Seeing as I just gave you a bit of an introduction to Germany in my previous post, I thought I should quickly add something I came across today: the “At-a-glance guide to Germany: Sausages, sexual confidence and surprisingly good hip-hop“, published just a few days ago on The Guardian’s website. It’s part of a larger series on Germany (which I still have to work my way through though).
I quite like the way it is written, and I certainly recognise myself and my friends in a lot of the things that are described here. For example:
Go to a pub with a bunch of Germans, and you are far more likely to talk about the big questions in life than who deserves to get to the next round of The X Factor (or rather, Deutschland Sucht den Superstar).
While that might not be entirely true all the time (errm…), it’s certainly something I missed when I lived in Australia. People in Brisbane are just so laid-back (I blame the 245 sunny days a year) that most of them really don’t want to talk about serious things when they’re out in the pub. Which is probably a good way to escape real life, but to be honest, every now and then I don’t mind a bit of reality either… Even at a pub.
Anyway, another thing that’s certainly true is:
Germans can be quite literal, straight-forward people.
I think this fact has possibly been the biggest source of misunderstandings in my life ever since I moved to London. British people are just so polite! I mean, really polite!! Sure, that doesn’t hold true for everybody (particularly not in London), and I realise I’m generalising a bit here, to highlight certain aspects – I hope you realise that too! So, just to get things straight: I believe it’s not fair to make assumptions about every single person from a certain country based on prejudices or previous experience with one or two other people from that country. But I’m still amazed (and amused!) every time I see something and just can’t help thinking “She’s so German!” or “That’s such a British thing to do!” Yes, it’s fun to observe these things… As long as you take them with a pinch of salt. Seriously.
(I think the fact that I feel the need to say these things tells you quite a bit about us Germans too: we’re really scared of being called racists… I guess we learnt our lesson. Well, I would hope we did!)
But anyway, where were we? Yes, polite Britons. See, the thing is, if I would like to have something, I ask for it – which can be considered as being a bit rude if you are in Britain. On the other hand though, if I don’t want to have something, I have no problem saying that either. For example, if I’m asked if I would like to have a cup of tea, I usually say no – but not to be polite, just to be honest! I really mean no, I’m just not a big fan of tea. Which, in turn, can be considered as being a bit rude if you are in Britain…