Testimonial Ayo from Nigeria in front of yellow background
Go to blogger profile

Culture Shocks I Have Experienced in Germany So Far

The fact that you are not accustomed to certain cultural norms does not mean they are taboos, simply because you study in a foreign country like Germany.

Addressing older ones by their first name

Although, i have always known the western culture to always address anyone who isn’t family by their first name. As a typical African and a bonafide Nigertian, its a different ball game; where you are mandated to add a prefix to everyone older than you in status and in age.  Maybe not mandated, but it is significantly frowned at if you do not add prefixes like Dr, Prof.,  Mr., Sir, Mrs., etc. As i integrated into the German culture where you can call your professor by his name, i got to understand that you can still respect someone who seniors you careerwise, without adding titles except in a very official event. 

Less priority to greetings

I came from a region where greeting people is a sign of showing regards to them, regardless of the age and status. In the first weeks of my arrival, i found it super difficult to accept when i greet people i come accross and i do not get a response. i get a bit pissed and felt disrepected but i later accepted that its a norm here. Regardless of this experienece, i still greet certain people till now. All i have to do is study your mood within a second and then I’d know if you will actually reciprocate the gesture. My take might be a bit controversial, but this is what i have personally experienced so far. There is a saying that „when you are in Rome, you act like a Roman“, this is what a lot of Africans who live in Germany have adopted. I have also adopted it but i am still very selective in greetings.

Prior to my arrival in Germany, I didn't have a clear understanding on what culture shock meant, but i definitely knew i would encounter certain people, activities and culture that i am not accustomed to.


Picture of a river.
A place where Ayo's colleagues go swimming.© Ayo

Going for a swim without clothes

Have you ever gone with friends to the lake, and they decide to take of all clothes before going into the lake! Oh yeah, my german colleagues did. That was the first most schocking cultural norm for me as an international student in Germany. The first occurence was when we had a module in Latvia, and we had to visit the baltic sea for some research. After an exhausting day, a couple of my classmates went to swim and the germans amongst them went into the shores of the sea naked. That was baffling for me and i couldnt wrap my head around what i saw. This occurence repeated itself everytime we went together to a water body area to chill. To be frank, this will be a norm i would find difficult adjusting to. Of course, its not like i hate this but its just what i am not used to. I later found out that the german laws do not discourage this act as long as it is in the stream, lake or beach.

Biking as a major preferred means of movement

I have been to about five countries in the world, and i can say that the way germans take biking as a means of transport is just uniquely different. Back in my country, less than 10 percent of the population have a bicycle. There are so many reasons for this; lack of facilities to encourage biking, cost of purchase, risk of accidents. When i got to germany and i saw almost everyone owning a bike, that was shocking for me. Even professors in the university would rather use a bike than drive a car. I love this idea because it reduces the amount of carbon emissions and also encourages a sustainable living environment.

Special treatments for pets

In my country, very few people keep cats as pets while others who have pets, keep dogs. The puropse was either for profit or to protect his/her owner from being attacked. When i got to germany, i was perplexed to see the majority of the population own one pet or the other, especially dogs. i have always been scared of dogs because of how they are being raised in my country. Living in germany has changed my perspective about dogs and cats, which has made me love them even more. the love Germans have for dogs made me dumbfounded when i first arrived. I once saw a woman put two little puppies in a baby pram and i was like, this is interesting to see.


Wall clock indicating time.
Time is precious.© Ayo

You should know this today! Germans are so strict with time. Initially, i used to think its just about the transport vehicles like trains and tram, that a programmed to always arrive and depart at the stated time. I later realized that the majority of germans take punctuality really seriously. Arriving class ten minutes late is considered disrespectful to your lecturer, especially when you dont send an email ahead explaining your possible late arrival. I have had an experience where i arrived 15 minuites late for an appointment, and i was scheduled for a new date which was to be in a month's time. This has helped me improve in my time management.

More about Ayo


It is really amazing to know about the culture and living standard of German people. I want to study there. Could you please guide me? I'm from Pakistan

written by Kesro created on

Write comment

More posts by Ayo

In line with this topic

Roberta is sitting outside at a cafe table, looking down the street, the sun is shining. Coffee and pastries are on the table.
Roberta is sitting outside at a cafe table, looking down the street, the sun is shining. Coffee and pastries are on the table.© Roberta
Testimonial Roberta from Italy in front of red background
Blog post written by Roberta
Cities and their living conditions+7
Cities and their living conditions+7