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Do’s and Don’ts; Tips for Newcomers to Germany

April 20 , 2021 by: Tash Boudville

Do you plan to visit Germany soon? Are you wondering how you, as an expat, can make a great first impression on co-workers and even strangers as a newcomer to Germany? Do you want to learn the basic etiquette, the do’s and don’ts, and the tips and tricks of Germany? 

My article will help everyone from expats, nomads, digital nomads, and even typical holiday travelers who want to learn the do’s and don’t when in Germany. We will cover many topics such as personal space, payment methods, and proper greetings.

Subjects such as punctuality, manners, intoxication, table manners, and even transport etiquette will also get discussed in this article.

Personal Space

Just like the 1.5m rule of COVID-19, Germans love their personal space. They also like to protect that from strangers. An arm’s length is considered safe. But any less is seen as a big deal-breaker, and you may even get considered as rude.

Another rule Germans have is that typically when you are talking to someone, you aren’t in any way touching them. This rule even applies to couples in public spaces.

Payment Methods

Payment methods in Germany are very slim, and you’ll have a hard time find a place that accepts anything but cash. As an expat, nomad, or digital nomad, try carrying cash with you at all times. But if having money on you will be problematic, ask the locals if the place you want to visit accepts cash.

Splitting the bill amongst family or friends in Germany isn’t uncommon, so if you need to separate the check between a few people, speak to your waiter/waitress or the employee.

Greetings

When greeting other nomads, digital nomads, expats, and even the local folk, Handshakes are the way to approach the situation. Guten Tag.”, “Grüß Gott.” or “Hallo.” are the few common phrases to use when greeting someone.

In Germany, they host an international kissing day. This event is held on the 6th of July every year. Although, handshakes are the preferred way of greeting people in Germany. On this day, everyone is encouraged to kiss when greeting each other. Typically, you’ll find the younger people kissing others’ cheeks.

Photo by Alexas on Pixabay

Punctuality

Punctuality is a “must” in Germany. For expats, nomads, and digital nomads, this is an important skill to learn, especially for meeting with co-workers, strangers for the first time. This rule also applies when attending a business meeting or conference.

Do:

Make sure you are on time. For Germans, you must show good punctuality. “Fashionably late” isn’t a term that the German condone.

Do not: 

Do not be late. If you know you are late, make sure you have a good enough reason, and you tell that person straight away. Try not to blame it on traffic or things that you can control. Most Germans will expect you as an expat, nomad, and traveler to plan your journey beforehand and leave at least half an hour prior. But do not arrive early, this is also considered rude. Try to arrive right on time.

Manners

Do:

Learn the language!!! Even if you learn the very basics, it is better than nothing. This gesture shows the Germans you are being polite and putting in the effort to learn the language. Some phrases that would be essential to your travels in Germany include “hello.”, “thank you.”, “good morning.”, “can you please help me find…”.

Don’t:

You’ll find a lot of naked beaches and people walking around naked in Germany. If you ever are in sight of a naked person, do not do the obvious and stare. Staring makes the Germans feel uncomfortable.

Do not joke around about Nazis. This subject is an off-limits subject to ever joke around about with the Germans.

Photo by Rita on Pixabay

Intoxication

Weirdly, for the country that created Oktoberfest, the German don’t tend to party hard. However, it doesn’t mean that the Germans don’t like to drink. Germans tend they limit themselves on their alcohol limit. So they don’t end up making horrible decisions and possibly end up in handcuffs.

Over-excessive drinking and being forceful to get someone to drink even when they have kindly rejected is a big “no” to the Germans. You can get sent to jail and possibly face multiple fines when you are causing disorderly conduct.

The drinking age limit in Germany starts at a very young age, so do not be surprised if you see a 16-year-old drinking beer or wine.

Table Manners

Do:

When you, as an expat or a nomad, visit places to eat, whether formal or informal, Germans will use a fork for everything, including pizza. To most countries, this gesture gets considered unnatural. But to the Germans, it gets seen as appropriate and shows you are polite.

Do not:

When at a table of co-workers, friends, acquaintances, or even family, do not start eating your food until everyone gets their food. In Germany, expats, nomads, and even Germans get expected to wait for everyone to receive their food before eating. It gets classed as a common courtesy.

Transport Etiquette

Transport etiquette plays an extensive role in how strangers will see you in Germany. If you are someone who appears ignorant to those around you, there’s a high chance that the Germans will not respect you the way you would like to.

Do:

Get on from the front and leave from the back. We have all face the issue of clashing into people that are getting in while you’re trying to get out, at least a dozen times in our lifetime. In Germany, they have a simple rule of coming in from the front and getting off at the back to eliminate this problem.

Don’t:

Do not Jaywalk. Jaywalking gets considered highly offensive and gets frowned upon by all Germans. A little tip, wait for the light to go green and make sure to stop at the sidewalk if the light is about to go red. Jaywalking is also illegal in Germany.

Do not blast your music. As much as we all love jamming out to our music, it gets considered disruptive and rude, and there will be a high chance that someone may tell you off for having your music up to loud. To avoid this, put some headphones on that aren’t set to the highest volume.

 

 

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