Culture & Art

Getting to know the German habits

Exploring different habits and another culture – that was all in our minds when we applied to the exchange program. When you live such a long time in Germany things you do appear to be normal to you. It seems to be that they are the same like everywhere in the world because they are so common to you. During the time with the Nepali students we experienced some differences which the German students never noticed themselves before. For my research I talked to my team partner Preeti to exchange our experiences. People who are interested in further information about the habits in Nepal can click here.
When you go to a meeting in Germany the first thing you do is to say hello. In Germany you take the right hand of your partner with your right hand as well. Then you squeeze it a little bit but not too much and shake it up and down once or twice. During your handshake you look each other in the eyes and say hello. Besides the greeting in personal there are also differences within phone calls. In Germany you answer your house telephone after picking it up with your name. Some people say their whole name, some just mention their last name.
Another special habit of the Germans known all over the world is their punctuality. In our project we experienced that the German students were rather late then the Nepalis. But concerning my conversation with Preeti in Nepal the clocks tick differently. It is called the “Nepali time”. When you arrive in Nepal a delay of 15 to 60 minutes is common. In Germany people start wondering what happened as soon as a person is ten minutes late. If you come very late to a meeting with no reason like a bus damage it is also seen as very impolite. On your way to your appointment you will notice some other differences as well. For example mostly all the Germans wait on the traffic lights to turn green – even if there is no car on the street at all. That looks very strange to foreigners even from other European countries but the Germans are very concerned about their security.
After you arrived safely at your meeting you also have to consider some different habits concerning the dining together. Most of the people wait until everyone of their group have their meals and then say “Guten Appetit” which means “enjoy your meal”. It is common to eat with knife and fork. When you spend a nice evening we noticed that the Nepali students took a lot of photos. German people also do that in foreign countries a lot. But they feel a little bit uncomfortable to photograph people. In Germany there is the right to one’s own image and picture. That means that everyone can decide if someone is allowed to take pictures of them. Therefore it is usual to ask someone if it is okay to picture them.
And also the social media activities of the German people are more restrained. For example a lot of people just like a few pages on Facebook and only if they really like them. There are also less personal posts and uploads of photos. For many Germans their privacy is very important to them. That might be a reason why they post less personal statements.
At the end of your restaurant meeting you ask the waiter for the bill or in some places go to the bar to pay. In bars you usually pay when you want to leave and not after each drink. It is common to give the waiter a tip of around 10% of the amount or adjust upward. Then you say good bye to close friends with a hug, to others by shaking hands. With this little extract of the German daily habits we hope you will be well prepared for your journey to Germany.
Melanie Kipp

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