Many Germans learned English because they were thinking of moving to an English-speaking country, the USA for example. But how is it to make that jump across the pond? How hard or annoying is it, in reality, to suddenly have to speak English on a day-to-day basis?
Over the years, many German natives have moved to the US and many have faced serious challenges. There are cultural differences between Germany and America and one of the biggest hurdles is having to speak English as their main language.
There are Germans who moved to the US after a distance relationship with an American individual. They often had to travel back and forth for a while until they decided to get married. So they packed their stuff and moved to this great nation. That’s how sometimes life goes. Many Germans that have lived here for some time continue their academic education at an American college or through an online program.
The Germans that moved here usually learned basic English at school or some had English speaking pen-pals but the problem is that German Television does not subtitle English spoken programs. Everything is dubbed in German, and that doesn’t help! In the Netherlands, for example, all English programs are shown in the original language while all is subtitled. This way, everybody gets used to the language already at a young age. So it’s totally different when they have moved to an English-speaking country with no one around speaking their mother-tongue.
As with all immigrants, these people are learning new things continually. The English language (like all languages) comes with phrases you don’t learn at any school, though most will pick that up rather fast without running into any major problems. America is a land of immigrants and most people will understand a German native pretty good and when they don’t know a word, they will try to explain their intention in another way. Americans are usually patient and friendly, that’s a sure thing.
For most Germans, there are a few words that may just sound stupid when they say them, or at least they think so. How about the word “groceries”. It seems impossible for them to make it sound correct, so many try to avoid this kind of words as much as they can. Many have a dictionary app on their cell phones to help them out when they read or hear an unknown word.
Sure, there are definitely quite a few differences between the US and Germany, and most Germans here love to discover these differences. One thing that a lot of German expats are struggling with is that most Americans are in love with their air conditioning! When you are visiting a movie theater or a restaurant on a warm summer’s day, be sure to freeze! Isn’t it strange that some have to bring a scarf, a cardigan, and some warm socks when youé going to the movies or for a meal?
Then some Germans are surprised by their eating habits, like having potato chips for lunch. For Germans, potato chips are like a snack that they eat in the evening hours when they’re, for example, watching a movie while being sat on the couch. Fact is, lots of Americans love to eat potato chips for lunch together with their burgers for example. Really weird for most Germans. But then again, there are so many things in America that Germans think are weird…
Another thing Germans are not used to is waiting to get seated by a waitress in a restaurant. This is a totally different experience from what’s usually going on in Germany where mostly, you walk in and choose the table you want. In America, you sometimes have to wait for a table so long…that you feel like just going somewhere else, but that’s normal. One more thing is that sometimes, you feel a little rushed in restaurants in America. In Germany, like in many European countries, after dinner, you take your time and have a coffee with maybe something sweet or a brandy or so. In America, you shouldn’t be surprised to get your check immediately after dinner without even asking.
Also quite different is American “bread”, and most Germans really miss their German bread. American bread is usually soft and white and completely tasteless in comparison with German or other European bread and quite a few Germans have started baking their own bread! Also, and this will come as no surprise, German beer is different (or you might say way better) than most of the American beer though, over the past decade, lots of small breweries have popped up to brew their own traditional recipes and many stores have a section today where they sell specialty beers from foreign countries as well.