Monthly Archives: February 2022

German Etiquette

The German Etiquette: 4 Tips for Expats

Just like in every other country, there are also rules you should be aware of in German etiquette. In private, you can certainly neglect them now and then, but in the business world, they are more relevant. It’s important for expats in Germany to know about them.

Greetings and “Sie” vs. “Du”

In professional and private life before Corona, it was customary to shake hands in greeting. Since the pandemic, people are more careful and have dropped this ritual, but it will certainly return to everyday life in Germany.

Simply asking someone how it’s going isn’t a German trait. That’s because trivial chitchat is not a core German skill. Here, people get straight to the point. Questions about how you’re feeling, which people in the U.S., for example, use as a polite phrase, can result in Germans using the opportunity to really talk things out — be it about the children’s school problems, the father-in-law’s hernia, or the misery of the world, in general. So plan some time if you really want to know: How are you?

For many English-speaking expats learning German, the salutation is often confusing. Unlike in English, there are two variations of the salutation in German: The formal Sie and the more informal Du. In everyday life and the closer environment, say with friends and family, you would use Du, while in the business world, Sie is the common form of address.

You should pay particular attention to this point of German etiquette if you live in Germany. The same applies to people you are just getting to know. Ideally, you should first use Sie before changing to Du later on. Here, too, there are some rules to follow: In business, the higher-ranking person offers the Du, or the older to the younger person, or the woman to the man, if he has not been with the company much longer than she has.

Of course, you can refuse switching to the more informal Du if you wish. You should, however, always be aware of what such a rebuff could trigger in the counterpart.

Etiquette in the Workplace

As far as the dress code in the German business world is concerned, it depends on the industry and the company you work in. Both men and women usually wear suits or dresses in more formal settings like banks. In companies, it depends on whether you have an client contact (also suit) or you are sitting in the office.

If it’s the latter, you can often dress more casually. Also, with business meals, there are many small stumbling blocks, which actually depend on how official this meeting is going to be. When living in Germany, you should remember that you don’t say “Cheers”, but “Prost” or “zum Wohl!” Otherwise, pauses in conversation are unpleasant, and it is better to engage in a little small talk.

Just like in most countries, the first impression is crucial – be it in private or business life. Therefore, when living in Germany, you should pay attention to punctuality because it can make a big difference.

The rule in Germany on the business level considers up to 15 minutes before time to be the symbol of true punctuality. If you are stuck in a traffic jam or are late for any other reason, just give them a quick call and explain the situation. If a business partner is late, according to German etiquette, you should allow 15 to 20 minutes for waiting.

Toasting without eye contact is another area that expats in Germany should focus upon. In other countries, people may simply raise their glasses and toast each other. Not so in Germany. It’s better to look your counterpart directly in the eye when you toast. Otherwise, you’ll be unlucky in love. Toasting crosswise is also considered a bad omen, even in business circles.

German Etiquette When Going Out to Eat

Something to keep in mind when going to a restaurant is that in Germany, you don’t actually ask for free tap water as an accompanying drink. Here, you have to order mineral water from the menu. Some restaurant operators react in a quite unfriendly way if you do not follow this rule. While it does get better in some parts of the country, you should pay attention to how the locals handle it at first.

Men can usually impress German women when they hold the door open for her, take her coat or jacket, offer her a seat in a restaurant and adjust her chair. Meanwhile, it’s a little more difficult when settling the bill on a date.

Should you want to bring flowers, be mindful of the colour you choose. Flower etiquette in Germany is complicated and can lead to embarrassing misunderstandings. This is because red flowers, especially red roses, are for romantic situations. White flowers, on the other hand, are considered grave decorations and are used at funerals. If you want to avoid the flower faux pas, it is best to ask the florist for advice.

Subtle Details of Daily Life

Beside all these facts, there are some things that are important to Germans. For example, waste separation. Germans are very environmentally conscious and separate their trash to make recycling easier. If your neighbours see you throwing recyclable glass or paper in the regular trash, it could put a strain on your relationship forever.

Moreover, you should be aware of the fact that Germans usually have no issues with nudity. There are often nude beaches, and in the sauna, you are basically naked, and they are gender-neutral. As a foreigner, you may be irritated at first, but those who want to go in there dressed will get rather astonished looks.

Parking on the bike path is a total no-no. Germany may be a car country, but cyclists are conquering the cities. Drivers who park on bike paths have to expect scratches in their paintwork. And pedestrians who get in the way can expect harsh abuse.

Don’t Be Scared of German Etiquette!

There are still numerous “rules” to follow, but you’ll get to know them over time. A final tip is to model the behaviour of the people around you, who usually know what is appropriate and correct in the respective situation.

In addition, if a faux pas does happen to you, it is not so bad, because they happen to Germans as well. Take the whole thing with a bit of humour and everything will be fine, thus letting you get settled in your life as an expat in Germany! Also Check out our Blog on German Superstitions.

Cologne City Guide

Home Is Where the Dom Is – Cologne City Guide

Home is where the Dom is – that’s what the people of Cologne say about their city. Few Germans are as proud of their city as the people living in Cologne. Cologne, Germany’s fourth largest city with over 1 million residents, is marked by its Rhine location and the renowned Cologne Cathedral; the latter of which can be seen from most areas in the city. In addition, there is the fifth season, the carnival, which dominates the city life between November and February.

Living in Cologne

Cologne, or Kölle as the locals say, is not only Germany’s fourth largest city, but also a very special metropolis. People who are thinking of relocating to this unique and captivating city should be ready to experience a remarkable location with its own special citizens. Et hätt noch jot jejange – it has always gone well so far – means no less than the following: What went well yesterday will go well today. Every Jeck is different. Which means as much as: Every fool is different.

Exercising tolerance and forbearance towards the other in the knowledge of one’s own imperfection characterizes the life of the people of Cologne, just like the local dialect in general. This attitude makes it easy for foreigners in particular to gain a foothold in this city.

The inhabitants of Cologne are highly fond of merriment and possess a playful nature. As an instance, the city is split into two parts; the left bank, which is referred to as the “good side,” and the right bank, known as “Schäl Sick”, symbolizing evil due to its poorer population. Today, of course, this is no longer the case and you can find apartments and beautiful neighbourhoods on both sides of the city.

Must Visits

One of the hippest neighbourhoods in Cologne is the Belgian Quarter. There you will find the Aachener Straße, one of the most popular streets in the city, with chic cafes and trendy stores. The locals also call it the heart of Cologne. It is multicultural and reflects the cosmopolitanism of the Rhinelanders.

The people of Cologne are both cosmopolitan and traditional, as evidenced by their numerous breweries. Kölsch (a special type of beer) is an iconic part of this city, as well as the traditional dishes served by the semi-friendly waiters known as Köbesse. Though they can be tough to adjust to at first, you’ll get used to them with time.

Cologne is an exciting city, especially for those with an interest in the field of media. Several TV stations are based here, so there are lots of interesting jobs in this industry in particular. Of course, Cologne also offers perspective jobs in other areas.

Cologne does not have to hide culturally either – the most impressive sight is the Cologne Cathedral. Today, it is hard to believe that the Cologne Cathedral in its current form was only completed in 1880. Its architecturally uniform image and quite weathered face make it appear older than most parts actually are.

In 1248, work began on the Cologne Cathedral and it eventually became a popular pilgrimage site due to the presumed relics of the Magi being brought over from Milan in the 12th century. The old cathedral, which had been standing since 870, was no longer able to cope with the crowds. The style of the new cathedral was to be French Gothic. The cathedrals of Amiens, Paris and Strasbourg served as models.

Museum Ludwig and Roman-Germanic Museum

Not far from the Cologne Cathedral are two of the city’s best-known museums: the Museum Ludwig, dedicated to 20th and 21st century art, and the Roman-Germanic Museum, dedicated to the archaeological history of Cologne.

With its extensive Pop Art collection and the third largest Picasso collection in the world, as well as numerous Expressionist, New Objectivity and Russian Avant-garde paintings, the Museum Ludwig is one of the most important art museums in the world and one of the best Cologne sights in the old town.

No less interesting is the Roman-Germanic Museum. On more than 4,500 square meters of exhibition space, you can discover the Roman city history of Cologne.

One of the most diverse sights in Cologne is the Old Town, located in the city centre. Not only are the best Cologne sights located here, all within comfortable walking distance from each other, but the city centre also stands out for its unique houses, gastronomic and cultural scene and wide shopping offer. Especially famous are the Old Market, Hohe Straße and Schildergasse.

Built between 1907 and 1911, the Hohenzollern Bridge is the most renowned of the seven Rhine bridges in Cologne. It was built to replace the Cathedral Bridge as its capacity had become inadequate. Unlike its fellow Rhine bridges, it did not suffer destruction from bombs during World War II.

The Wehrmacht preferred to do that itself, to make it harder for Allied troops to cross the Rhine. After the war, they rebuilt it as a railroad and pedestrian bridge only. Cars have no access here. However, what the Hohenzollern Bridge is most known for are the love locks, which now number over 500,000. The bridge is one of the main attractions in Cologne for couples.

The Fifth Season

The “fifth season,” carnival, otherwise known as Shrovetide, has a long history in the Rhineland that dates back to the Middle Ages. It reached its peak during the early modern period when people donned costumes and participated in carnival games.

Now, it is mainly associated with costuming, speeches, and the Rose Monday parade which commences every year at 11:11 a.m. on November 11th to traditional carnival music with the “Cologne Triumvirate” being introduced into old town.

However, it then still takes a while until the world-famous street carnival begins. It is not until the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, Women’s Carnival (which is usually sometime in February) that the big party actually begins. Carnival festivities ensue and the atmosphere is abuzz with merrymakers and revellers.

Public Transportation

Cologne has an extensive public transport system in place. The streetcars in Cologne also become the subway on many routes. This efficient and comfortable transport system in Cologne has 34 subway stations and 11 different lines. In Cologne, the S-Bahn (urban railroad) is highly developed with its five lines of service.

The S-Bahn trains almost all stop at the stations of the Deutsche Bahn and the different Park & Ride parking lots on the outskirts of the city. In addition, there are about 50 bus lines that travel throughout the city. Thus, living in Cologne can be easily managed without a car. In addition, there is the airport Cologne/Bonn “Konrad Adenauer”. It is an international commercial airport in Cologne, located 12 km from the centre of Cologne and 16 km from the centre of Bonn.

Food in Cologne

Living in Cologne has something to offer for everyone in terms of cuisine. Be it the numerous breweries, the traditional dishes such as Himmel und Äd, (heaven and earth) a traditional dish of mashed potatoes mixed with apple pieces. “Himmel und Erde” is frequently served alongside bratwurst, bacon, and roasted onions; additionally, it can also be prepared with fried liver sausage or black pudding.

There is also international cuisine in Cologne, from sushi to French to Creole. The diverse range of eateries in this city is a testament to its open-mindedness and global appeal – making it the perfect place for anyone starting their new life in Germany.

We hope this city guide has been helpful to you in getting a better picture of what living in Cologne is like. Should you visit or make this beautiful city your home, we wish you all the best! And we can help you find English-speaking Services here!

Dating in Germany

Dating in Germany: 10 Tips for Expats

For me as a German it is not easy to write about Dating in Germany. There are so many stereotypes about Germans which are partly right but also wrong. An Australian woman’s response to the query, “How do you know a German is flirting with you?” was: “sounds to me like the beginning of a joke”. This should be taken into account when conversing with Germans one has an interest in.

Most German men are supposedly shy and not good at flirting like French or Italian men who are flirtier and more open-minded. But I guess that has changed in the last years. They are more and more willing to make the first move, but also like it if women take control and take the first step. Different than in many other countries, the Germans hardly ever go to a person they don’t know in a bar or club. The pressure they face makes them anxious and the fear of being rejected is always present. They prefer meeting through common friends as if it was by accident.

What should I talk about?

In the early stages, forming a strong connection with Germans can be difficult. However, once they like you, they are faithful and either you become a close friend, or you can rely on a real relationship. The reason is that Germans are not into small talk but prefer a serious, deeper conversation. That might be one of the biggest problems for foreigners in Germany: We are not the greatest when it comes to showing our interest in a person.

Another reason that makes dating Germans difficult is their honesty and the fact that they are straightforward. This combination is hard to understand for people who immigrate to Germany. This doesn’t only apply to German men but the women as well. Another thing: German men hardly ever come to pick up a girl/woman – both just agree on a time and meet there. The prejudice about Germans not being too romantic is true!

Another fact that has changed about dating in Germany over the last years is who pays the bill. In the past, men usually paid for dinner but nowadays splitting the bill has become popular.

10 Tips for Expats about German social behaviour

But here are the most important facts you should know if you want to flirt with either a German man or woman…

  1. German men are often shy which means they probably won’t make the first move and start a conversation with you, especially in a bar or club
  2. Don’t make small talk, Germans prefer a serious, deeper conversation
  3. It takes time to get to know a German person but if it works you either gain a great friend or a reliable relationship
  4. Don’t be afraid of the German straightforwardness – Germans tell you what they want and think
  5. German men like it if women take the first step and take control
  6. German women sometimes like to split the bill on the first date – strange but it’s true. But in general they like to be invited!
  7. Try to be on time for your date, Germans love punctuality 😉
  8. Some women like flowers on the first date, but it is not necessary
  9. As a woman you should know that German men probably won’t show up to pick you up!
  10. Germans usually wait a long time until they say “I love you”, but if they do, they mean it!

Besides these tips I believe it often depends on the situation whether Germans are willing to do the things necessary to get a date. For those who want to know what different nations think about Dating in Germany, I can recommend YouTube, where you can find several videos about this topic!

You can find more English-speaking services in Germany here.