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Navigating Cultural Differences : Tips for American Students in Germany

Navigating Cultural Differences : Tips for American Students in Germany

Adjusting to cultural differences might be tricky initially, but with a solid plan, it becomes more manageable. Studying abroad is a thrilling chance for global students to explore new horizons and dive into a different culture. Yet, getting used to this new cultural setting can be tough. In this article, we’ll talk about important tips to assist American students in handling cultural differences in Germany and maximizing their study abroad adventure.

Some major Cultural differences between Americans and Germans

1.Debt

In Germany, the word “debt” is connected to the word “guilt” when translated. So for Germans, being in debt feels like being guilty. While Americans often don’t mind having credit card debt or taking loans for a house or car, and sometimes choose to refinance instead of paying off the debt completely, Germans find this behavior odd at least and risky at most.

2.Dinner

In America, dinner means sitting down, eating, paying the bill, and leaving, all in about an hour and a half. But in Germany, dinner is a longer affair. It often lasts the entire evening. There’s usually a break of around half an hour between the appetizer and the main course. After finishing the main course and dessert, it’s common for people to sit together for another hour or two, giving ample time to chat about the day’s events.

3.Don’t be shy and talk to your supervisor

In German workplaces, people are expected to handle their own tasks, including managing time, resources, and workload. It’s totally okay to talk to your bosses about your workload or ask for more resources if needed, as long as it helps ensure good quality and on-time results.

4.Driving

Germans take driving seriously. They used to find it puzzling that Americans wanted cupholders in cars. Who drinks coffee while driving, right? In Germany, getting a driver’s license can take up to a year and cost around $3,000. About one-third of people don’t pass the test on their first try. During lessons, you drive for hours with someone in the backseat trying to distract you. And on the Autobahn, you learn to drive at really fast speeds (85-100 miles per hour or more). There’s no time for coffee breaks!

5.Culture

In America, when a new President is chosen, people are quick to ask about important roles like Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense. But in Germany, folks are just as curious about the cabinet, and they pay special attention to who will be in charge of culture. Germans really care about who is leading the way in the arts.

6.Directness

Germans and Americans differ a lot in how direct they are. Germans are always straightforward. While an American might use softer words to criticize a business proposal, a German would just say they don’t like it and explain why. They prefer being honest and clear, skipping unnecessary polite talk. It’s not about being rude; it’s about efficiency and transparency. And, they expect the same straightforwardness from others.

Tips for American Students in Germany

    • When communicating, address problems directly without feeling guilty. Provide facts and emphasize finding solutions.
    • Directness in communication doesn’t equate to rudeness; it’s about being clear and effective. So, American students in Germany should practice this.
    • In multicultural teams, opt for straightforward, low-context language. Guide your audience step by step to ensure your message is easily understood.
    • Don’t hesitate to advocate for yourself. Feel at ease asking for a workload and resources that are reasonable for you.
    • In German culture, it’s crucial to value order and organization. Being punctual matters not only for work but also for social gatherings. Following rules is important because they’re meant to benefit everyone in the community. American students in Germany must follow this rule.

In conclusion, for American students in Germany, adapting to cultural differences requires a solid plan. Understanding German perspectives on debt, dinner, workplace communication, driving, and culture is essential. Practical tips, such as direct problem-solving and cultural sensitivity, can enhance the study abroad experience and foster successful integration.

Read More on  How To Abroad

Adapting to German Culture: Practical Advice for US Expats

Culture Shocks for International Students in Germany

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