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No German friends. Do you have any?
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Do you have any German friends?
No, none.
14%
 14%  [ 2 ]
Yes, one or two
42%
 42%  [ 6 ]
Yes, many.
42%
 42%  [ 6 ]
Total Votes : 14

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Hod



Joined: 28 Apr 2003
Posts: 960
Location: Home

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:26 pm    Post subject: No German friends. Do you have any? Reply with quote

Inspired by a thread on the Poland forum, which concluded no one there had any Polish friends either.

With a bit of help from the online Cambridge Dictionary:

friend: a person who you know well and who you like a lot, but who is usually not a member of your family, someone who is not an enemy and who you can trust

acquaintance: a person that you have met but do not know well

I’d add a friend is not only someone you know well. You know their full name, age, where they come from and how many brothers, sisters and parents they have. You’ve socialised with a friend one-to-one countless times, been to each other’s apartments, met each other’s friends and partners. You might have secrets, but a friend knows pretty much all about you. Hopefully, you’ll still be in regular contact with a friend in ten or more year’s time.

If none or few of the above apply to a person, they’re an acquaintance.

Using this logic, after five years in Germany, I do not have a single German friend. One Spanish and one English person here almost qualify, but becoming friends with a German is not gonna happen in this life.

Germans make friends at school and university. After graduating, the circle closes forever. There are some exceptions, e.g. a Verein (sports or social club) where you might be accepted after five years or so. Germany is huge for internet dating for those who haven't sorted out a life partner before graduation time.

I was at Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station) yesterday. Just like any other Sunday evening, I saw thousands of young professional types dragging their suitcases. They’re going to work in their second city for the week, and come next weekend they’ll be back in Berlin to see friends and family. It will be one lonely week until then. Any social activity during that week is out.

A few weeks ago, I was in a bar with an English acquaintance. I asked a youngish German female friend of his what she did for a living. She replied, “I used to be a teacher.” And that was that. Conversation finished. How can you bring a conversation round after that? Had she been fired after a rampant affair with a married head teacher? Was she accused of stealing magic markers with a nasty court case pending? We’ll never know.

My German teacher was appalled to hear of my direct questioning. How could I ask about a person’s job? What if that person was unemployed? How would that make them feel?

To be honest, after five years here, I don’t care. Every other day one of my German colleagues asks me how old I am or how many children do I have. If I even dreamed of asking them the same questions, they’d go so far into their shell that they’d be gone for weeks.

The upshot is, my wife and I speak pretty good German but wouldn’t make a single German friend if we tried until Doomsday. I’ve questioned other foreigners here and, with the exception of those married to a local, not one has a German friend.

Go on then. How many German friends have you got?
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JN



Joined: 17 Jan 2008
Posts: 173

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's interesting that you don't have a single German friend. I have lots of German friends here in Germany. In fact, all of my friends here in Germany are German. Most of them I only speak German with. I have met a few foreigners, but never had really become friends with any of them-aside from one person who was my friend before he came to Germany. I've lived here a total of 7 years.
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Minny



Joined: 20 Jun 2009
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It takes a while to make friends here and you have to weed out the ones who only hangout with you to practice English even though your German is quite good but I have managed to make a few good German friends who even stepped up when I needed them most and helped me navigate the German legal system to get money back from a rabid boss, that's a true friend if you ask me someone who is there when you need them not just when it suits them.

On a side note, I don't think it's a German or Polish thing most people are not use to fly by the night friendships as many expats have become use to, people even complain it is hard to make friends with locals in my hometown.

Let's face it if you have been teaching ESL for a while you get use to your circle of friends changing overnight not really a normal concept for anyone outside of the ESL world, I think the somewhat transient lifestyle makes us more open to new friendships.
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artemisia



Joined: 04 Nov 2008
Posts: 867
Location: the world

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This depends on how you define “friend” and “acquaintance”. I don’t follow the strict, traditional German interpretation of these two and make a few more distinctions between levels of friendship as have Germans I've made friends with. "Friend" would certainly mean close friendships with those I’ve known so long that I don’t need to explain why I’ve reacted to something in a particular way – sufficient background info is already known. Then there are more recent friendships of people I get on very well with. Social friendships are with those you see every now and again but don’t really share a lot of personal details with. Colleagues might fit into this. I’d not describe these as acquaintanceships but I know many Germans would. Acquaintances for me are people with whom you are friendly but don’t share personal info or socialise except for maybe an office party once or twice a year etc. This could be colleagues/ neighbours and so on. It’s hard to define that exactly though because there have been times when I have socialised more with those I’d still consider to be acquaintances.

It’s common enough when you live and travel abroad that you meet people you get to know well, even extremely well, but it doesn’t last because you all move on somewhere else. You might keep the contact going for a while via email but it all tends to peter out after a few years. I had a cross between a few good and social friendships with Germans. I also attended uni there for a while so that made a difference. We’ve lost contact now but although I think it’s a shame, I also think it’s natural. I still get group emailed though by a couple and so get updated on baby pictures and various doings. Smile
I had a look at the Wiki definition. “Friend” seems to be such a loaded word that’s full of expectations; maybe we should just call anyone you’re at least on nodding terms with and who is not an enemy a “comrade”. This would amount to “stranger”, “comrade” and “enemy”. Certainly the latter is clear enough although Wiki does refer to the "Frenemy".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendship
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12322
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I no longer live in Germany and have not worked there for many years. In fact my last paid gig in Germany was in the GDR before reunification.

Anyway I have a number of German friends. It takes time. Germans do not easily form the superficial "friendships" that may happen in other cultures.

As you get older, in my experience, it becomes more difficult to make friends - whether in Germany or anywhere else. Treasure the ones you have and work on building up a new network if you can. In my case I have used a "Verein" to my benefit and found real pleasure from pursing mutual interests. What interest ? To each his own !
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artemisia



Joined: 04 Nov 2008
Posts: 867
Location: the world

PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To follow the traditional German sense of making 'friends', you'd have to have practically known them from kindergarten to claim true friendship. Otherwise, as adults, it usually does take years and a certain commitment to build up those kinds of long-lasting relationships. They are indeed to be treasured but not everyone you make a genuine connection with, even for a lengthy period of time, will remain in your life long term.
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Hod



Joined: 28 Apr 2003
Posts: 960
Location: Home

PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2011 1:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd say I’m easy going enough and can make acquaintances easily with quite a few nationalities. Germans, however, I just can't become friends with. I admit this must be partly due to the way I am, but I'll just have to live with that.

I have American, Asian and Spanish friends/acquaintances (I'm British), and whilst I make adjustments, i.e. tone down on sarcasm, sick jokes and football, any of my closer friends observing wouldn't notice differences in my behaviour. What I've noticed, though, are non-Germans who change personalities entirely when socialising with Germans. They’ll laugh heartily at blatantly unfunny comments or wax lyrical about subjects they’ve no interest in.

We’ve all had to do that at one time or another, but life’s too short to do so regularly during free time. It’s a façade, and I sympathise (but will never understand) non-Germans who feel they have to act this way.

Going back to my Asian/American/Spanish friends, we know about our cultural differences and fallibilities, and that makes it all the more interesting. I’d rather have a few good friends I can 100% relax and be myself with, than a load of acquaintances I don’t really know.

--

For balance, Germans are the kindest people you’ll meet. If you have a nasty accident or your car breaks down, a German will always help. As a resident in Germany, I find myself doing the same, whereas one time in Bangkok I’m sad to say I walked past a seriously injured motorcyclist, because as a foreigner you’re often better off not get involved. However, Germans’ social awkwardness and group mentality mean I’ll likely never have a German friend.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12322
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your loss.

Ich hatt' einen Kameraden,
Einen bessern findst du nit.
Die Trommel schlug zum Streite,
Er ging an meiner Seite
|: In gleichem Schritt und Tritt. Neutral

Eine Kugel kam geflogen:
Gilt's mir oder gilt es dir?
Ihn hat es weggerissen,
Er liegt vor meinen Füßen
|: Als wär's ein Stück von mir Neutral

Will mir die Hand noch reichen,
Derweil ich eben lad'.
"Kann dir die Hand nicht geben,
Bleib du im ew'gen Leben
|: Mein guter Kamerad!" Neutral
..................................."
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JN



Joined: 17 Jan 2008
Posts: 173

PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would have to say that all of my friends here in Germany are friendships that I have had for at least 15 years. This time I've been living in Germany only since last summer. I have met some people, but it has taken a while to get to know them. This, of course, doesn't mean that I count them as friends yet. With my work schedule I really haven't had as much time as I did when I was younger. I am also living in Berlin, so perhaps this has something to do with it.
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fool4travel



Joined: 11 Nov 2010
Posts: 3
Location: California

PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my experience, it takes a long time to get "in" with Germans, but once you're in, you won't get out (even if you want to).

Razz
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sharter



Joined: 25 Jun 2008
Posts: 878
Location: All over the place

PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 3:54 pm    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

As a Brit I just can't help taking the mick out of Germans after about the 5th beer.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12322
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suspect that you are an Anglo. Obsessed with the the Second World War and the 1966 World Cup.
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JZer



Joined: 16 Jan 2005
Posts: 3824
Location: Alaska

PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hod wrote:
I'd say I’m easy going enough and can make acquaintances easily with quite a few nationalities. Germans, however, I just can't become friends with. I admit this must be partly due to the way I am, but I'll just have to live with that.

I have American, Asian and Spanish friends/acquaintances (I'm British), and whilst I make adjustments, i.e. tone down on sarcasm, sick jokes and football, any of my closer friends observing wouldn't notice differences in my behaviour. What I've noticed, though, are non-Germans who change personalities entirely when socialising with Germans. They’ll laugh heartily at blatantly unfunny comments or wax lyrical about subjects they’ve no interest in.

We’ve all had to do that at one time or another, but life’s too short to do so regularly during free time. It’s a façade, and I sympathise (but will never understand) non-Germans who feel they have to act this way.

Going back to my Asian/American/Spanish friends, we know about our cultural differences and fallibilities, and that makes it all the more interesting. I’d rather have a few good friends I can 100% relax and be myself with, than a load of acquaintances I don’t really know.

--

For balance, Germans are the kindest people you’ll meet. If you have a nasty accident or your car breaks down, a German will always help. As a resident in Germany, I find myself doing the same, whereas one time in Bangkok I’m sad to say I walked past a seriously injured motorcyclist, because as a foreigner you’re often better off not get involved. However, Germans’ social awkwardness and group mentality mean I’ll likely never have a German friend.


I have not frequented the German discussion board for some time. I last was in Bayreuth in February 2005. Anyways, this discussion caught my eye. One day on the subway in Taipei I met a German and starting talking to him. I thought that we are both single men in a foreign country we could have a drink or see some sights together. After several attempts of texting or calling the guy I just gave up.

Furthermore every German I hung out with in Germany was a woman. My roommate was cool and we did go out to clubs together a few times.
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Hod



Joined: 28 Apr 2003
Posts: 960
Location: Home

PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

scot47 wrote:
Obsessed with ....the 1966 World Cup.


If you did have any German friends, Scot, you’d know which nationality is obsessed with 1966. To give them their dues, Germans are passionate and very knowledgeable about football, which is why I like to tell this joke:

Who’s the most unpopular person on the terraces at Borussia Moenchengladbach?

The person who shouts, “GIVE US A ‘B’!”


Told it hundreds of times, not one German has so much as sniggered.

---

Incidentally, it all works both ways. In the German company where I work, I've asked over 50 Germans if they have any foreign friends. These are "internationalised" Germans who speak English very well, have travelled widely and even in a lot of cases lived and worked abroad. These are the Germans I quite like. But how many have foreign friends? None. Not one. I'm not making it up. That's what they said.

One person above talked of Germans helping out in times of trouble. You're preaching to the archbishop there. That's the way they are, and long may it continue. But helping out a needy foreigner is commom decency and does not a friendship make.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12322
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My experience is that the ENGLISH are the ones who have obsessive problems with 1966 - not our German cousins !

I am pleased to report to the Germanophobic Anglo known as "Hod" that I am visiting Germany in the summer - as the guest of a number of my German friends.
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