Is it true all we hear about Germans? I tell you my impression of Germans after living in Stuttgart for one year.
To have an idea of how something is, the typical millennial approach is to google it. Among the first images that pop up when googling “Germans” are a pair of blonde girls wearing a Dirndl and smiling next to a group of boys corresponding with a Lederhosen. All of them are seated on a wooden bench and are holding seemingly huge mugs full of beer, in what seems to be a tent. Of course, the flag, pretzels, sausages and Angela Merkel also show up, as expected.
This can easily be an illustration of the concept of the typical German we have in our heads. A tall, athletic, practical, intelligent, uncompromising and efficient character. Almost out of the movie "I, Robot" but with a user interface lined by light skin, crowned with yellow hair. Specially this feature stands out in the “concept” of Germans that the world has on their minds. This very cold, distant person that is only focused on being the best.
It's true. Germans are practical and efficient
Before I started my master's degree, I did not know Germany nor spoke German. The mix between such a “concept” and my lack of language made socializing one of my biggest concerns. Considering that I come from a warm culture, where things are said softly and people hug each other all the time, the doubt of whether I could at least have a friend weighed a couple of extra kilos in my suitcase. I will tell you my experience after living one year in Stuttgart.
It's true. Germans are practical and efficient. But only because their honesty takes away a lot of loading time. They will tell you what they want to tell you, without putting a gift-wrapped bow on it. They will tell you where you went wrong and ask you to correct it. They are rarely going to compliment you on something that is within your duties, but when they do, it implies that the job is exceptionally well done. This is a trait that took me a while to come to terms with but that I now value highly. When your background is different, it's hard to understand that it's not personal, that it's not a scolding. But once you get over that gap, it's refreshing to know what someone thinks, as it is. I emphasise: their honesty is not aligned with cruelty or malice; they are one of the most polite and respectful nationalities I have ever been exposed to.
They are athletic. They love the sun, the outdoors and sweating. Without exception, every German I know does a sport at least twice a week. Not only do they do sports, but they also have hobbies that they cultivate with a group of friends. These hobbies come in many shapes and colours, from sitting and playing magic’s cards to playing an instrument together with a pitstop trying every possible bar in town. I found it beautiful. I believe that exercise and hobbies nourish the body, mind and spirit. It's a tiny activity that can bring a big smile.
I'm surprised by the confidence they have in each other
They love nature and make constant use of it in their walks, hikes and with their bicycles, but even more relevant is that they make an admirable effort to take care of it. They recycle almost everything and are very inclined to buy products that respect the environment.
Germans are people that would get out of their way to help you, genuinely. I am specially surprised by the confidence they have in each other. I believe it is a key point in their unwritten rules as a society. They trust each other naturally, so answering a question from a stranger on the street is an everyday thing. It is important to emphasize that, although they are willing to help you, it does not mean that they are your friends. For them a friendship is something very valuable, almost indissoluble and something so great can only be built over time. Once a friendship is formed, you can count on them, to have a beer with, to talk about what is irritating you or to ask for a hug.
Respect and true Friendship
I have had the good fortune to come across Germans from different generations and backgrounds who have challenged my intelligence, who have supported me in difficult times and welcomed me into their homes as one of the team, even with my improvable spoken German.
The concept of Germans that I have now is very positive. Of course, it includes sausages and all the delicious types of beer I am lucky enough to taste here, but also honesty, respect and true friendship.
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