Germans are known for being cold and distant. And while stereotypes are unfair to the stereotyped, maybe – just maybe – they also sometimes hold a bit of truth.
Earlier this week, I introduced InterNation’s recent Expat Insider report, which analyzed the feelings of 12,500 expats around the world – nearly 800 of which were living in Germany.
If you believe the stereotype, then it should come as no surprise that Germany ranked particularly low in the section “Ease of Settling In” – just 10th from the bottom (#56) among the 65 most popular countries for expats. Other areas where Germany ranked quite low included:
- Language: #56
- Finding Friends: #59
- Friendliness: #51
- Feeling Welcome: #50
If you’ve ever taken 5 minutes of a German class or spent 5 minutes in the country (or read one of the my Mistranslation Mondays), then you know that German isn’t an easy language.
Globally, half of all expats report that it’s overall not easy to learn the language of the country they live in, but this figure is almost 20 percentage points higher in Germany, with 69% saying they struggle to pick up German. Only 5% of expats strongly agree that it is easy to live in Germany without a grasp of the local language. Internationally that percentage is far higher at 18%.
While the language is difficult, I find Germans very accommodating to foreigners that struggle with the language. The overwhelming majority of Germans under 40 can and will speak English. And in my experience, anyone that can’t speak English is open to (and thankful for) foreigners that speak broken German with a bad accent. However, I do agree that at least a loose grasp on the language is required for living here.
In the Expat Insider survey, expats in Germany placed Germany far right on the scale of friendliness. The only countries that expats find more “reserved and calm” than Germany are Denmark, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Norway, and Sweden.
Finding Friends & Feeling Welcome
Knowing that expats find the Germans so un-friendly, then it follows that these expats also find it difficult to find friends, causing Germany to be ranked at 59 of 65 countries. InterNations reported that many expats in Germany tend to stay in the “expat/foreigner bubble”, where they have a social circle solely comprised of fellow foreigners.
The metric of “feeling welcome” was visualized in the below graphic. Respondents placed Germany pretty central along the axis from “Constant & Traditional” to “Dynamic & Innovative.” However, Germany is at the far left end of the “Rational & Distant” to “Emotional & Welcoming” scale.
What do you think about these results? Do you agree? Disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!