Culture Shock: Five (More) Things That Suck About Living in Germany

“Go sports team! Score that goal! Make that touchdown! I mean, wait…” — Photo Credit: Stewart ( — Image subject to Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Once again, let me begin by saying life in Germany is awesome. I absolutely love it here! I have, however, learned a thing or two about the realities of life abroad. What follows is the next list of discoveries, oddities and annoyances revealed in my first months as an expat American living in Hannover, Germany:

  1. Shameful public artwork is everywhere. It seems like every corner is home to a bronze sculpture featuring a pair of naked Germans, heads hanging in shame, mumbling to one another, “God we suck.” Yes, I understand the travesties of the world wars. I totally get the need to remember, to learn and to honor the dead, but I’d like to take at least one leisurely stroll around town without feeling like I just took a shower in dog poop and shame sprinkles.
  2. Soccer fans are scary. There are few things I enjoy less than being surrounded by drunken soccer fans, hooting and hollering as they stumble through the train station after the big game. Hell, any game. I’m not convinced the fans I’m seeing even go to the games; I think some of these guys just put on their team jerseys and scarves and go watch whichever team happens to be playing on TV at their favorite watering hole. And there’s something about a big German man wearing a scarf striped with his local team’s colors, swaying as he walks toward me with an empty beer bottle about to tumble from his fingers, which I find — on an instinctual level — absolutely terrifying.
  3. Germans are downers. This may have something to do with point #1, but a great many of the Germans I’ve encountered are depressing as hell. Nothing is ever awesome. Even if something is mostly awesome, like having a job as a wealthy, internationally respected beer taster, the average German will focus on the one part of that job which blows, and feel the need to tell me all about it. “Yes, I have a good job as a beer taster, but there is only one electric car charger at the brewery; it is indicative of a larger problem within our educational system and our government as a whole, and demonstrates the fact that our entire country is about to implode in a morbidly depressing vacuum of apocalypse.” I mean, sure, Germans have been through some crazy ups and downs throughout history, so maybe even now they’re afraid to get their hopes up, but Jesus; let’s turn those frowns upside down, Deutschland! Look, you have dirndls and beer all around you! Dirndls and beer, God damn you.
  4. Everybody is tall as hell. I’m sure someone out there can explain the correlation between height and colder climates, but all I know is here in Germany, I’m like Frodo Baggins in the land of the Silvan Elves. I’m about 5′ 10″ (or 5′ 11″ — when I’m totally lying), and I always thought my height was pretty average. Not here. In Lower Saxony, I’m surrounded by these elongated, angelic beings with wonderfully straight hair and wings sewn of Jack Wolfskin polyurethane.
  5. Even in Germany, there are assholes. Of course I am aware there are jerks in every country, but I’d hoped Germany would be different. Yes, this was my own cultural bias, but I didn’t want to let it go. Not even at the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde), full of snorting pencil pushers, who calmly lost my residence application and then told me not to worry about it. Or that sad little beer tent at Oktoberfest, where the waitress shut down my attempts to order in German, advising me, “Just speak English, it is the language of business.” Or those drunken soccer fans on Georgstraße, who passed my wife and I, asking, “Is this your boyfriend? No? He’s your husband? Are you sure?” But finally, reluctantly, I had to admit there are a few jackpipes in my beloved Germany. Luckily, for each one I meet, there seem to be 10 warm and wonderful Germans just waiting to brighten my day here in Deutschland.


If you’d like to read more of our Things That Suck About Living in Germany lists, check out our previous posts:
Five Things That Suck About Living in Germany
Five (More) Things That Suck About Living in Germany
Even More Things That Suck About Living in Germany


61 thoughts

  1. Hi OGMWIG,

    Since this post appears to have verschwunden, I’m curious about the five (more) things that are annoying you here. Maybe a fellow Ami can help ease the pain ;-)





    1. Hi Chris!

      Sorry about that missing post yesterday; I was just trying to schedule it for a certain week in the near future, but failed to update the year first. WordPress was just following orders when the post time passed and sent out the email RIGHT as I was fixing it.

      No worries, that post, and the 5 annoyances preceding it, will be posted soon.

      Have a great night!


    2. Hey! I really like your post. It’s hilarious so I’m going to put in my two pennies worth…
      I’m a British expat and also a teacher and the amount of time I have spoken to my students to stay positive, smile, it’ll-be-alright-on-the-night, stuff like that, has been a million and one times.
      I keep nagging them though and they do indeed come through. I even smile at people on the train…..bravely. In the hope that someone will smile back and not just think I’m creepy!


  2. I have felt your pain here – or at least I can agree to these first impressions. Additionally, I thought upon first arriving, “Jesus! Everyone must smoke too, even the average 12-year-olds!” I’ve since changed my tune, but that is the beauty of culture shock, for sure!

    Some of my initial ideas haven’t changed too much though, I’ve just learned to live with them in a way, and crack jokes about them too. Here, people can’t seem to walk in a straight line and insist on stopping in front of all entryways/exits or at the bottom or top of escalators – in groups to chat, or smoke. Or while your walking behind them, they decide to stop suddenly without warning and then look at you funny when you run into them because you haven’t had enough warning to maneuver quickly enough out of their way. Such fun!

    I do love living here though. I can also (and perhaps should) count many an annoying thing about Northwesterners/Americans too! It is the nature of the beast.

    Have fun in Hannover!


  3. I’m kind of laughing at #1. At least it’s not graffiti. I think you should take lots of smiling photos in front of them. #5 – Well you know. What can you do? They are in every country. But I would stay away from those soccer fans if I were you. Yeah, they’re intense. Hopefully you don’t meet #2 and #5 combined!


      1. Oh…you’ll have to take picture of that, too!

        I have a question. I want to start a new thing on my blog where I feature a blogger. I would just put a link to a post of theirs that I liked. I wanted to feature you with your Bakery post that I found so funny!!!

        Because this is my first time doing it, I would write a post to kick it off. Would that be ok with you? It’s totally fitting since you’re one of the first bloggers I met in the blogosphere, oh so long ago!


      2. Of course! And thank you!

        Please send me an email when the post is live and I’ll add you to the Our Friends list of links on our blog. (Oh, and please remind me in the email that you are The Bumble Files. (Sometimes I don’t connect the email address to the blog person.)


      3. Cool. Thank you! Definitely I will email the post. Would you like for me to refer to you personally? I apologize but I’ve forgotten your name. It starts with a J, right? Either way…I can just do your blog name too! Thanks! – Amy


  4. I must agree about #3! I’m currently in a German integration course since the immigration office is requiring me to go. I’m scheduled to take the B1 level exam at the end of January & I’ve told my teacher “I really hope I pass because I want to be finished with school.” Her response is “But if you fail, they give you another 3 months of class” along with a skeptical look as if I can’t possibly think I will pass, or should even want to. Be a little positive & encouraging, lady! “I hope you pass too!” isn’t such a tough thing to tell me.


  5. Re #3. I can be given a key to Fort Knox and told that everything in it is mine, and I will want to complain about the long drive to get there. No matter HOW good things are, I find the one fly in the ointment and obsess to anyone within earshot about it. Can you tell that I have German heritage?


  6. I love living here as well but even I think your list is a bit on the short side. As for those crazy bronze statues, wait until you get a load of the one we have in Coburg. Next time I’m in town I will snap a picture of it just for your viewing pleasure. I don’t want to give too much away but the person it depicts is not tall and there are some gurkens involved.


  7. I must write a comment for #3, because it relates so well to #’s 2 & 5. Germans (& I don’t mind, actually rather enjoy, stereotyping them) are absolutely pent up. Punkt. Soccer games are their release. (This is from my experience). At a soccer game, the German is permitted to show something the entire world is united in shaming him/her of: national pride. And they love it. For the rest of their existence they are pent up, on time, sober-minded, clear-thinking, responsible individuals who rarely get excited (#3). But man, give them a soccer game and it is ON like Donkey Kong, as the kids say.

    And, no, Germans don’t get excited on a daily bases. We are excited people. My gf refers to Americans as puppy dogs. We are very, very excited. But as you rightly point out: Dirndls & Beer, my friend. Dirndls & Beer… :-)


  8. This post comes right on schedule considering the length of time you’ve lived here. Stick around and you’ll discover the number of jerks drops considerably the moment you stop paying any attention to them. That drives them crazy, and keeps you sane.


    1. You know, I think I may have noticed this a little already. When I act like a jerk right back to them, it seems to snap them out of their own jerk mode. Like they were doing it as a reflex or something. I also read about this tactic in one of my books on Germans prior to moving here.

      Thank you for the encouragement!


  9. “Germans are downers” – i think this comes from the need to not toot one’s own horn, more than being obsessed with being depressing.

    I find it refreshing, for example, to not listen to someone overweight with a job at mcdonalds and no girlfriend exaggerate about how awesome they and their country are.


  10. Soccer Fans live and die for their team. It is important to know how other teams played because of the Bundesliga Tabelle. If you are going to be near the stadion or train station during a home game, wear neutral colors to avoid confrontation!
    Germans are especially downers during the winter time when the sun can’t get through the clouds for weeks. It is really depressing.

    LG Anja


  11. I live in Frankfurt. Guys on streets seem to feel the need to pass judgement on me when I walk past. Assholes.
    Also, Frankfurt football fans are scary – this comes from a girl who used to live in Liverpool.


  12. Glad you like it here. As for #5, well.. as you said, this is not special to us. As to #4, have you ever been to the Netherlands? These guys are tall.. tall, blond and often blue-eyed.
    And as to #1, dont pick on it. Just ignore it. And imagine how much better this madness is compared to the the-rest-of-the-world-hates-us madness after WWI.


  13. I love this post – it’s one of your well watching, hearing and describing posts that make me smile. Not about you!! Oh – no!! But because it’s so true!!
    Aren’t sometimes those the “poorest” who are the “richest”? And not only in a monetary way? :-)
    I enjoy reading your posts so much!!
    Well done!


  14. Holy crap you get a lot of comments! Can I borrow a cup of comments? Dude #3 made me laugh. Ask a German how they are doing and they will literally tell you how they are doing and all the bad stuff gets front loaded. “Hey Han how are you … oh crap here we go again”.


  15. American with German wife in Osnabrück here. Soccer fans aren’t really that bad. Little bit on the drunk side, but usually not hostile. And by “little bit”, I mean totally wasted. I go to matches all the time, so the intimidation factor isn’t there for me. Be aware of your surroundings, of course, but don’t be afraid of them. Most of them are surprised that I’m an American that watches and loves the sport.


  16. Nice to hear from another American who has similar bones to pick! I’ve been living in Hamburg for almost 2 years now and while I do enjoy living here the cultural differences can be a big downer. The slogan of Hamburg being “the most beautiful city in the world” doesn’t help to change the already arrogant and narcissistic impression that rubs off on foreigners. I definitely know what you are saying with the soccer fans! Getting stuck inside a train with them is enough to drive you batty. Nice blog btw, keep up the posts!


      1. A good sys admin job and a girlfriend. I actually come from Seattle. I definitely dig the beer scene down in Portland and also the slogan that I saw last time I was there “keep Portland weird” haha!


  17. “Soccer games are their release. (This is from my experience). At a soccer game, the German is permitted to show something the entire world is united in shaming him/her of: national pride. And they love it. For the rest of their existence they are pent up, on time, sober-minded, clear-thinking, responsible individuals who rarely get excited (#3). But man, give them a soccer game and it is ON like Donkey Kong, as the kids say.”

    THE WORLD CUP IS A BREATH OF FRESH AIR! German flags waving from windows everywhere, clipped onto car windows, ordinary volk wearing the schwartz-rot-gold, shoulder to shoulder mob scene at the Brandenburg gate all the way down to the Victory Column! Thursday should be interesting…Germany vs. USA…adios muchachos for the loser!

    As a just-off-the-boat (1.1.2014) expat from L.A. living in Berlin I’ve debated long and hard which flag to wave but I think I’ll have to go with Germany!


  18. I just moved to Germany and I’m also a blogger. And oh my God, my husband is a German. :) I can’t stop reading your blog, hehe. I think I must have read at least 20 of your posts by now. I totally relate to everything – why don’t Germans slice their pizzas, why is the recycling system so complicated (but it’s very good), how can they drink so much and why I can’t drink like them, why is German grammar so difficult (yes, I’m also preparing for my B1), why do they put curry powder on their hot dogs, why do they say pepperoni when they mean pepper.. and so many other things, hehe.


  19. As a fulltime downer who spots hollow joy and false positivity on the spot, I throw in my five cents. ;-)
    People get wierded out when somebody like me grins all the time and my jokes feel very uneasy. Unlike the usual downer though, I got a medical condition and when I say “Fuck this, we eventually will all die anyway!”, it’s half a joke half “bitterer Ernst”. If life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade – forcefeed the fucker its lemons!

    And when I speak about expectations of other people : you are constantly reminded that germans can be strange but not funny. Give them bad puns about the 12 years of that Chaplin imposter and they are stunned or outright shocked and don’t know what to say. Normally, this would then be the point to get heavily drunk with a russian friend or to speak in a very wrong german movie accent (think Monty Python) just to annoy everybody else. Hell, maybe doing a completely botched Stechschritt to seriously piss off some dumb neo-nazis or vivid Front Nationale fans..

    Just kidding. This is my crest : Destiny, I fart in your general direction!


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