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Old 04-21-2010, 03:13 PM
1 posts, read 3,006 times
Reputation: 10


Hey all,

I'm a 23 year-old who has both American and British citizenship. I am currently looking at advanced degree programs and I have come across a few in Germany that could be interesting.

I was wondering what the perception is in Germany of USA/UK people? I'm also a little concerned about the language barrier. If I decide to pursue these programs, I won't be doing so for a year, which means I will have lots of time to study the language. Having said that, their is no way I am going to be better-than-mediocre at German if I were to move there. Would people look down on me for not mastering the language? I am aware that English is commonly spoken in Germany (esp. among people in my age group), but I'm assuming they wouldn't like to use it in their native land, especially when it's me who should be learned their language.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 04-21-2010, 03:55 PM
Location: Colorado
4,308 posts, read 11,251,854 times
Reputation: 4373
Germans are usually very okay with you not speaking the language as long as you make a stab at it. Even if you say something grotesquely wrong most of them will forgive you for it, have a gentle laugh at your expense and then correct you. And you're right, SO many of them speak English already. But not all so it would be a good idea (and a courteous one) to start learning ASAP.

As far as the perception goes, you can't really generalise. It entirely depends on who you're talking to. You might get someone who blames the US/UK for all the world's troubles or thinks they're the greatest for ending WW2. You might find people don't want the military bases there any more now that the Soviet Union has collapsed and others who appreciate the money and employment the bases bring in, not to mention all the marriages that go on . And of course there are many Germans with British or American relatives!

Where in Germany are you thinking of studying? The area might also make a difference in terms of language and attitudes.
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Old 04-21-2010, 04:25 PM
Location: Heidelberg, Germany
240 posts, read 463,601 times
Reputation: 306
Chilaili is right. If you attend uni, everyone there will speak English. Amongst the older or less educated population you will find people that don't speak your language.

So, by all means, do make an effort to get some basic German language skills before coming here, but don't worry about it too much.

As the prevoius poster said, perceptions vary with individuals. Generally speaking we like the USA and its people. We may not always agree with its policies but things are better in that department since Bush left the Oval Office.

Same with the UK and its people. As you know the UK are an island and quite euro-scepticcal for the most part. They also don't have the EURO (currency) and there are still a lot of Brits that don't like us (Germans). I have friends and colleagues in the UK who have been honest eough to admit that.

However, anybody who comes here with an open mind and a friendly attitude will not have any problems I am sure. If you happen to come to Heidelberg or the surrounding area, shoot me a PM and I shall be your tour guide.
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Old 04-21-2010, 07:27 PM
Location: Blankity-blank!
11,447 posts, read 13,654,163 times
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I'm an American from Chicago and lived in Germany for 18 years. Prior to departing I learned some German but upon arrival found that my knowledge was barely adequate to communicate. However, the Germans wanted to try their English on me while helping me with German. This was beneficial to both sides. Every day I learned more. Everything worked out fine. The Germans will certainly help anyone to learn their language. All you have to do is ask. Enjoy yourself. I still remember the great times in Gasthauses speaking a mixture of German and English. For the first few months my learning German was rapid until I reached a plateau when encountering new words became less frequent.
One tip, don't worry too much about getting the articles (der, die, das, den, dem, etc.) correctly. They won't care. Concentrate more on nouns and verbs.
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Old 04-21-2010, 09:05 PM
Location: Hades
2,126 posts, read 2,005,890 times
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For a native English speaker, Germany can be nice in that a lot of people want to "try out" their English with you. They dub a lot of their shows and movies there so you don't have the incredible English fluency that you see, for example, in the Scandinavian countries.

I think that throughout Europe you will find a vigorous desire of locals eager to engage you in "debate" about US policies. I lived in Europe during America's Bush era and a lot of those debates were very accusatory and tinged with criticism (though I was not a Bush supporter, I was expected to explain things). That said, there is a huge American community throughout Germany and if you are prone to get into political discussions it will happen anywhere anyway. I treasured my time of living in Germany and would do it all over again for an even longer period of time.

And if you delve right into learning the language, another gift of a few years spent there will be becoming more fluent in another language. You in all likelihood will not face life altering problems moving there as a beginner speaker!
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Old 08-03-2010, 09:11 PM
Location: NC, USA
7,088 posts, read 12,478,560 times
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While working in Nigeria, I spent 10 days in Frankfort, meetings. I loved Frankfort, my German sucks, but, they were more happy that I tried, they appreciated the effort, my ability was/is truly lacking. My Spanish is pretty good but.....Efik was a bear of a language to learn, tonal.
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Old 08-03-2010, 09:37 PM
36 posts, read 107,737 times
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Just a thought - check up on whether your advanced German degree will be recognised if you decide to go back to the US. Often European Master's aren't recognised fully in North America as EU Master's are frequently 1 year in duration and PhDs 3-4 (unlike 2 years for a Master's and 4-5 minimum in NAm). Of course it depends what you want to study and why you want to do so (e.g. it could be an issue if you wanted to become a prof in the US). In addition, although you have UK citizenship you will still have to pay international tuition because you will not have resided in the EU for 3 years prior to starting school there. While international EU tuition is likely to be muuuuuuuch lower than in-state tuition back in the US for US citizens, it's still something to bear in mind.
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Old 08-03-2010, 11:14 PM
11,232 posts, read 12,531,833 times
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Originally Posted by imapretender11211 View Post
...I was wondering what the perception is in Germany of USA/UK people?
I know quite a few Germans, and to begin with they do not lump Americans and Brits together.

Like most Europeans, Germans seem quite forgiving of the fact that Americans have zero knowledge of any foreign languages, and as someone else has said, on the whole, they are quite forgiving and helpful.

I find the Germans very likable, but be forwarned they are very straightforward folks.
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Old 08-04-2010, 06:50 AM
Location: the dairyland
1,125 posts, read 1,781,324 times
Reputation: 1335
Most people will appreciate it if you try to make an effort to speak German. Especially since the stereotype of Americans is that they do not speak other languages nor care about them or other cultures. So even if you can just say "Guten Tag" - do it and then switch to English. People will be much nicer.

Actually many people I know are kind of anti-American. They might like Obama more than Bush but the general perception of Americans is still the same. Most people try to see you as an individual though. So no worries.
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