A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
So you’re probably either thinking, at last!
Or, what the darn diddly?
I cannot under-estimate how much I love living in Germany.
I mean, I shout about it loud enough and it was just four (4) years ago that I introduced myself to you on this blog, when I wrote a cheeky article which most people didn’t seem to get. And the title? Germany is Boring.
Ah well, either way, it’s going to be interesting.
As The British Berliner, I have been living in Germany for more than fifteen (15) years, so I’m more than qualified to tell you how things are done the German Way!
I mean, what is the big deal?
I’ll tell you what the big deal is my good man.
It’s the fact that Germany.
Otherwise known as Deutschland!
Has been together in peace and harmony for 28 years.
Some people might think that by coming to Berlin or Munich for a lost weekend, they know everything they need to know about the German people.
Not so my friends.
It’s a little more complicated than that, so I’m going to help you!
Just so that you know what mean, here’s a 2004 MTV commercial called Günther, otherwise known as Mum, Dad, I’m German…
It’s totally ridiculous but absolutely hilarious, and very tongue-in-cheek. Watch the video below!
1. LOOK THE PART AND WEAR SANDALS AND CLOGS. INDOORS!
When I first came to Germany, I was amazed at the number of men who wore sandals.
Why people? Why?
The last time I wore leather sandals was when I was a school girl, and they were a sensible pair of Clarks!
However, in order to be as German as the next person, I wear Birkenstocks at home. With socks!
I even wore Birkenstocks at my wedding!
But without socks!
And in my defence, I had been wearing killer high heels all day which I had changed three (3) times!
2. HAVE LUNCH FOR BREAKFAST!
Germans aren’t known for the minimal look as far as food is concerned. They’re not French you know!
During the week, a typical German breakfast is a bun known as a brötchen. It’s usually covered with cold cuts and cheese with mustard, and a variety of other sauces.
At the weekend, it’s a feast!
Many German families, including my own, would queue for hours in order to get the freshest amount of bread straight from the bakery. And yes, many people still go to the bakery!
In fact, just five (5) minutes from my home is the family-owned and oldest bakery in Berlin – Bäckerei Siebert – and is still going strong after 111 years!
Then they arrange their tables so that there’s a wide variety of cold cuts, sausages, cheese, seafood, eggs, fruit, and a wide assortment of bread!
The first time, I had breakfast with my German family, it was such a mish-mash of food that halfway through the meal, I left the table and was sick in the bathroom! It was too much you see, so get ready to gird your loins, as there’s no escaping!
All hail the almighty S!
The very highlight of a typical German day is the sausage, so if you want to be a German, learn how to like it!
Germany has loads of different sausages and each comes with its own unique taste.
I find the white sausage with sweet mustard or Weißwürst quite disgusting personally, even though I’ve tried it every which way.
The grilled pork sausages with mustard, ketchup or both, otherwise known as Bratwurst can be decisively delicious.
My favourite German sausage however, is the currywurst. The currywurst is Berlin’s most famous sausage.
Currywurst is beef or pork sausage grilled and chopped up, then smothered with a spicy ketchup and curry powder. It’s eaten with a pile of chips and a slice of bread or a bun.
It’s such a famous icon that it even has its own Currywurst Museum where you can learn how currywurst is made, smell it, watch a film about it, attempt to sell it, and play around with the french fries and chips. You can sometimes even have chocolate and curry ice-cream!
If you’re vegan or a vegetarian however, you’re done for!
I’m happy to say that Germany is the leading country as far as going green is concerned, and they’ve been doing it for years!
I remember when I first came to Germany, and I casually put a piece of paper into the dustbin, my German boyfriend at the time, literally freaked out.
It was the wrong dustbin!
Germans have a dustbin for everything.
There’s a dustbin for paper.
A dustbin for plastic.
A dustbin for glass.
A dustbin for metal.
A dustbin for organic stuff.
A dustbin for dog poo.
A charity bin for clothes with a different compartment for shoes. Of course.
There’s even a dustbin for batteries!
And every supermarket will encourage you to leave your cardboards boxes and plastic packaging behind, if you so wish.
Oh, and most people have recycling bags that they take with them for shopping.
And don’t think you can sneak your large items into the backyard, as the dustbin men won’t take them, and you’ll be charge for “littering!”
We even have our own organic compost “bin” in the garden!
If you want to be a German keep your rubbish, and take it home!
If you want to be a German, if your appointment is at 09:00, make sure you arrive there on the dot, or better still, a few minutes before. However, if you arrive twenty (20) seconds later, you’re late!
Mind you, don’t be like the strange fellow that I invited to a Christmas dinner party I was organising. He arrived at 17:00, and the invitation was for 20:00!
I sent him away!
6. SMALL TALK ISN’T A THING!
I live in Germany.
I have quite a knack for small talk.
Most Germans haven’t.
They don’t seems to understand what I mean by “small” talk. They think we British people are trying to evade the subject.
Germans believe in speaking plainly and clearly, about what is on their minds!
I once had some random stranger who stopped me on the street, and told me that he didn’t like my hair style!
See. Plain and true. No beating around the bush here!
Oh, and talking about the private issue of how much you earn, could get you fired!
If you want to be a German, forget about it.
Let it go!
It’s against the law!
7. LONG CONVERSATIONS!
If you want to be a German, learn the art of a long conversation and long meetings. There’s no need to say something in one (1) minute, that could better be said in ten (10)!
What’s the hurry?
Don’t make your mind up too quickly.
Sleep on it.
Discuss it a bit more over lunch, and a few pints of beer.
Then let’s talk about it again next week!
For the laymen among you, that means paperwork and certification!
If you want to settle into German life, and you don’t have any certificates, you won’t get very far. After all, how would they know that you’ve “done it,” if they can’t record it, and file it away somewhere!
Germany is a high-technology country, but as far as paperwork and bureaucracy is concerned, it might as well be back in the Dark Ages!
So bring along document A, as well as three copies of document B, signed by the Head of Department, who gave you document C, then send them all by post with a verified stamp, and document D!
And don’t smile!
9. OKTOBERFEST AND DRINKING BEER!
Ha! If there’s one other thing that Germans do well, it’s drink beer!
Beer in Germany isn’t a joke.
And neither is Oktoberfest!
Some people would have you believe that Oktoberfest is only known in Bavaria.
And that the Bavarians aren’t really Germans!
But it isn’t true.
And I should know ‘cos I’m more German than the Germans. So there!
And for goodness sake. Whatever you do, please don’t order water at the bar.
10. BE INFORMED ABOUT GERMAN HISTORY!
Learning how to be a German is lots of fun, but if you want to be a real German, you’ll have to know and understand your history.
All of the history. Including the horrible bits.
That’s it for now.
Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!
See you next week!
This article isn’t sponsored, and absolutely all opinions are my very own!
I have so much to share with you.
In the Autumn, I’ll be visiting the UK and travelling around the areas of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Manchester, Blackpool, Derbyshire and Yorkshire!
October & November is going to be thrilling!
Watch this space!
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Thanks a million!
The first time I came to Germany, I was stumped by the different rubbish boxes for each and everything. I was severely cautioned by my host about it. I was also overwhelmed by the delicious breakfast spread. Lovely post!
Thanks so much Caroline!
I’m glad you liked my post. Yep! It can be initially overwhelming, but after a while, you get used to it, and I even find myself nagging my foreign guests to seperate their trash, and enjoy the feast. Even if it’s not a Sunday! 😀
Interesting read! I’m going to keep the Currywurst Museum a secret for now, because if I tell my currywurst-fanatic husband about it, I know where we’ll be headed next! 😉 I actually like how hearty German breakfasts are, although I’m now trying to go meat-free more often so I’m not sure how easy that would be in Germany. But I’ve heard that vegetarian and vegan options are becoming more and more common, so that’s great. And thumbs up for recycling too!! All countries should take a leaf out of Germany’s book in that respect.
Thanks so much Michelle!
Ha! Ho! The Currywurst Museum is so cool. Yes, let’s keep it to ourselves! 😉
Oh yeah, most of my friends are pretty much vegan these days, and when I met my husband he was actually vegetarian! In fact, the first vegan supermarket and 100% vegan clothing shop is located on my street in Prenzlauerberg! Organic food and natural food is big in Germany, with sustainable living being a hot topic!
p.s. I’m not big on beef, but neither am I vegetarian and it’s mainly because I don’t recommend it for growing children. There’s a reason that our son is so tall….! I could never go vegan either as most of the ingredients have nuts in them, and I’m allergic to each and every nut on the planet! It’s a sad thing I tell you. However, everybody else should have no problemns. Germany even has veggie sausages which are quite common in the big cities, but you’d have to look closely to get vegan ones! 😉
Good to know that vegan/vegetarian options are so easy to find in Germany! And I totally agree re kids – I think it’s often a choice they should make for themselves when they’re older! sorry to hear about your nut allergies, I can imagine how inconvenient that is 🙁
Thanks so much Michelle!
Yep! It might be too liberal for some people’s taste but I don’t believe in imposing lifestyle choices on children. For example, I never use the name of my son anywhere on social media, and I only take his photograph if he gives me permission to do so. Same goes with food. And when we’re abroad I have a thing about not cooking (except for breakfast. Ho! Ho!), so that we get to experience as many fine local restaurants as we can. 😀
p.s. He’s a little ruined now as he won’t eat pasta unless it’s home-made, and he can quickly distingush between food that is really good, and food that isn’t! 😉
pps. Awww! My nut allergies have been with me life-long, I’ve learnt to live with it, although in Asia it can be an issue, so street food is key where I can actually see them cook it whereas, nicer restaurants don’t seem to understand that when I say “no nuts,” it includes coconuts too!
Love this post Victoria, these kind of cultural things you only pick up on/start to understand once you’ve been living in a place for a long time! I love the recycling bins but what’s up with that guy stopping you to comment on your hairstyle – how rude! That’s probably just my Britishness showing through though 🙂
Thanks so much Amy!
Yep! 15 years would do that to you! 😉
Ha! Ha! Ha! You wouldn’t believe it, but it was during Christopher Street Day (Gay Pride), I was on one of the trucks, as you do, and then we got off to dance in the Gay Village in Schöneberg, when that fellow came up to me. At first, I tried to rack my brain to see if I knew him, as he was acting rather too familiar. Was he an ex-student? An ex-corporate client perhaps? None of the above.
He was a German hair stylist and wanted my patronage! 😀
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I am German and live in Berlin for decades now. But I DO NOT LIKE BEER and also PLEASE NO CURRYWURST FOR ME. But for being German, you are just still a bit too British, I fear. Take care.
Thanks very much Urban!
Ha! Ho! I think you’re one of the very few Germans that doesn’t like beer and currywurst, as they’re legend! Oh, at heart I’m still very much British of course, but I’m also a very strong mix of British Germanness shall we say. Und das ist auch gut so! 😉
The majority of people in Berlin are migrants, even when they are Germans, so you are not completely alone B-)
Ach! You mean, from “somewhere else.” That’s true, like any other cosmopolitan city, the citizens are from “everywhere,” but we don’t describe them as “migrants.” Simply, ambitious and open-minded, or other Germans! 😉
p.s. As a British person bringing money, talent and skills, to Germany, I’m an expat. 😀
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