Have you recently moved to Germany? Are you planning to move? All aspects considered, understanding the local cultuire is a key element during relocation. We have compiled a list of cultural aspects that we believe is important to know. Enjoy!
Dialects: While it is true that in large cities “Hochdeutsch” is normally spoken, it is also very useful to know that many dialects are spoken across the country. For example, if you live further south in Bayern, people will speak Bayrisch and if you live in Dresden or Leipzig people will tend to speak Sächsisch. In some cases, even the Germans don’t understand each other depending on which area they come from. But don’t worry! High German is understood by all.
Learn to be concise and direct: Germans are very direct when asking for favors, settling scores and especially when sending work emails. Indirectness is not appreciated. There is an expression “um den heißen Brei herumreden” (beating around the bush) that is used when you don’t want to get to the point.
Sundays: Most of the shops are closed Sundays, so you should program yourself very well. Only bakeries are open in the morning hours, but no grocceries or shopping malls. Sunday is considered a day for the family and friends.
The mail: believe it or not you will receive many letters in your post from business forms to invitations, Christmas cards, to registration cards. Hence, when you move in it is important to ensure your name is clearly stated on your mailbox, otherwise, you miss a very important registration post.
Soft drinks: Do you like sparkling water? Do you like apple juice? How about drinking both together? This type of soft drink is very typical in Germany called “Apfelsaftschorle” but you can also find it with other types of juices like orange, passion fruit, multifruit among others. Even wine can be mixed with sparkling water which makes it “Weinschorle”.
Taxes: It is well known that in Germany taxes are quite high and can reach 42% of your gross income. We recommend getting to understand the taxes well to even know how much disposable income you will have. There are also other factors influencing your monthly payout: civil status, number of children, distance to work, etc.
Kehrwoche: This is certainly a southern German tradition that many foreigners may not like. It is about optimizing the cleaning of the stairs and the courtyards of the buildings without hiring someone to do it. Each neighbor will do the cleaning about once a month and hang the sign on the door of the next victim.
Greetings and goodbyes: There are several ways to greet a person depending on the degree of closeness between them. Ffor example: if it is a total stranger you can just shake hands. If you have already met more than once and there is sympathy involved, you can give a short hug, If it is really a friend you can give a hug and two kisses. One way to say goodbye to a group of people, for example, in a restaurant, without having to say goodbye to each one of them is simply by tapping on the table. Very useful!
Did you remember other situations where you thought ” It would have been useful to know”? ExpatsGuide offers intercultural training due to the relevance to this topic. Sometimes people underestimate the significance until they really face unique situations.