Difficulties in making German friends

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Posted

Totally agree. But don't tell anyone here, you might spoil the self-pity party.

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Posted

Good point, paulux. Thank you!

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Posted

I think Paulux is correct to a large extent. Even in London, one of the world's most multicultural cities, each nationality lives in its own clique. Whether Russian or Polish, Australian or South American, they all tend to stick together and then complain that they're not being given the opportunity to integrate.

That said, the Germans are without doubt less forward than, say, Americans. I believe it is harder to make German friends here, but that's only because the definition of "friend" is stricter than in other countries. But this isn't because we're Ausländer; Germans are equally reserved among each other as well, which is why long-standing work colleagues call themselves "Herr this" and "Frau that".

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Posted

I don't agree when it comes to the US. Sorry but I know first hand from a LARGE German community that I knew there that it is not the case. Maybe its true in parts of the US (New York?), but in the Chicagoland area, definitely not. People are very friendly, will happily WELCOME you to the neighborhood when you move in and you'll definitely get invited out many times from co-workers.

All of which is a rare occurrence here in Germany, sorry... but I speak from experience not hearsay.

My experience with the US, as a foreigner, is that it is true for the most part. Sure, people are friendly. But we are talking about making friends, not being treated friendly. That is not the same thing. When I lived there, I did make friends, because I was open, started talking to people, because I realized exactly this: I am the one who needs friends, they already have friends, so they are not likely to make a first step, so guess what, I will have to.

This was my experience as a college student.

By the way, in my apartment complex there were parties all the time that everyone was invited to, but we were all exchange students.

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Posted

Don't agree really, it's an attitude thing. I have more German friends than English and it's been that way since I came here. I immersed myself in their language and culture and made no effort at the beginning to mingle with the ex-pat community, instead I made myself integrate and "become German" as much as possible.

The funny moustache and Jackboots helped as did the Goose-stepping and short, shouted sentences whenever I spoke.

Germans are equally reserved among each other as well, which is why long-standing work colleagues call themselves "Herr this" and "Frau that".

Whilst true maybe among the older German workforce, I find the younger, more dynamic workplaces go for the opposite. In my German company for instance, everybody is "per du" and any firm "do" pretty "ausgelassen" (rumbustious ;))

They had, and have a hard time because of the war, cut them some slack :D

(To any Germans: this was humour :P)

EDIT:

Mariposa makes some very pertinent points too regarding the making of friends.

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Posted

Don't agree really, it's an attitude thing. I have more German friends than English and it's been that way since I came here. I immersed myself in their language and culture and made no effort at the beginning to mingle with the ex-pat community, instead I made myself integrate and "become German" as much as possible.

and the rest of us haven`t? I work in a German office, almost all germans, no other English Expats, and I am outgoing, and you know what, still no german friends here. Not for lack of trying.

The patients I do have contact with outside of the office are also english expats.

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Posted

Evenm when you do get to know them they are miserable buggers anyway. Mean as hell a lot of them.

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Posted

I lived in France before and found it much easier there than here. I do think Germans have a different attitude to friendship and separate much more strictly between work and social life, for example, as well as between friends and acquaintances. Seems to me that it takes a lot longer for the average German to see you as a friend, however much they enjoy hanging out with you. I found France more like England in that respect - you meet friends of friends and they can quite quickly become your friends too.

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Posted

Based upon my experience, I would say that if people can identify with you in some way, friendships will result. People often can't get past compartmentalizing a person whom they meet, and this is often on the basis of nationality or race.

As for integration, tribalism persists to a certain degree even in societies that are not organized on tribal lines- the definition of 'the tribe' simply varies. When you are new to a country, it is completely understandable that you would seek help from those with whom you identify and with whom you can easily communicate.

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Posted

Hey,

The people who disagree with me made good points, but I feel like there may be some misunderstanding.

I was not talking about people being unfriendly, I was talking about people not being so open with friendship (with foreigners).

About the US example, I agree that Americans are notoriously friendly. But I doubt that one can find real friendship easier in the US than here or anywhere else, for that matter.

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Posted

Well let me tell you that at my first job in my profession, after working one year with the company and leaving for another job... I still on a daily basis (now 7 years later and half-a-world away) get email and communicate with a "co-worker". He is now a close friend after only knowing him at work for a year. When I go home to visit I hang out with him almost every day.

Also, I worked with another guy for about a year (maybe less) at my last job... he has remained a good friend. When I go home if I don't have a ride he and his wife pick me up from the airport. He lent me his car for my whole 2 week stay last time and a room in his house to stay (gave me the keys). Now I am going through some tough times so I get a call from him every 3 days or so to see how I'm doing. He has done far more to help me lately, but I wont go into that.

Now, who in Germany has had a German co-worker become such a good friend after only knowing each other a year? I've had 3 years and wouldn't expect any of them to offer me an umbrella in a downpour. Sorry. Now I have made a friend out of a former Irish co-worker, ball of fun that guy :)

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Posted

I've made good German friends here, one or two from work, others I made randomly (nights out/school) :)

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Posted

Well let me tell you that at my first job in my profession, after working one year with the company and leaving for another job... I still on a daily basis (now 7 years later and half-a-world away) get email and communicate with a "co-worker". He is now a close friend after only knowing him at work for a year. When I go home to visit I hang out with him almost every day.

Also, I worked with another guy for about a year (maybe less) at my last job... he has remained a good friend. When I go home if I don't have a ride he and his wife pick me up from the airport. He lent me his car for my whole 2 week stay last time and a room in his house to stay (gave me the keys). Now I am going through some tough times so I get a call from him every 3 days or so to see how I'm doing. He has done far more to help me lately, but I wont go into that.

are you telling me that 'friendship' has to do with nationality?

i recommend malaysians, they are really great friends.

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Posted

Hey,

The people who disagree with me made good points, but I feel like there may be some misunderstanding.

I was not talking about people being unfriendly, I was talking about people not being so open with friendship (with foreigners).

About the US example, I agree that Americans are notoriously friendly. But I doubt that one can find real friendship easier in the US than here or anywhere else, for that matter.

I wasn't talking about unfriendly either (although in that respect I do find the Germans sometimes lacking) I have close German friends that would help out in a fix. And I agree with your last sentence: people are more or less the same wherever you go. Although I do think it's also a case of pushing the right cultural buttons and some people have trouble finding them.

Well let me tell you that at my first job in my profession, after working one year with the company and leaving for another job... I still on a daily basis (now 7 years later and half-a-world away) get email and communicate with a "co-worker". He is now a close friend after only knowing him at work for a year. When I go home to visit I hang out with him almost every day.

Also, I worked with another guy for about a year (maybe less) at my last job... he has remained a good friend. When I go home if I don't have a ride he and his wife pick me up from the airport. He lent me his car for my whole 2 week stay last time and a room in his house to stay (gave me the keys). Now I am going through some tough times so I get a call from him every 3 days or so to see how I'm doing. He has done far more to help me lately, but I wont go into that.

Now, who in Germany has had a German co-worker become such a good friend after only knowing each other a year? I've had 3 years and wouldn't expect any of them to offer me an umbrella in a downpour. Sorry. Now I have made a friend out of a former Irish co-worker, ball of fun that guy

When I started a new job here about ten years ago I met a German at work and within two weeks we were going out for a beer after work and easily within a year I would say he counted as one of my closest friends. I could relate the meeting of any of my German friends and a good half dozen can be relied upon, in fact the relating of some of the events would have John Wayne sniffling ;)

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Posted

Based upon my experience, I would say that if people can identify with you in some way, friendships will result. People often can't get past compartmentalizing a person whom they meet, and this is often on the basis of nationality or race.

As for integration, tribalism persists to a certain degree even in societies that are not organized on tribal lines- the definition of 'the tribe' simply varies. When you are new to a country, it is completely understandable that you would seek help from those with whom you identify and with whom you can easily communicate.

I agree with Conquistador, like always. ;)

I have German friends which I have known for a long time. I would not have any issues making new ones except if they don't come up in my face with a list of weird compartmentalizations and prejudiced remarks. The friends I have don't make such retarted remarks of course. If I meet a German guy or a girl and they make remarks like "oh yeah your country did this and that badly" or "your country killed xyz" then they are not looking to make friends with me. It's evident that every country has a set of mistakes they did in their history so it's not like Germany didn't do any mistakes of its won. Of course the new generation does not have anything to do with the mistakes in the past. (unless they like those mistakes that is)

Germans are not a tribal folk. I mean if you look at people with mediterrenean heritage, they like to hang around in groups. Group association is more important than individuality for them. You would never see a single person eating a meal on his own in Italy for example, but in Germany you see a lot of lonely individuals, mostly German, eating a meal on their own.

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Posted

are you telling me that 'friendship' has to do with nationality?

i recommend malaysians, they are really great friends.

No, I'm pointing out that as far as ease of making real "friends" with Germans isn't like MY experiences elsewhere or with other nationalities. Not the quality of friendship with nationalities. I have known one guy since 1991 (German); been on vacation with him and his family, helped him with his business, tons of times hanging out... but there is still this barrier and he is not someone I would go to for help or count on as a true Friend.

Maybe for everyone else its different, maybe I don't try hard enough, maybe its something with me... I don't know. I am just giving you my experience and opinion. I NEVER have problems making friends anywhere I go, but it seems the German is a hard nut to crack.

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Posted

I didn't have any problems making german friends at all, and every person I hung around with was german, and I can truly say i have loads of real german friends from my time there. i guess it just depends on what type of personality you are - i was out every night on the club scene introducing myself to people and finding out what was going on around the city. i didn't find the young germans i met every day any different to young brits at all

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Posted

In the US and perhaps some other places, "Friend" is a very elastic term. It can mean anything from the chum you have known since kindergarten to the postman whom you greet sometimes with a smile.

From what I observed in Germany, a friend is just that, someone with whom you have a substantial connection.

Personally, I think this is generally admirable as it shows a lack of superficiality that crops up in the States. I would like it if American society would distinguish a bit more between friends and acquaintances. There is nothing wrong with regarding someone as an acquaintance. There are a good many people I find likable enough, but I doubt we will ever have dinner together. Also, the phony salesman persona seems to be lacking in Germany as well.

It does make it hard to make some true friends if you are only in Germany for a short time. But its not like the place is totally devoid of gregarious people.

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Posted

Having lived here for 39 years with my husband (who is also British), we have found the Germans very friendly. We have really close German friends who dont treat us like foreigners. I think people who have difficulties making friends here, would probably have the same problem in their home country. Once you have mastered the German language things will become much easier.

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Posted

in Germany you see a lot of lonely individuals, mostly German, eating a meal on their own.

im portuguese and agree to some extent. But Germans have always been known for their lack of individualism and the tendency to do everything in group. Maybe they have changed. Im very much like Germans in that i also tend to be a loner, not to mention that here in Portugal im often taken for a foreigner due to my light skin and green eyes, so im planning to move to Germania. I lived in England and Holland, England is ok but for the twiglet legged pale girls, and Holland has great girls but i dont identify with the Dutch at all, and it looks like an artificial country to me.

In Germany i dont see as many pretty girls as in Holland but when I find them theyre usually better than all the others

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Posted

Germans that I know well like to mock my English accent... bastards. I'm not even from Oxford.

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