As a German student staying abroad for a long term and being recognized by my German appearance and accent, for the first time I really felt confronted with being a German and all its consequences as still rather negative stereotypes coming along…
1. Germans are humorless
Judging us by our politicians is just not fair…
The US sitcom “South Park” nominates the Germans as the most humorless nation of the world-but is it really true?
Some statistics show that there is the strong belief in Germany that only wealthy people can afford cynicism and sarcasm and carnival as well as comedy shows (especially American comedies including a lot of sexual innuendos are seen as dull and tasteless) are the last artificial and senseless attempt of Germans trying to be funny.
I believe that this opinion is rather represented by the huge part of either old or serious intellectuals of the population because I did not find any person in my age not laughing about RTL (the most famous tv channel in Germany) shows like “Bauer sucht Frau”, “Dschungelcamp” or “TV-total”.
Even if you are belonging to the highly intellectual, there is something for you! Just take a look at the german version of the “Today Show”, the “Heute Show”, “Neulich im Bundestag” (political satire) or the music group “Monsters of Liedermaching-Salamandervorhautdiät” they are more or less meaningful.
2. Germans are hard-working
Sure we are, that’s our success story! Achievement and success are at first rank for many germans but it seems like they start recognizing more and more other important values in life as the time for hobbies and relaxation as well as parties and friends is increasing and today about 84% of the Germans see themselves as open and sociable.
3. Germans drink a lot of beer
It’s hard to deny that one. Having a beer after work (or even before) is a traditional german thing. A German drinks on average 125 liter beer each year. One reason might be that 16-years-olds are given the responsibility to continue with this tradition, and this legal age is often not even being followed.
On the contrary, the consumption of beer, especially of older people, has actually diminished! In 2005 about 55 percent of the male beer drinkers drank a beer several times during a week, shrinking to a number of 48 percent in 2010.
4. Germans wear “Lederhosen & Dirndl”
Traditional clothes like this are only necessary for Oktoberfest and in very rural areas of Bavaria.When I was in Munich during the Oktoberfest time, I had the feeling that there were more Asian girls with Dirndls in the city than Germans. (By the way, 19 percent of Oktoberfest visitors come from abroad, 14 percent of them from the US). In my opinion the Oktoberfest is only bearable completely drunk, and completely drunk usually means that you are bankrupt afterwards as a beer costs you almost 10 euros… But well that’s the price for the Germans’ liquid gold.
5. Germans are disciplined
What might be true regarding the work attitude is definitely not true regarding the free-time behavior.
German boys are definitely approximating towards an “Italian behavior”. An exchange student for example told me that she was shocked in the beginning how German boys „kommen zum Punkt“ so fast. This means that they are fast flirters as they (in contrast to the picture on top) often enter the clubs, dance for a short time even with unknown girls, kiss them after a couple of minutes and take them home… So: be aware of German boys!
All in all I have to say that there actually are some german stereotypes which I’m proud of like our punctuality, ambition or reliability (even though I cannot really include me).
Stereotypes can be helpful in understanding another culture better. So if Germans don’t greet you as much as you are used to from Columbia, don’t be disappointed, it’s nothing personal, it’s just not a part of their culture as the contrary is here.
I personally think that the biggest problem for Germans themselves is being concerned about our image. We often tend to see mainly what we consider as our weaknesses like being pessimistic which a lot of other countries do not even see. Americans for example regard us as very generous, Chinese think that we are slow and people from Costa Rica even consider us as open and very accessible!
We need to be more self-confident and less self-pitying, which hopefully will make us appear happier and funnier!