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Is it worth moving to a big city in the west?

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I am currently working in a university town in the former east of Germany (for nearly a year since October 2020) and I really don't like it. When the students are around, and they are gradually returning after the summer vacation, it is more bearable here, but I'm middle aged and won't be making friends with them. Really, apart from the students who seem open minded and friendly, I find the people here frankly terrible. There is no socialising at my workplace at all and colleagues have been extremely formal and cold, to the point at which things were so unpleasant I asked to work from home, which I prefer. I know the pandemic made things difficult, but all the same. The people here aren't just reserved, I would say downright rude and unfriendly and often horrible in shops and so on, even though I try my best German. In August I went to the UK finally and found the people unbelievably friendly in comparison. I decided to give it some more time here but I really am at the point of giving up. As I am a home worker I can go elsewhere and was wondering if anyone had a recommendation for a place which is more open or friendly. I don't like Berlin much but I was thinking Hamburg or Cologne. Or is everywhere in Germany this bad, in which case I will probably just return to the UK. 

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2 hours ago, Duffy said:

Or is everywhere in Germany this bad, in which case I will probably just return to the UK. 

 

If you have to ask this question, you're better off in the UK.

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I find Cologne to be very friendly and people open but some people like one place and some another. The same can be said about the UK. My parents are from Manchester and, although I was born there, I spent most of my life in the South of the UK and Germany. My parents find people in the South of the UK unfriendly especially in shops and people in the North quite happily chat while they are at the checkout, passing each other in the street, etc.  but in the South it's more business like and you pay for your shopping and get out of the place as quickly as possible and mind your own business.

 

Why is it you are in Germany? Is it just for work or family related? If you found people in the UK much friendlier in the UK when you visited in August and you aren't happy in your current location, why are you looking to stay in Germany?

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Germans I know will say that those from the east have the reputation of being unfriendly, so maybe you would just be better in a town in the west?

 

2 hours ago, Duffy said:

There is no socialising at my workplace at all

 

This does seem relatively normal from threads I have read on TT. Socialising here in Germany is done through Vereine which are now opening again 'after' Corona (!). Pick an activity you like, find the relevant club and go there for friends.

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Sounds like you want a new start. There are lots of friendly folk in both Hamburg and Cologne. Glad to hear you are trying to speak German - keep up with that. It'll be the key to making friends. Oh, and as Kiplette said, join a club...neighbourhood/village club, volunteer fire brigade, local walking group, 1FC/FCSP supporters' club...so many options.

As for being rude, something you may have already noticed if your German is up to speed, is that Johnny German loves to speak in the imperative. This makes them sound rude/unfriendly, but they don't mean anything by it.  

 

 

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3 hours ago, Duffy said:

I am currently working in a university town in the former east of Germany (for nearly a year since October 2020) and I really don't like it. When the students are around, and they are gradually returning after the summer vacation, it is more bearable here, but I'm middle aged and won't be making friends with them. Really, apart from the students who seem open minded and friendly, I find the people here frankly terrible. There is no socialising at my workplace at all and colleagues have been extremely formal and cold, to the point at which things were so unpleasant I asked to work from home, which I prefer. I know the pandemic made things difficult, but all the same. The people here aren't just reserved, I would say downright rude and unfriendly and often horrible in shops and so on, even though I try my best German. In August I went to the UK finally and found the people unbelievably friendly in comparison. I decided to give it some more time here but I really am at the point of giving up. As I am a home worker I can go elsewhere and was wondering if anyone had a recommendation for a place which is more open or friendly. I don't like Berlin much but I was thinking Hamburg or Cologne. Or is everywhere in Germany this bad, in which case I will probably just return to the UK. 

Sorry to make light of your situation, but that jumped out after reading your post a second time :lol:

 

59 minutes ago, warsteiner70 said:

I find Cologne to be very friendly and people open but some people like one place and some another. The same can be said about the UK. My parents are from Manchester and, although I was born there, I spent most of my life in the South of the UK and Germany. My parents find people in the South of the UK unfriendly especially in shops and people in the North quite happily chat while they are at the checkout, passing each other in the street, etc.  but in the South it's more business like and you pay for your shopping and get out of the place as quickly as possible and mind your own business.

 

Why is it you are in Germany? Is it just for work or family related? If you found people in the UK much friendlier in the UK when you visited in August and you aren't happy in your current location, why are you looking to stay in Germany?

I'm from the north and I wouldn't say people down south are unfriendly, just different friendly.

I've lived over in east Germany for nearly 20 years now and although I wouldn't say they are unfriendly,  they are not "as" friendly, or at least in the same ways I am used to, as back in the north of England.

 

I get on with my work colleagues, we even meet up for a beer (or even lunch during home office times the last year or so) but I wouldn't say it's any kind of deeper friendship (we don't invite each other to birthday stuff etc).

 

 What is funny is that I've always considered people from Bayern to be the unfriendly ones but always thought people in the north of Germany were friendly as well as people in Berlin.

 

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I only lived in Munich 16 years. Bavarians tend to live up to their gruff reputation. Now i live in France. When we nip over the border to Freiburg and environs they seem like an entirely different breed. So civilised and polite by comparison. 

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I have been living in east Germany since i arrived here in 2016. The idea of moving never leaves my mind. I am married into a german family, so i have a few of them in my inner circle. So i can say they are not unfriendly, they are just different. But i havent been able to form any deep relationship with anyone. Same as u. People are too busy with their own matters. Move if you can. I mean why not, u can always move back, if you are allowed to do homeoffice. If you do move, pls update if its better on the other side 😉

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I moved from West to East as soon as I retired, got a much better life here. There is one other English-speaking person in town, as far as I know.

 

If thinking of moving to the West I recommend a smaller town: Goettingen, Braunschweig, Tuebingen, Bonn etc etc

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I've lived in rhe East for nearly 30 years and have got the hang of it :D but yes, it does take a long time. I do think the West is a bit closer in attitude to the UK, but there is still a cultural difference, so it would still be a case of you having to learn and adapt.

You don't say where you are, but you might also just be in the wrong part of town - maybe you'd be happier in a more "alternative" area, if there is one.

If it's Ilmenau, then just leave :lol: or I could put you in touch with a guy at the university you might get on with!

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7 hours ago, diding said:

I havent been able to form any deep relationship with anyone.

You can wait a lifetime for them to open up to meaningful conversation. And some more. This sums up the situation I had with my Germanic inlaws who I never see anymore. It is a way for them to exert control in my opinion.

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Just as an update a few things have happened and to cut a long story short I'm returning to the UK. I feel the last year has taken a big toll on me. About ten days ago, I thought maybe I would feel better if I went to the office a couple of days a week so I wasn't at home all the time. So I asked if I could do that, but was bluntly told in an email consisting of about 10 words, "no, there is no space", without stating any other reasons, offering any sympathy or asking me how I am doing, or anything. In the last year of working for this company I think about one person has asked me how I was doing, and that was in a new year's email. Reflecting about the office though, it is probably better I didn't go back, as I can't believe how terrible it was really. Like I would go into the kitchen to fix a coffee and if there was a coworker in there they would usually stand in silence and eventually walk out, and any attempt at chat, like how was your weekend, what project are you working on right now, where did you study, failed completely, usually with the person offering single word responses and not wanting to talk. The women coworkers were rude, they made me feel like I was being creepy almost every time I communicated with them unless it was work related. It weirdly felt like going back to my teenage years, when things between the genders can feel extremely awkward, but I'm in my 40s! My male cowokers were frankly mostly equally terrible and often came over extremely competitive, like I was their rival or something. So basically, zero team spirit and zero sociability. I mean is that normal here? Fridays, everyone would go home early. What a contrast to the UK where a few people are always up for going to a pub and having a natter about the week. Last weekend I visited a few places in the west but decided I didn't want to stay. I went to the Rhine-Ruhr area. To be honest I thought Frankfurt was awful, Cologne seemed a bit better, it's all more prosperous but in many ways not really that different. So I'm heading home with a heavy heart and really I don't think I'll work here again. I'm going to work from home in the UK until I find something new. The only place I have liked here is Munich and the general Bavaria region which I visited right at the start, and the people did seem relatively friendly, but I can't afford to live in a nice part of Munich, like most people. Anyway thanks guys for your comments and all the best.

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Germans in the East didn't learn English at school - they learnt  Russian.

Hence, whenever I visited my counterparts in Dresden, Magdeburg, Leipzig etc

before I could usefully speak German, I was always given the impression 

that they didn't want to talk to me (in English).

They simply couldn't.

 

If you've made up your mind, then good for you.

It's a tough decision to up sticks and start again

but Germany with its language and cultural differences to 

the UK is not for everyone.

 

I notice that you haven't mentioned the North (Hamburg or S-H).

Have you tried it or does your job not have many opportunities up here ?

 

Good luck !  

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38 minutes ago, HH_Sailor said:

Germans in the East didn't learn English at school - they learnt  Russian.

Hence, whenever I visited my counterparts in Dresden, Magdeburg, Leipzig etc

before I could usefully speak German, I was always given the impression 

that they didn't want to talk to me (in English).

They simply couldn't.

 

Good luck !  

 

I would also add to this that a lot of Germans don't like small talk, they don't see the point of it and they don't like to share their private life with strangers.  It's getting better, but it's taking time.  I teach English and teaching small talk is part of the training, especially for international business people.  Some are ok with it, but some really struggle because they don't do it in German, especially in a work environment.

 

As HH_Sailor said above, good luck, I hope you find what you're looking for.

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1 hour ago, Duffy said:

 So I'm heading home with a heavy heart and really I don't think I'll work here again. I'm going to work from home in the UK until I find something new.

 

Oh, come on girl!

You have at last made a decision, and your heart knows that it is the right one for you.

Don´t feel sad or "down" because this hasn´t worked out for you - hey! you are going "home", to a world where the people are nice and friendly, and you don´t have to make a huge effort to be understood - what could be better?

Just be sure to take a cannister of petrol with you when you go, and you´ll have to fight off the number of new friends you instantly have ;)

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2 hours ago, Duffy said:

...is that normal here?

There are exceptions but it sounds familiar.

I have the teutons down as generally socially incompetent and ungracious in public settings. You get out of the habit of conversation if you don t practice regularly. Some never learnt. If you are feeling charitable you can put it down to cultural difference.

It takes courage to make a hard decision and cut your losses. From your description it sounds like you are doing the right thing. Good luck in moving forward and don t look back.

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1 hour ago, robinson100 said:

 

Oh, come on girl!

You have at last made a decision, and your heart knows that it is the right one for you.

Don´t feel sad or "down" because this hasn´t worked out for you - hey! you are going "home", to a world where the people are nice and friendly, and you don´t have to make a huge effort to be understood - what could be better?

Just be sure to take a cannister of petrol with you when you go, and you´ll have to fight off the number of new friends you instantly have ;)

I agree….don’t feel disheartened by going ‘home’. You tried Germany and it didn’t work out, especially over the last year of so many Corona issues. I’ve found that many people are even less sociable than before. When walking in the forest, people would always greet each other in passing. Now they don’t even do that….head down, avoid! The most they manage is to drop their masks on the forest floor.  I’m a  loon that picks the masks up with sticks and put them in a bin to avoid any animal being hurt. We’ve lived in our house for 10 years and still our neighbours avoid a cursory wave. 

 

I’ve never found an area in Germany that’s much different.  Having said that, my daughter now lives in the Bodensee area and she thinks that people are much nicer in her young age group. The added benefit being life in beautiful surroundings. Very expensive though.

 

Yes, a canister of petrol would be good to take back to the UK….a few frozen turkeys too perhaps!

 

Good luck

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17 minutes ago, emkay said:

 I’ve found that many people are even less sociable than before. When walking in the forest, people would always greet each other in passing. Now they don’t even do that….head down, avoid!

 

 

I'm sorry to read the above, as I've found the opposite.  I live not far from you and I go walking in the fields around here almost every day.  Over the past 18 months, I've found people to be more friendly and open than before Covid and willing to say "hello" and smile as I go by.  I felt things had improved, so I'm sad to hear your experience.

 

I guess we all have different views on situations.

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7 minutes ago, Tap said:

 

I'm sorry to read the above, as I've found the opposite.  I live not far from you and I go walking in the fields around here almost every day.  Over the past 18 months, I've found people to be more friendly and open than before Covid and willing to say "hello" and smile as I go by.  I felt things had improved, so I'm sad to hear your experience.

 

I guess we all have different views on situations.

Glad it’s better where you are. We’ve found it really odd…we say hello to people and most just ignore these days. I don’t think we appear weird or scary in any way..maybe we do! :blink: We have a local Facebook group that used to be nice, friendly and helpful. That too took a turn for the worse.  

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