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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Cliché 4 – Life is Simple… Eat, Sleep, and Play Football!

“Football is a simple game.

Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

– Gary Lineker

World Cup


We won’t beat around the bush here. This cliché is straight up true.

Fuβball (football) is the most widely played and attended sport in Germany. There are millions of Germans playing football at thousands of football clubs throughout the country, ranging from social and amateur clubs to the Bundesliga. The professional clubs draw an average crowd of 25,000 spectators, however, towards the end of the football season almost all games are sold out, or close to sold out (approximately 55,000-75,000 spectators depending on the stadium’s capacity).

Some Germans prefer to watch football games at home or out with friends, others prefer to go to the stadium to watch the home games and enjoy the atmosphere, and some fans even travel throughout the country every second weekend to watch their club’s away games. In 2014 Germany won the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and almost half a million supporters greeted the team as they arrived back in Berlin as heroes – some supporters even waited overnight to make sure that they had a good viewing spot!

World Cup 2

In short, this myth is absolutely:


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Cliché 3 – Being German is No Laughing Matter

Who is your favourite comedian? Or what is your favourite comedy TV show? Maybe it’s Canada’s Louis C. K., Britain’s Ricky Gervais or Australia’s Ahn Do? Could it be ‘The Office’, ‘Brooklyn 99’ or ‘Fawlty Towers’? Regardless of who or what it is, it’s fairly unlikely that the first answer which popped into your mind was a German or German TV show. This could be because most people think that Germans have no sense of humour. Is this really the case? Is Germany a country filled with completely serious people who never joke? Let’s find out…

When you look up German comedians on Wikipedia there are links to over 100 pages, including some of our favourites such as Kaya Yanar, Martina Hill, Otto Waalkes and Anke Engelke. When you look up German comedies on Google there are pages upon pages of websites listing the best German film comedies including everything from ‘Der Schuh des Manitu’, ‘Fack ju Göhte’, ‘Schlussmacher’ and ‘7 Zwerge’ to ‘Toni Erdmann’ (which won Critic’s Choice at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival), ‘Keinohrhasen’ and ‘1 ½ Ritter auf der Suche nach der hinreiβenden Herzelinde’.

If there are so many German comedians and comedies, why do people still think that Germans have no sense of humour?

Well, it’s a simple language problem.

Whilst most German movies have English subtitles, most jokes simply don’t translate, meaning the comedy is about as funny as a movie about the history of calculus (at this point we’re really hoping that there isn’t some hilarious movie out there about the history of calculus…). Even the movies which are funny and contain jokes with can be translated are not very popular outside of Germany – would you really go to the effort to purchase a German comedy on DVD when you can simply watch English comedies on Netflix? Probably not. Additionally, most TV shows and recorded stand-up comedy shows are never translated into English, either, again, because the jokes can’t be translated, or because there is simply no demand for it. In everyday life the German language itself also poses a minor obstacle to humour. For example, in English many words have a double or triple meaning upon which many jokes are built – this is rare or non-existent in German due to the use of compound words which clarify any confusion which could arise.

So what have we learned? Germans can definitely be funny, you just have to speak German to understand their humour!

Our Tip: If you are quite fluent in German check out some of the comedians which we mentioned above on YouTube. If you are not confident enough yet with your German language skills, buy or borrow a German comedy on DVD and watch it with English subtitles!


Overall, we’d say this myth is:


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Cliché 2 – If you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re 10 minutes late.

One of the first characteristics which people think of when they think of Germans is punctuality.

Well, they’re not wrong… mostly.


Punctuality is actually quite an integral part of German culture and there are several reasons why:

  1. Germany has a relatively low power distance. A low power distance means that Germans generally view each other as equals. By being punctual Germans show each other that they value another person’s time just as much their own. If you show up late you are letting people know that their time is less valuable than your own.
  2. Germans like to plan. By being punctual, Germans are able to plan out their days very accurately. If you show up late to a meeting you may be forcing someone to push back their other meetings or reschedule appointments – this is a sure way to lose a friend or even get fired from your job!
  3. Germany is among the uncertainty avoidant countries. This simply means that Germans try to avoid unknown situations. If you can’t be trusted with something as simple as being on time, you will not be trusted with more important issues – so if you’re looking for a promotion at work, make sure you’re always on time!

Does this mean that every German is always on time? Of course not, but generally speaking they will be fairly punctual. Although there is one exception…


There’s a running joke that all Germans are on time, except for the Deutsche Bahn (DB) – the largest German railway operator. Although the railway has made large efforts to increase their punctuality, don’t expect your train to be on time. Particularly in winter trains can be delayed for up to a few hours!

Overall, the myth that Germans are punctual is:



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Cliché 1 – The traditional ‘German Outfit’

When we think of a traditional Indian outfit we think of the sari. When we think of a traditional Japanese outfit we think of the kimono. When we think of a traditional German outfit we think of Dirndl and Lederhosen… but are these really ‘traditional German outfits’?

Dirndl und Lederhosen

The tradition of Dirndl and Lederhosen actually dates back all the way to the 18th century in Bavaria. Lederhosen, literally meaning ‘leather pants’, were worn by the working peasant community as they were sturdy, whereas the Dirndl, made up of a blouse, dress or bodice and skirt, and apron, was worn by the servants and maids as they were very practical for work both inside the house and outside on the farm.

Dirndl und Lederhosen2

So are they are a traditional German outfit? Well, the short answer is, no.

They originated and are still worn to cultural events in Bavaria today, such as the Munich Oktoberfest, and, whilst some people in the Bavarian countryside still wear Dirndl and Lederhosen every day, this is not the norm. Outside of Bavaria they are uncommon, although there are few exceptions, such as the Cannstatter Wasen folk festival in Stuttgart, however, they are not found in mid to north Germany. If you were to show up to an event in Hamburg wearing a Dirndl or a pair of Lederhosen people would probably be very confused or assume that you’re going to a fancy dress party.

We’d say the myth that Dirndl and Lederhosen are traditional ‘German’ outfits is:



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Let’s get this OktoberFUN for Teens started!

Herzlich Wilkommen zum Oktoberfest für Teens 2017!

We hope you’ve had a fantastic start to the year and, most recently, enjoyed a wonderful Easter break with your loved ones. Whilst you were busy settling into the school year and hunting for chocolate eggs, we’ve been having plenty of brainstorming sessions about how we can make this year’s Oktoberfest for Teens the best ever!

All of your favourites will be back this year, and, of course, we have some new and exciting surprises in store for you!

EURO 2012 - Public Viewing Berlin

What’s Coming Up…

We are thrilled to announce that the Goethe Institut’s theme for 2017 is … drum roll please … ‘Menschen in Deutschland’ (people in Germany).

Our Infosheets and quizzes will take you on a journey through the wonderful worlds of German literature, science and technology, music and fashion, cinema and TV, sport and give you an insight into Germans today. In addition, the blogs in the weeks leading up to our Infosheets will inform you all about German clichés – the true, the untrue and the somewhat true. Our weekly Arbeitsblätter will also be returning this year due to the large amount of positive feedback which we received last year!

At this year’s event there will be a new game which guarantees nail-biting excitement and will give you even more opportunities to win fantastic prizes! How can you prepare? Read the weekly Infosheets carefully and play our preparation game which will be distributed with the Infosheets in week 6!



So brush up on your Fliegerlied moves, dust off your Dirndl and Lederhosen, and WATCH THIS SPACE – we have some great blogs coming your way! 🙂

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact Paula Hay at

Bis bald!

Your Oktoberfest for Teens Team



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Das war so ein schöner Tag!

What a day!!! Our feet are sore from dancing, our voices are hoarse from singing, our taste buds exploded from all of the delicious food and we still have an adrenaline rush from those rides!

We hope you enjoyed today as much as we absolutely LOVED having you here!

Thank-you from the bottom of our gingerbread hearts for being a part of the Oktoberfest for Teens 2016 and don’t forget to upload your memories from today on social media using the hashtag #OktoberfestBrisbane.

Bis zum nächsten Jahr!


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Morgen, Kinder, wird’s was geben…

…morgen werden wir uns freu’n; welch ein Jubel, welch ein Leben, wird auf den Brisbane Showgrounds sein!


Kids, teachers and parents – get your shirts and Dirndl ready, and get lots of sleep tonight, because tomorrow is the best day of the year – the Oktoberfest for Teens 2016!

You’ll need your energy to learn how to yodel, dance the Fliegerlied, go round-and-round on the rides, try lots of different foods, take part in our exciting games and competitions, and much, much more!

We have lots of surprises in store for you – so be sure to Kodak those moments and upload them to social media using the hashtag #OktoberfestBrisbane.


Bis morgen!

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Only 2 More Sleeps!

We had an AMAZING first weekend at the Oktoberfest Brisbane, but the best is yet to come! The Oktoberfest for Teens is THIS THURSDAY!

It’s hard to pin-point what we love most about the day…

… the delicious food…


… the incredible entertainment…


… the thrilling rides…


… although, if we had to choose, we’d say our favourite thing about the day is getting to hang out with YOU!

Wir freuen uns auf Euch! 🙂

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