Monday, August 6, 2007

yesterday today and tomorrow

Throughout my 40 years, I have learned to accept and embrace my sensitive nature. People have always told me to get a thicker skin. Though I have tried to be tough, I have come to realize that I wouldn't be the artist that I am and it's okay. Call it defeat, call it cowardliness, or better yet - call it self acceptance.
Living in Germany among people that are prone to be more "direct" as opposed to the polite Southern "indirectness" I am accustomed to has been a huge challenge.
I saw this advertisement at Burger King the other day. It might explain why some Germans appear....... well, not so happy.
I imagine the really angry ones order their Angry Burger with the Angry onions featured on the left.
I have found that not all Germans are intrinsically angry or rude. Although, I do struggle with this, because of my American perspective. They just find it easier to be honest and more direct.
Up until October I played on a German women's soccer team. I had to quit because of my knee(but we won't talk about that) The language barrier off the field was quite difficult at times. One game I showed up with a new red hair color and a team mate told me that it didn't look good, the blonde was better, and it made me look old. Could you imagine saying that to someone? To make it even worse I had just given her a birthday present. I am still upset about it. In her mind she was just letting me know, but I didn't even ask.
I have ordered a book called "The Xenophobe's Guide To The Germans"
It is on back order and I won't receive it until December. Apparently, there are more of us that need this survival guide book. A xenophobe is one unduly fearful of what is foreign and especially of people of foreign origin. I don't consider myself a xenophobe, but perhaps the book will shed some light in better understanding the culture.
Again, it is all about perspective. Americans are used to small talk or so called chit-chat in the South. There is no word for small talk in the German language. This may be a reason Americans perceive Germans to be rude. When Americans say "Hi,how are you?" the Germans think we are being nosey. This is a greeting only used for close friends. Not something that you ask just anybody passing by.
I had to laugh when I went back to see my family in Shady Shores. People held doors open, sales clerks talked about their sore feet, fellow shoppers complimented my handbag and shoes.
It is very different here, but I wouldn't exchange the experience for the world.
I guess I just need a thicker skin..........

1 comment:

88heather said...

heheh MB!!!.. so true.. My dad has that direct approach.. he had to learn that with 4 sensitive daughters.. Ok.. so I was the most sensitive.. my sister had a bit tougher skin.. I think my dad is like that b/c of his German heritage.. I do appreciate the total honesty of the Germans.. when buying a car.. or an appliance.. We were at an electronics store looking for a cappucino maker.. when the lady said.. this is the best one.. you don't need all that fancy stuff.. she was honest.. and we got the less expensive maker after her recommendation.. But yes.. the directness can be rude sometimes.. I've heard them say that they feel American's are "fake".. But I am with you MB!!!.. I like small talk.. I like having a smiling face.. and chatting with whomever. whenever.. And don't get me started on the no NOISE on Sunday!!! GEESH!!! hehe

I'm a southerner like you too.. I bet I will go in reverse culture shock when we move home!! (hoping back to Colorado.. we were there for 7.5 yrs before Germany.)