holidays are sacred, if it is a Thursday, much better, it means that a few workers would go to work on Friday.
The only stereotype that has been confirmed over the years is that Germans are very stubborn! But to be honest with you, Germany is a great country to live in! The people are nice here and I do not regret to have come over!