As the typical stereotypes go, Germans are described as complainers with no sense of humour. They are always on time, efficient and hard-working. Beer is an essential part of the culture as well as sausage, sauerkraut and the Dirndl & Lederhosen.
Living abroad as a German gives you an interesting insight into the stereotypes about German people which foreigners have – some that are true and some ones that are absolutely not.
Germans are punctual and efficient
Germans are considered to be highly punctual and efficient. Whether at work, a guided tour or an appointment of any kind (doctor, date or school) – the Germans are always 10 minutes early – and that’s true. If you arrive exactly on time, it’s already too late for the Germans – especially at work. But if you want to leave work on time – beware – it’s almost rude to leave work on time – you should stay at least 15 minutes after the official finishing time.
Although that sounds very strict, that’s probably the reason why one of the main German stereotypes is their efficiency. Deadlines are stuck to, they work hard and are reliable. When you do business with a German you can rely on their word and their dedication to customer service is second to none. Their high productivity can explain their high levels of economic growth. This means great jobs and internship opportunities across the country.
Germans love beer
First of all: Yes, the stereotype that Germans love beer is absolutely true. It is a part of their culture and many Germans enjoy a beer almost every day. It is an important part of BBQs, after work activities or when meeting up with friends.
This stereotype is only reinforced by Oktoberfest and similar festivals, too. You can find a “Biergarten” (‘beer garden’) in almost every street. This is a comfortable outdoors area in which beer and local food is served on typical tables and benches, which the Germans call “Biertisch” (beer table) and “Bierbank” (beer bank).
With more than 5000 different brands, more than 15 sorts of beer and 1300 breweries, it is no surprise that Germany ranked second in beer consumption in Europe.
Besides that, nearly every German is able to open a beer without a bottle opener. A considerable feat for many a beer drinker.
Germans are cold and direct
The Germans are known as direct-talkers as they don’t like to beat around the bush – they are very goal-oriented so they want to get to the point as fast as possible. If they say YES it means yes and if they say NO it means no. Very easy. Also they are not a fan of small talk – if they ask you “How are you?” – they really want to know how you feel. If you ask them, they are going to speak for more than 5 minutes about their feelings.
A German friend is a friend for life
In general Germans tend to be more formal to people they don’t know and need a little bit longer to warm up with a person. You can interpret this as respect to your privacy rather than they don’t like you at all – but if you make friends with a German, it’s forever. It’s honest, valuable and definitely not superficial. Many Germans still meet up with their friends from school for decades after they leave.
Germans have no sense of humour
Across Europe, one of the most familiar German stereotypes surrounds their lack of humour. This, however, is not the case; jokes about politics, life’s hardships and other German regions are most popular. Many German jokes do not translate well either, due to their language’s structure and grammar rules, which make puns almost impossible. This may be an explanation for the common stereotype – they are really just misunderstood.
How many Germans do you need to change a light bulb?
Only one – Germans are efficient and don’t have a sense of humour!
Germans love sausage
Bockwurst, Wiener Wurst, Blutwurst, Bratwurst, Currywurst, Weißwurst, Brühwurst, Kinderwurst, Sommerwurst, Rostbratwurst, Mettwurst, Teewurst, Fleischwurst, Jagdwurst, Leberwurst, Pfefferwurst, Bregenwurst, Debrezinerwurst, Salamiwurst, Blutwurst.
Any more questions?
Germany has 1.500 varieties of wurst and those are only examples which came right to my mind. Each region has their own speciality with another type of sausage – in Bavaria, for example, the “Weißwurst mit Brezn” is really famous.
Germans love rules and order
At the top of Germany’s big list of rules is the governmental office, which is called “Ordnungsamt”. Translated, it means “office of order” – and yes, they’re creating lots of rules to keep everything well structured. For example, the garbage is sorted in at least in 8 different sections: Plastic, metal, paper, organic, one for white, brown and green glass and the general garbage. Although this is not a rule as such, every German is strictly regimented about recycling. In addition, there are lots of traffic signs, strict rules and parking prohibitions on every German street and motorway.
It is undeniable that the rules and the structure work really well in Germany. After all, it provides an explanation for their high efficiency.
The traditional costume: Lederhosn & Dirndl
If you are going to Germany, you might be disappointed if you’re expecting to see any German on the street with their traditional dress. If you do see one, you can be sure it is a Bavarian who got onto the wrong train after Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest has helped keep the myth alive that all Germans wear Dirndl (traditional dress for women) or Lederhosn (traditional leather pants for men). The Dirndl was originally a working robe of the female servant and created from peasant clothing in Austria and Bavaria around 1870. So, only the Bavarians wear it to traditional occasions like the Oktoberfest, Weinfest (traditional wine festival) or Dorffest (traditional village festival).
Not forgetting that Germans also absolutely love football. This picture should cover it.
The common German stereotypes may actually ring true in some cases, but it’s best to spend time living in the country to form your own opinion. If great beer, delicious food and efficiency at work sound good to you, why not find a job in Germany with your native language?