Thoughts I had while Christmas Shopping

Going home for Christmas means getting everyone at least one gift. In my case, having been gone for so long, it meant shopping for 18 people. 18. People.

I thought I’d be very strategic about it and so I blocked a whole entire weekend off of my schedule for what came to be known as Mission Christmas amongst my housemates. Here are thoughts that will inevitably cross your mind while out on Mission Christmas:

1.” Yay, I’m gonna put my Christmas playlist on shuffle while riding downtown. Nothing better than Christmas music to get you into the right mood.”
2. “Iiiit’s a holly jolly Christmaaas…and now everybody!”
3. “Might as well grab a Starbucks Christmas special! Peppermint Mocha, eeeeeek!!!”
4. “Hmmm…okay, let me look at the list of ideas I carefully crafted out last night. Because, remember, this is not about me, this is about the 18 people trusting in my shopping ability!”
5. “Holy shit, I look hot in that leather jacket! Urban Outfitters, why you so expensive?!”
6. “I mean, getting yourself a Christmas present is totally allowed, right? And the new phone I got myself last week was basically a delayed birthday present anyways, that doesn’t even count into my Christmas pile at all!”
7. “Okay, fine. Let’s do this: if I manage to stay under (insert $ amount here) for all of the Christmas presents, I’m gonna buy myself that jacket!”
8. “I am such an excellent prioritizer. Might as well get myself another Starbucks drink, seeing that I saved myself money by not buying that leather jacket.”
9. “Seriously?! How can it be that I have walked through two malls and a billion stores and still only have two gifts?”
10. “Man, it’s so hard to buy something for brothers. Why can’t I have sisters?! One trip to Sephora and I would have been done!”
11. “Next time you tell me that you don’t have any wishes, Dad, I’m gonna stop talking to you! Nothing worse than getting gifts for someone who doesn’t want anything!”
12. “Okay, this bookshelf is adorable. But, realistically, I’m not gonna fit that into a suitcase. Sorry mom!”
13. “Fine! It’s time for the big guns. I’m gonna go to Macy’s!”
14. “Why are there so many people in the stores this early? I mean, I guess 2pm isn’t that early. Dammit, why did I have to snooze my alarm five times this morning?”
15. “I want food. Like, Cheesecake Factory kinda food. Maybe I’m gonna get a cheesecake to go later.”
16. “And by maybe, I mean definitely. And by later, I mean now.”
17. “Freaking Christmas songs playing everywhere. I could not work at Macy’s right now.”
18. “Man, I’m gonna be broke after this weekend. And what could have been spend on an awesome leather jacket, will now probably go to paying for a second checked piece of luggage.”
19. “I.Hate.Shopping! It’s so hard. I’m tired. My feet hurt.”
20. “I mean, I don’t even know why I gotta get all my presents today. There is always next weekend. And I just signed up for that free trial month of Amazon Prime.”
21. “…screw this, I’m doing Amazon!”

Maybe some of you can relate. In the end, I did get all 18 people a present. I did not get that leather jacket, even though I am still dreaming about it sometimes. I will pay for a second piece of luggage at the airport tomorrow. But, most of all, I’m gonna go home for Christmas and that kinda makes it all worthwhile.

Cheers and happy holidays!

Ari

Best of SF Public Transport or “My Bag is sitting here”

Before I moved to San Francisco, people warned me of the horrible public transport situation in the city. “It’s nothing like the German transit system. It’s unreliable, inconvenient and, basically, pure evil.” But when a room in the suburbs is all you can afford, you suck it up and just take public transport. ‘Cause honestly, how bad can it be, right? The answer is: Pretty Bad, actually!
After 10 months of taking Muni daily and spending an average of 3 hours each day commuting, I have stories that could fill a book. Here are situations you will encounter sooner or later, when taking Muni:

1. The Train-That-Never-Comes

I usually take the M-train. Someone somewhere must really dislike this specific line. I cannot count how many times I have been waiting at a station for “Outbound: M train in two minutes” only to have two minutes turn into five turn into twenty turn into forty. Mind you, that this change in schedule is immensely spontaneous and so, naturally, the announcement cannot be adjusted. Instead, this lovely voice stubbornly insists that the next “Outbound: M train” will most definitely come “in two minutes”.
It is even worse during unpopular hours, such as weekday afternoons or early Friday nights. When heading downtown, the board often reads: “Inbound: M train in one minute and 47 minutes“….

2. The Let’s-Play-Change-Seats

Sometimes, you might be lucky enough to snatch a seat in a moderately crowded train. Your train leaves the tunnel and continues on its path above ground. Suddenly, an announcement is being made over speakers that stopped working five years ago. What do you do?

A. Stay seated. It’s probably nothing of importance anyways.

B. Leave the train immediately, because who knows what’s gonna happen next.

Right answer is option B. I know, because I have chosen Option A before and got screwed over. Multiple times, actually.
Once, the second part of the train (the one I was sitting in) got disconnected, changed to a different line and rode off into an entirely different direction. I cried a little when I watched the first part of the M ride on homebound without me. On various other occasions, the entire, overcrowded train stopped at a small, random stop, was changed to a different line, thus forcing everyone to sprint out, wait forever for the next train and then fight for a seat in a battle that would upstage Katniss Everdeen by a country mile.

3. The Pushy Person

There is always at least one of those at every station. The train is nearing its stop and people start gathering around the spots they assume the doors to be at. That is the pusher’s moment of glory! He or she will join the waiting bunch in the last second, push their way to the front and, guaranteed, will get the last seat available on that freaking train.

4. The Ignorant Person

There are few golden rules in riding public transport. One of them is very simple: If there is an old, disabled or pregnant person entering a crowded train, you offer them your seat. No matter how much you are dying to stay seated, you suck it up and do it!
Another golden rule is widely disregarded unfortunately. Dear lovely fellow commuters: If the train is crowded and people are pressed against each other and tired and sad because…well, being on a train and all…YOU CANNOT RESERVE AN ENTIRE SEAT FOR YOUR BAG. We are talking bag in singular.
I vividly remember the encounter I once had with a girl my age, who had placed her bag onto the window seat while sitting at the isle.
Me: “Excuse me, would you mind if I sat down?”
Girl: “Can’t you see? The seat is taken!”Me (jokingly): “By whom, your bag?”
Girl: “Erm…yah! Problem?”

Just…you know…be nice. That’s all I am asking. We are all in the same train.

5. The Creep

This is a true story. I was once sitting on the train going home from school. A man sat down in the seat in front of me. After a while, he takes out a little hand mirror and looks at me through it. I was horribly uncomfortable. I could see his eyes stare at me through his stupid mirror, so I looked away and tried to hide my face with my hair. In response, he extended his arm and held his mirror in all different angles, trying to glimpse at me. That was enough. I got up to change seats but, apparently, that was not part of his plan. He jumped up and shouted “Don’t you leave the train, you (insert degrading curse word here).”
I told my friend this story and, a few days later, I had a pink pepper spray in my mail. Thanks Jess, you are a rockstar!

6. The Intimidating One

Another time, I was sitting on the train going home with a mentally disabled person being in the same compartment. He shouted random words every few seconds and tried making conversation with people. After a while, our eyes met for just a brief second, which was long enough for him to get up and sit down next to me. Babbling on and on about random things, he got his face really close to mine and became mad when I told him “Sorry, I’m really tired, I don’t wanna talk.” When I wanted to get off at my stop, he wouldn’t move, forcing me to squeeze past him. Then, he got up and clearly followed me out. I freaked out and started sprinting. Luckily, it wasn’t hard to get rid of him, but it was a very uncomfortable experience nonetheless.

7. The Annoying One

Dear person who is blasting your music through the entire train: NO ONE WANTS TO LISTEN! DO NOT FORCE US TO!

8. The Romantic

Depending on the hour of day, people riding on the train with you can be drunk, homeless, delusional or plain desperate. They seem determined to use the time spent riding to find themselves a date, a girlfriend or sex. Too often have I been in situations like this:
Random Guy: “Pssst.”
Me: confused, looking around.
Random Guy: “Psssst.”
Me: taking off headphones.
Random Guy: “Got a boyfriend?”
Me: “Yeah, sorry.”
Random Guy: “You beautiful. Sure you got a boyfriend? You sure are beautiful!”
Me: “Thanks but yes, I have a boyfriend.”
Random Guy: “Mhmmm gal, you look so fine, I think you should be miiine, ditch ‘dat boy of yoours and get with me off cooourse”
Me: Smiling politely while slowly backing off….

9. The Random One

It was a Sunday afternoon, I was doing a tired ride of shame back to my apartment and didn’t pay attention to my surrounding. After a while though, I noticed a guy from the corner of my eye. I noticed him, because he seemed to keep looking up at me and back down and then up at me again and back down. Once I turned and faced at him, there was no question about what he was doing: He was drawing me! Sitting at the other end of the compartment, he had a sketch blog on his lap and studied me, while seemingly drawing my face. I was extremely confused and just stared right at him, assuming that he would get up and explain himself eventually. Maybe he was an art student or just randomly liked sketching people on trains. Either way, I was waiting for that explanation (and yes, a big part of me was just dying to see his sketch). So, I stared and stared and stared even more when he eventually calmly got up and got off without any further interaction. Somewhere, someone now  has a sketch of me. Am I the only one who finds that kinda odd?

10. The Nice One

I am an optimist and so I want to close my list on a positive note. Truth is that Muni is also a good opportunity to get into a conversation with strangers, if only you manage to leave your phone in your bag once in a while. I had an old man tell me about how the city has changed over the decades. I have heard people compliment each other, making each other smile and offering their seats because the other person looked more tired than they were.
I once rode home after a long, exhausting day and noticed that a guy opposite of me was studying me. “Not again one of those”, I thought. Eventually, he came over, smiled at me and said: “Hi! I was just wondering if you are alright, you look like you got a lot on your mind.” This spontaneous, heartfelt, genuine interest in the people that surround you instantaneously made me feel so much better and we ended up having a really nice conversation.

Muni has it all, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It will always seize to surprise you, fail you more epically than you could imagine and yet let you rest assure that it will get you home eventually. Safe and sound. Muni is unique, just like its city and you, too, will get into a love-hate relationship with it eventually. Emphasis on the “hate” though….

Cheers,

Ari

You moved to San Francisco…

This spring, Diet Coke launched out-of-home ads targeting San Francisco’s most characteristic feature: The Tech Industry! With their bold billboards hung all around town, Coke is trying to establish itself as the fuel that is driving success. I think it’s a really smart idea to create customized ads for certain regions and cities. Personally, I pay so much more attention to slogans and taglines that describe a situation I know all too well- and yes, SF is indeed over-flooded with those smart techies that hide behind their laptops at Four Barrel, not Starbucks, while working on their latest App! Ads like these make me smile and appreciate that the company took time to study their target market before plastering the city with posters. Props, Diet Coke!

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Naturally, the East Coast is not to be forgotten:

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10 more things to know about Germans

If you have read my first blog post about my country, you will probably have come across some very commonly known stereotypes. Well, I thought that, if you are interested in Germans enough to read two posts about them, you might be eager to hear stuff that the world is not quite aware of as much. Here are TEN MORE THINGS to know about my culture:

1.) Humor

We don’t have it.

Well, ok, that might be too harsh to say. Truth is, Germans do know how to joke. They’d be quite serious at work until they got to know their boss and colleagues enough to safely assume that a joke won’t get them fired. And of course we are not socially awkward. It’s not like Germans would invite each other to a BBQ party only to sit there and gloomily talk about death, politics and the downfall of their favorite soccer team. It might be that our humor is not as distinct as the dark British humor or as outward going as the Russian one. We might not be as much of a natural talent at being happy and excited as Kenyans or Americans but we do know how to have a good time with each other. It might just take a little longer to warm up to you, don’t take it personal..it’s a German thing.

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2. Zank iou fo traaveling wis Deutsche Bahn

Foreign Languages are very important to Germans. Being both a nation that likes to travel and surrounded by several European countries that do not speak German (like France, Denmark or Poland), Germans take their level of language serious. Unfortunately, this only really kicks in with my generation. Due to Germany’s division between 1960-1989, the parent generation from Western Germany is more affiliated with French and English, while parents from Eastern Germany had to learn Russian in school. And our grandparents..well…I’m afraid they were busy hiding from bombs. My generation, however, starts learning English in 3rd grade and another language of your choice (Russian, French or Latin in former eastern German regions and French, Latin or Spanish in former western German regions) in 7th grade. You see, when we graduate school, we have a wide net of language skills- theoretically. ‘Cause, when your English teacher comes into the room and greats you with “Good morning, todey ve vill discus zome oza azpects of ze American Revoluion zat we started lazt week.”, there is only so much you can take away from class.

3.) Eastern Germany

You have stumbled across “East and Western German regions” a couple of times now, so let me explain- after 1945, the four allies France, UK, USA and Russia felt a bit lost at what to do with Germany and, over the years, developed more and more disputes concerning this (I feel like diplomacy was not their greatest strength in the 20th century). Eventually, Russia was like: “FINE people, if you don’t agree with us we will do it ANYWAYS”, to which the other three alleys said something like: “Well, dear Russia, you can suck it!” and, over time, it happened to lead to a division of Germany into West (under influence of the Western Allies) and East (controlled by Russia). The two parts couldn’t have been more different. Western Germany was a free democracy, capitalimsn and consumerism at its peak. Eastern Germany was a free democracy according to the constitution though, last time I checked, democracy was not defined through state control, five-year-plans, limitations to personal rights in all aspects (even if a relative in Western Germany had died, it was not granted that you could be allowed to travel to their funeral) and insane abhorrence. Well, after almost 30 years of division, Germany was being reunited. By then, however, the two parts could not have been more different from each other- democracy meets communism. Althought the wall came down over 20 years ago, the unification process is still going on. The economically weaker East is intensely being supported by the state, unemployment and poverty are still much much greater there and many elder people are of the opinion that we were better off when the wall was still standing. It’s hard to describe in one paragraph and (being from Eastern Germany and quite familiar with prejudices against “Those underprivileged, stupid Easterners), I could write a novel about the differences. For you, it’s enough to remember that Eastern German cities like Leipzig, Dresden or Weimar are just as culturally interesting as Hamburg, Frankfurt and Heidelberg, so why not stop by en route? 🙂

4.) Patience

Fair enough, we aren’t the most patient of countries. That might have to do with our sense for punctuality. We hate waiting for guests, shipments to arrive, soccer scores to come out, economical situations to become better and world hunger to be solved. Same goes for particularly slow walkers, drivers, speakers or workers. Efficiency is a German virtue and multitasking the way to go. Upside- hiring a German worker is probably the best investment into your company 😉

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5.) Garden not equal Backyard

Unless you live in the countryside or in beforementioned one-horse-town, it is unlikely that your property is big enough for a garden with garden house. Plus, to Germans, the garden is both a means to grow your own herbs and vegetables and fruits as well as a holiday place and refugee if you will.There are garden colonies, garden wars, a whole gardening culture. It is strictly regulated (of course) what your little house is supposed to be equipped with, if you are allowed to live in it (mostly you aren’t) and what sort of tax you have to pay for it.

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6.) Twitter the what now?!

Once something arrives in my part of the country, you can be sure it’s outdated. It took four years for Facebook to settle in Germany, we only recently got Forever 21 or Pull and Bear, can only dream of more than 4 Ben and Jerry flavors, not to mention BaskinRobbins, TacoBell or Staplers. And while we make up for the missing fast food chains, it is the technological innovation that scares the crap outta us. Germans are late adopters and the older they are, the later they adopt. My parents love Skype but use any opportunity to question Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, iPads and iPhones. Touch screens are not simplifying but annoying and sensible for dirt. Germans tend to be realists and, from personal experience, hesitant in changing something if it doesn’t need to be changed. Innovative thinking could definitely still be enhanced.

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7.) Grocery Shopping or Why we don’t have Wal-mart (anymore)

In 1997, Wal-mart started to swamp the German market- and failed. I remember when we had one around the corner and my parents kept complaining about it. It didn’t have the products that big German retailers had, they were confused by the Greeters at the door and the people packing groceries into bags felt inefficient to them. Apart from that, Germans are used (and eager) to chase after the cheapest prices, even if that means driving from one small discounter to the next. Wal-mart’s prices had not been competitive enough- they were more expensive through justifying that the offered all groceries one could possibly want in one spot- didn’t work. There were several other issues that would take too long to illustrate, just keep in mind to assign a German as head of the internationalization team, not an American who doesn’t speak a word of German…

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8.) Credit Cards

We have them, we use then- occasionally. The credit card culture is not really a culture in Germany, I use mine for unavoidable online transactions. You get a debit card when creating a bank account and those are widely recognized in the country. DO NOT try to pay with credit card in a cab or a small store, many still don’t accept credit cards!

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9.) German walking

Pushing for the ionosphere, Germans are a good example for the relationship between regional temperatures and boy height. On average, a German man is brimming over a proud 1.78m (5’10”), a German woman over 1.65m (5’5”). I am a 5’9.7”. Same for Americans but Chinese men have an average height of 1.64m (5′ 5”), the women are of 1.54 m (5′ 0.8″) tall (cutiest). Up till the day I enrolled in an international university, I was not aware of how fast Germans are walking. Like…what we consider “a lovely stroll through the park” is called Nordic Walking in other parts of the world. It gets worse when Germans think they are too late or risk a delay if they slow down. We must have an incredible skill for sprinting while somehow still walking, its insane and I feel sorry for the American and the Venezuelan friend who always tried to keep pace with three tall German girls. I just can’t walk slower, I hate walking slow and maybe that’s the part I am most “German” in.

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10.) Autobahnen

It is true- there is a paradise without speed limits on highways and it’s called Germany’s Autobahnenland. In fact, there used to be a couple of agencies you could book to get Autobahn holiday- they provide you with a rental Mercedes and sit next you while you speed through Germany. Our high ways are quite well kept and IF they are almost empty, you can easily speed up to 200km/h. During holiday season, however, it is almost impossible not to get stuck in traffic, so plan carefully. Also, if it is indeed on your bucket list to race in a German car across a German highway, do it soon. The state is currently discussing to introduce speed limits similar to the ones in the States to reduce the risk of accidents. Tschüß Raser!

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All in all, I believe that stereotypes aren’t born from nothing; yet, they should not create prejudices. Being aware of cultural differences will make it easier to avoid impolite mistakes or stupid questions and, vice versa, understand certain actions better.

Any stereotypes or general questions you always had about Germany? Post them here, I’d be happy to comment and explain 🙂

Cheers guys, go and book your German vacatiooon!
Ari

True German Stereotypes or Did You Know That About Germans?

Every country has its stereotypes. I don’t particularly like the ones about mine. But then again, at the moment, I also don’t really like my country mostly because of stereotype #1:

1.) Bureaucracy.

Man, you really needn’t to be kidding with German authorities. Those people do not speak Humor! Thing is that, in theory, the German state is supporting its citizens a lot with all sorts of welfare but GETTING that welfare contribution is a path straight to hell. If I were homeless and tried to apply for a roof over my head and a small job (Hartz IV), the amount of paperwork and hierarchy would probably make me wanna stay homeless. Right now for example, I am fighting with the authorities responsible for governmental student loans. Promising on their website that education should be independent of money, I was glad to count on their contribution for grad school in San Francisco. Being aware of German bureaucracy and allowing for the “6 months processing time, maximum!” that they ask for,  I applied in January for something that is supposed to start in September. Still no answer. By now they already know me quite well: “Ah, it’s you again. NO, we have not yet calculated the contribution you will receive. For that, we will first need the transcript showing you have graduated from college.” “But I have basically graduated already, I just have to wait for my transcript to be issued and that could take 2 months!” “No transcript, no loan.” or “Hi, this is…” “Oh, it’s you again. NO, we have not yet calculated the contribution you will receive. First, we will need a confirmation that you will actually be going to a grad school in the States.” “But..but I wanted to leave in a month! I still have outstanding tuition fees and deposits and furniture payments, I NEED to know how much I get from you, otherwise I won’t be able to go!!” “We understand but first, we will need a confirmation that….” I KNOW WHAT YOU NEED YOU HEARTLESS SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF BUREAUCRACY HELL!!! Next time you ask for missing documents, I will also send my blood samples, left toes and the hearts and livers of all my relatives!!!!

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2.) Traffic Lights.

Jaywalking is even worse than asking for welfare before all your documents are submitted. If there was a wide country road that was completely straight so that you could basically see the horizon on either side of it and there was no car coming but the traffic light was red, Germans would wait. And wait. All of them, even the young rebels and punks and stressed business men (although they probably wouldn’t be standing on an abandoned traffic light in the country, but you get the idea).  No matter whether you go to Berlin or Frankfurt or the onehorsetown without a horse, it will always be a reoccurring phenomenon. Ever since I came back from New York last year, I have been trying to break this ridiculous habit. If there is absolutely no car around, I do the unspeakable- I walk across the street on red. The reactions are phenomenal: You can feel the stares burn holes into your back. Some people will astonishingly gasp, turn away from you, pretend they haven’t just become witnesses of such a monstrous deed. To Germans, if you cross the traffic light on red, you will be worth less to them than the dust on their shoes. So, don’t do it.

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3.) Punctuality

In Germany, it is polite to arrive on the dot. Five minutes before is considered rude, because the host will not be ready yet. Five minutes after the agreed-upon time will be even ruder, because you will let the food get cold. ANYTHING beyond those five minutes delay might not cause outward hostility but you shouldn’t be surprised if you never get invited again. Ever. Since Germans will always be on time, they expect the same from the other party and will always be negatively surprised if they find themselves being let down. “I don’t understand this, they are already 10 minutes late, did I give them the wrong time?” or “And it was so nice, because she arrived Punkt 6.30pm. She always is on time, you know, such a well-mannered person!” are not unfamiliar sentences in a German household. Be on time and you win the German’s heart!

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4.) Conversations

“Hi, how are you?” “Good, how are you?”, are probably quite familiar, especially for Americans. In Germany, you will not greet each other by asking how the other person is feeling but will stick to a very short “Guten Tag” if you are from Eastern-Germany and a “Hallo” if you are from the West. When I had just landed again in Stuttgart after last summer, I greeted the sales woman of a small druck store with a happy “Good morning, how are you?”, only to have her look at me suspiciously and answer with a very firm: “None of your business now, is it?! Now, are you getting the gummy bears or not?”. In the US, you will be likely to start chit-chatting with people in the subway, in a store, a tram, a plane, even on the street. Complete strangers will compliment your outfit or smile at you. NOT in Germany. Germans like their private sphere. Also, they assume that, since you are on the road in a subway, plane, tram or on the street, you have a certain destination and goal in mind, are busy and do not want to be disturbed. It’s not necessarily that Germans are closed-up- by not talking to you they demonstrate respect for your comfort zone.

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5.) Bratwurst and Sauerkraut

Yep, it is a very typical meal of Germans- grilled sausage with mustard and ketchup, potatoes and cabbage, that tastes slightly sour. What can I say…it grows on you. While I hated it as a child (it isn’t the prettiest of foods on the plate), I really do appreciate it nowadays. If you are being told all your life that this food defines your culture, well, you better get used to it, cause it ‘aint be going nowhere! So, if ever in Germany, do try a Bratwurst, they have them everywhere. To get you in the mood, listen to this Bratwurst-with-Sauerkraut- Song.

6.) Bavaria vs. The Rest of the Country

Most foreigners seem to associate one thing with Germany- Oktoberfest! And while it’s true that, once a year, a bunch of girls with braided hair and pushed-up lace bras carry 10 pints of beer to a table at which you’ll find a bunch of guys in leather pants, it is not all there is to Germany. Oktoberfest is really only nice if you do like beer and are willing to spend 15 dollars on a glass of it. Also, and I’m sorry for breaking this to you, but Germans do not really walk around in those outfits anymore, it’s a traditional Bavarian outfit that used to be worn a looong time ago. So please people from abroad, stop asking us jokingly why we “are not wearing the Lederhosen”. Prost to that!

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7.) “We are a great country”, said no German ever (Thanks Hitler)

Once upon a time, there was an evil, evil man with a bad sense for hair-and beard styles and a somewhat stuck-up arm-gesture. Hitler sure did more to the Germans than starting WWII and killing hundreds of thousands of Jews- he defined the understanding of national pride for the country and made it to what it is today: nonexistent. While the French demonstrate pride by refusing to speak English with you, the Americans hiss the Stars and Stripes on anything that faintly looks like a flag pole and the Polish carefully remind everyone that they are not like the Russians, the Germans have nothing of that kind. If I hung a flag outside of my house, I would sure be the neighborhood talk with at least some of them assuming that I became part of the NPD- Germany’s national socialistic party (aka Modern Nazis). We are careful not to say “Us Germans”, refer to anything before 1949 or show the national colors other than for a soccer match. In history class, children are being taught about WWII in a way that makes one message very very clear to us: Germany has gone badshit crazy on the world so often that blames such as “Wow, your country was really messed-up, this is sick stuff, Germany was quite a cruel country” have to be answered with an apology. Basically, Germany will feel apologetic for a very, very long time.

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8.) Soccer

Yes, our national sport is soccer (Fussball) and only soccer creates something like a national pride in the country. Anybody who visited Germany in 2006, when we held the international soccer tournament, would have thought the country was almost normal. There were flags EVERYWHERE. People were happy and proud and not afraid to wear Black-Red-Gold clothes, bandanas, umbrellas, face paint or pants. People were chatting with each other and hugging randomly, it truly was a summer fairytale. When Germany’s team was playing in the semi-finals and lost against Italy, it was a moment comparable to…well, maybe not 9/11 but it is very likely that Germans will know what they did at the time it was being announced that Germany was not in the finals. I sat at home and cried. And did not eat Italian ice-cream for a few months. But this is 7 years ago and no flags have been seen ever since….

For some impressions of the 2006 feel, do check out this video. It doesn’t happen all that often, that Germans are going crazy over their country, it’s worth a watch 😉

9.) Nude Beaches and Saunas

So yeah, we have them- the nude beaches. In Eastern-Germany, back when the wall was still standing, it was a cult and THE thing to demonstrate freedom (because, in Eastern-Germany, your private parts were probably the only thing free from state control). Still nowadays, you will find signs like “FKK starts here” or “End of Swim-clothing zone”. Only that the signs are in German, so watch out for how the people are going into the water- if you kept your clothes on at a nude beach, it would not be unlikely that several people will ask you to please undress. It is mostly to avoid the risk of stalkers and weirdos. Small hint: Children up to 5 or 6 years are often running around naked on the beach without people being disturbed. It’s entirely acceptable. Saunas are not typical German but it is very common that a friend will ask you to go to the sauna together. In most cases, this friend will sit in there naked. You do not wear your swimsuit or bikini in there, utmost coverage would be a towel. I myself am not the most comfortable being naked around others, so I make sure to always bring a towel with me but be aware of this and, for Heaven’s sake, do not stare at your naked friend!

FKK-Strand im Bezirk Cottbus

10.) David Hasselhoff

I was not aware of this stereotype before attending an international university but, apparently, Americans think that Germans are crazy about David Hasselhoff- WE ARE NOT. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE stop spreading the word. True, he sang in Germany the day the wall came down, I don’t know how that happened but trust me- if I found the people responsible for that, they would not need a lawyer anymore! Hasselhoff is not being played on every festival or public occasion and I have NEVER heard any German say something like: “Man, I so wanna go to the Hasselhoff concert next week that people have been standing in line for for years but when I finally got tickets, my parents snatched them away from me ’cause they themselves love him so much that they would prank their own son to get Hasselhoff tickets and my life will be ruined from now until I get to see him live!!!”
Come on countries, we have already freed you from Justin Bieber’s monkey, can’t someone else take David for a change!?

Interested in Ten more stereotypes about Germans?

When Life Gives You Lemons

Whatever your lemons are… your run was horrible, your boss was mean, your sister is prettier than you are, your best friend has a boyfriend and you’re alone, your colleague got the promotion you wanted, your professor gave you a D on a paper you were actually quite proud of…

Sometimes you need a cheer-up.

Maybe something really cute?

Maybe something really funny?

(stolen from damnyouautocorrect.com)

Or maybe something inspiring…

and just some very simple words of truth.

This is for my friend, and for everyone else who’s feeling a little less than great right now. Breathe. Shake it off. Smile. And also, when life gives you lemonade, make lemons. Life will be all like WHAAAT?!. (Phil, Modern Family, not my words originally. Sadly.)

Good night, world 🙂