Expat Voices: Brintha Koether on living in Hamburg
American blogger Brintha Koether says there's a history behind why things are done the way they are in Germany.
Name: Brintha Koether
City of residence: Hamburg
Date of birth: 12 August 1972
Civil status: married
Occupation: marketing director
Reason for moving to Germany: family
Lived in Germany for: 1.5 years
What was your first impression of Germany?
Germany is a country with a rich history, amusing cultural quirks and it is a land where regional diversity continues to thrive.
What do you think of the food?
I love North German cuisine with all of its many varied fish dishes.
What do you think of the shopping in Germany?
I really enjoy shopping in the markets around the Christmas holidays. My favourite things are the cozy, handmade, high quality wood items like Christmas pyramids and ornaments.
What do you appreciate about living in Germany?
Walking, riding bikes and taking public transport here is so convenient. After always having to drive in the U.S., I find it refreshing to be able to get things done without always having to be in a car. I enjoy the fresh air!
What do you find most frustrating about living in Germany?
Customer service is without a doubt an area upon which Germany (and most of Europe) could improve. While I have had fantastic experiences in many shops and restaurants, on average I would say that the customer does not always come first.
What puzzles you about Germany and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
German culture has a pervading sense of ‘ordnung’ but I am puzzled by how that does not extend to queueing for service. Forget queueing at an ATM machine, for example. The person who can reach the ATM first gets to use it first.
What I miss most from other places in which I have lived is the diversity of cultures. I recognize, however, that this is not as much a part of Germany’s history as it is in, say, the UK.
How does the quality of life in Germany compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
It is a very high quality of life here in Germany. My family jokes that it is the only place in the world where even the taxi drivers drive Mercedes (usually a high end vehicle in other parts of the world).
If you could change anything about Germany, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change a thing!
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Be open to new ways of doing things and do not always compare everything to the way it is back home. There is a reason and a history behind why things are done the way they are and most of the time it works.
Would you like to add anything?
Learning a new language and moving to a new country can be overwhelming. However, in Germany, expats who speak English are at an advantage as most Germans speak English quite well. A little effort at speaking German goes a long way towards building relationships and gaining a better appreciation of the culture.
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