What Two Years of Living with the Germans has Taught Me.

I have been living with the Germans for two years today. And I haven’t killed myself yet! In fact, I have learnt a lot from these lovely lot. Like…

English: high heels

The most un-German shoes ever. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Sexy doesn’t have to mean heels, mini-skirts and cleavage.

The only women you’ll see in Germany combining all of the above are the hookers. German women dress very conservatively and practically. Think rucksacks instead of handbags, terribly comfortable walking shoes for all occasions and Wolfskin jackets instead of stylish macs.  It is as if they are always anticipating the next hike.  I was by no means a terribly slutty dresser when I came to Germany, but my favourite FMBs have definitely not seen the light of day since I’ve been here. While I miss London’s vibe of fashion, individuality and style, I have learnt that flaunting it isn’t always the best look. Go Germans!

Germans' idea of going wild

To Get Out and Enjoy Nature

Germans love going for a hike or bike ride in the countryside on their days off. The roads around here are full of cyclists – including entire families – on weekends and holidays. Us Brits on the other hand prefer to spend our days off with our heads in the toilet nursing off our hangovers. We also spend far too much time in shopping centres or watching television in our free time compared to the Germans. This is evident from how quiet high streets are in Bavaria on Saturdays compared to those in Britain. Many shops close at 1pm on Saturdays – even just before Christmas – while in Britain high streets are heaving on a Saturday. Go Deutsch. Go to the woods instead!

Make Things Instead of Buying Them

These Bavarians are a crafty lot. Since arriving I have received hand-made woolly hats, a drawer full of hand-knitted woolly socks, hand-made greeting cards, home-made cakes, and a hand-crafted and painted one-metre stork (a gift put up outside our home after I gave birth here). While us Brits rush out and buy everything ready-made, the Bavarians try and make it themselves. They do a lot of home improvements themselves too instead of hiring the experts. My Bavarian boyfriend can’t understand why we have huge shops in England selling just greeting cards. “You English are crazy about buying cards. Just make them,” he says. Genau!

To Support Young People and Families. So they can buy more beer.

Young people in Germany are supported once they leave school, both by the system and their families. Many go into paid apprenticeship training or to university for free (sometimes for decades rather than three years). Many live at home for as long as they possibly can too. In England, it’s just not cool or acceptable to still be living at home in your twenties, despite the soaring cost of living.  Most people I know in Germany in their twenties are still living at home. It’s not uncommon for older people with children to still be living with parents here too, to help them save for their own homes. There is no stigma attached to that. New mothers are assisted to stay at home by the state and society does not look down them.

That Britain Is Still Great

The Brits moan a lot. They say there are too many immigrants, gas prices are too high, the weather is miserable and the health service is failing. But it wasn’t until I left England that I realised what a fantastic place it is too. We have an education system that helps the disadvantaged. We have a society that is generally very open and tolerant of others regardless of their race and sexuality. We have a health system available for all including free contraception and many other benefits you would have to pay extra for in other countries (in Germany you have to pay for contraception on top of your health insurance. A coil would cost you in excess of 200 Euros). There is a society, charity or support group for virtually anything.  We have a world-class media with high-quality journalists, TV and Film makers. We have charity shops. And the British weather isn’t that bad once you’ve experienced Germany’s. We also know how to get into the spirit of things (hello London Olympics). And most importantly, we have Digestive biscuits.


22 thoughts on “What Two Years of Living with the Germans has Taught Me.

  1. Fantastic celebration .Munich – Germany ,l was there 1979.Jal

  2. I loved this post and I agree with the “Brits on the other hand prefer to spend our days off with our heads in the toilet nursing off our hangovers”

    The Italians don’t understand this concept..

    • Thanks! Although I’m not saying going out and having fun is a bad thing. But that’s one for my next post, what the Germans could learn from us Brits 🙂

      • On Wednesday evening I had a group of Italians over here for an English lesson. We started discussing food. One woman who works in Switzerland said ” Swiss food is rubbish, just boiled vegetables and meat, it is very similar to German food” So not unlike English I suppose.

        I showed them a can of Heinz Spaghetti Bolognese in a can, they were in shock for at least 10 mins. You can guess what I have ordered them for their Christmas.

      • That’s brilliant! I can imagine the looks of horror. In Bavaria you are actually lucky if you see a vegetable on your plate, besides potato and cabbage.

  3. Making greeting cards must just be a Bavarian thing… or I know the wrong people. My friends all buy birthday cards an just don’t give out Christmas cards at all. My boyfriend doesn’t understand why I would give someone who I am going to see a Christmas card… in his world, they’re only for relatives who live far away!

    • Do you have big card shops where you are though? I definitely think English people are generally more into cards. It’s kind of embarrassing when my family send my German in-laws Christmas cards and never get one back! The look of bemusement on my in-laws faces when they see one of these things. I just have to explain to my family it’s a German thing and not to be offended. No birthday cards either but I did get cake so can’t complain.

  4. Mmmmm digestive biscuits, now there’s something I miss! I loved this post, Germany sounds awesome, particularly the love of the outdoors.

  5. sarainlepetitvillage

    Ever since moving to France, I’ve practically retired my heels! They only come out for special occassions now.
    Congratulations on your second Bavarian anniversary! 🙂

  6. Hi friend! Funny post! I noticed here that cards are almost nonexistent but the states has card shops everywhere as well. And what is a Digestive biscuit? Sounds like a laxative. 😉

    • haha, it’s just a type of biscuit we have in England that’s made with wholemeal. A so-called ‘healthier’ biccie! I saw a card shop in Germany for the first time yesterday, was stunned.

  7. They have several shops you can buy cards from in our town (Baden-Württemberg), but they are almost all entirely awful….bad design, bad fonts etc. We bring back a large selection of nice cards when we visit friends and family in the UK. That and a random array of food and ale!

  8. P.S. We’ve just had our One year anniversary here!

  9. Ah, birthday and Christmas cards! They don’t use them in Italy, and my husband is obsessed, the things they are the most wonderful invention ever! He almost had tears in his eyes when I gave him a musical birthday card.
    It’s cards adn squirrels tha get italians going nuts.
    And than you for singing the praises on England too, we English don’t do that often enough. I shall have to bring some digestives back next time I pop home and give my husband a trio to go mad over!

    • So they don’t do the card thing in Italy either, interesting! Maybe it’s just us Brits who like to send cards. I had forgotten how good Digestives were until a very kind person sent me some recently 🙂

  10. My family and I just celebrated our first year of living in Bavaria. I am one of the lucky ones that is living off of the military post and getting to experience life among the German folk. As an American living in Germany, there was a lot to get used to. We Americans are spoiled by the convenience of things. I mean there’s Walmart that in some places is open 24 hours… But there was no way I was going to pass up a free trip to Europe!!! So I hopped on a plane 30 weeks pregnant with my hubs and 2 yr old at the time plus the furbaby….. 🙂 I am enjoying every minute of it.

    • That’s great that you are loving it so much, I was also pregnant when I arrived in Bavaria and it can be a challenge moving while pregnant. But I think being involved with the military would help especially when it comes to making friends etc! I hope you are enjoying life in Bavaria it’s a unique place 🙂

  11. It’s funny, after living in Bavaria for a couple of years, we also realised that Britain is actually pretty great! Before, we would moan all too often and were really impressed by all things German but actually, there are a LOT of good things going for the UK too. It seems you only can get a true sense of how good home is, when you’re no longer there.

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