What not to do as a newly-arrived expat in Germany

Posted on 30 Jul at 6 PM in Germany
Story link: What not to do as a newly-arrived expat in Germany
What not to do as a newly-arrived expat in Germany

What not to do as a newly-arrived expat in Germany

If you’re heading to Germany for the first time as an expat, it pays to learn the do’s and don’ts of fitting in to the local culture.

Germany is a popular destination for expats determined to advance their careers, but many find its culture tricky to understand due to its many rules. Germans are seen as inflexible and sometimes unfriendly, but playing the cultural game by their rules can open up good friendships both at work and in your social life.

The first important aspect of living and working in Germany is punctuality. Germans have this aspect of life down to a fine art, and take it very seriously if you’re late for an appointment or even a get-together in a local restaurant. Arriving early is fine, but even a minute late gets you a black mark. as being late is seen as a breach of social contract. You’ll also be surprised to know that quiet hours are actually regulated in German law. Noise has fixed hours, with each municipality having its own rules. Most stipulate between 1pm and 3pm as well as 10 pm and 7 am, during which times not even vacuuming or using a washing machine is allowed!

Newly-arrived expats should note that jaywalking is illegal, with a five euro fine if you’re caught as well as comments and scoldings from other pedestrians as you’re setting a bad example. A spontaneous visit to a German home is seen as an invasion of privacy and, if you’re actually invited, remember to take off your shoes when you enter the house. Walking in a bicycle lane counts as a traffic offence and it’s also dangerous as German cyclists go like the wind.

Unless you’ve been given permission to do so, addressing Germans by their first names is a total no-no. ‘Frau’ or ‘Herr’ must be used along with a surname. Another tip is that, although many Germans can speak and understand English, they prefer to be addressed in their own language. Learning basic German phrases, using them, then asking if English could be spoken is the best way around this issue. Total no-nos include any mention of the country’s Nazi past and, if you’re persuaded to visit a concentration camp, respect must be shown to the dead.

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