What I wish I knew before moving to Germany

Some hard learned lessons. All generalizations below are subject to exceptions, but I am writing them in absolute language to not make the writing boring. I will keep updating this list as new lessons are learned.

Negotiations: If you are negotiating with a German person, they will defer to whatever in the law even if it is not in their best interest. There is an interesting dynamic between Germans, processes, and rules. It is stereotypical in many aspects but it is real and strongly present. My advice if you are entering a negotiation with a German person is to read the laws first. There are laws for everything here. My second advice is that Germans consider whatever in the laws as fair. There is no judgement here. This means if you sign a lease on an apartment, and 1 day before moving in the landlord decides to cancel the lease even if it is not fair since you cancelled your current lease they won’t care as long as it is legal, or illegal and you don’t know about it. Read the laws.

Reciprocity: In warm cultures such as Egypt, most Arab countries, India, and Mexico there is strong emphasis on personal relationships and reciprocation. This dynamic is non-existent here. Why is it important? Because if you think someone will do something because you have a great inter-personal relationship then you have a problem with expectations. At times of conflict of interest, your social credit will be erased in a moment and again, what’s fair will be whatever written in the rules. The good news here is that people don’t take those things personal, you will find them calling you to have a drink after whatever you or them did.

Context awareness: You have to be explicit and literal. Again another stereotypical item but it is way stronger than I thought. I would be in the supermarket looking at a high shelf hoping someone will ask me if I need help, and most of the time people pass behind me not asking. While I don’t have a problem asking for help, but with the current pandemic I was afraid that someone may not want to hand me something out of fear of infection. Luckily it didn’t happen yet. The biggest exception to this rule is parents, for some reason they always sense I might need help and they come asking. Sometimes they even tell their children to ask if I need help. And of course many kids just ask even if their parents aren’t around. Have more kids please.