German Culture Shocks That Never Actually Happened to Us (As Americans)

Before moving to Germany, we read every article and watched every video we could find about German culture and life in Germany. We learned about German culture shocks that Americans often face in Germany. Some of them did happen to us (read more about them here) but others, didn’t. Find out which ones weren’t true for us!

German Culture Shocks that Never Actually Happened to Us! Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Bavaria, Germany
Picturesque view of medieval town Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Bavaria, Germany

Our Personal Experiences Have Been Different from What We Had Heard

There are many videos on the culture shocks foreigners experience when moving to Germany and other countries. We watched quite a few of them, and some of the things we thought about Germans before moving here from the USA…ended up not being true! We were waiting for these German culture shocks to happen, but they never did. Can you guess what some of them might be? Watch more here.

Here are the German Culture Shocks We Didn’t Experience

1 – Germans Don’t Do Small Talk

We heard that no one does small talk in Germany and people can be quite cold and rude (from an American perspective) – but we haven’t found that to be true at all living in a small town. They will also chat about the weather, local events, and ask how you’re doing. In our small village, it’s been quite to strike up conversations with strangers. In fact, even in our local supermarket we know many of the employees and chit-chat with them each time we shop. We love it!

So we found, from discussions we had with our subscribers on the video, is that the difference is small town versus big city life. In German cities, people do pass by without greeting or looking at you. But in German villages all over the country, people are much more likely to greet you and smile as they pass you. Yet another reason why we love Dorfer-Leben!

German Culture Shocks that Never Actually Happened to Us! Here is a Typical German Alpine scene
Village in the Allgaeu (Bavaria, Germany)

2 – Germans Don’t Greet Strangers

We haven’t found this to be true at all in our village! People pass by and greet us, nearly every time with a good Bavarian, “Servus,” “Gruß Gott,” or “Hallo,” etc. I come from the south in the USA where it’s much more common there for strangers to greet each other. Southerners are known for their “southern charm” and for being friendly, and it’s true! I love that about the south.

We lived in Pennsylvania for 4 years, and I found the culture to be much less warm than in the south. I still did end up making some wonderful friends through a mom’s club, though. So when we decided to move to Germany, we saw many videos about how Germans pass you on the street and don’t even look you in the eye or say hello.  Here in our town, that isn’t true. In fact, if you don’t look someone in the eye and say hello here, it feels rude. 

German Culture Shocks We Never Experienced!
Hamburg, Germany. View of the town hall building located on Rathausmarkt square.

3 – It Takes a Long Time to Make Friends with Germans

It has been said of Germans that they are more reserved and take longer to form friendships than Americans do. While we can see that this is true some of the time, that just hasn’t been our experience! We’ve met so many wonderful German families here, mostly because of our children, and they’ve had us over to their homes, fed us meals, helped us watch our pets while we’re on vacation, confided in us, and more. I even have a few women with whom I feel quite close, and it happened quickly after meeting. We are SO grateful this has been our experience because it makes living here much more pleasant for all of us!

4 – Most All Germans Live in Apartments

Kevin’s company is based out of Munich. So at first, when Kevin was applying for jobs, we started by looking for places to live in and around Munich. Everything we saw were apartments, no houses to be found in our price range. Once we learned that Kevin wouldn’t have to commute everyday to the office and could work from home, we looked farther out into the countryside and were able to find houses in our price range. There are many single family homes and duplexes out in the countryside of Germany.

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