Life In Germany: Challenging perspectives

The longer I live in Germany the more I discover how ingrained my British culture is. I guess, though, it’s hardly surprising considering ALL my years of life thus far have been predominantly spent in England.

I’ve lived in Germany for almost two months and that time has opened my eyes to how tied my thoughts and perceptions of the world are to a British sensibility.

Before I moved I thought I was quite accepting of other cultures. In school and at university, despite living in predominantly white middle class areas, I’d had friends with all kinds of national backgrounds; Nigerian, Singaporean, Chinese, French, German, Indian, Greek, American, Welsh, the list goes on. At the time I thought I was embracing my friends’ cultures. But now I live in a foreign country I realise what I accepted was an Anglicised adaptation of their culture. I had an expectation that if you moved to my country you should speak my language and do things the way my country and culture dictated. However, somewhat naively, I had not considered that this notion should also work in reverse.

Now, to use an English idiom, the shoe is on the other foot. Let me give you an example, I would not expect someone in England to approach me and ask if I spoke German, Spanish, Urdu but yet I am fully prepared to ask someone in Germany if they speak English. This is the resounding impact of my British upbringing. Having realised this, I have a completely different perspective on the people I meet in my day to day who look at me slightly vexed and say “Nein” as I utter “Sprechen Sie Englisch bitte?” These people are pertaining the same expectation I have in my country of origin. Simply, “if you live in my country you should try to speak my language”.

And so while I will not renounced my Britishness, I am prepared to be more Germanic in my day to day – as I’ve already expressed in this blog, I am trying to master the German language as my own.

I draw the line at adopting the German’s version of tea though.

Please send supplies of Tetley and Yorkshire!

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