Are my culture shock and homesickness extreme?

368 posts in this topic

ExileAdventure : It's very normal that you are experiencing that. I believe all of us expats have gone through that phases. I guess, you are going through that phase, where everything from host country looks bad and you keep comparing that with your things, at your home country. There was some article posted on TT, about the phases of an expat. Maybe you should read that and also pick up an activity, that you would like to do regularly. Since you don't have financial problems, think about joining the 'Flying Club' or just normal clubs, to meetup with people and do things that you like.

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Sounds like you are a bit isolated and have too much time to dwell on this stuff.

Find some things to fill up the time and make some friends with whom you share common interests.

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I suggest picking up regular drinking, was the only coping mechanism I found effective.

 

And like Joe says too -- go to a Frankfurt meetup like the ones listed Events and meetups. Drink, but don't do it alone. You've identified the same issues that everyone else has here. You'll get used to those annoyances when you start actively treasuring the things that are great and focus on those. :)

 

Ebbelwoi is horrible stuff though. Bleurgh!

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Welcome to TT dear. I took the time to read your post and found it interesting. Most of the themes you discuss there are pretty much the lifeblood of our discussions here, such as the quality of the supermarkets, staring, rudeness. 

 

As one entering his eighth year, I can tell you the feeling of being an outsider never goes. They're nice people but very closed in my experience. Unlike in the States and Britain where we move around all the time, Germans stay in one place for very long periods of time. This means they live within their closed "tribe" and don't have that need we do to get to know new people all the time. We're more used to the idea of starting afresh all the time, at least I am. I think it's related to the "Sie" and "Du" part of the culture. Using "Sie" means you are effectively treated well, but closed off from social contact. Once it's "du" then its okay, but that takes forever. Germans tend to have friends they've known since church or school for decades, even though their life circumstances and attitudes change, they still keep in touch.

 

The physical quality of life here is very high. The psychological side is extremely tough in my experience. I think the character of Germany could be summed up as a contradiction. For every negative here there is a positive. For example, there are loads of rules which you only find out about when you break them, but those rules create a very ordered society. Stuff like that.

 

We (or at least I) look forward to your writing here. It's very cathartic to get it out. TT is great for that. Don't forget that moaning here is normal, but also take time to write positive memories here.

 

 

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Using "Sie" means you are effectively treated well, but closed off from social contact. Once it's "du" then its okay, but that takes forever.

Thats a more older age/Bayerisch thing too, at least as a mid 20s making friends in Hamburg I never even experienced sie other than the high ups at work, some clients, and shopkeepers.

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ExileAdventure : It's very normal that you are experiencing that. I believe all of us expats have gone through that phases. I guess, you are going through that phase, where everything from host country looks bad and you keep comparing that with your things, at your home country. There was some article posted on TT, about the phases of an expat. Maybe you should read that and also pick up an activity, that you would like to do regularly. Since you don't have financial problems, think about joining the 'Flying Club' or just normal clubs, to meetup with people and do things that you like.

 

Do you mean this? Stages of Immigration

1. Honeymoon Phase.

2. Rejection Phase. <--- OP is in this one.

3. Regression Phase.

4. Recovery Phase or At-Ease-At-Last Phase:

5. Reverse Culture Shock or Return Culture Shock

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I also fully understand your frustrations and of course think about all of these things (well, perhaps not the layout of supermarkets...) often. I'm also in Hessen, but not right in Frankfurt itself but in one of the smaller towns in the Taunus. I've only been here since January with my (German) wife and many of the things you describe are just the same here - however, I do find people (generally) friendly here, kids on our street say hello, neighbours speak (with 'du' after just a few meetings), random stangers will greet me in the mornings. I'm wondering that perhaps some of the things you describe are a consequence of living in the city?

 

To live or not to live in the city was a huge question before coming here - I grew up in the countryside in the UK, spent about 15 years in the city, and then for the last couple of years before coming here was in the countryside again. Following positive experience in the countryside back home, we decided to live outside of the city here and on balance, for us the decision was the right one. The city has many practical advantages in respect of things, people to meet, commute times, school choice etc. but (in my experience) smaller towns have a better atmosphere. If you can put up with a lack of convenience for some things (and as the kids are speaking German now), then it might suit you better.

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Hi ExileAdventure. The first thing that struck me from your post, and it is something that I have fallen foul to also, is that all these little things that tick you off about living in Germany are just that, little things, but when one is essentially feeling unhappy they then become the focus. That's an easy trap to fall into I think. If you were a bit less bored and happier you would probably not attach as much importance to them. People always talk about "integration problems" on this forum, but fundamentally some people find it easy and some just don't. That doesn't mean to say that you never will feel comfortable and integrated, but as foreigners it is really up to us to adapt (if we want to) and not the other way round. I have found most Germans almost impossible to connect with on a deep level. That's not to say that I don't have German friends, because I do, but certainly the people that I know are not the type of people to just phone up, come round, and "hang out" with a beer, guitar, bang the world to rights conversation. Everything has to be organised, and the conversation almost always seems like there is something being held back. I can only speak for my friends (average age about 30), but even though I have made big efforts to get to know them, their background, etc., I still feel after 2.5 years that I know very little about them. I guess one just has to accept this. I think that Germans are very faimly-oriented and they keep things in pigeon holes - family for intimate conversation, friends for play. There is nothing at all wrong with this, but it IS a culture difference that perhaps a lot of ex-pats are not prepared for and won't be able to cope with. Others reading this might totally disagree, but I can only speak for my personal experiences (and those of my wife as well). To my mind they always seem a bit too busy filling their lives with dashing up to Berlin for a festival on a Friday, down to Munich for a party the next day, and then mountain walking on a Sunday. It's all about cramming as much activity into their spare time, which leaves little time to focus on friendship. Of course, it could well be me... maybe they fundamentally get bad vibes of me, I've thought about that, but the fact remains. I am English and therefore have a certain "novelty value" among the natives, which wears off in time. This is not uncomfortable for me, but I can see that certainly for you it sounds like you miss the close friendships that you have home.

 

The thing you say about children doesn't surprise me. Certainly here in Munich, it's not their fault. Kids are only allowed to actually be kids during certain times of the day. We have these "quiet times" here and they grow up adhering to that. In the building where we live we have this really beautiful courtyard out the back with a sandbox, trees, and grass to play on, but only for about 2 hours per day. Normally, it is like a ghost courtyard with tumbleweeds blowing through it. I'm not at all comfortable around children and I love peace and quiet, but the sounds of kids playing outside has never and would never piss me off to the point where I would want to impose such rules.

 

I hope that you can find a way to enjoy your life more here in Germany. It is a great country in so many respects and can offer a far higher quality of life to the UK/US if one can find a way to not feel lonely. Perhaps try getting out more and joining some groups. It's a cliche, but I'm sure it would help.

 

And, certainly increase your alcohol consumpution, in fact, I think that goes without saying.

 

Best,

D

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At one point you will realize you cannot re-train all 80 million Germans. Things are different and you simply have to accept it. But you've lived abroad before so I honestly do not believe you're ranting about everything being better at home.

 

What has helped me (now in my 10th year in d-land) is to have a sense of humor about it all. I laugh at how rude the Germans can be and just shake my head when they behave stupidly (to them, it's probably normal). I also now make sure I say something when I feel someone has wronged me and if possible with a smile. You will feel better for having defended yourself because that is the way we interpret some of their aggressive behavior. At least I do. I had a confrontation with someone at the Heidelberg train station book store last weekend and in the end this lady said "you cannot simply do that" and I said "of course i can". She huffed off and yelled something back at me so i said "f*ck off" in return. I did not let it ruin my day, like it used to the first 2-3 years i was in Germany. I was so unhappy back then! If you let it all get to you, it will. Once I started "defending" myself, I felt much better about life here. Of course when I go home (Texas), I have to remember to shut that modus off!

 

But about the feeling crowded - I get you. It is one aspect of life I do truly miss. But I know if I ever move back to the U.S., I will miss the luxury of being able to walk everywhere. And to better adapt, I avoid crowds where possible, so you won't see me out shopping on a Saturday anymore unless absolutely necessary. I know it annoys me, so I change my own behavior and I am happier for it.

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. At least I do. I had a confrontation with someone at the Heidelberg train station book store last weekend and in the end this lady said "you cannot simply do that" and I said "of course i can". She huffed off and yelled something back at me so i said "f*ck off" in return.

Ah a women after my own heart, I love the totally shocked looks when I say that :-)

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''And it could also be because this move was dictated by my husband's career, not my own, though I agreed wholeheartedly, and I do miss my own world.''

 

E.A. - My experience as well. I do think it adds a different dimension to your adjustment. I went through a phase of ''Hey, I didn't ask to be here'' and ''You (my husband) are lucky I agreed'' - which was just a demonstration of me not having ''my own world'' - I am working on it and sounds like you are

too - quite successfully from the sound of your schedule! Keep on keeping on -- ML

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Just remember germans have everything categorized and organised, just in a way that doesn't make sense. Happens all over the place. Is that because they all think differently (cultural and language related) ? No idea. But you're not alone in thinking "why the hell did they organise it like that it makes absolutely no sense."

 

You could also swap out the "treat them like aliens" with "treat them like the awkward, nerdy kid from grade 11 math class" and that might also work. explains why a simple hello to a neighbour is not as easy as you would think.

 

I liked your post though! Can't say I hate it here either, I just don't... love it. I loved the UK, but then again I think that's my misanthropic self-destructive side talking.

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You write well. It took me two years in dribs and drabs to get even close to describing feelings (pretty much identical to yours) you managed to sum up in a post or two.

 

The problem is that after years here, our attempst to integrate have failed spectacularly, and my family (pretty much identical in nationalities to yours) has reached a breaking point where our only alternatives are to either continue to live in an increasingly isolated compound (tougher as the kids get older and I become increasingly miserable) or move back home. We're now leaning toward the latter.

 

Here's hoping you have better luck than I.

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