Becoming German

In between noticing an awful lot about my adopted country-fellows, I seem to have taken on several of their virtues without quite realising it. In fact, it was only after I did a little fist pump upon buying a snug and stylish Autumn/early Winter jacket today – in the balmy midst of summer – that I realised I would never have considered buying a jacket, let alone a mid-season jacket in the middle of summer, before. Hell, up until I moved here, I essentially avoided buying coats and jackets altogether. Then I started thinking …

  1. Most times I go shopping, I exit the shop with at least four tubs of yoghurt, a 500g block of gouda, a wheel of brie and minimum three different varieties of frischkäse.
  2. When going shopping, I categorise my grocery needs from basic through gourmet, and map out my shop-route accordingly. Aldi/Penny/Lidl through Schlemmer Markt/Sky/Famila.
  3. And I always bring canvas or old plastic bags.
  4. I lose my shit when the sun comes out and bask wherever and whenever possible, including at cafes with my chair directly facing the sun and my face tipped towards it.
  5. ‘Warm’ is anything over 15 degrees.
  6. I have a Winter jacket, a Summer jacket, an Autumn jacket and a Spring jacket.
  7. In fact, I recently celebrated finding, in the middle of summer, the ‘perfect’ Autumn jacket at half price.
  8. I wear boots 95% of the time.
  9. Most of my toiletries have been made by Balea.
  10. I drink Apfelschorle. Actually, I drink any schorle.
  11. I almost always walk on the right side of the pavement now.
  12. I am far, far more punctual than I have ever been.
  13. I don’t throw out empty plastic bottles if I am out and about, rather pop them in my handbag and take them home.
  14. I routinely make dry quips about the punctuality (or lack thereof) of the Deutsche Bahn.
  15. I routinely make dry quips about Bavaria not being Germany (and I can, because I’ve lived in Germany and Bavaria).
  16. I don’t leave tips on the table anymore.
  17. I reserve a table every time we go out.
  18. I only jay-walk 20% of the time now. And even then, I feel immature and silly.
  19. I can identify an East-German ‘accent’ (or just general verbal vibe).
  20. I can identify a general Bavarian verbal vibe.
  21. I have accepted, and often enjoy, a mustard-covered bratwurst in a brötchen as a snack.
  22. My summer choice of drink almost always involves elderflower (Holunderblüte)
  23. I own and wear house shoes.
  24. I time my laundry and vacuuming sessions to fit in with apartment block ‘quiet times’.
  25. I have stopped asking SG to vacuum on Sundays.
  26. I have an extensive treat cupboard with several types of chocolate and biscuits.
  27. I don’t remember a time a kebab came without weißkraut.
  28. I don’t blink when someone serves me a take away coffee with a straw poking through the lid. (Although I will never, ever use it.)
  29. I have been known to go to Ikea just to eat hotdogs.
  30. I’m far more familiar with the names and skills of the players in the national football team than I ever thought I would be.
  31. I’m getting better with my general car knowledge – companies, strengths, weaknesses, recognising on sight.
  32. I love Günther Jauch and Jogi Löw.
  33. I have spent a week in a campingplatz in Italy.

11 thoughts on “Becoming German

  1. Hi Liv,

    as for your point 27…I live in the Westerwald Region, the Döner Kebap there althoug uses Weißkraut, and for the past few weeks I’ve been working in the Area of Ostwestfalen (Gütersloh/Bielefeld) and here, they not only put Weißkraut in they’re Döner, but Rotkohl (Rotkraut) too.

    So even the Döner as a German, national Dish seems to be quiet different from region to region.

    Zachy

  2. Hello Liv

    I discovered your homepage a few moments ago. I am laughing about “the Germans” part.
    I love your photos and your grammar exercise.
    I think will read a lot and learn about me, my country(;-) and Australia…

    Great go on.

    Unfortunately my English is bad or inexplicit. I forgot a lot….

    Greetings from Frankfurt am Main

    I am Georg, 45 years old…

    I wish you a great and healthy time

    your e-mail address doesnt work..:-(

  3. Thank you for sharing this piece. It sounds like you’ve made some conscious concessions and experienced some passive changes during your time in Germany. I’d be interested in reading about the concessions or changes you’ve affected in the individuals or the communities in which you’ve lived. I guess what I’m asking is: do you feel like you’re the only one who’s expected to change or do you find that the Germans in your life are also as willing as you are to alter their expectations to accommodate your needs? Are you helping your deutshe friends become Australian?

  4. just to add something to the döner kebap topic – my favorite döner place only puts pickled rotkohl & onions with the meat and sauce. much more tastier than the bland cabbage or lettuce stuffed variants, to me at least 🙂

  5. Dear Liv,

    what I never understood and what I realised when being abord in South Africa and England and what I miss here in your list a bit is:
    I feel when english speaking people say “hello, how are you today?” they mostly dont await the answer. First I felt realy stange about that, then I realised that it is quite common not to answer that question at all but just say “thanks and you?”, what seems also to be ignored ?

    Germans would never ask so superficial and then dont even await the answer. How did you experienced this phenomenon?

    lots of regards from Dresden

    Fritz

    1. Dear Fritz,

      You are correct! We do say ‘hi how are you’ and don’t often wait for an answer beyond ‘fine, how are you?’ This is largely because ‘hi how are you’ is a greeting within itself. Very often, an English speaker – particularly Australians, I can say with confidence – will greet you with ‘hihowareyou’ and then ask how you are a second time, once conversation is underway. That second asking is the important one.

      I have had to stop myself from saying ‘Hallowiegehtesdir’ when greeting people in the supermarket or a restaurant, because it is such a deeply ingrained social habit. I don’t think we’re being superficial, I just think it is part of how we communicate. If we are having a conversation longer than a minute or two, we will ask you how are you and want to know. But if it is a quick hello, the ‘howareyou’ tacked on the end, is simply part of the greeting.

  6. I have had the conversation you and Fritz had so often with my English students that I could flip out merely at the use of the word ‘superficial’. I think it might have come up in every class I have taught in the last 3 months. ‘Why are Americans so superficial? They don’t even care about how you’re doing. Germans would never do this.’

    The patience to answer this formidable question has long verschwunden.

    >:(

What do you think?