My Likes and Dislikes of Deutschland

by Christina Geyer on September 4, 2004 · 50 comments

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I was pretty surprised at how different Germany is to the US. Before I moved, I expected it would basically be the same, just a different language. I had visited Germany for a whole month and liked it a lot, but visiting and living are not the same. It is very different here and it took me a long time to adjust (I guess I’m still adjusting).

Things I will miss if I ever go back to the US:

1. Cheese selection – I love cheese and they have a lot of it here.
2. Pedestrian shopping areas – I just love walking around and looking at the shops. It’s not even the same as the open air malls in the US (like Reston Town Center). Those still have a “mall” feeling.
3. Market Squares – I like going and buying fresh flowers and fruit here. Sure, there are Farmer’s Markets in the US, but in Germany, they’re there every day.
4. Not paying at the doctor’s office – except for 10 euro per quarter.
5. Bakeries on every street corner – I love good fresh bread. Hard to find this in the US.
6. Eating on a terrace or square – I like eating outside, but there are not that many places that have outdoor eating areas in the US. Most have one here.
7. Good wood-grilled Krakauer sausage.
8. Being able to walk – to the supermarket, electronics store, video rental, bakery, flower shop, department stores, restaurants, doctor’s office, and work. I don’t even have a car half the time because Rainer takes it to Berlin for the week.
9. Unobstructed views – it’s kinda nice having wide open windows with no screens. If you want to stick your head out the window, it’s no problem. The tilty thing is pretty awesome too.
10. Small fuel efficient cars – in general, people in Germany are not driving around in massive, polluting, fuel-sucking monstrosities that are by far bigger than they need.
11. Life satisfaction does not equal material posessions – from what I can tell, German’s don’t have this need to have a bigger house, better car, prettier wife, smarter kids, etc than their neighbors that Americans unfortunately do. There isn’t a whole society in debt here.

Things I will not miss about Germany:

1. Lack of customer service – Some people say customer service in the US can be bad… There is no concept of customer service in Berlin, the salespeople and waiters are doing you a HUGE favor by showing up to work at all, you should be grateful! I was boycotting stores with bad customer service at first, but then I ran out of stores to shop in… in Berlin! Although I’ve noticed customer service seems to be catching on in Rostock.
2. Doggy poop everywhere – Germans don’t scoop poop. I even saw poop in Quartier 204 in Berlin once (VERY expensive indoor shopping area – I was in there looking at the cool architecture, I can’t afford Gucci clothes).
3. Public urination – German men – Okay! – SOME German men, feel urinating on street corners is completely acceptable. There is a field in front of my office window where men are often urinating. Nice work environment! Just to be fair, one of Rainer’s friends told me they saw a woman crouched down taking a dump at a bus stop in Berlin, so I guess it can be both sexes.
4. Doctors – there are some nice ones, but I found these few and far between. Most treat you like you have no brain and I can’t count how many times I’ve been misdiagnosed. not to mention there is often a several hour wait due to the elderly German sport of doctor visiting.
5. Making friends – It seems with Germans that you are either a good friend or you are an acquaintance. In the US, there is a middle stage that allows you to have someone to hang out and do stuff with, without being best friends. I always made friends in the US fairly easily whenever I moved or started work somewhere new. Not here.
6. Junk food – Paprika flavored potato chips and Erdnuss Flippies (peanut puffs). Blah! These are gross. I miss Doritos and Cheetos.
7. “American” food – this is generally pretty gnarly. Hamburgers are usually made from a mixture of ground pork and beef. This is just wrong! I had ribs in an “American Western” restaurant that were marinated in cinnamon and sugar. Just plain strange.
8. Work environment – too strict and formal for my taste. There’s way too many rules and paperwork and hierarchy. Germans generally believe that work life and home life should not overlap. How do you make friends if not at work?
9. A house full of bugs – okay, you get bugs in American houses too, but there are no screens on the windows here and no air conditioning, so in the hot summer, your house gets full of moths, mosquitoes, and flies (lots of them).
10. Over-priced electronics, appliances, and clothing – these things just cost so much more than in the US. My KitchenAid mixer was $179.00 in the US and is priced at €400 here.

Update 21 Aug 2009: I normally like to leave old posts as they stand, since reading through my blog would give an idea of the transformation that takes place as one learns to adapt and love a new country, but this post has been getting a lot of Stumble Upon traffic, and I’ve gotten some negative feedback about my dislikes, so I feel the need to make a few comments here and there on what I now think.  Keep in mind when you read this, that I wrote it after being in Germany for 2 years.  I’ve now been here for 7, so it’s been quite some time.  Also, my experience with Germany, back then, was mainly from living in Berlin and Rostock, so some of my points were regional to be sure.

Dislikes:

1. Customer service – Here, I wasn’t talking about salespeople and waiters not coming up and asking you if you need anything, what I was referring to was a complete lack of help in any way even when it was sought out.  This is more of a Berlin thing, and people are more helpful outside of Berlin, but, an example: when I was looking for a meat thermometer and couldn’t find it in the kitchen supplies area of a department store, I asked a salesperson if they had any.  She sent me to another floor, I couldn’t find any there, I asked the salesperson there, who sent me back to the original area.  I did eventually locate it… on my own.  This kind of thing was common.  It was also common that waiters would be out smoking or stargazing and it would take quite an effort to get anything ordered, and several times we had to ask 2 or more times for the bill and wait 30 minutes till it arrived.

2. Dog poop – Since several months before hosting the 2006 Football World Cup, the German government has been campaigning hard to get Germans to pick up after their dogs.  This campaign has been pretty successful.  Dog poop is around, but it’s not all that common anymore.

3. Urination – This seems to be either a former East thing, or a city thing, or a Prussian thing, as I witnessed it a lot in Berlin, Rostock and Potsdam, but haven’t seen much at all since moving to Bavaria – except at Autobahn reststops.

4. Doctors – This also seems to be a former East/Prussian thing.  I haven’t had to change doctors at all in Bavaria, my first picks, the local ones, have been excellent.  Wait times have also been minimal.

5. Making friends – Face it, Germans, you take a long time to make friends.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that.  Once you make friends with a German, it’s really a wonderful, deep friendship, and you can totally count on them.  I’ve heard a lot of Germans call Americans superficial, because of our style of making friends.  It’s just a cultural difference.

9. Bugs – You certainly can get Fliegengitter – window screens – at the Baumarkt.  I have them now.  I just didn’t spend a lot of time at Baumarkt back then and I never (seriously, never) saw people with them in their windows.  Maybe it is a former East thing, or a 5 years ago thing, not to have them?  At the present, here in Bavaria, they’re pretty common.

  • Alice

    Wow. I know this posting is way old, but it’s SO true! I’ve been here in NRW for 1 year now. My list (if I had one) would be very similar to yours! Is that really why there’s always such a long wait at the docs office???

    Also – I’m looking for where I can buy some american goodies – like maple syrup. Any ideas?

    Thanks! Alice

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina G

    @Alice: It’s interesting, in Bavaria, I hardly ever have a wait at the doc’s office. Must be a regional thing. Also, maple syrup is available in pretty much every store. Check by the honey or in the Bio section. You can find more tips in my food subsitutes post.

  • Donna

    In answer to Alice, Kaufhof has a few american products, as well as of course the English Shop in Köln (if you’re still in NRW).

    As for likes & dislikes, I’m still trying to make myself get out of the house enough to determine those. Great list. You actually made the good outweigh the bad, in my opinion. Which helps, believe it or not.

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina G

    @donna: it gets better with time 😉 I posted this three years ago, I think I’d have a huge adjustment to make now if I moved back to the US. Thanks for commenting!

  • Alison

    So good… what I would really miss if I left would be the bread & pretzels “Brezn” fresh & hot out of the bakery oven… I definitely would not miss the trips to any “Amt” they are all rude and unfriendly because they can not be fired so they have the power and use it! What I miss most is how nice and genuinely friendly the people in the US are (mostly maybe not in NYC but otherwise…) the Germans tend to think this is us being “falsch” but I truely believe that the people from the US are genuinely friendly and want to meet new (especially strangers from Europe) people. Mostly I miss people just smiling and expressing their happiness. Ever hear people on the radio who have won money… no shouting or jumping up and down just oh gee thanks.
    Last but not least TELEVISION all those horrible “reality” shows we love to hate and not dubbed in German with a very horrible non-fitting voice to match.
    Sorry, I just had to get all that out of my system, I feel better now really.

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina G

    Thanks for commenting, Alison. I don’t watch German TV all that much. Too much dubbed stuff. The Simpson “auf Deutsch” is just awful. But as a counterpoint, my hubby Rainer did not have the best experiences at any of the “Amt”s in the US. The DMV doesn’t have the rep of being the happiest place on Earth, right? Glad you feel better 😉

  • Donna

    Lol, true true Christina. I always thought the same at the clinic when getting my children’s immunizations in the States. Govt agencies in the US can be very prudish & rude a lot of the time.

    And Alison, I know what you mean. I miss having people exchange a smile on the street in passing. My husband (he’s german) has noted that if you smile at a stranger here in Germany they think you either want something, or you’re a looney, lol. Today’s a day for me to laugh at it all (tomorrow I might cry). To think there are so many of us here, and we probably pass each other not knowing the other is American and could use that smile, lol. I’d say I’d start trying it (smiling at strangers for the glimpse of another american or just a friendly german), but they might label me as the “town looney that smiles a lot”. :)

  • http://market-oil.ru market-oil.ru

    Нормуль! :)

  • Cy

    Hey Christina:

    I too, am an expat staying in Regensburg ( about 15 minutes away from Old Town by cycling).

    I am a Chinese. One thing I don’t like about German: they all talk to me in German! It’s funny, I obviously am not a German. And, they should know their language is not widely spoken in other parts of the world. What’s worse, some talked to me in Bayericsh dialect.. Go figure..

    What I like about Germany:
    #1. Well built cycling tracks
    #2. Wide selection of breads and beers!

    By the way, there’s a swine flu case in Regensburg. Thankfully everything is under control.

    CY

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina Geyer

    @Cy: Germans all speak German to me too, but I figure it’s their country. 😉 I’ve heard about the swine flu, but it looks like it’s not going to be a big deal (hopefully it stays that way when the flu season starts in the winter). And your likes are very true!

  • Cy

    @Christina:

    It’s funny. Case in point, if a white person live in China, no one will assume he speaks Mandarin/Cantonese. Hence I got a little culture shock here 😉

    For your information, Dult is in town! Not sure when it is going to end though..

    CY

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina Geyer

    @Cy: Yeah, in America, everyone is going to speak English to you (you might be able to get by in Spanish in some parts), and expect that you speak and understand English, so that’s not that different from how Germans think. The Dult usually lasts 3 weeks. I need to go for a visit. I got Oliver Lederhosen last year and it’s a good occasion for him to wear them!

  • Randall

    Hi Christina,

    Enjoy your website and posts. I would love to live in Germany someday but I have issues with my wife regarding the move. I also completed a MA Degree in German last year, so I guess you could say I’m “fluent” too. You mentioned in one of your posts that you were fluent, and I would be interested in what your definition of fluent is. I am 51 years old and also wanted to continue toward the Ph.D. but so far not sure if Vanderbilt will allow me to continue studying part time. Though I earned the MA, I still feel a strange need to “finish”. I’d love to eMail you directly if possible to discuss in detail more about your experiences in Germany. I plan to travel to Munich and Berlin with my son this Saturday. Hope the Spargelzeit is not over yet!

    Randall

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina Geyer

    @randall: Spargelzeit is still in full swing here. My definition of fluent is the ability to smoothly communicate in and understand written and spoken language; to be able to read and write at an adult level; and to be able to carry on a normal conversation with a native speaker. Have fun on you travels!

  • RN

    Love the post…and I can relate to the likes and dislikes. I’m an expat in Vienna now for 8 years. I would seriously suffer culture shock to move back to the US. I even find myself forgetting english words now. And the relatives in the US say I have a strange accent. I love it here, but the one thing I miss is the openness of people (or lack of it here) which means making friends is quite difficult. They have these funny quirks and expectations that I STILL can’t quite put my finger on, and probably never will. They also have a strange sense of humor that isn’t quite humor in the american sense.

  • frank reed

    Great reading on these postings…
    The Bad :Germany is too Rigid and BEAUROCRATIC as I found out by living and working there for a year as a high school teacher.
    The Good: Great Food and drink and a nice way of life. A well traveled and informed polulation. Overall a good place.
    As an ex pat on the move, I live in England were a lot of people and part of the press is very anti German .This gets very annoying as the implication that Germany only existed from 1939 to 1945 gets old real fast. Some of the most ignorant comments are always based on the assumption that Germany is a country full of heiling Nazis. On the other hand the English cant wait to own a German car.

  • http://phdinparenting.com Annie @ PhD in Parenting

    I’m with you on most of this and interesting to read as we confirm that we will be spending 4 months in Berlin next year (so excited!!!).

    The one that I wouldn’t agree with is your #11 on things you like. I think that Germans do have this same need to one-up their neighbours, but they do it quietely. It is not cool to covet and not cool to brag about the great stuff you have…but they will be inwardly smug or inwardly “neidisch” of their neighbours and friends. My BIL always feels the need to explain why he “needs” the new car, new stereo, new couch, new computer, etc. etc. etc. rather than just being comfortable saying “I wanted it, therefore I bought it”.

    Annie @ PhD in Parentings last blog post..You should not be drunk while caring for your baby

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina Geyer

    @annie: I think there certainly are materialistic Germans, but I don’t think they’d make up a majority of the population at all. Most Germans, I find, are pretty happy with what they have and not looking to more things to make the happier. I know quite a few people who don’t even own televisions. It probably depends a lot on location too.

  • Mike

    Just stumbled across this post. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. I’ve been living in a small town near Nürnberg for the better part of 15 years. As for the question of what it means to be fluent in German, I highly doubt it’s possible in a country that has a completely different dialect in just about every town. I was thinking of posting a list of my likes and dislikes but that would take too long. Just remember this is the same culture that gave rise to the terms bureaucracy and futile. Still it’s always interesting living in a place where up is down I is pronounced E and if you give some one a gift they’ll send you to jail.

  • Randall

    Mike,
    What have you been doing in Germany for 15 years? How do you like it? Do you speak any German?

    P.S. If think if you look at Christina’s definition above, one could be fluent, even though there are certainly regional variations in the language.

  • Gerhard

    For me is just the other way around. I lived in the South for 12 years, near Anderson S.C. I miss the frendliness of the people, the southern charme and the no hassle attidude. Here in Germany a lot of people take life way to serious. Is gotten better, but they still need to chill out. I also miss some of the American food, mostly items with Splenda instead of sugar.
    Also a lot of stuff is quit more exspensive here and everybody drives like they own the road.

  • Tim

    I actually liked the “hamburgers” in the town where I lived for a few years. Not really hamburgers, but they were still tasty. I miss the beer, the walkplatzes, how green it all is everywhere, the bad fashion, and the fast taxis.

    Also, I read somewhere that LED lights don’t attract bugs. Something to look forward to.

  • Matthias

    Hm, how can it be discomforting to be spoken to in German while in Germany? I would certainly find it patronizing if people spoke to me in Chinese, English or whatever judging by my looks. There are many more “not-German-looking” Germans thatn you’d think.

  • http://atouchofdutch.blogspot.com Isabella

    Just saw this as a related post & realize I really need to read more through your older entries on your blog! I’ve always noticed you write really well & consider your blog to be way up in the top of my favorites, but it is also hilarious to me how similar much living in the Netherlands is to how you described in Germany [Berlin-area].
    .-= Isabella´s last blog ..On My Last Stop: Part Two =-.

  • Sining

    Enjoyed reading it!

  • Felix

    I am German and I have to agree with you. Most salespeople really aren’t that friendly to you. But I guess everyone gets used to it, at least I don’t mind them being not that overwhelmingly friendly. I think this behavior comes from the stress at work. Thats what many people experience in Germany and instead of trying to “lighten up” their day with being friendly, we just keep our stress for us. I guess we Germans love to “suffer” from work (Maybe its just a way to show others how hard our job is, we like to do that often 😉
    But I have experienced smiling to the salespeople and being friendly (and sometimes joking, depends on the person) helps alot.
    By the way: In my opinion the most friendly people are working at Starbucks, maybe because the working atmosphere is really relaxed in there compared to other people’s jobs. So the most friendly company in Germany is American 😉

    (And if you want to eat something incredible delicous in Germany, try a “Wiener Schnitzel”. I can’t get enough of that!)

  • Jessica

    I just discovered your blogg and it’s like reading my mind.
    I am German but lived in the States for 9 years. Married my German husband in Michigan, had my kids there and moved back to Germany about 3 months ago. It’s somehow a little culture shock but I love having back what I missed so much while I was in the US. Now I really miss friendly people smiling at me in the streets (especially with kids… oh my!) and good sandwiches and burgers. I should have brought canned pumpkin, too.
    But I am happy that we live in Southern Germany now (Ravensburg, near Lake Constance)… I am from Berlin and people there are again different (as you said). They usually are not as friendly to “strangers”. In stores it is getting better… really! I noticed that.
    I am browsing the web on the search for an American playgroup here in the closer area of Ravensburg. It would be nice to hang out with some Americans and their children. I think my kids (3,5 and 1,5 yrs) would love that as well.

  • http://www.dorisvhermann.blogspot.com/ Ms Edna

    Thanks for postings this. The more things change, the more…
    I enjoyed reading this. Honest and to the point.
    I am a German Expat living in the US.
    .-= Ms Edna´s last blog ..Hello Ike, goodbye “Cay” life. =-.

  • Berni

    You mustn’t forget that Berlin is a different Germany and therefore sometimes not representative. Especially when it comes to customer service. People working in bars in Berlin have a nation-wide reputation for not being too friendly.

    And remember that often the American “Oh! Nice to see you” How do you do today?”-overfriendlyness is considered annoying in Germany, because people here tend to say what they really think and only care when they really care and therefore consider this behaviour cheap and shallow. Attention-seekers are mostly ignored. This is not about not wanting to meet new people. This is about wanting to meet people with something decent to say.

    That you will be considered a loony for smiling in public is just plain wrong :-)

    But it’s true that it does take time to make friends here, Germans select carefully, but afterwards you can rely on them.

    I found your article entertaining because it’s a good observation.

  • http://afewtips.com MichaelT

    Enjoyed reading it.
    Interesting that you felt the need to explain your comments.

    Is that an American thing or German Thing?

    It’s still an American Blog after all.
    .-= MichaelT´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

  • http://reezypeezy.wordpress.com/ Reez

    I was in Germany this past summer for the very first time and am happy to report that I received good customer service even with my very elementary German. This was in a small town in the northern part of Germany. For example, I went to the local bookstore and asked the cashier, “Haben Sie Buch in English?” Horrible, right? I NOW know that having started German class this fall but, in any case, it worked. The lady instantly switched to English (I was secretly relieved as I would have had to resort to sign language) and nicely told me to ask the other person who is working the store (vs. the cash register). As I was walking to the other person, the same cashier came up to me and nicely escorted me to the English section. Very nice. I then said, “Thank-Danke.” :) I also had positive experiences at the grocery store, electronics store, and the local convenience/post office store. I don’t know if it was just a small town atmosphere. Regardless, I was pleased with the experience esp. since I thought of Germany as a fairly homogeneous society and I am Filipino/Asian. I will admit that I was a little worried. I did get curious looks and then, slightly surprised looks when I start speaking English with an American accent. In the end, I learned that I was worried over nothing and confirmed my long-held belief that, unless you call attention to yourself, people just don’t give a damn!

  • Rory

    Whoa! I’m from the southeast USA, but have been living and studying in Germany for almost three months now – in Rostock! I just think that it’s so bizarre to stumble upon this article while actually living here, just where you’re talking about. Richtig geil.
    And I will add, because I grew up with soul food, ohh man I miss cheese grits and biscuits and sweet tea and grilled grouper sandwiches mmmm…
    Thanks for the article!

  • Paul

    Great write-up, I’ve been living in Leipzig Saxony for 2 years now, ex-Lodon England (ok not so far away)
    But I’ve never been happier, making friends and finding time for friends is so much easier than a huge bustling city. The service is exquisite and always super friendly, I have pvt insurance and have never waited more than 15 min to see the Doc or dentist.

    What I love the most, as you mentioned, is “Life satisfaction does not equal material posessions”.

    Also the fact that no one is ever aggresive, or the ordily manner they wait for the lights to change green before crossing the street.
    Anyway… they are a great people.

  • Jan

    After reading all of the likes and dislikes you might get the impression that everything is better in Bavaria….and you are right ^^. I live here I couldn´t imagine living somewhere else (in germany).

  • ark507

    You bloody Yanks need to get over yourselves, FFS!

    If you choose to live in a country other than your own, live that lifestyle and stop trying to imprint your ways on the rest of the world. If you don’t think it fits your model, have you considered that the American way might be wrong? I mean to say, the rest of the world are not falling over themselves to live (and die) with your stupid ways. Don’t try to steal our history and replace it with your own interpretation of it. Not every European faints at the sight and sounds of you Yanks!

  • Michal

    The German culture is different and takes getting adjusted to. That’s all this is about.
    You are an idiot and wouldn’t know that.
    However, the American way IS the right way and the world (including the UK) have us to thank for their freedoms.

  • Frank Reed

    I found the last two posting far too aggressive and confrontational. I thought both commentators were off base and missed the point of the conversation.
    Some types of Americans do get on European peoples nerves with their UBER patriotism or insular attitude, but I dont think this is about trying to bring ones own values and ways to force upon others.
    To Michal……The American way IS the right way for AMERICANS, but get real ,who wants to get by on only 1 week payed holiday vs 6 weeks in Germany and the rest of the EU ,or go bankrupt if you should fall seriously ill…etc etc. You need to stop assuming things ,since that is one of the main reasons of Americas unpopularity abroad. Some of us do live over here willingly and enjoy life to the fullest.
    Cheers Frank

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina Geyer

    As Frank said, this is getting a little too aggressive, and I don’t allow disrespectful comments on this blog. Keep the conversation respectful of others please.

    @ark: I don’t think anyone here other than Michal has made any judgments about cultures. We’re talking about differences, which I think is fair game. I love living in Germany and appreciate the German culture, but I also appreciate the American culture that shaped me. As my husband says, it takes two people to offend, the person writing and the person reading. Here, in fact, I think there is only one person involved.

    @michal: I’m going to go even farther than Frank did and say that the American way is not even the right way for ALL Americans, neither is the German way the right way for all Germans or the Chinese way the right way for all Chinese. That’s why there are expats and immigrants.

    @frank: Thanks.

  • michal

    Point well taken.

  • http://www.fwgraphics.com Frank

    Your observations are spot on. I couldn’t have said it better, and I am a German living in NJ :)

  • Kaye

    Don’t hate! lol.. just kidding!

    Comments on your list:

    The good things are spot on!

    I could love this place if everyone wasn’t so rude to me. I’m from Kentucky and considered southern.

    I miss the friendly life – genuine people smiling and saying hi. Therefore, I am the town loon here because people DO in fact treat me that way when I smile and try to be polite.

    One thing I would add to that list is manners. They are very different here. One example is that I am constantly being knocked around on the street by people who either look at me like I did it or just ignore it. And I have been injured but no one seems to care.

    Ok for the other list:

    1. AMEN!

    We’ve waited over an hour to pay for our food at restaurants.

    When getting my internet and phone installed the technician cursed me out, called me stupid, etc. because I didn’t speak Deutch. I had a friend of mine there with me who is fluent. Needless to say, I threw him out and called the company to report him. They, however, were very nice and said that they would not be using his services anymore.

    Customer service in OBI has always been good, but in grocery stores I have had to jump out of the way of oncoming stockers. They WILL hit you!

    I guess I’m just too polite. This country has really shocked me and I’m an Anthropologist! However, my studies were mostly of latin cultures, which is extremely different.

    2. Yep, constantly dodging the doo.

    3. Public urination: Here in Cologne, the men mostly just pee on the churches. Dom is safe though.

    4. Doctors: My husband is in the medical field and is always complaining at the lack of education required to be a doctor here. The scars left on people are extreme and avoidable and a lot of the methods used are from 100 yrs ago. He comes home almost everyday infuriated at something he’s had to try to correct that could have been avoided if the doctor had just knew what to look for. They seem to think Cortisone is a ‘cure all’. Maybe this seems to be a result of the insurance and doctors not getting paid much. We know one that has to go outside the country on weekends and work in the UK just to make ends meet.

    5. Making friends: I mostly agree with you on that.
    I can easily make friends. Everyone likes to be around me, but, they seem so superficial. I have had occasions were they have been super sweet to me in English and then, thinking I didn’t understand, talked about me to someone at the table. Therefore, I think I am the one who is more picky with whom I choose to be friends with. I have lots of aquaintances, but only one friend here.

    6. Junk Food: Pringles are good, but don’t order the nachos! The salsa here is mostly ketchup.

    7. American Food: I have found that most places that advertise ‘American food’ are not American at all. They sell what they ‘think’ is American, the German idea of American. The only American food I’ve found here is at the Hard Rock, McDonalds, Burger King and Subway. I am, however, finding German foods I like and I am adjusting to that. Otherwise, if I want American food, I make it. We have a store here called The English Store where you can get A1 steaksauce, Bisquick, etc. I have also ordered some seeds from the UK to start growing the spices I cannot get here.

    8. Work environment. My husband works 16 hour days. And, when he gets home, he makes business calls. I miss him. On another note, on my husband’s birthday, he called me from work all distraught saying “Run out and buy a cake as soon as possible!” It seems that here they expect you to provide food and cake on your birthday. Just another cultural difference I thought I’d add.

    9. House full of bugs: I found the screens!

    10. Overpriced electronics: I haven’t had a problem with this.

    I would like to add that I have been taught all my life to have southern manners, to be very polite and gentlewomanly. This does not work here! People see me as weak and as a pushover and treat me with disrespect. So, now when I go out, I have to put on the armor and try my best not to be so polite, which is extremely hard for me.

    As far as the comment that ark507 made: this is the attitude I run into everyday. I am only here because my husband’s job is here and I am trying my best to fit in. Adjusting is very difficult because of the differences and talking to others who are either going through this adjustment, or have been through it, helps.

    I don’t want to live in the US anymore. I am trying my best to make things work here. However, if given the chance to elsewhere in the EU, I would jump at it. I feel a little repressed here.

  • Frank Reed

    To Kaye,
    Judging from your comments you sound like one of those “I wish I was back in the good ole USA.” You have simply taken your values from home and are trying to apply them to wherever your new country of residence may be, without ever considering that people there might have a different emphasis on life than you. They may not WANT window screens because they enjoy hanging out of the windows talking to their friends, and thus bugs may come in . They spend much longer on a drink or meal at a restaraunt as opposed to eat fast cheap and run.
    You seem to be completely oblivious to historic architecture and ambience as values .City centers where pedestrians can actually walk around without cars, people sitting in sidewalk cafes for hours enjoying themselves without having a waiter come around constantly trying to sell you more things to eat or drink..
    People in Europe dress a thousand times better than Americans. They have the luxury of 6 weeks a year of leisure time and travel. The health care system functions without having to declare bankruptsy if you fall seriously ill. You havent picked up on any of these
    Friendly South ?? Oh please… Try the INTOLERANT SOUTH. When I was working in the music business and travelled there ,people in Tennessee and Kentucky ( and the other bible belt states) would scream and shout at us for dressing different from the locals or make stupid and rude comments not to mention getting hostile looks..
    As a teenager I was assaulted in Louisiana by a redneck because my hair was too long for his liking. I never had these problems over here as Germany and Europe in general is so much more open to different ways of dressing or hairstyles which you would never get away with in the South.
    I visited my mother in Tennessee this Easter and saw nothing but fat ,poorly dressed people who couldn’t even find Germany on the map, or could identify what or where the U.K was.

    Remember, Europe is not a theme park to bitch about when its residents don’t speak English. Real people live here and enjoy a very high standard of living all of which Americans like you are seemingly incapable of taking on board since you seem to see the world only in strictly functional terms..ie cheap electronics, bigger and better burgers strip malls, etc.
    As far as service goes,Germany is not as good as the USA but there are loads of very favorable comparisons on many other things, such as a better selection of yogurt and cheeses, and a well traveled and informed public who know much more about the USA than Americans know about them.
    People in Bavaria are much less formal and friendlier than other parts of the country, so check out this fact as well. If you walk up to people and start speaking English with no attempt at even the slightest word or phrase of German, then you will indeed annoy people, and I am certain that this has been one of your problems.
    Frank

    >

  • Randall

    I could be mistaken, but I thought someone earlier was complaining about the posts being far too aggressive and personal; therefore, I was surprised to see the recent post which seems to place all of us Americans living in the southern part of the U.S. as ignorant, bible-carrying red-necks totally devoid of any semblance of fashion or culture.

    I have travelled to Germany twelve times. Unfortunately, my wife does not share this desire. Sure, there are things about the customs of Germany which annoy me, just as there are things about the American culture which annoy me. Overall, though, I would love to live in Germany someday. I find the people there very friendly and engaging. There are some subtle differences which one must accept which should not really be viewed as negative, just different from what one might be used to. I always have fun kidding my wife and telling her that it doesn’t really matter that her soft drink contains no ice. I often find myself asking that my drink contain no ice now when I am eating at a restaurant in my home state, Tennessee.
    I must say, that there is at least a subset of Americans who could point Germany out on the map and could name all of the Bundeslaender. Some of us also enjoy the finer things and enjoy a diet consisting of more than just hamburger and cola. Last night, for example, I prepared Jaegerschnitzel (mit Kalbfliesch) and Pommes frites for our Thanksgiving dinner. Dazu Blaukraut und Schwarzbrot.
    I was so taken by the country after my first visit in 1997 that I returned to the university at age 39 to earn a degree in German and continued through last year, finishing with a MA degree in German. I can’t wait until January when I plan to visit Germany and Ukraine again.

  • frank reed

    Randall wrote…….I must say, that there is at least a subset of Americans who could point Germany out on the map and could name all of the Bundeslaender.

    To that SUBSET I apologize for my angry accusations.

    I have lived in Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia and I am sure that there exits and finer subculture in these places.

    I am however certain that you know exactly why and how these attitudes towards the South come from.They are not invented out of hate, but a reaction due to bad experiences by those that complain about it.
    Just look at their voting habits.
    Deutschland ist ein sehr Kulturelles Land, nicht war?
    My degree is also in German ( UCLA)
    Cheers
    Frank

  • Randall

    Frank, I thought you were either British or German. I have only been to England through the airport in London which doesn’t count. Congratulations on your degree in German. I need to explore the UK and its culture someday as well.

  • frank reed

    Hello again Randall,
    I had lived in Germany in the 1980s when I owned a pub in a beautiful medieval town called Goslar, which is just full of architectural jewels and and ambience to die for.
    We moved to the U.K. 14 years ago, so thats why I might come across as English these days. I have had a wonderful but at times challenging career as a German teacher in London, and my wife is on her last year of her PHD at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London . I fly to Germany several times a year as the flight is only 55 minutes and costs about £45. I love going to St.Goar am Rhein, a must see for lovers of wine and relaxation surrounded by incredibly splendid medieval castles, towns and villages along the banks of the Rhine.
    My mom and sisters live in Columbia TN, what about you?
    I plan on visiting Columbia this coming Summer.
    England is also very worthy of exploration and you can do both using cheap flight airlines such as Ryan Air and Easy Jet.Com. Feel free to ask for any advice as I have years of experience living in Europe, including the South of France.
    Cheers
    Frank

  • Kaye

    Wow…. I didn’t mean to offend anyone. I was just mentioning the things that are hard for ME to adapt to. Just so you know, I plan on living here for 10 more years at least.

    As far as missing my home: yes I do to some extent but I don’t want to go back except for a visit now and again. My life is here now and I AM trying to adapt/integrate.

    As far as the comments on the south: every place you go there will negative as well as positive. I’m sorry your experience was bad. I am currently dealing with racism here, but I WILL get through it. There are assholes everywhere.
    As far as the architecture and the history Frank, I’m an archaeologist. It’s my life. And I am loving what I see here.

    As far as Germany in general Frank. I love it here, I just have to adapt. And I THOUGHT I was allowed to post MY thoughts on it as a way to vent or to get some understanding or help with some of the issues…. Sorry… I did not realize I would be verbally attacked… wont happen again.

  • http://www.amiexpat.com Christina Geyer

    Good grief, I totally am not feeling well enough to deal with drama at the moment. Please can’t we all just be respectful of each other. I don’t want to have to start deleting posted comments and closing this post to future comments.

    Kay said the good things in my post were spot on, I did not get the impression she was being entirely negative about Germany. Some people have trouble adjusting to new places, I certainly had trouble adjusting to Germany, it took me 3 years until I really felt happy here. If you are one of those people able to instantly find happiness in a new place, congratulations.

    And Frank, perhaps your negative view of the south is the exact same thing you were accusing Kay of feeling about Germany. I grew up a southerner as well. It is no different than anyplace else, in that there are positive aspects and negative aspects. For someone who had previously complained about aggressiveness, your whole comment to Kay seems pretty hypocritical.

    Look, I value all my readers, and I think it’s very easy to forget that there is a real human being behind each and every one of these comments. I find it a good philosophy, before hitting submit on a comment, to think about whether I would say the same thing to a person if we were having a conversation face to face. Something to think about, perhaps?

  • Berni

    @Kaye:
    Learn the language when you plan to stay so long, then you won’t interprete strange reactions as “racism” towards Americans, which is just a ridiculous point of view in my opinion.
    People will just ask you pretty soon how long you’ve been there and compare your language-level to the time spent in order to see, whether you care about language and culture or whether you fall into the “American tourist stereotype category”. Don’t forget that the Germans are “Reiseweltmeister” (= they spent more money for travelling than any other country) and love to get to know different cultures.

  • Donna

    Kaye, you aren’t alone by any means. I’ve been here in Germany a couple years, and I embrace the beauty of the culture. Especially around Christmas. It feels so much like everyone is connected. However, the feeling of racism (for lack of a better word), can be strong sometimes, and it’s hard regardless of our time spent here. Even to try to speak the language when we’re hopeless at it (I’ve taken classes, and have numerous CDs, DVDs ect… still having major issues grasping it in practice), can be annoying to the locals at times. Some just smile and disregard, but some can get a bit ugly about it. But then as we all know…. it’s the same (if not worse in some parts) in the US. So just embrace the beauty around you, and know that you aren’t alone. We’re muddling through with you. With a smile and a nod. :-)

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