7 Myths about Germany – Debunked
Like stereotypes and preconceptions attached to every culture, there are many things about German culture and Germany that are widely popular among masses. However, if you have lived in Germany long enough you know how untrue they are. Here are few of many popular myths about Germany that by far are not true.
Punctuality – Everything runs on time!
While if you attach this preconception with people, it might still be true. However, the myth would be busted as soon as you experience your first delay and miss the connection while traveling with Deutsche Bahn. The 21% of long-distance trains of Deutsche Bahn were delayed by at least 6 minutes in past year.
Local public transport fare no better. There are often delays due to construction work happening around the city. However, you can always be informed about the delays by checking the timings on the respective app.
Autobahn has no speed limit
Yes, there are patches of German highway where there is no speed limit. However, most of the Autobahn has a speed limit. As soon as you get close to a city or town the speed limit is restricted to 100-120kmph. Since most of the German highway is two or three laned and cars cruise at high speeds any accidents can clog up the traffic and cause huge traffic jams.
An unfortunate accident while traveling from Kaiserslautern to Hamburg caused a huge traffic jam on both lanes.
Anyone who has lived here and dealt with any kind of officialdom, bureaucracy, banks or telecommunications companies will tell you that this is laughable. Things which can be done online with a few mouse clicks in most developed economies require reams of paperwork here.
Having a foreign passport adds to the nightmare. Any type of credit agreement, banking product, visa application or even something as simple as joining the library requires a trip to the residents’ office of City Hall to get a Meldebescheinigung to prove to them that I actually live where I say I do. Which I understand, but why can’t I just download a scan of this online and submit it through cyberspace to the institution asking for it.
Germans have no sense of humor
Germans are known to be cold and no non-sense kind of people. It is very true in a professional setting. Turn on the German news after watching an hour of American news and you would know what I mean. However, as the workday dooms and Feierabend sets in the mood changes as well. The cold personality turns funny as alcohol from the beer is absorbed by the body. Alright, I am stretching it too much.
Germans do, however, have quite a dry, ironic sense of humor. It’s just that I don’t get a lot of their jokes. Even speaking the language fluently, a lot of what they laugh about at parties leaves me scratching my head and thinking, what was the joke? So while I may not be laughing with them all the time, I find the Germans to be a jovial bunch once you get to know them outside of the office.
Most of the jokes that sound funny in German, make no sense whatsoever in English. While some things not even remotely funny in German are hilarious in English
Germans drink only Beer and eat Sauerkraut
Yes, Germans drink a lot of beer. In fact, 57% of total alcohol consumption in the country is in the form of beer. However, many people do prefer wine over a beer too. So much so that almost 28% of consumption of alcohol is in form of wine. The total wine production is usually around 9 million hectoliters annually, corresponding to 1.2 billion bottles, which places Germany as the eighth largest wine-producing country in the world.
Now let’s talk sweets. Sadly, delicious desserts and divine pastry are not people’s first association when they think of German food. But you have no idea what amazing sweet treats you are missing out on. Admittedly, for some of them we share custody with our Austrian neighbors, but of course, Germans do it better!
Everyone gets naked at the first sign of summer
So yes, it’s correct that there are often areas on lake beaches which are naturist (known in Germany as FKK, or Freikörperkultur). And yes, Germans are certainly less prudish about nudity than Brits, and definitely less so than Americans.
It is also true that many saunas and thermal baths have a no-bathing-suits policy. Germans believe that it is unhygienic to sweat in textiles in communal areas. Of course, this can lead to cultural faux-pas and embarrassing situations for those who are unaware. So in saunas, be on the safe side and assume you will have to go nude.
This is where the truth ends. Firmly in the territory of myths about Germany is if you are expecting to walk through your local park in summer for the first time, expecting to see lots of naked sunbathers. You won’t do.
All Germans are Nazis
I am not sure where this preconception comes from. Having been living in Germany for over four years now, I have rarely come across anyone who sympathizes with Nazi Germany. Yes, there has been an uproar about recent refugee crisis and rising popularity of AfD in Germany. However, a majority of Germans either despise or do not care about them. Moreover, Germans are anything but patriotic. Except during world cup, you would barely see anyone carrying or hoisting the national flag.
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