Liv Hambrett: What I know about Germans
A witty tribute to the quirks and characteristics of the German nation, lovingly compiled by an Australian writer living in Germany.
Here are some things about Germany and its inhabitants I have noticed during my time spent here, living in Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia, Weiden in der Oberpfalz, Bavaria and Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein.
- Germans enjoy dairy products. The refrigerated section of their supermarkets are homages to experimentations with yoghurt and quark. They will put a cheese or cream-based sauce with most things.
- Germans are thorough. They seem to live by the ‘do it once and do it well' principle. They work hard and effectively, despite working some of the shortest hours in the western world.
- They do not suffer fools gladly, thus only put up with drunk Australians and Americans during Oktoberfest because we'll pay hideous amounts of money for hideous amounts of beer.
- They are extremely hospitable.
- Germans don't jay-walk. And they judge those who do with a piercing, back-burning gaze.
- German men don't tend to leer lewdly.
- If there was a study done on countries and how well they dance in a club/bar situation, Germany probably wouldn't be in the top ten for general skill. But they would absolutely ace the enthusiasm component.
- Germans hate small talk. Words without purpose are wasted words.
- This is because Germans are generally extremely direct people. They do not see a need for conversational subtext. They say it as they see it, while keeping you at the appropriate arm's length distance. Directness and distance are valued social commodities.
- It is extremely rare to see a German throw out a recyclable bottle and, if they do (in the midst of a brain-snap) someone passing by the rubbish bin will very quickly pull the bottle out and take it to the recycling automat themselves.
- Germans extract a curiously large amount of pleasure from the acts of giving, receiving and processing paperwork. They revel in it. Photocopy it. Sign it. Photocopy it again. Roll in it. Cover themselves with it and inhale the scent of paper.
- Should a contestant, for example, on a family friendly ‘celebrity special game show' or something, be a nude model, German TV is totally down with displaying a great deal of her portfolio, to the audience at home. Pre-9pm. In fact, pre-8pm.
- Germans can't queue. They don't know how, they have no interest in trying. This is the one time Germans embrace a lack of system, and what happens when a queue is called for, is the unfortunate culmination of Germanic forcefulness and uncertainty in the face of a system-less world.
- While they may borrow the concepts for their solid repertoire of scripted reality TV, the German population yields the strangest, most awkward characters in the entire genre.
- Germans blame 95 percent of ailments on the weather.
Taken from the book What I Know About Germans: 101 Observations.
Liv Hambrett is an Australian writer and English teacher who is now hopelessly pulled in opposing directions by her home country and adopted home, Germany. She has also spent an unreasonable amount of time on the Greek island Santorini. As a features writer and travel columnist, her work has appeared internationally in print and online. Still dreaming of the time she called North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein home, she currently lives in Bavaria.
Photo credits: Leoglenn_g (German hearts), Liv Hambrett (book cover).
Comment here on the article, or if you have a suggestion to improve this article, please click here.