4 Myths About Germany

by Rebecca A. Watson on April 27, 2015

in Dogs, Germany, perception, travel

It never fails. Every time I talk to a friend back in the U.S. or we meet up with colleagues passing through from America, I hear some fantasy about Deutschland or the German people.

Not that I blame them. I had a lot of these same ideas before I moved here as well. But now, let’s just say I know better.

shopping with a dog

I shop with my dog now. Das ist sehr Deutsche!

I love my adopted home and the folks that live here. Anything that I say below is meant with all sorts of love. I apologize in advance if I make some insensitive remark as an ignorant auslander. Please let me know and I will correct it. </PC>

1. Most Germans Speak English

If there was one thing I heard before I moved to Germany, it was this. Mostly it came from those who’d visited the country before, but there were a few folks that had lived here who declared this as well.

If this myth had a more rational cousin, it’d be Many of the Germans in cities speak English.

While the Germans are certainly a well-educated bunch, it’s pretty arrogant to assume you can just roll in to a hardware store and launch into an English discussion with some dude about drywall. It’s probably better to prep beforehand with a list of things you need with the help of Google Translate.

Butcher shops interactions resulted in hilarious pantomimes. Same thing happened at my hairstylists, although it was a little less violent. And these are the kind of folks you interact with on the regular.

sushi

Thankfully I figured this out before I made sushi. I’m not sure how to act out “shrimp.”

To be fair, it’s pretty arrogant to assume that anyone speaks your language when you live in a foreign country. So even if someone does speak English, it’s polite to try their language first.

Then, as they so often do in Germany, they can smile and offer kindly to speak in English if they choose, probably less out of courtesy and more because they can’t stand to hear you butcher their language.

2. German Beer is Super Pure

Long ago I worked at a brewery, and there we would brew many German-style lagers. We would tell of a far-off land that took beer so seriously it had laws about its ingredients.

Only the finest for German beer: water, malt and hops. Now that I think about it, it sounds a bit like a marketing slogan for PBR. I guess it works.

The ugly truth is that half the beer aisle at the grocery store is filled with what I consider mixed drinks. Radler, which is lemonade and beer mixed, is a refreshing treat after a bike ride, hence the name. (Rad means bike in German.)

But there are also a variety of brands that are less enticing, at least in my mind. Beer mixed with cola. With tequila. With something that essentially amounts to a beer suicide: mixing it with orange soda and cola.

beer mixes germany

I think the reason for this is that young folks can drink beer at 16. And beer is an acquired taste. So why not make it a bit more palatable for the youths? I could be wrong, although I’ve yet to see an adult drinking a Schwuchtel.

3. German is Easy to Learn if You Speak English

Hahahahhahaaaaaaaaa. Ha. I’d like to write something coherent in this first paragraph but I can’t stop laughing when someone (me) assumes that because their language is Germanic (as English is) that it will be easy to learn German.

Sure, there are some words that cross over. But vocabulary only gets you so far. And there are many words that don’t. Like gift. In English, it’s a nice thing to receive on your birthday. In German, well, it’s poison. So yeah, hopefully that cake isn’t a gift, you dig?

Maybe, maybe if we still spoke Shakespeare’s English we would have a chance at understanding the grammar and maniacal tangents German takes. But I doubt it.

4. Everything is So Orderly

Before I moved to Germany, I had visions of my head of perfectly manicured lawns and paperwork, albeit ubuiqutous, flying through government agencies at head-spinning speeds.

While our neighbor’s lawn is insanely beautiful, he also happens to be a landscaper. But even the boulevards in front of his house grow long and wild once spring comes.

wild grass of freiburg

Here we see Neka in the wild grasslands of … Oberwiehre.

And our paperwork? Well, Sante’s drivers licence took about a year to get, from start to finish. Much of that time was spent waiting. (The other part was spent studying the possible 1000 questions that could make up the written test.)

There are other things too. When a new cashier opens up in a grocery store, there are suddenly no rules. Just a mad dash: first come, first serve.

But I like this about Germany. It would seem that much like every person I’ve ever met, the country is full of contradictions. And this is what makes it so fantastic.

And fun to write about. So thank you my dear Germans. And for those auslanders who visit or live here, I’d love to hear what myths you’ve discovered as well.

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