Myths about Germany you should know from an expat’s perspective
As someone who relocated as an expat in Germany for almost two years now, I’ve had to answer my fair share of myths and assumptions about what life in Germany is like when I talk to my family and friends back home.
“Do Germans always drink beer?” “Can’t you drive as fast as you want on the Autobahn?”
From the food to the language to the culture, there are a lot of misconceptions floating around. Here are some of the top 10 myths about expat life in Germany, and what reality is like after living here.
Myth: Germans are cold and unfriendly
One of the most common assumptions I’ve heard about Germany is that Germans are cold and unfriendly. However, after living here for a while, I’ve found that this simply isn’t true. Sure, Germans might not be quite as chatty as Americans (my home country), but that doesn’t mean they’re unfriendly. Once you get to know them, Germans are warm and welcoming people. They just might take a bit longer to warm up to you.
A great way to start integrating as an expat in Germany is to join a sports club, go to local events, and join local groups of interest.
Myth: All German food is heavy and meat-filled
Another myth I’ve heard a lot is that all German food is heavy and meat-filled. While it’s true that there are a lot of meat-heavy dishes in German cuisine (hello, schnitzel), there are also plenty of vegetarian and even vegan options. And when it comes to baked goods, Germany is a paradise for anyone with a sweet tooth. From delicious pastries to creamy cakes, there’s something for everyone.
Myth: Everyone in Germany speaks perfect English
While it’s true that many Germans speak excellent English (often better than some native English speakers, in fact), not everyone speaks it fluently. Depending on where you live in Germany, it’s entirely possible to encounter people who speak little to no English. That’s not to say that you need to be fluent in German to live here, but it certainly helps to have some basic language skills.
Myth: Germany is a boring country
Germany might not be known for its wild nightlife or beach parties (even though there are plenty of fun venues and dance clubs in the bigger cities), but that doesn’t mean it’s a boring country. There’s so much to see and do here, from exploring the historic cities of Berlin and Munich to hiking in the beautiful Black Forest. And if you’re into beer, Germany is definitely the place for you. There are countless breweries and beer gardens all over the country, each with its own unique atmosphere.
Myth: The bureaucracy in Germany is impossible to navigate
There’s no getting around it: the bureaucracy in Germany can be a bit overwhelming at times. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to navigate. With a bit of patience and perseverance, you can figure out everything from registering your address to applying for a visa. And once you’ve gotten through the bureaucracy, you can rest easy knowing that you’re living in a well-organized and efficient country.
But to make it an even more relaxing experience to come to Germany as an expat, our relocation services can help guide you through the jungle of laws, help you find housing, or even show you how to open a window (yes, it is way different than in the U.S. or other countries).
Myth: Everyone in Germany drinks beer all the time
While beer is a huge part of the culture here, plenty of Germans don’t drink beer. They also really love tea (Tee) in Germany, and in some parts like Northern Germany, they even have a specific way they drink their tea with family and friends. When you are sick or have a health problem, the common remedy prescribed by the doctor is chamomile tea.
Myth: You can drive as fast as you want on the Autobahn
Okay, to be fair, you can drive very fast on the Autobahn – BUT you still have to consider the flow of traffic. The recommended speed on the Autobahn is 130 km/h (about 75 mph). If you get into a wreck when you are driving 200 km/h you will be partially responsible for the wreck. From my experience, there have only been a few times the Autobahn was not congested enough for me to be able to drive faster. Also, there are areas throughout the Autobahn where you have to slow down, sometimes as slow as 80 km/h, due to the area or construction. Oh, and one last thing – the Autobahn is not just one highway, but rather a system of highways throughout Germany!
Living in Germany as an expat is not always what it seems like from the outside. Don’t let the myths and assumptions discourage you from exploring this fascinating country, embracing the culture, and making the best of your expat adventure.