Students in German Studies Kelly Bate and Clementine Lunt, blog about the cultural differences between Germany and Britain. Students who are going to the country on their year abroad in September would do well to follow their sound advice!
You have decided to go to Germany to practice and improve your language skills, or perhaps you just want to go on holiday with your family or your friends? Either way, you chose a very good destination. But before flying over, if you want to avoid awkward situations, and don’t want to feel like a complete stranger, there are lots of cultural aspects you should be aware of, that can be important to fitting in and feeling comfortable.
Here are some useful pointers which will help you to understand the wonderful country that is Germany.
Firstly, remember that the German people have a reputation for being very direct and their honesty is misinterpreted as impoliteness when really, they are just being truthful – don’t take it personally!
In terms of introductions, when you answer the phone in Germany, it is usual to say your name. And if you’re walking in the street with a German, and they bump into a friend or acquaintance, don’t be offended if you are not introduced if the meeting is only brief, again it’s normal. This is not impoliteness either; it’s just the German way of life! Just remember that these are cultural differences between Britain and Germany.
Now, some rules when dining out. You could be stood about for a long time if you are waiting to be seated as the rule in Germany is that you go and find yourself a seat. In addition to this, it is not unusual to share a table with someone that you don’t know, typically during busy periods when there are no free tables left. One more thing: don’t ask for tap water! The waiters will be slightly confused. Instead, ask for ‘Stilles Wasser’ in order to prevent yourselves from getting a nasty shock when you are given sparkling water instead of mineral water!
So there you have it, a small guide on some cultural differences between Britain and Germany that will help you on your travels. Enjoy Germany – it is a wonderful country with many exciting opportunities on offer and we guarantee that you will return home feeling very refreshed and relaxed.