Before coming to Germany…
I had done some research about the culture, lifestyle, cuisine, and people in order to familiarize myself with the country beforehand. In addition to the information I found online while working in the tourism industry for a couple of years, I met several German tourists from different regions, and was confident that I had a fairly precise picture of how life would be like in Germany. However, not all the things I had read or been told could prepare me for my actual first trip to Germany.
Not all the things I had read or been told could prepare me for my actual first trip to Germany.
My first assumption about Germans was that they probably drink a lot of beer every day. When I landed at Berlin-Tegel airport, it was only 9:30 am in the morning. However, the man sitting at the table next to me was holding a one-liter glass of beer for breakfast. I had never seen these kinds of glass being used in Vietnam to drink, except in beer clubs. I was so surprised “Oh! I knew they love beer, but didn’t know that they also drink beer for breakfast instead of coffee”. Later, during the international welcome week from the university, it was explained that drinking beer at breakfast is not a daily habit. Germans, especially those from the south, usually treat themselves to it like that only on holidays.
Right now, I am living in a shared flat with only Germans, thus, I can assure you that not all of them drink daily. It is more like an occasional thing, and sometimes on weekends after a long stressful week. Besides, more than half of my German friends are non-drinkers, therefore, it will not be a problem to find friends when you are not drinking. There are also some other interesting activities that you can enjoy with Germans. Having a walk to nature, hiking, or even playing board games in the darkest and coldest time of the year are great examples.
As I had met so many German tourists, I assumed that it would be easy to make friends with German people because most of them are so friendly and speak English so well in comparison with people from some countries of southern Europe. However, I forgot that the Germans I met were tourists who probably had traveled several times and were more open-minded. It seems not to be a huge problem for English speakers in big cities like Berlin or Munich. However, in small cities like mine, most people, including students, don’t speak English very well. For this reason, learning German up to level A2 at least before coming to Germany will make your life way easier. For the first week, I felt down and disappointed since I couldn’t find anybody here to talk to. However, when the semester started and I was able to meet people on the university campus, everything changed for the better. Thanks to the network initiated by the university, including student events and international clubs, I managed to get to know more people, and some of them are my greatest friends now.
Different from the tourists, the local Germans appear to be more reserved. They do not approach you with a big smile on the face “Hey! Where are you from? Nice to meet you! Let’s hang out! Let’s be friends!”. It takes more time to make their acquaintance first, to later be followed by a closer relation like friendship. Nevertheless, once you know them and are friends with them, needless to say, they are one of the most helpful and trustworthy friends one could ask for.