How to deal with the German mentality/rudeness

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Hi Fellow "Auslanders"! I just moved from Northern California (Northern) to Munich, Germany and am in quite a "cultural" shock. Is there something wrong with me? Okay - don't answer that because I'm about to have a nervous breakdown... and I'm usually a jolly person. Why is it that no one says hi or cut you off? I'm still trying to speak better German but I find it rude that they don't even acknowledge you sometimes...which is quite different when they choose to just stare at me almost everywhere I go. I don't smell and I look fairly decent for a 34 year old female...I can't quite figure it out! I should have done more studying about their culture before i took this job but I thought being a first world country like US and UK, they would have similar personalities/etc. What is it that I'm not understanding about the German mentality? Socialism?

 

Also, if someone could advise on some great hangout here in Munich, that would be great as well. I am looking into golfing... Thanks.

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Northern CA, you say? You said it twice, in fact.

 

Oh boy. The new mlovett has arrived in Germany... how long is your sentence? :P

 

You're in Munich -- fabulous city. Go to some TT events and drink until you're jolly again!

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Hi there... I remember coming to germany when I was 10 years old and started going to school and began integrating myself into society and at first I was shocked about how people threat each other... Very much the same experience as you mentioned, the germans are quit "cold" when it comes to behave in a social context... But that is just the outside or first glance, most of the germans are not so open to strangers or people they don't know, thats why they act like this... But the more you know somebody the more they will open up and show their heart... As soon as you are accepted and you know people they will threat you very kind and nicely actually, it's just that a lot of germans are skeptical about strangers, especially the older generation... The younger and global generation is very different to point that out...

But don't expect the germans to be like americans. They are completely different, not so extrovert and friendly to strangers, like a lot of americans. A lot of germans like that about americans, but also think it's kinda superficial...

 

To be honest after some time you will get used to it, as soon as you will have some loyal friends around you, you will get over it... But don't think it has anything to do with socialism, it's because of the culture and the german history that people are like this... I think in the long-term this will change...

 

BTW, I'm not a big fan of the german mentality either and to be honest I think it's quite destructive in a service orientated environment. Before I moved back to germany half a year ago, I lived, studied and worked in the Netherlands... And there it is completely different, the people over there are friendly, open and very relaxed. I thought it was a way better society and I also felt better and more positive. Since I'm back to Germany again, I also have the same feeling like you... Most people are very "cold", even going to the supermarkt is a nightmare, everybody seems depressed and are rude to each other, going to a "Behörde" is IMO the worst thing... At the moment I'm just glad, that I'm leaving germany in two months :)

 

But again, germany has it pro's and con's and one of the con's are the ones you mention. Most people get over it after a while when they have their friends and build up a social life... Stay positive and just be who you are, I think there are a lot of germans who will appreciate that... If it doesn't work out for you after some time, I would consider living somewhere else... There are many good alternatives in Europe and you will find out that there are quite some differences in Europe :)

 

I don't know a lot about Munich, so I cannot advice you about that, but from my experience golfing in germany is not so common and are mostly played by the very elite people in germany...

 

Edit: Oh, I forgot, go somewhere where people drink beer/alcohol ... A lot of germans open up when they had some drinks ;)

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Interesting thread. When I started visiting Germany back in the 80's, my American friends who had spent a lot of time over there in the military had the almost universal belief that the Germans from the Catholic areas of the south of Germany and Austria were much more friendly and gregarious than those form the north or at least more pro-American. They used to tell stories about how when the Greens tried to arrange an anti-American no nukes protest in Augsburg, they only drew about 10% of what they expected and were essentially run out of town by the locals. <_<

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Hi Happy 76, welcome to TT.

 

I've been here in Germany working for 8 months so far and can understand some of your frustrations. Luckily I do not seem to get stared at too much or maybe it just seems less as we lived in Asia before here. Both my husband and I are tall and Anglo so for us it seems like we stand out far less here!

 

As already mentioned by others, Germans do warm up and can be quite friendly after a while. Particularly the younger Germans.

It took a while but I now know a few Germans I'd call friends. Not much socialising outside work though as we live hours apart even though we work together...

A TT event with alcohol does sound like a great first stop to get your mojo back.

 

Anyhow, just wanted to say stay happy and have some fun. It will get better and worst case you could always go home (which I'm sure is not a bad option) :)

 

Forgot to mention that Germans need to complete a course before they can play golf. The course and equipment is pretty expensive so that's why a lot of Germans do not play. My husband loves his golf and hopefully when the weather warms up he will get some games in. He's had one hit at a hotel golf course where I was working which was ok and at least the staff spoke English making the first foray to a German golf course a little easier. We live near Frankfurt so can't help with specific courses near you but I'm sure some knowledgeable TT'ers will have more info... There are some good Intergolf hotels you could look up online as a first step...

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I had the opportunity to live and work in CA, eastern Germany and western Germany. They are all totally different and having Pros and Cons. I had the same experience as you mentioned... I suggest join clubs and interest groups. Germans are also friendly and warm and can be good friends once they know you. Your expectation of the first meeting is too optimistic. Most of all do not depress yourself or it will be much more difficult. I enjoy my Germans friends, they are warm and caring and nice people.

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Welcome to TT, but I hope you don´t end up having your whole life revolve around it!

I also found it difficult when I first came here - a new environment, lots of people who I didn´t know, and didn´t regard as friends, and the "loss" of family and friends back home. I suspect that your initial feelings really are just a mixture of culture shock and home sickness, but it will get better!

Also, bear in mind that as a child it is really easy to make new friends, but after a certain age, when people get married and have kids, then they don´t really "need" new friends like you, and this obviously won´t help you much!

You didn´t mention what job you do here, but isn´t there somebody at work you could maybe go out with for a drink or visit to the cinema or whatever? or maybe just meet for a cup of coffee so that you have a chance to improve your German.

Whilst it might be really nice for you to meet some English-speaking people in Munich, for instance at a TT event, you really should try not to base ALL of your social life around TT as it won´t really help you to imporve your German skills, and also won´t help you to mix with Germans, and find acceptance amongst them.

 

The German mentality is certainly one that needs getting used to, but I suspect that I would have trouble getting used to the Northern Californian mentality if I should ever move there - the only advantage I might have is that I already speak English!

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I would recommend a few things, first, reading this book:

 

Hyde Flippo.

 

It helped me understand many things

 

the lack of red/yellow/green cars, the lack of significant amounts of color in clothing (but hair must be pink), the lack of smiling (you must be crazy if you smile) etc.

 

It was endearing after reading it.

 

I have moved so many places in my lifetime, and the last thing I need to do at my old age is fall into the 'this custom is stupid' or 'the way they do this is stupid' mode like a lot of the newcomers do (not you folks, but yes, I hear it a LOT)

 

check it out....will make you respect some customs and quirks

 

The Germans that have warmed up to us, are very dear, funny (and i mean FUNNY) and very loyal friends

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I`ll second Crabby Apple on the "loyal" part - Mr R100 and I used to both be with the voluntary fire service here, until he left to go and live somewhere else with his "tart".

Since then I have only had support from the other volunteers, and on occasion have had to cut in and stop them from putting down my ex totally!

The only thing about Germany is that you cannot expect them to become your best friends overnight - it takes time!

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I think your idea to find some nice hangouts is a very good one. Starting to find place where you are a known face and "friendly faces" start to recognise you will help. Even with some German, go to German school for a while perhaps, they also tend to atract inherently friendly Germans to work in them.

 

There are also loads of single / kid-fre people in Germany (given it's got a low birth rate and high divorce rate). Top me, it's a fantastic place to be an unnattracehd 30/ 40 something, no shortage of ptoential company.

 

FWIW I travel a fair bit in Germany and the one thing I particularly note in Munich is....how friendly and nice people are to me :). I think you are in one of the best places for that. It's also the highest energy / self-confident / cosmopolitan city here, by far the closest in feel to London imho.

 

I think you also have to be a bit prosaic - your life is special and novel as a new immigrant - most other people are doing ther sam mundane stuff they've done for decades. No need to notice little-old-you, I'm afraid.

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What you describe is typical of Munich and also lots of smaller towns and cities in Germany. Munich still has the Bavarian mentailty where people take a long time to get to know strangers and keep their distance from newcomers. It's a bit of a village really. Also 'socialism' has nothing to do with it as Germany isn't a socialist country, it has a social market economy with a welfare system and a healthcare system like the whole of the western world apart from the USA. Can you get a transfer to Hamburg, Berlin or maybe Cologne? These are much more cosmopolitan cities where the people are generally much more normal, especially Hamburg and also Berlin, though there are virtually no jobs in berlin.

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To the original poster - best of luck; some great suggestions up the thread (mostly to do with alcohol, LOL, WHAT a surprise on here...). I am lucky enough to have landed in a place (Mainz) where the locals are a LOT more friendly - in the theatre where I work, EVERYONE says Hallo upon even passing in the corridors, even if we don't know each other. Actual friendships are a different matter, but then I understood from the start that this could be the case, that casual friendships are far less easily struck up over here. Having said that, there are always exceptions to the rule - and the more people you actually get out and meet, the better the chances are that you'll click with new people. As to staring, well I haven't noticed that the Germans do it any more than anyone else. However I'm a non-German-looking opera singer with an eccentric sense of dress so I'm pretty used to it and it's harmless.

 

To Crabby Apple - thank you for the book recommendation, have ordered it today and will look forward with interest to reading it!

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Mezzo--let me know how you like it. I learned a lot from it. I ask my German friends a lot of questions but since they are not of the same generation that many of the norms come from, they don't even know why some things are the way they are.

 

Visiting Berlin and reading about the history of Germany and other things have helped me to understand many things.

 

I live on the economy, but due to my husband having military affiliation, my contacts intially were limited to Americans on base. It has been nice to start taking German lessons (downtown, not on base) and also meeting and making friends with some Germans. Things are sort of different in some ways and VERY different in other ways. This has been and continues to be a WONDERFUL experience for us and for our son.

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Thought I'd help you out a bit in finding some of the many threads which already exist on TT. ;)

 

 

I find it rude that

 

Are Bavarians as rude as I've been told?

or search for "rude" and you'll get a whole list of results

 

 

when they choose to just stare at me almost everywhere I go

 

Staring Germans, why do they do it so?

 

 

I am looking into golfing

And here are just two of many threads about golf.

Public golf courses in the Munich area

Golfing in and around Munich

 

Now you'll know how to search out the sort of hangout place which best suits your preferences. :)

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Actually, it is really getting on my nerves when people say "excuse me" when they are not even in your way. Also, why would you say "hi" to everyone, people you don't even know?!

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I'm still trying to speak better German but I find it rude that they don't even acknowledge you sometimes...which is quite different when they choose to just stare at me almost everywhere I go.

I have to disagree there. Completely. I have lived(or visited) quite a few countries in different continents. Germans are probably the most helpful folk around. In fact I would say, Europe is much more tolerant and "foreigner-friendly" than the other continents I have visited. (Of-course excluding France, just kidding :P )

 

I live in Baden but on the borders of Bavaria. In fact München in my most favorite city followed by Wien and Dublin. I have never lived there but have been to München quite often. I have never had the experience of people staring at me there. Or being rude to me. In fact the British and the Germans read a lot and travel a lot. Just look at the number of documentaries they have on TV over here. This results in them being very appreciative of other cultures.

 

May be they just stare at you because you are very pretty :P

 

 

What is it that I'm not understanding about the German mentality? Socialism?

What do you mean? Socialism is not a bad thing. In fact even its extreme version, communism calls for Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt euch! I don't think there exists any current political ideology that unifies people more than communism!

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why would you say "hi" to everyone, people you don't even know?!

 

Yeah, I know exactly what you mean about how irritating it can be when complete strangers say "hi" to me, especially when I'm in pain or sick and waiting for my turn to come up at the doctor's or dentist's office. They're interrupting my reading a very interesting article about what might happen in the upcoming German election. ;)

 

Even worse is when they say "bye" to me, almost like they're gloating that they've been in to the see the doctor while I'm still out there waiting.

 

And dammit... I go for a little hike in the German countryside to get away from it all, and there's all these people around (especially on Sundays), AND they insist on always saying "hi" to me as they pass by. Sheesh! :P

 

On a slightly more serious note:

 

 

In fact even its extreme version, communism calls for Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt euch! I don't think there exists any current political ideology that unifies people more than communism!

 

Yep... unified most of my family ... in heaven. :(

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Actually, it is really getting on my nerves when people say "excuse me" when they are not even in your way. Also, why would you say "hi" to everyone, people you don't even know?!

 

I think I'll join the German expats in USA forum to stalk the posters with "but Germany does it this way" whining.

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Oh and I forgot to mention. Here in the US, when you are in a restaurant, enjoying your meal, I don't know how many times the waiter comes by and asks "how are you doing, is everything ok". Most of the time you can't answer because your mouth is full of food. Do you think they do that on purpose so you can't answer?! ;)

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