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Wed Jan 8, 2020, 11:51 AM

How Not to Embarass Yourself when Visiting Germany



There's a lot of good info here, and I'll admit I stole it from Facebook. The thing is that many/most Americans fail to study up on cultural differences before visiting foreign countries. I know I've made mistakes on my visits, but it's still worth the effort to learn these things. Germans especially, but really all European, have the impression that we Americans are too loud - like we think they're deaf or something. There should be an entire class on the etiquette of drinking and toasting beer with friends in Germany.

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Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply How Not to Embarass Yourself when Visiting Germany (Original post)
FakeNoose Jan 2020 OP
Johnny2X2X Jan 2020 #1
FakeNoose Jan 2020 #2
CrispyQ Jan 2020 #3
Johnny2X2X Jan 2020 #6
FakeNoose Jan 2020 #11
Johnny2X2X Jan 2020 #12
CrispyQ Jan 2020 #14
CrispyQ Jan 2020 #4
FakeNoose Jan 2020 #8
CrispyQ Jan 2020 #15
FakeNoose Jan 2020 #18
DetlefK Jan 2020 #5
FakeNoose Jan 2020 #9
Midnightwalk Jan 2020 #7
llmart Jan 2020 #10
a la izquierda Jan 2020 #13
Beringia Jan 2020 #16
USALiberal Jan 2020 #17
UniteFightBack Jan 2020 #19
Codeine Jan 2020 #20
UTUSN Jan 2020 #21
greenjar_01 Jan 2020 #22
FakeNoose Jan 2020 #23

Response to FakeNoose (Original post)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 11:55 AM

1. Some good tips, except for imo time for social events

Professionally expect Germans to be on time. Socially? Yeah, not so much.

What Americans will be most surprised about is that Germans and really all Europeans are more laid back than Americans. Americans are so high strung itís making us crazy.

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Response to Johnny2X2X (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 11:59 AM

2. Yes, I think the context of this is for business travelers

... and there are things on here that I didn't know, since I'm not a business traveler.
I've been to Germany 7 times in the last 30 years but they've all been vacation trips.



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Response to Johnny2X2X (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 12:04 PM

3. A lot of Americans I know think that if you're not doing something all the time,

you are wasting your time, you are not living your life to the fullest. My mother was that way. It was a huge conflict between us when I was a teenager, and even into my 20s, she harped at me that I wasn't ambitious enough. I have several friends like that, too. I don't know how they stand it. They are on the go from morning to night. I wonder why they have such big houses when they are hardly ever home.

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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 12:16 PM

6. Lived with several Germans in college

Became friends with and lived with several German foreign exchange students in college. Most Americans really have no clue how the world views us. Even Germans, who are viewed as more uptight than most Europeans, are just a lot more live and let live than Americans. Just way less confrontational and have a better ability to not let the small things bother them.

Of course 1 thing as students they were more diligent about was studying, they simply do not understand the concept of cramming for an exam, they study throughout the semester and then maybe review notes briefly before an exam. Americans tend to wait until the last minute in their studies and other life obligations.

Other things that shocked them living in America were our casual dress, Germans prefer to dress more formally when out and about or when enjoying nightlife. By far the thing they were most shocked about though is the overreach of law enforcement in the US. Living near a college campus accentuates the police state, they were absolutely shocked that the police in the US were allowed to harass citizens so freely.

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Response to Johnny2X2X (Reply #6)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 12:28 PM

11. You have a wonderful perspective that most Americans never get

My son had a similar experience when he was a foreign exchange student for one year in Innsbruck, Austria. I wish it were possible for every college kid to do the same thing. Go somewhere else for one year and learn what it's like to live there. Then come home again and you'll be changed for life.

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Response to FakeNoose (Reply #11)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 12:54 PM

12. Americans do not travel hardly at all

https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/why-americans-still-dont-travel-overseas/

Good article on the reasons why. I think he understates the lack of vacation as being the biggest reason. Most Americans get 2 weeks or less off a year and a lot of the time they take that in little pieces for family obligations or to lengthen holidays. If I'm traveling overseas, I generally need 10 days minimum off, that's 2 days of travel and at least 1 day of recovery, that leaved me 6 or 7 days to vacation.

I don't think most Europeans understand that 2 weeks of vacation in the US is even worse than it sounds. Those 2 weeks for a lot of people get eaten up as sick days or personal days.

I am very fortunate and that I work for a company who emphasizes work life balance. We went to "permissive" time off, meaning you take as much as you need, within reason. Before that we had 4 weeks paid vacation, 1 week paid personal time off, and up to 20 days of sick time per year. On top of that we get extra Holidays off, they give us the week between Xmas and New Years off paid. We get a day off paid for Easter. Get paid for the day after Thanksgiving. So we basically adhere more or less to that now that we've gone to permissive time. It's led to a more productive and healthy work force. But it also means that a lot of us travel.

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Response to FakeNoose (Reply #11)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 02:04 PM

14. There is a member here on DU who wrote that he used to be a republican, a conservative,

but then he traveled out of the country and came back with an entirely different attitude. Maybe we need an exchange program right here in the states. Urban kids go to rural areas and rural kids go to the city.

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Response to FakeNoose (Original post)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 12:07 PM

4. A lot of this is common courtesy, something I think our society is lacking.

Not sure I get the hands on table, though. So when you cross your utensils to indicate you aren't finished eating yet, you are then to keep your hands on the table?

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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #4)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 12:18 PM

8. Those surprised me too, we Americans aren't taught those things

We're taught to keep hands (and elbows) off the table, hands go in your lap. Crossing fork and knife is a new one for me too.

One thing I learned on my first trip to Germany 30 years ago. Never use the OK (circle finger & thumb) hand sign because in Germany it's used as an insult. It's like when Americans give somebody the finger, Germans give the OK circle-finger sign. They're saying "You're an asshole!"

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Response to FakeNoose (Reply #8)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 02:05 PM

15. LOL. Isn't the A-hole finger sign the one the white nationalists have adopted?

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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #15)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 10:24 PM

18. Yes now it is, so none of us can ever use that finger sign again

But 30 years ago it was a different story.

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Response to FakeNoose (Original post)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 12:14 PM

5. Some of those are wrong:

- Tipping isn't as big of a deal as in the US.

- There is a sign how much you are supposed to "donate" to a bathroom attendant. Typically 50 cent.

- Adressing someone as Doctor or Professor is only really necessary in a professional/business-setting.

- I don't understand the one about hierarchy. Everybody already knows who you are and who's the boss of whom. It's not a big deal. No need to show off or drive it home.

- Never heard that about eye-contact during toasting. No one really cares.

- Taxis are pretty much the only time when I tip generously.

- The crossing/parallel of knife and fork is a universal code in restaurants, not particular to Germany, but, again, nobody cares about that. The waiter will pretty much wait until you stop moving or your plate is empty.

- Ordering tap-water at a bar is fine, but it's a no-no in restaurants.

- When you visit someone, a gift is only necessary when there's some sort of celebration, not when it's a casual visit.

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 12:23 PM

9. I believe this was made for business travelers

... so they could study up and not embarrass their companies when traveling in Germany. It would be normal when meeting total strangers, not friends or family members.

Yes I've requested tap-water when visiting someone's home and they weren't insulted, but they thought I was crazy. I told them we normally do this in the US.

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Response to FakeNoose (Original post)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 12:17 PM

7. The jaywalking one is kind of fun

It is true mostly, but what Iíve observed is people waiting fairly patiently. At some intersections people will start to look a little nervous or sheepish and then someone will start followed by a significant portion of everyone else.

Never on very busy roads. Everyone waits in those

The look that ďi know this is wrong but Iím going to do it anywayĒ is kind of unique to me.

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Response to FakeNoose (Original post)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 12:26 PM

10. Hey, I'm an American...

and even I think Americans are too loud. It's worse in some states than others.

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Response to FakeNoose (Original post)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 12:57 PM

13. I got read the riot act by an old German lady...

For jaywalking. Apparently I was setting a terrible example for her grandchild. Iíve never jaywalked again, even in the US.

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Response to FakeNoose (Original post)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 02:10 PM

16. Aren't they also criticized for being such good citizens during Hitler

I think manners are good, but some manners are just to show you are elitist, such as where you place the fork next to the spoon and such things.

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Response to FakeNoose (Original post)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 02:10 PM

17. No thanks! Nt

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Response to USALiberal (Reply #17)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 10:47 PM

19. +1000

 

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Response to FakeNoose (Original post)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 10:57 PM

20. When I spent time in England

the loudest and most obnoxious tourists werenít Americans, they were the French. It was almost a relief!

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Response to FakeNoose (Original post)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 10:58 PM

21. Fairly much, anthropology/culture carried (with others) to human extinction.

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Response to FakeNoose (Original post)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 11:12 PM

22. And gentlemen? Pee sitting down!



Also, the Bierpolizei will literally kick your ass until you fall down a hill.

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Response to greenjar_01 (Reply #22)

Wed Jan 8, 2020, 11:53 PM

23. Wow I didn't know that one!

My instructors have all been female, so I'm not sure they knew about men's peeing positions.

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