Oh my god, you’re so German!

So guys, I’m back again and I apologize for the long time I haven’t written anything. I’ve been in France for the last months and there was a sentence I’ve heard so often I have to share it with you: „Oh my god, you’re so German! “. I’ve thought about it for quite a long time and for me, it’s the right time to write it down – what is typical German?

Of course, the first thing I had to ask when someone told me how German I am was a simple „Why? What have I done? “ The most common answer was „How can someone be in time just as … well … always! “ Well, I guess that’s right. We always arrive in time, we’re never late and if were late we call and apologize for it in advance. I’m quite sure there’s no other country where the people arrive in time as often as in Germany.

„Come on guys! It was fun! Why don’t you laugh! You Germans just don’t have any humour“. There was a joke I heard more than once and seriously, I have to admit it’s true: „How many Germans do you need to change a light bulb? One, we are efficient and don’t have humour «. The joke is so mean but true it’s sad and funny at the same time. We are efficient. We are builders and doers and sit down for a few moments and enjoy life and I swear someone will call you lazy and useless. Of course, these characterizations are stereotypical and not all Germans are the same. But come on, Germans, you have to admit that at least a bit I speak the truth. In everything we do we try to do our best and reach perfection – building houses, cooking, cleaning, even doing sports – we have to be the best. Stretch a point? Seldom to never.

The other thing about Germans is our not existing humour. We just don’t laugh as often as other cultures. Sometimes I catch myself giving a lecture after I’ve heard a joke. That’s exactly what I’m doing right now. We hear a joke and … what? We don’t just laugh about it, we talk about it! We discuss about it! We say “Oh no, that’s too harsh, I don’t think that’s true and by the way, it insults someone”.

A last thing I’ve heard quite often was “Why are you always so distant?” Well – why are we? Most of the time, a handshake is all we could handle … a hug between strangers something a lot of Germans would call criminal assault. Okay, that’s a bit harsh but true at the core. Just have a short look at a bus station. Where do you stand? Close to someone else? No, we leave a space of approximately two to three meters to the next person. Someone touches you in the train? Oh – my – god! Why can’t he or she just leave me alone?! Someone’s calling you his friend after two seconds? What’s wrong with him? Okay, just smile and play it cool. By the way another thing I’ve heard from people of other cultures was “You’re not just distant … you’re cold”. Well, are we? Most of the time, we suspect strangers. But give us time. We can be funny and inefficient and warm and we love to hug people and call them friends … after a few moments. I guess that’s the real German thing. We need time to melt and become friends and laugh with them. But when we are, prepare yourself, you’ve found a friend for lifetime!

So for now, my dear followers, what is typical German for you? Write it down in the comments below, I’m really interested in your ideas and stories!

Do’s and Don’ts in Deutschland


Throwing garbage in a garbage bin. Yeah, I have to admit it doesn’t sound very exciting. But actually, we Germans love our garbage bins. We don’t like trash. We really don’t like trash in our streets. Therefore, we absolutely do like to throw our garbage into the bins which can be found everywhere in our cities. Sometimes, it’s not that easy and you can’t find a dustbin. In this case, you have to carry the trash with you until you’ve found a garbage bin. Doesn’t sound funny? It would be less funny if everyone threw his trash on the ground. And you have to admit – the next garbage bin isn’t that far away.

Politeness. The word “politeness” is quite abstract but it can be transformed into reality in a really easy way. Open the doors for others, offer your seat to a person in need, say “hello”, “thank you” or “excuse me” (you can find the German translations for these words in a former article). It can be so easy to be polite – and to be honest, it just feels good to be nice to other people.

Punctuality. There’re few things Germans love more than punctuality. Maybe Kartoffeln (potatoes), but that’s quite stereotypical, so let us drop that subject. However, it is absolutely important to arrive on time if you have a private or official appointment. By the way, being early is even better than arriving on time! You’re ten minutes early for your job interview? The job is yours!


Sitting on the ground. What seems quite normal in other cultures is rare in Germany. We just don’t like it to sit on the ground without an underlay or something we can sit on. Maybe that’s a part of “Deutsche Reinlichkeit” (German cleanliness). For us, it’s not enough to be clean, we have to be – well, actually there’s no English word for “Reinlichkeit”. It’s just cleaner than clean, you know? I’m not sure if a non-German person can understand it. However, we don’t like it to get dirty. And therefore, we don’t like it to sit on the ground. If we want to sit down, we’re looking for something to sit on, like a bench or a window sill. And what we don’t like, we don’t like to watch others doing it. But you have to admit that it’s much more comfortable and easy to rise from a bench than from the ground.

Being loud. Germans are a people of silence. We love silence. We love it to be silent. Loud shouting or laughing in the streets or at home is frowned upon. We just don’t like it. And actually, I think we just have a problem with the thought we could bother or disturb other people. Maybe, the neighbor tries to sleep? Or the guy next to me has a huge headache? By the way, talking silently doesn’t just train your hearing – it’s good for the voice, too.

Much alcohol. Yes, alcohol is tolerated in Germany. Yes, a lot of German folks love to drink too much on a Saturday night. No, it’s still not okay. Just try to be careful with it. Alcohol is a drug, it’s toxic if you drink too much and you’re probably more likely to have bizarre and stupid ideas. And you really want these stupid ideas to become true. Where does it end? Maybe at a police station. Therefore, just try to be careful. Start slowly (if you even have to start), even if alcohol is declared as a sign of freedom. By the way, did you know that alcohol kills a lot of brain cells every time you’re drinking? Who wants to become dense because of drinking?

German National Anthem

Of course, we Germans have a national anthem like any other country, too. I think it’s a really pretty song and everyone who lives in Germany should know it. An anthem says a lot about its country and the important guidelines there.

Our anthem consists of the third verse of the “Deutschlandlied” by Augst Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben. Fallersleben was an important poet in Germany who lived from 1798 to 1875. The “Deutschlandlied” (you can translate it with “Song of Germany”) contains three verses but it is strictly forbidden to sing the first two ones because of their usage in Nazi Germany. The music comes from the “Kaiserlied” by Joseph Haydn, an important German composer who lived from 1732 to 1809. I think that’s enough history for now. By the way, our national anthem is rather young. Only since 1990 we sing this song as our hymn. And another interesting fact about the German national anthem – the three most important words in it, “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit” (unity and justice and freedom) are impressed in the edge of the €2 coin.


The German National Anthem

Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Für das deutsche Vaterland!
Danach lasst uns alle streben
Brüderlich mit Herz und Hand!
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Sind des Glückes Unterpfand.

Blüh‘ im Glanze dieses Glückes,
Blühe, deutsches Vaterland!
Blüh‘ im Glanze dieses Glückes,
Blühe, deutsches Vaterland!

And the English translation

Unity, Justice and Freedom
For the German Fatherland!
Let’s all strive toward this Purpose
Brotherly, with Heart and Hand!
Unity, Justice and Freedom
Are the Promise of Happiness.

Flourish in this Blessing’s Glory,
Flourish, German Fatherland!
Flourish in this Blessing’s Glory,
Flourish, German Fatherland!

Merry Christmas! Wait – Christmas?

What the heck is Christmas? Maybe you have seen the special decoration, the wonderful market in front of the town hall and the tall tree which stands in the middle of this market. Here in Germany, we love celebrating Christmas. It is the feast of love, family and being nice to other people. But of course, it has another more historic background.

So why exactly are we celebrating Christmas? Officially (or as the Christians believe), it is the birthday of Jesus Christ. This is why we sing songs like “Silent Night” (you can find the text in the next article, if you want to sing along). Maria and Joseph, the parents of Jesus, had to leave their home to go to Bethlehem – sometimes they are called refugees but actually, they weren’t. They had to go to the birthplace of Joseph for a census of population. But nevertheless, they had no place to sleep. So they knocked on many doors but no one was willing to let them in. Just one man was nice and gave them a place to sleep – a place in a barn. Maria was advanced in pregnancy with a very corpulent belly and in this night, Jesus Christ was born. It is said that a star rose above the stable and a handful of shepherd were waked by an angel who told them to visit the new born Messiah.

Actually, the story is much longer. But nevertheless, why are we still celebrating Christmas – even irreligious people? As I told you, Christmas is the celebration of love and family. We are celebrating together. And for a celebration you need light – a lot of glittering and splendid light. Therefore, we decorate our home, our streets and even ourselves with candles and electronic light (so-called “Lichterkette” or in English “fairy light”). It looks very beautiful when you walk in the streets and every window is illuminated with “Schwippbögen” (no, there is no English translation for that). “Schwippbögen” are typical Saxon and you can find them in nearly every window. A “Schwippbogen” is a wooden semi-circle with about seven candles and beautiful figures carved in it. It’s a non-religious sign, it’s just beautiful.

But nevertheless, of course we have more things to decorate our houses with. More than everything else we love our Christmas trees. They are fir trees or spruces – trees with needles. We love to decorate them with colourful Christmas tree balls and tinsel (some shiny and shimmering plastic strips – yeah, sounds less great than it actually is). Under the Christmas tree we place some presents for the people we celebrate with. And here, the interesting and stressful part of Christmas starts.

Presents! Everyone loves them. Christmas is the time to make a gift to the people you like. It doesn’t have to be something absolutely special. Sometimes, all you get are handmade sockets from your grandma. It doesn’t matter how great the gift is – it is something you receive from someone you love. That’s the real magic of Christmas. Stressful? Of course, because everyone wants to find the best presents. Therefore, we are running through the streets looking for the best thing to give away. Should it be stressful? Of course not. Sometimes, all your loved ones want, is you by their side. Christmas is the time to call distant relatives and sometimes to give strangers one smile more. Christmas is not about finding the best presents – because the best present to the world is you.

Okay, so much for that – but who are these creepy guys walking through the streets with their long white beards and red clothing with a red jelly bag cap and black boots? It is Santa Claus! Why do we have Santa Claus? Well, actually he has nothing to do with real Christmas. He is an invention of Coca Cola. Disaffected? Yeah, me too. Originally, the Christ Child brings the presents to the children and lays them under the tree. A few decades ago, the Christ Child was replaced by a guy who loves to fly around in his reindeer sleigh and brings the presents to the children – Santa Claus. Some children send their wishes to Santa and sometimes he makes them come true. Magical? Well, that’s Christmas.

You want to know what we eat on Christmas Eve? “Kartoffelsalat” (potato salad) and “Würstchen” sausages (they don’t have to contain pork, sometimes they are made with other meat or they’re vegetarian). Some people like it more expensive. Therefore, they prepare a dinner with roast duck or goose, “Kartoffelknödel” (dumplings) and some vegetables like beans, peas or “Sauerkraut” (sauerkraut, it’s the same word in English).

But wait – when exactly is Christmas? It starts … well, in late November. The 29th of November, the fourth Sunday before Christmas, was first advent. Advent is the time four weeks before Christmas until Christmas day. Every Sunday, we illuminate one candle more – hence, we have four candles to illuminate on Christmas. Some children have an Advent calendar where they’re allowed to open one door every day from the 1st of December to Christmas. Christmas Eve is on December 24th. The two days after (25th and 26th of December) are holidays, too. Please remember that all official buildings will be closed on these three days.

Christmas is a quite important time in Germany. It is the feast of family, love and being nice to other people. It is the time of magic and light. Just try to calm down and enjoy the time. It’s just once a year.

Women and children in Germany

Here in Germany, women and children are under special protection. It is absolutely not allowed to hit or harm them in any way. Children and women have the same rights as grown up men. The constitutional rights, like freedom of personality or the right of human dignity, apply to them, too.

Women are allowed to do everything a man can do. They are allowed to vote, work or go outside without the protection of a man. They can wear whatever they want and behave like they want. They are allowed to choose the job and religion they like and to fall in love with whoever they like. It is not allowed to force a woman to do something – it is not allowed to force anyone to do something. If a woman doesn’t want, you can’t force her wanting it.

All children have to go to school. The school attendance starts with the age of six to seven years and lasts for at least nine years. They have to visit all lessons they are meant to. If they are sick or otherwise can’t go to school, parents have to call the school and tell them that the child can’t come because of sickness (or something else).

I’m going to repeat myself – children and women have the same rights as grown up men. If they are harmed, they are allowed to go to the police and to make a complaint. Trust me, the police absolutely doesn’t see the fun of hitting a woman or a child or harming them in any other way. It is not your right as a man to do this, neither in public nor at home.

Taking the bus in Chemnitz – and everywhere else in Germany

As long as you don’t have an own car you have to use public transport, like buses or tramways. There are a few rules you probably should know and remember. Very well then! How do I take the bus in Chemnitz – and actually everywhere else in Germany?

Important Do’s and Don’ts

First of all, you should remember to enter the bus at the front and to show your ticket to the bus driver. In this way, the bus driver insures himself that no one is taking the bus illegally (or as we say in Germany “schwarz fahren”, which can be translated to “taking the bus black”). If you have to run to catch the bus, it is okay to enter the bus at another door than the first one. And if you have bulky things with you, like a buggy or a wheelchair, it is also okay to enter the bus at the middle door. Nevertheless, you should always try to enter the bus at the front and to show your valid ticket. Of course it is also allowed to leave the bus – at every door except the first one. That’s why we have these barriers which only can be pushed into one direction.

If you’re looking for a seat, there are also a few things to remember. Even when we take the bus or tram, Germans can be very distant and reserved. If someone sits down at a window seat, it is okay to take a seat next to them. But sometimes, people sit down at the aisle seat or block the other free seat with a bag. That’s not very polite but sometimes people just want to have a bit free space. Maybe they are sad? Or they have sorrows? Or they are ill and don’t want to infect someone else? You can’t know and therefore, you should respect their need for free space.

Even if the bus is mercilessly jam-packed and there are too many people in one bus, you should try not to touch anyone as far as possible. Germans just don’t like to be touched by unknown people. Let’s call it the “German Distance Rule”. By the way, even in very crowded buses it is forbidden to stand next to the bus driver. It is just allowed to stand behind the barriers. This is due to safety rules – and actually good for the bus driver, so he can see his right rear-view mirror. Please note to keep the yellow strip clear which is drawn on the ground next to the doors. Otherwise, the doors can’t be closed. If you notice that the door doesn’t close, take a step backwards – even if the bus is mercilessly jam-packed.

Every seat should be offered to an old or otherwise needy person, like children, pregnant women or handicapped people. And if you see someone stumbling into the bus with his crutches, you should probably offer him your seat, too. It will be thanked a hundred times.

The area in the middle of the bus is reserved for wheelchairs and buggies. So if you see someone who tries to enter the bus with a wheelchair or buggy, you should take a step sideward. And of course you can offer your help to get the heavy thing into the bus – it will be thanked, too.

Sometimes, tickets are checked in the bus or tram by two or more people. They don’t wear a special clothing but have an ID which allows them to control your ticket. Sometimes, they don’t seem to be very nice but mostly, they are friendly. It is incredibly important to have a valid ticket with you. Otherwise it can be very expensive – for every invalid ticket you have to pay 60 €.

But when does my bus or tram arrive? You can check it at every bus stop. Either it is written on the post with the huge green-yellow “H” or you can find it on the board at the roofed area. In huge letters the bus or tram number is written at the top of the plan. On the left side you can find the full hours and behind them the minutes on which the bus or tram arrives. Here in Chemnitz, we have an easy rule. Buses with a “1” as the second number (21, 31, 51) arrive every 10 minutes. Buses with a “2” as the second number (22, 32, 62, 72) arrive every 20 minutes and buses with a “3” as the second number (23, 43, 63) arrive every 30 minutes. You can also check the departure times on “www.cvag.de” (the website is available in German, English and French). Here you can find the network of Chemnitz buses and tramways.

In the picture you can see the bus number as headline (here: 51). On the left side you can find the full hours and in the middle the minutes of departure. On the right side stands where you are (here: TU Campus) and in which direction you are heading – on the plan always downwards (note the arrow). Please remember that these plans can vary depending on the time of the year (like on holidays, vacation or weekends).


Welcome to Germany – greeting and conversation

Germans emphasise politeness and good manners. Therefore it is very important to know some polite expressions and how to greet other people.

The greeting

There are a few forms of greetings. The usage depends on how good you know the other person and how many people there are. If you are in the city and there are a lot of people, you don’t greet them directly. Nevertheless, a nice smile is always good. If you meet a single person on the street you nod and say “Guten Tag” (“Good day”).

If you have an appointment with another person, you always greet. Here, it also depends on how good you know your counterpart. If the meeting is official (e.g. with an agency), you greet the other person with a handshake. If you meet your friends, you often hug him or her. In any case: The more you know a person, the casual the greeting. Remember to say “Guten Tag” (“Good day”) to people you don’t know or “Hallo” (“Hello”) to friends.

If you meet a person without an appointment (e.g. a salesperson at the supermarket or a policeman on the street), you just say “Guten Tag” or “Hallo” without a handshake.

Germans are rather distant and reserved. If you are not sure how to greet your counterpart, you should use the handshake. It is also important to pay attention to the reaction of the other person.

By the way, the leave-taking is very similar to the greeting. Here, you also use a handshake (if you don’t know the person very well) or a hug (if he or she is your friend). In addition you say “Auf Wiedersehen” (official and formal) or “Tschüss” (friends).

Here’s another tip: If you want to be extra polite, you can say “Danke für das Gespräch”(“Thanks for the talk”).

The conversation

Remember: Germans really attach importance to politeness and good manners. Also the personal distance and free space are very important. The distance between two people should reach one arm’s length to your counterpart. There are a lot of expressions to show politeness, like “Danke” (“Thank you”), “Bitte” (“Please”), “Entschuldigung” (“Sorry” or “Excuse me”), “Guten Tag” (“Good day”) or “Auf Wiedersehen” (“Goodbye”).

Danke” (“Thank you”)

This word is used very often. For example, we say it, if we get something from someone else. So if a salesperson at the supermarket gives the articles or change to you, you say “Danke”. We also use it if someone opens a door for us or offers us a seat. Overall we always say “Danke”, if someone is nice and polite to us or gives something to us.

Bitte” (“Please”)

“Bitte” is also a very important expression in Germany. We use it if we want something from someone else. Therefore, if we want someone to give something to us, we say “Bitte”. By the way, the best way to react to a “Bitte” is a “Danke” from your counterpart. A very special use of “Bitte” is, if you give something to someone. In this situation you say „Hier bitte“ („Here we go“). If you help someone and he or she says “Danke”, you can reply with “Bitte” or “Gerne” in order to express that it was a pleasure for you to help (like “You’re welcome”).

Entschuldigung” (“Sorry” or “Excuse me”)

We always say “Entschuldigung”, if we harm someone (and it doesn’t matter how great the harm was or if it happened on purpose). So if you bump into someone, you should say “Entschuldigung”. If you don’t understand what your counterpart is saying, you also use “Entschuldigung” and ask the other person to repeat what he or she said. If you ask an unknown person the way or another question, the first expression is “Entschuldigung” (like “Excuse me”). Sometimes you can use “Entschuldigung”, if someone bumps into you. Even if you are the harmed person, “Entschuldigung” can prevent a conflict.

Guten Tag” (“Good day”) and “Auf Wiedersehen” (Goodbye)

These expressions can magically conjure a smile on the face of a German. So they are as important for everyday life as the other expressions. They are the framework for every conversation.


For every expression you should remember to use them as much as possible. As you have heard many times, Germans emphasise politeness and good manners. If you use these words correctly, a good atmosphere and comfortable conversation is possible.

Thanks for reading the article and Goodbye. Or as we say in Germay: Danke, dass Sie den Artikel gelesen haben und Auf Wiedersehen.

How about our constitution?

The constitution of Germany was written in 1949 and stands above all other laws. The articles 1 to 20 can’t be changed or rewritten. Here you can find the most important articles from the constitution. All of these rights are not only for grown-ups but also for children.

Article 1 – Human Dignity

Article 1 is perhaps one of the most important laws in Germany. It says that the dignity of all humans is inviolable and can’t be touched. It is the duty of all public authorities to protect and respect it.

Article 2 – Personality

Every human has the right of free development of one’s personality. Furthermore, everyone has the right to live, physical inviolability and personal freedom. Therefore, it is not allowed to hit or harm children. No one is allowed to harm you in any way. It is allowed to limit the law of freedom, for example when you have committed a crime. But nevertheless, your dignity and personality have to be saved in any case. Dishonourable treatment like hits or torture are always forbidden.

Article 3 – Equality

All people are equal before the law. It is not allowed to discriminate someone because of his origin, skin colour, language, religion or gender. Men and women are equal in every way. Women can do everything a man is allowed to do, like working, voting or driving a car.

Article 4 – Freedom of religion

Every person in Germany is allowed to choose his or her religion freely. There is no state religion. The unhindered practice of one’s religion has to be warranted. For example, it has to be warranted for a Muslim to pray five times per day. Religious signs like a Christian cross are allowed to be worn in public. It is not allowed to discriminate someone because of his or her religion.

Article 5 – Freedom of opinion

Every human has the right to show and spread one’s opinion in speech, text or picture. The freedom of press is one of the most important laws in Germany. For example, there are no state-run television or radio channels. The freedom of opinion can be limited to protect the safety or public policy. It is forbidden to harm or discriminate someone with one’s freedom of opinion. Art, science, research and teaching are free, too.

Article 6 – Marriage and Family

Marriage and family are under special protection of the state. To educate one’s own children is the natural right of the parents. It is not allowed to take a child out of its family, but for the safety of the child (for example if it is beaten or harmed in another way). Every mother has the right of protection and care of the community. Illegitimate children have the same rights as legitimate ones.

Article 7 – School and Education

The school is under the state’s protection. Therefore, the school subjects or curricula are specified by the state. In every school there is the subject ‘religious education’. Parents are allowed to choose whether their child should take part of religious education or not. Hence, no child can be forced to be taught in this subject by the state. That’s one important part of the freedom of religion.

Article 8 – Freedom of assembly

All Germans have the right to free and peaceful assembly without weapons. This right can be limited, for example to protect the public policy or safety.

Article 10 – Secrecy of the post

In Germany we have the secrecy of post. Therefore, no letters or packages can be opened by the state or police. Conversations are also protected. No one is allowed to listen to your talks. This right can be limited to protect the democracy, public policy or safety in Germany.

Article 12 – Profession and Work

Every German has the right to choose one’s job, apprenticeship or workplace. No one can be forced to do a special working.

Article 17 – Petition and Complaint

Everyone is allowed to write a petition or complaint alone or in a group. This petition or complaint can be addressed to the appropriate authorities or representation of the people, like the government or other representatives.

Article 18 – Forfeiture of rights

If someone misapplies his rights against the free democratic basic order, like the freedom of speech or assembly, these rights can be denied. For example, if someone organizes assemblies to agitate against other people (e.g. because of their skin colour or religion), he or she can lose his or her right to assembly. The limitation of every freedom and right is the democracy and safety and freedom of other people.