What Americans notice about Germans…(part 1 of 4)

If Germans struggle to understand your sarcasm, it probably has something to do with one of two things, or if your really lucky both of these things:

1. They are struggling to understand your English, meaning you may be speaking too fast for them. This is normal and there is nothing wrong with it.

2. They don’t know you and, especially if number one above applies, have no idea how to gauge your humor/seriousness. I know many Germans who can understand sarcasm and use it themselves very well.


7.   Humour is usually at other people’s expense/at the expense of others.

No, you might think this, but it is probably just because you’re a culturally incompetent and self righteous asshole who possibly deserves a little ridicule, but just doesn’t realize what you are when you travel outside of the United States. At least you have taken the first step to broaden your horizons, but too bad your still judging the rest of the world according to your American standards. For more on this, see ‘Culture Shock’ or the ‘Dimensions of Culture Learning’, then feel free to write me nasty notes in the comments section.

The Germans that I have meant all have a sense of humor and are pretty darn funny. Their humor is usually on the drier side though, which might take some getting used to. Here I think the same two point rule applies from point number 6 above.

8.  Can’t do fractions (because of the easy/simple/convenient metric system).

You know what, I have trouble doing fractions and math in general unless cooking or tipping for service is involved. So what, it hasn’t necessarily stopped me in the world. The US is one of the few countries that doesn’t use the metric system. I think this one says more about those who say it than those who this comment is supposed to be about.

Photo by Anna Nekrashevich on Pexels.com

9.  Wearing designer glasses is viewed/counts as a sign of individuality.

This comment might be about jealousy. Germans look darn fine in a nice pair of ‘designer’ glasses and why shouldn’t they get these glasses, their health care is far cheaper than the health care most Americans have but cannot afford when they really need it. Furthermore, I was just thinking that everybody looks the same. I might as well be in America because individuality, at least in outward appearance has seemed to go the way of the dogs thanks, I guess in part, to the proliferation of the internet and American television being imported in Germany (and the rest of Europe, poor things – Europe doesn’t need to know about Jersey Shore or Tia Tequila, thanks MTV for helping give America a bad name. No wonder the rest of the world thinks we have no culture, we export crap television like Australia exports their crap beer (saving the good stuff for themselves).

10.  Opinionated/Know-(it-)alls/Are always right. Yes, they are. Yes, they really are.

After two years of meeting and teaching Germans, the only people in Germany that I know like this are other Americans living here, and I am NOT kidding.

Stay tunes for the rest of the fifty coming soon…

As always I welcome your comments.

Published by livingtheamericandreamineurope

I live in Europe, I am from America.

26 thoughts on “What Americans notice about Germans…(part 1 of 4)

  1. I just love this. I am so glad that M translated the list! I agree with so many of the things you said above- especially your repitition of “I think this one says more about those who say it than those who this comment is supposed to be about.”

    It is so crazy to me, still, when I hear about how Germans in our region are so cold and hard to get to know. Okay, they don’t tell you about their bathroom habits when they first meet you, like some Americans tend to do, but I don’t feel like their reservations are anything more than at home. A German friend of mine used the metaphors of Germans being coconuts, and Americans peaches. The idea being that Germans are known as having a hard shell, but once you crack into it you get all of the soft gooeyness… but with Americans, we might be easy to bite into, but it is hard to get to our core. As a generalization, that is pretty damn good. Anyways, that doesn’t have anything to do with anything.

    And HELL YES for your response to #10.

  2. Just came across your blog following some links on “german stare”, of which I – as a German – wasn’t aware at all I’ve to say. Anyway, I wanted to comment on the word “Ami”. It’s just short for “U.S.-Amerikaner”. That’s it. “Die Amis” as a generalising term for the nation can be connected with good or bad qualities, as any other (e.g. “(the) Germans”). It’s not a negative word in any way. Of course you can say “Scheiß-Ami” as you can say, well, maybe “bloody German”, but that’ nothing to do with the “Ami” in it. It’s also not like krauts, Fritz or some of those supposedly stereotypes with usually come with a negative association. I’m afraid we don’t have that in German for the US citizens, except maybe for “Cowboys” since the last decade/”W” era and younger people not being “raised” with those John Wayne, Steward Granger etc. movies as the 35+ were.

  3. I’d like to add here and ask you: Please do not feel offended when hearing/reading “Ami”, though I don’t think it would be directly used for addressing to someone.

  4. Reblogged this on Southeast Schnitzel and commented:
    Today I stumbled upon a blog that I should have found a long time ago. Then again, one can only read so much in a lifetime.
    “Living the American Dream in Europe” is written by a lady from Portland, OR who has been living in Germany for the past few years. She appears to be experiencing the same transatlantic cultural gap that I’ve been trying to navigate for half of my life – she just entered the bridge from the opposite direction.
    Here she takes a stab at cross-cultural perception and how we make assumptions about other cultures. As you can see, this the first of four parts on this topic. I’m only re-blogging part 1 to encourage you to visit her site to continue reading.

  5. I am glad I stumbled across this. I love it! It’s all quite true, although the first one about the “ami” I am really not sure about. I am fluent in both German and English – have a complicated background but to make it simple, let’s just say I’m German-Australian-American (yes, all in one). I have never heard “ami” being used as a derogatory word. To my knowledge, and the way we use it between ourselves (friends and family) it is simply short for “Amerikaner” – similiar to how an Aussie is someone from Australia.

    Number 4 baffles me though. My husband is a native spanish speaker but fluent in English. He has a tough time doing administrative things here in Germany because basically no one is willing to speak English with him when he asks, and he feels that his German isn’t good enough to get things done on his own… that being said, the Germans I know go two ways. The younger generation is quite open to speaking English (perhaps because they learned it in school) and the older generation is more hesitant!

    1. Thanks for your comment and for stumbling across my blog.

      I agree with you about the ‘Ami’ comment, but it’s other Americans that said that to me, so who knows.

      I also agree with you regarding the older and younger Germans willingness to speak English with others, although I have met or encountered some younger ones who also have been hesitant.

      1. True, I think since perfectionism is appreciated here in Germany, some people hesitate speaking English because they feel like they don’t speak well enough. Which is funny to me, because English is such a simple language in comparison to German!

        When I lived in Switzerland, I had people that would speak English to me rather than high-German because they admitted not feeling comfortable speaking high-German since they only ever learnt their Swiss dialect in school (not everyone!)

      2. you’re SO ON THE MONEY with that, you don’t even know :))

        I was never this OCD in my entire life. Hello, I even FOLD my re-useable grocery bags neatly, so they fit in the space that was made just for them. (omg)

  6. Hi, I’m german (sadly).

    “Ami” is not a short for “Scheiss-Ami” that doesnt make sense at all xD
    just for “Amerikaner/American”.

    1. Oh, yeah and it is not racist at all, it is a term which is liked and allowed not like other nicknames for people of certain nationality which use the name of the nation like some say to “Japanese/Japaner” the word “Japsen” which is a complete No-Go.

  7. I can’t handle the not being able to shop on Sundays thing and the not being able to shop on holidays thing, either. I can’t help but wonder why they get to decide what my day of rest should be? What if I want to rest on Saturday? Ahhhhh.

    1. I’ve heard it is so ‘everyone’ can have a day of rest, but that ignores people that work in transportation or food service. I’ve also heard the argument that those people have chosen those fields so they have to deal with working on Sunday’s, which totally ignores the privilege of ones educational ‘choices’ – but perhaps that is a whole other blog/story!

      America is by no means perfect, but neither is Germany – no place is really.

      Actually, it makes me think about the different facets of ‘privilege’ in German society. I think for the most part the Sunday rest is rooted in the Catholic history of many of the German states. However, historically women didn’t work, they took care of the home and family. Even after that began to change I was told that into the 1990’s in many places across Germany shops closed during the week at about 18.00 and by 13.00 on Saturday. Which means who then has the ‘honor’ of doing all the shopping and running all the errands? Oh yeah – the Hausfrau.

      I have no idea how people actually completed house remodels or pairs, especially because I remember how many times my father had to return the hardware store while we was working on something and he was a good planner!

      We’re about to start Kindergarten and the Kita attempted to give us the times lot of 7:30-12:30 and 13:30 to 16:30. The more logical, but still challenging time slot is 7:30 to 14:00. At least we have a Tagesmutter for the days I cannot pick up my son because I work, but who thinks of these times? Again, I think they are rooted in a ‘simpler’ time and unfortunately don’t reflect modern Germany.

      1. Good points. I have trouble going to the store alone in Germany (for a few reasons, but language is one of them) and it is definitely hard to find time to go with my husband when he is not working and the stores are still open, especially if we have plans to go out or are traveling somewhere.

      2. And ultimately, if you aren’t working as much as your partner it does make sense to go to the shops for things you all need. It saves the time you do have together for more fun and interesting activities. It is just unfortunate that it is set up this way.

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