April 23, 2015, by Rachel Bainbridge

I love the German way of life

I started my adventure in Germany in September. I had been studying German ever since I was eleven however I had only properly visited twice, so my first-hand experience of Germany was extremely lacking. I had never lived here, had a pen pal or took part in an exchange – so it was all very new! At first it was all very scary, I had to find an apartment on my own in this unfamiliar place, whilst all my friends were carrying on living their lovely student lives in Lenton (except now with a dissertation to do.) It was also very strange for me because I am working 9-5 (Dolly Parton comes to mind), 40 hours a week, and going from the 12 hours of lectures and seminars per week was surreal. I am currently working in HR and Marketing with PricewaterhouseCoopers here in Frankfurt.

My first impressions were very mixed. On the one hand I was homesick and longed for the polite manners and dry humour that British people provide, however I love the German way of life. The proactive, bluntness of the Germans. I found out that this actually wasn´t just a stereotype – it was true! At first this was all a bit strange to me, and it took me a little while to adjust. In meetings people seem rude and argumentative, by completely disagreeing with what their colleagues were saying. On the train when it´s rush hour, people will sit in the seat next to the aisle (with all their canvas shopping bags next to them) and seem genuinely annoyed when you ask them whether you can sit there. Similarly walking down the street people do not slightly smile at you or look friendly; if they bump into you in a shop, do not expect an apology. In these ways the rudeness annoyed me and I missed how considerate we are towards each other back at home.

The bluntness at work also surprised me! I actually had quite a funny experience with one of my friends from work. I had just found some jewelry I forgot I had brought with me, and was very excited about it coming into work. I said “look, look I found this necklace that I really like again” and instead of politely responding “oh that´s nice” and saying a white lie like we would in the UK, she simply said “I don´t like it.” It was funny as it just showed the cultural differences between us, because I was actually quite offended! However at a later date she apologised, and actually just said how it´s just that they are a little more honest here, which is better I guess. A compliment will actually be the truth, whereas in the UK you never know.

Overall, I think that as first impressions go it was all a little strange. However as I got to know the people I came to realise the positives in these traits I first thought were negative and of course, I will always be a little bit biased in thinking that the UK is completely perfect with its first impressions!

Posted in First impressions