Few words about Germany and the Germans
It is a bit difficult for me to find the correct words to start this blog, specially because I am not a humanist. On the one hand I want to give foreigners, specially the ones who come first time to Germany, a bit background about the German culture and the "Does and Dont's". My first intention are specially our relatives who visit us and felt sometimes in the past not that comfortable as it should be for them to enjoy their stay here. We believe that this happened because of so much cultural differences (Directed to all Asians: At fastfood chains there will be no rice served;-)). My second intention is, and this is something I notice nearly daily here in Germany, that the old way of German Culture, maybe better words are the German Ethics or Etiquette, change a lot to a way, where I believe that is not only a change of Time. I feel that it gets a direction of, where I would use the term Egoism. There is less respect and less of a moderate way of social interaction. To pic our Presidents Christmas speach in 2018 I would agreee that we all must learn again to listen more, beeing more interested in discussions and find and accept compromises.
Beside of my daily experiances I started reading a very interesting book with the title "What is german?". The author of this Book is Dieter Borchmeyer and I am not sure if a english version exists, but with what you can read at the subtitle "Search of a Nation on themself" I have a bit doubts if that is even interesting for people who are not Germans. Anyway, the book starts to explain that it is clear for Germans have difficulties to explain what is really German, because this Identification is based on an Country, like some exists in Europe like the Swiss with their Swiss Confederation, which let grow a national identity. If you check on the History of Germans, the country behind is quite young. I hope you just notifiy that to describe a german identity is not that easy, but I will try.
I don't know if it is only me who feel like this but I think Ethics is a basis where you can learn to understand people, because you will get an idea of the "Does and Dont's" of the Country. I write down my idea of such a german ethics or unwritten rules (nice term for a German, because they are well known to have rules for everything and I think to have a rule make many of us very comfortable), even I know that this will happen in a very subjective way. This way is the result of my education and the experiances I had.
|Rule 1:||Respect and follow the Law. We are a democratic country and you should check for the main rules. Our constitution, which you can find here as an english version, consist the main laws and our understanding of lifing together. I would like to add that we all, even us german should think more about rules as well, because it is for example meanwhile so common to pass a street when traffic lights are red, which is an administrative offense. We should not only wait if children are waiting!
|Rule 2:||Respecting people is even more in common something we all should remember more. I was for example teached, that I should stand up if a train is growded and for example old people or a pregnant woman is standing and I beleieve a bit more of this could be not bad.|
|Rule 3:||Interact more nice when you meet other people. In Germany it was a long time common that you greet if you enter a room or a place (The more old style was that you should show respect by greeting the older person first, but today I think greeting is the first way to start with a nice social ineraction)|
|Rule 4:||As written in our constitution "The dignity of a man is inviolable", I think everybody should remember this sentence when he even talk or discuss with others. As I remember not so long ago people in Germany talk and act with eachother in a respectful and nice way, even their ideas was different. Today many persons get easily upset and even so angry that they try to attack others. German culture, which is based on christian values, like to discuss because that is one of the democratic pillars. Maybe check and remember the first articles of our constitution again and let us try to find back to an understanding of what is right and wrong.|
Few words at the begin of talking about German
A much easier part for me to write something about Germany and Germans is to write about German itself. I want mention that I am not a teacher but as native speaker with a good education and the fact that my wife had to start German from Zero and we have to Kids who are just start at school, I think I can write something about our language. At the begin you should know, that you will get will get more familar with us only if you speak the language, best would be even you know a little of one of the dialekts which exists. I am a bit sad to say that, specially because the world is getting closer and english should be known everywhere. In Germany, specially the younger generation learn English at shool, but as adult, some don't feel comfortable to conversate in English and others maybe don't know much enough for a conversation. My wife always tell me too the sentence she got from her employer in Israel "The German like so much their language", I think that is a bit true.
If you just want to start learning german I think a very good way is to start with the program which is available at the German Radio and Television Program Pages of Deutsche Welle - Learning German. Beside you will find some Apps as well, like the one from Rosetta Stone, which are quite good but expensive. However you will start, try to speak and don't be shy with your conversation partner. Most Germans will be happy if the conversation partner try to speak German and will help. Additional to your exercises you can check if you can get an issue of Deutsch Perfekt. This is a magazine with some lessons and translations seperated to the different levels. Talking about levels. If you plan to certify your language skills check on the European Reference Level for Languages. All training institutes and schools will follow this if they will prepare for an certificate. For a short term stay I think there is nothing more you can do, maybe there are trainings available in your country?
If you want stay here for example as an Aupair, doing a job training or something which allow you to stay more than the usual 90 days, which you will be allowed to stay by an Visa, you can check in our adult education center (German: Volkshochschule, short VHS). In our region there are those available:
- VHS Kahl-Alzenau-Karlstein
- VHS Aschaffenburg
- VHS Hanau (Sorry, I was unable to set the Link with Joomla, it crash when I try, so I must ask you to google it)
In case you want stay here for example because you want immigrate or maybe start a study, you will need to follow the programs of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (German: Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchlinge, short BAMF), which start often with a training at one of the Goethe Institute, of course you can start there a Training as well, even without what I wrote before, just you should be informed that those trainings are not the cheapest, on the other side you will definitly reach with it to get one of the examps you are focussing on (Start is with Level A1). Usually you will be asked to register at the Migration office at the District Offices (German Landatsamt) and there they will explain you what will be needed and which Level of German you need to reach. For Migration this Level is B1. If you want inform yourself ahead a good start is at BAMF: Learning German Startpage.
Definitly I want not compete with Travel Guides but I would like to write a bit about the Food in our Region so Visitors or even Migrants will get an idea what is maybe different with food here compare where he or she come from. I would like to add that I believe that a part of understanding the culture of a country or a region is even to know how it taste there. In Germany there is a saying that - I will only translate it word by word - "Love goes through the stomache", which usually mean more that if you love someone the cooking of him or her is an add, but I would just expand it to what I said before, you get more familar with another region if you know how it taste.
More in common I would like to say too that first you should be open in mind and try it, even some dishes might sound curious, secondly please check at the region where you stay for what is typical there, because for example the "Weißwurst" is something you should try in the southern part of Germany and not in the north. You might have luch to get good ones there and could have bad luck in the South as well, but usually that is a typical dish which are made perfect by the regional butchers.
Now back to the regional food of the region surround of Aschaffenburg, which is our disctrict town in the north of Bavaria. Because it is connected to the Rhein-Main-Region as well, you will taste a bit from Hessia and Bavaria if you try our dishes. I will just mention few dishes, where I believe that they are quite typical, few others are maybe not that typical at the region but I can suggest them as well.
- Rippchen mit Kraut und Kartoffelbrei (boiled prok cutlet with sauerkraut and mushed potatos)
- Rehbraten mit Knödel (joint of roe deer with dumplings)
- Kartoffelgemüse mit frischen Blut- und Leberwürstchen (sliced, cooked potatos in a white sauce, with fresh blood and liver sausages)
- Kochkäseschnitzel mit Pommes Frittes (pork schnitzel with a kind of melted cheese and french fries)
- Mainfische mit Kartoffelsalat (fried whitings with potato salat)
- Nierenspieß mit Brötchen (fried pork kidney on a stick with a small white bread)
- Handkäse mit Musik und Schwarzbrot (a special soft cheese, marinated in vinegar and oil, with onins - that is the music;-) - with rhy bread)
- Leberkäsebrötchen (difficult to translate, lastly a kind of a baked sausage in a small white bread)
- Hausmacher Wurst mit Schwarzbrot (for our dinner we eat usally cold things, here I describe the local, often homemade sausages, with rhy bread)
What I said with the food is nearly the same with the drinks. Just be open minded and try it.
- Apfelwein, z. B. Sauergespritzter (apple wine, not cider! Usually you drink it together with sprinkling water which is described by the word "Gespritzter")
- Bier (Germany has a lot of breweries, just try some of the local ones and maybe too few of the big trademarks)
- Apfelsaftschorle ("Schorle" mean the same as "Gespritzer", so it has a part sprinkling water together with apple juice)
- Spezi (Mix from Cola and Orangelemonade, try the Original one!)
Other cultaral hints
As I wrote at the begin, it is difficult to identify cultural things for Germans, to define those for a region is much more difficult for me. But even I will try to write some tasks where I think that is quite typical, even it is not always regional based.
- Be in time! Germans are usually quite accurate. If you have an appointment (even you will meet with a friend), be better 5 minutes ahead of your appointment at the place where you want to meet.
- Be nice in Restaurants or Festivals. If you want sit at a beer table as well and somebody sit there already ask if one of the seats is still free.
- Specially the older generation have lunch and 12 a clock. On sunday this mean that ahead you join a mass