“You are German? Oh.”

During my travels and my life abroad I have met many people from different countries. When traveling there are always some standard questions such as “When did you get here? How long are you staying? What do you want see?”

But the most important question was always “WHERE DO YOU COME FROM?”

It was very interesting for me to hear from what information we classify what country someone comes. The first impression counts. How does he look? What clothes does he wear? How does she speak?


My look usually revealed where I come from. Blond and blue-eyed. “You’re probably from Sweden, Germany or the Netherlands!”

When I said yes Germany is my country of origin most of the time people answered

“You are German? Oh.”

Followed by a silent pause. Why? Because people of other nationalities have a certain image of Germans. Here are the common explanation of the stereotype “German”:

“Germans are reserved”

True. Germans always want to know exactly who they are dealing with. They are cautious and wait. But when they have overcome that you will find in them loyal and trusted friends and/or business partners. In comparison,

Canadians are always extremely friendly, courteous and usually ask you after a 5 minute conversation if you want to grab a coffee with them. And you will never hear from them again.

I have learned that New Zealanders are super friendly and helpful indeed, but also a little reserved. A nice mix between Germans and Canadians, don’t you think? 😉

“Germans think they know better”

Yes. Partly this is true because the German education system has, in international comparison, a higher standard. But often it happens that Germans just want to know better and don’t allow any other opinion than theirs.

It can happen that a German pulls out his cell phone and googles the trail during a hike in the middle of a forest because he doesn’t want to believe the map neither his friends because he eventually knows better. That happened to me twice. And not with the same person.

“Germans are always super organized and on time”

Yes, that’s right. Well, Germans are punctual, German trains are not. While the first is highly valued, the organized German is not so welcome. His well-planned nature limits his ability to act in a case of sudden change. Therefore, Germans are not flexible. They always have to stick to the plan. “Germans have many rules. They always stick to the rules”Right. They stick EXACTLY to the rules. It gives them support and security.By comparison, Canadians also have rules but they deal with them a little different: They bend them.  This increases the scope in which you can move around and gives the opportunity to improve. Rules are subject to interpretation.

“The German language is harsh”

Most people added that Germans pronounce the “r” very hard. That’s partly true but there is a regional difference. In Trier, my hometown/close to Luxembourg and France, the “r” is pronounced similarly “hard” as in French.

That’s why I always asked if they feel that the French language is also as hard. Almost always the response was “No, French is passionate and the language of love!”

Last year an Australian girl explained to me why Germans do speak so “staccato”: “Because of Hitler, he has spoken in the same way”. Aha.

“Germans are always too direct”

Yes, that’s right. Germans are not experts in speaking in the “language of flowers”. Germans don’t describe with beautiful words, they come straight to the point because they simply don’t see the point to rewrite. But that is not always appreciated.

Often it is considered rude by other nationalities. You don’t need to tell the person you’re talking to that her shirt is too tight and everyone can see her love handles. Maybe it’s better to just shut up. Or make a compliment about her beautiful earrings 🙂

“Germans are reliable”

Right. When a German says he will do something, he will do it. That’s something I sometimes missed in other countries: Reliability.

“Germans wear Jack Wolfskin jackets and sandals with white socks”

I’m chuckling a little right now when I think of encounters on hikes abroad. So: Yes, that’s true!

Well, have you found your thoughts of the typical German in here? Have you made similar experiences about your national stereotype? 

And next time when you go hiking abroad, pay attention to Jack Wolfskin jackets and hiking sandals with white socks 😉




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