Are German people really so cold and unfriendly and racists?
July 29, 2008 9:29am CST
I read several articles written by Americans and Germans comparing the cultures of the two countries and nations. The American went to Germany for education and found the German people very cold and unfriendly. He missed the friendlyness and warm smiles of the American people so much. Is that the fact? I'm getting sad because I chose German as my university major. I definately love the warm smiles and friendly atmosphere-Aren't Germans humans? Humans all have emotions then...
• United States
29 Jul 08
Germans are definitely not as outgoing and a bit more reserved as the average American. People in the south of Germany are more open than the ones in the north. It's by nature. Trust and friendship has to be earned. But you also don't get the often fake friendliness I have encountered here in the US where people can make you feel like you are their friend right from the start but in fact they don't like you at all. In Germany you will know whether you are liked. However, to say we are not friendly or don't smile, well, I wonder what he did. Americans in Germany often walk around as if they own the place. Here I am, bow to me as I come from the nation that won the war... And everything in America is better than here in miserable Germany. Don't believe me? I have seen it, and even have heard them say it. And that was in the 90's! If you come with that attitude, you shouldn't be surprised, if people don't embrace you. Another problem point is those, who expect everybody to just speak English with them. If you are there for an education, you should speak the language. And not everybody is fluent in the English language. It also depends on when this person visited Germany, as there was a time in which the country was overrun by asylum seekers, which was in the late 80's, early 90's. Imagine every empty house on your street (for sale or for rent) is being rented by the government to put in asylum seekers, six to a regular bedroom. Free cleaning service, food, and clothes for them... What would the mood be in your neighborhood. At that time, people weren't very happy with foreigners. There was a general distrust there, no matter where a person came from or why they were there. Maybe that is where he got the racist impression? Anyhow, your experience is what you make of it. I know many exchange students who loved it, including my husband. Hey, he fell in love with a German;) Most want to go back. I know many people, who visit Germany regularly, just for the food and certain events. Those are the people who embraced the culture, the language, and made many friends. You can't expect to go there and everybody to be your friend right away, they have to be made. If you are open-minded, you will have a great experience. Let's visit the other side of the coin. If I would base my judgment of Americans on my first few impressions I got, when I came here, I would have to say Americans are loud, overly proud of themselves, everybody constantly chews gum as if they are cows, the education system is lightyears behind (I had to take math in an advanced college level class that I had in tenth grade!) but everybody thinks they know so much more than the rest of the world, and yes, everybody is overly friendly towards you, but it's sooo fake! Oh, and nobody has patience. Everything has to go rush, rush, rush. There is no time to figure out what somebody with less than perfect English language capabilities has to say. I have been here for years now and know that this is not the truth. But this is what I got to see in my first year of studying at an American University. If I wouldn't have known better, that would be the impression I would have taken home with me. America, a loud and noisy place. Everybody is in a rush and puts up a fake exterior to appear friendly and appeasing and to cover up their true self. Is that how you see yourself? All I can say is, give it a try, be open-minded, and reach out to make friends. Most universities have lots of programs for foreign exchange students to meet and make friends with German students. Take advantage of that. Don't just stick to those exchange students who speak your language (also something that has been commonly observed). Actively seek out regular German students in your lectures and make friends with them. Be involved and you will have a great time.
1 person likes this
29 Jul 08
Thank you so kindly for your detailed response, Jonesy. I am very happy to hear what you said about Germany. And that's what I had expected before I read the articles. And I agree with you that as long as we are open-minded and sincere we can make friends anywhere. And I forgot to say that I'm not an American-I'm a Chinese and I have a deep love for both the Chinese and English languages so I get interested in world cultures. From what I have known about the New York city, I do feel that Americans are sometimes in a rush. But one of my best friends is a North American with a wonderful personality, who is so peaceful and not noisy at all. And other Americans I met are all very friendly and kind. So I tend to like them. Maybe everywhere in the world there are people of different types. We just try and hopefully will find the real worthy ones.
2 Sep 08
Hello my name is Greg. I am an American but born in Italy to an Italian mother and American father. I've lived in Germany for more than 13 years so I wish to provide some input with regards to the friendliness of Germans. I love Germany, it is a beautiful country. I have to say however, that 99% of Germans are unfriendly. They are not very appreciative either. I took German for 4 years, got straight A's in High School but 99% of the times when I would speak to a German in German he/she would start to get mad at me and tell me how much my German sucked. I lived in the Middle East, took up Arabic, and spoke Arabic to people and they would be extremely greatful at my attempt to speak their language. I found German to be much easier than Arabic (which is no where as good as my German) but the response when I spoke Arabic with people in Qatar, Oman, Saudi, and so on has always been positive. I am afraid to try to speak in German to Germans because I don't want to get into a fight or hear them ridicule me and so on. Contrary to what you have written Americans don't come to Germany like they own the place. On the military bases in Germany much effort is made to attempt to have americans learn some German and get to know the culture via head start course and classroom insturctions. At the completion of the course that are normally 3-6 months long the classes go out in town with a guide to try out some of the German they learned. The response from the Americans is always the same, when you they try out some of their German the Germans always get mad. So if people act like then why even bother trying to learn the language! I have a 2 1/2 year old child. When we were in Italy, the vast majority of Italians would stop to tell me how beautiful my child is or just smile at her when she (my daughter) would approach people and just be freindly. Here in Germany, no one ever smiles at her, there have been times when people would tell her to get out of their way, and much more, she is just a child but people here in Germany treat her like she is some sort of animal. As far as coming with an attitude, that is the only way things get done in Germany. Most people who work in stores are just plain rude and unprofessional at the beginning and will get on your case because you asked for their assistance. The only way to get them off your case is to get rude back at them until they back down - then and only then will do their job. Don't believe the stories that Germans are so straight and perfect. Their work performance is appauling. We have a huge 200 million dollar project being built in Ramstein. The contract to build the sprawling community center was given to a German contractor LBL. This was supposed to be a demonstration of how great German inginuity is however, the project which was supposed to be completed in 2003 is 300 million dollars over budget and has no known completion date. This was mainly due to the poor quality roof that was installed, poor quality of materials and so on. I find people here to be dishonest. Why would you charge Americans 2-3x more to rent an apartment or house. Why don't people here give the interest earned on the security deposit. Yes, when I fist came to germany in 1991 I was paying 2800 DM per month to rent a house in Heidelberg. I gave the landlord 3 months (8400 DM) security deposit. I lived in that house for 10 years. When I left the house it was inspected and in great shaped. The landlord was obligated to give me my deposit back with interest. The landlord didn't want to give me my money back. When I took him to court, the judge told me that as American I couldn't sue a German. I never got my money back. I have all documentation with the landlords signature to show that the house had no damage in it and that he was obligated to give me my money back. I could just imagine how much interest 8400 DM would have accumulated in 10 years. The funny thing is I thought that I was on good terms with my landlord. I always paid the rent on time and so on. Now that I am in Germany again, I decided to buy my house instead of renting. I don't feel like giving some German Landlord vacation money. With all this said, I do see that atleast for the last the year that attitudes are getting some what better. When you go into a restaurant, the servers in many places acutally ask how the food was. People still don't like kids and people still get mad when you try to speak to them in German but that may never change. I think the service industry is changing because of necessity.
20 Feb 11
Germans are all and nothing, I came to German thinking all was perfect, the idea we have of them is not so like I thought. Definitely I like to refer about the idea of if the are cold or not. YES, they are, it is my opinion but after 7 yearsliving in the north of Germany I can say, the very seldom express any feeling, to be polite and following protocols or rules the best for them, but don ot ask them how are they feeling about something, you will get a bare "I am doing fine, thanks". On top the feeling that hey can be arrogant got strong in me as much I knew/Know them. Maybe as friends bearable but as lovers a disaster, run away!!!, they will think first about themselves and after too. If you have any problem and you tell them as I have exerimented they will not help you and you can be lucky if they reflecr on it at all, some will avoid to face what you are telling them, they feel deeply afraid to get part in anything is not themselves. The country of Goethe, that has a lot of English publishing, Eurovision contest in English with songs composed by Americans, high prices for basic things like trasport that must to be gratis or cheap, really expensive, not a socialist politics more right wind of course, if you can good and you can´t they do not mind. As a foreign I felt respected generally, I mean they did not throw stones on me but when you go deep to understand how the think success here is really important and if about being foreign and maybe need a hand for something, do not expect it they prefer to look to other side. Not friendly when is not about paying or buying something, for the rest you better go back to your country. Sorry dear Germans but if latins we are so pasional that we make you afraid you need to learn to recognize what is a feeling, that word that fit so fine in your songs but in real life you do not even know what means to love or care without expect something back. I have never experimented people more unsensible in all the countries I have been, as I like to say they can step on your head and to not realise, they are educated as sharp knives can cut but not feel. If you want to stay in Germany and you have not tried yet my advice choose other country, just Dutch people is 100000 more friendly and open as other countries around. Economy maybs is good in Germany but it has a human cost, they are like machines. Not an easy language not easy people. As latin I can say as Rafaella Carra said "Para hacer bien el amor hay que venir al sur" believe me here is just F for that they are good machines again. Ok I said enough, my truth and what lots of people think foreigns and some Germans too, specially about the northern ones.