There’s no better way to learn about a culture than through its stereotypes.
OK, maybe not. Stereotypes mislead individuals when developing opinions toward a certain culture and its people. French people are rude, Canadians are hopelessly apologetic and Americans are obese and lazy. However, what’s the common thought regarding Germans?
An unfortunate stereotype of Germans is that they don’t have a sense of humor, and this is tragic because I have met plenty people throughout Northern Germany whose laughs erupt throughout hallways and streets. I’ll admit that at times sarcasm, double meanings and self-deprecation isn’t appreciated as much as it is back in the states, but to each their own.
Of course, there are always the absurd and comical stereotypes, such as lederhosen being common attire or yodeling being the only means of communication. However, I think a very interesting caricature of Germany is that beer is cheaper than water.
Amazingly so, there is some truth to this. If I go shopping in an Aldi or a Penny, I can easily find a can or bottle of beer that costs less than a bottle of water. However, if you are searching for a quality German brew in a restaurant, it will cost about a Euro more than its non-alcoholic counterpart.
Although several German stereotypes are not entirely true or outright false, there are some that have a little accuracy to them.
It is true that Germans tend to be very forward, but this shouldn’t be mistaken as being rude. They like to get to point, and doesn’t that sound great? Personally, I prefer a German’s forthrightness more than an American’s passive and sometimes petty nature. If you ask them how their day is, expect a 15-minute chat, as opposed to a quick “fine.”
Additionally, Germans are thought as being one of the major bread consumers in the world, and this is true. There is enough bread in Lüneburg to build a Rye-ful Tower. That may be a hyperbole, but I’m not loafing around. There seems to be at least two bakeries on every block, and each shop contains a massive wall of dough.
Believe it or not, I began to see the truth in some stereotypes other countries have toward Americans. The stereotype I believed the most was Americans being loud, like really loud. It isn’t that noticeable when you’re surrounded by loud talkers, but when you realize your voice is the only one resonating throughout a restaurant, that might be a sign you need to turn it down a notch.
Luckily, intercultural competency is a means of communication that everyone can improve on, and it may be better to increase this skill sooner than later. No one wants to be the tourist wearing lederhosen or acting belligerently drunk due to the consumption of cheap beer rather than (just as cheap) water.