Monthly Archives: June 2017

Cliché 8 – You had me at ‘Versicherung’

Remember this scene from Family Guy?

Well, just like Peter, Germans love their Versicherung (insurance)! You can get insured for pretty much anything in Germany! Pet insurance, household insurance, personal liability insurance, legal assistance insurance, travel insurance, car insurance, bicycle insurance, unemployment insurance, kidnapping and ransom insurance… ok that last one isn’t particularly popular, but you get the point!

Both health insurance and car liability insurance are mandatory in Germany, and many landlords will not let you rent a place without personal liability insurance. Whilst having certain types of insurance is definitely a good idea, some people might think that it’s overkill to have your own personal insurance advisor, as many Germans do.

So what’s the verdict? Germans don’t like their insurance. They LOVE it. This myth is absolutely:


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Cliché 7 – Die Sprache der Liebe

Languages such as French, Italian and Spanish are often described as ‘the languages of love,’ but what about German? Well… not so much.

We’re sure that you’re all familiar with videos such as the one below, so it comes as no surprise that most people don’t necessarily consider Germans to be romantics.

Let’s start talking about the language itself. Most people consider German to be quite a harsh language (and when you watch the video above it’s no surprise!). German requires many sounds which come from the back of the vocal tract, which often lead to the perception of a language sounding harsh. However, there are many languages which use these sounds, so why do most people immediately think of German when it comes to harsh sounding languages?

Well, it turns out that the answer to this is incredibly simple – it’s because people expect it! The negative stereotype that German is a harsh language actually changes peoples’ perception of the language itself. People expect the language to sound harsh and that’s why it does! Funnily enough, many other languages, such as American English and yes, even the language of love, French, use the same harsh ‘r’ sound which is common in the German language, yet neither of these languages are generally perceived to be particularly harsh.


So now we know that the German language isn’t actually that harsh, but what about Germans themselves? Will they buy you long-stem red roses on Valentine’s Day? What about a romantic dinner by candle light? Or how about long walks on the beach at sunset?

Well, many Germans aren’t exactly what you would call romantic by the standards of Hollywood movies – German romance is much more subtle than that. Whilst they may not necessarily sweep you off your feet, as an Italian or French person may do, they may win you over in other ways:

  • If they say they’ll call, they will actually call. They won’t play games with you and make you wait for a certain number of days before they pick up the phone – if they like you, they’ll call or text you when they say they will!
  • They will be on time. None of this making him/ her wait. If they say they’ll meet you at 7pm, that’s exactly when they will show up (but this means you should be on time too!).
  • They’ll be honest with you. You won’t hear “I’m just so busy right now” (unless it’s the day before their final exams or a huge presentation at work) or “It’s not you, it’s me”. If they like you, they’ll tell you… but if they don’t like you, be prepared for them to be brutally honest with you and tell you that too.
  • They’ll make plans. They won’t make you wait all week and leave you wondering whether he/ she will call at the last minute on Friday night to ask you out – if they like you, they’ll probably call you on Monday to see if you’re free on the weekend and make plans.
  • Holidays! Germans love to go on vacation – often to another country, but sometimes to visit other cities within Germany. Be prepared for many fun, exciting, and sometimes very romantic holidays together – whether it’s a weekend trip to the Austrian Alps or a 3 week vacation backpacking through Asia.
  • They’ll open up to you. Whilst many Germans often hold back when they initially meet new people, they will open up to you once you get to know them better and you’ll experience more than just their serious side!
  • They’ll try to improve your life. If you mentioned to your German significant other that an extra shelf in your room would make your life so much easier, don’t be surprised if one suddenly appears right where you wanted it.

Whilst German romance may not include the grand romantic gestures which you see in movies and TV shows, it may surprise you how much easier and more fun your life becomes when you start dating a German!

We’d say that the myth that Germans aren’t romantic is most certainly

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Cliché 6 – Germany – The Land of Technology

Germany is famous worldwide for its technological innovations. It is the birthplace of the first modern automobile, helicopter, motorcycle, diesel engine, printing press and the MP3 format, and home to companies such as Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Bosch, Siemens, Lufthansa and MAN – just to name a few!

So there is no doubt that Germany is definitely a country at the forefront of modern technology…




… but what about the “Otto Normalverbraucher” (“average Joes”) out there?

Well, that’s a bit of a mixed story.

When a new Apple product is released, there are as many Germans lining up outside the Apple store as in any other country (if not more!). When you walk along the street you’ll see the top of everyone else’s head, because they’re so busy checking their phones. If you don’t know the answer to a question, someone will tell you to “Google es doch einfach!” (“Just google it!”).

Whilst technology seems to be a part of every German’s life, just like in Australia, there is one major difference which you will notice when you visit Germany. Germany has a cash culture. Most people choose not to pay by debit or credit card. This is largely due to privacy reasons – it’s not the bank’s business to know where I’ve been at what time and what I’ve been purchasing! Similarly, quite a few Germans originally opted-out of Google Street View – why should everyone be able to see what my house looks like from the front?



Whilst Germans haven’t quite learnt how convenient card payments can be (don’t you dare start a conversation with a German about how great contactless payments are – they will reply “Das ist nicht sicher!” (“That’s not safe!”)), overall we’d say that this myth is mostly:



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Cliché 5 – Respect the Ampelmann

Picture this. You’re a pedestrian at a set of traffic lights. The light is red. The road is completely empty. What do you do? Do you:

  1. Cross the road. The light may be red, but the road is empty, so there’s no chance of getting hit. Why should you bother waiting?
  2. Wait for the light to turn green. The light is red which means stop, regardless of whether there’s traffic around or not.

Chances are, if you chose option 2 you may be German, or have spent some time living or travelling in Germany!




Let’s go back in time. It’s the start of the 1900s. Traffic in Berlin is increasing. There are over 20,000 cars on the road. There are trams and busses. There are pedestrians trying to get to the S- and U-Bahn stations. Is it possible to regulate all of the foot and vehicle traffic to ensure the city remains safe?

Yes, yes it is. In 1924 the very first traffic light system in Berlin was installed at the Potsdamer Platz. It was an 8m high tower, and a policeman sat inside regulating the red and green colours. Almost a decade later in 1933 the first pedestrian-specific traffic light was installed in Copenhagen, and only 4 years later the first pedestrian traffic light was put into use in Berlin.




The colours of green (go) and red (stop) have been in use since the very first traffic light, however, if you have visited Berlin, you will probably be familiar with the Ampelmännchen (two traffic light men). In fact, the AMPELMANN brand has a bit of a cult following in Berlin, but where did they come from?

The ‘father’ of the Ampelmännchen, Karl Peglau, was born in 1927. He worked as a traffic-psychologist for over 30 years and one of his projects was to find a symbol to better guide traffic. On the 13th of October 1961, Karl submitted his idea for an effective, yet relatable and cute symbol: the Ost-Ampelmännchen were born. Ever since, they have been a huge hit. Karl Peglau passed away in 2009, however, the AMPELMANN brand remains in his family and his family is present at every company event.




To this day, Germans respect the Ampelmann. So if you’re going to cross the road whilst the traffic light is red, you may not risk being hit by a car if the road is empty, but you will risk being scorned by Germans who think you’re incredibly irresponsible.


This myth is definitely:



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