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Germany Questions

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
My baby sister (29) is going to Germany in September to teach at a college for a year. She is taking her 13 yr old daughter with her. She has had a lot of conflicting advice. So here are the more pressing issues:

Schooling: my neice has only attended charter schools. Some are saying that the schools in Germany are very strict and formal. Will she have a lot of problems fitting in there?

Being American: others are saying Germans don't like Americans much and that my sister should pretend she is from Canada. I understand the dislike of American politicians, but does that bleed over to individuals to a great extent?

She is so excited to be going! She will receive a Eurorail pass for herself and will buy another for her daughter. They hope to see as much of Europe as they can while living there. I have never been outside the US and she has no memory of living anywhere other than Portland.

There are probably other questions I am forgetting but the schooling is the most pressing right now.

Thanks!
post #2 of 22
I don't know where your Sister is going to, but her daughter will be tested and then they will decide which school she will be put in. (Germany has a very harsh system)

IMO Schools here are a load of rubbish, it is very unfair, Hopefully your niece wont be put into the Hauptschule (its the worst you can be put into), why? because its where all the "dumb" kids go to, and they arent given a chance!

I have seen that the Germans don't have problems with the Americans, I'm sure your Niece will settle in right away, Kids love foreigners and its just so much fun for them, so i am sure your niece will make alot of friends quickly.

I know alot of Americans around here because of the US army base, and alot of them work at my schools.

But I do have to admit, it is terribly hard to make friends with pure germans.
post #3 of 22
My fiance was stationed in either Frankfort or Munich...where ever the Army base is in Germany 15 years ago.

He's full fledge american and had no problem making friends at that time with the locals.

I think there are only certain parts to not tell people you're American. I visited Germany on a european tour about 10 years ago and the only place on the tour I was told to say that was at Castle Neuschwannstein. Otherwise Frankfort, Cologne, etc I didn't have to worry.
post #4 of 22
I lived in Germany for 6 years. It really depends on where they go. Some of the older Germans don't so much care for Americans but they aren't hateful and rude. They just aren't as friendly. The younger Germans don't really care.

I always went to military schools. If she is near an military base she may be able to go to a military school. When I was there they were very good. Iwas way ahead of the American schools when I got home.

Traveling was a blast. Something your niece will remember forever! They will have a blast with that.
post #5 of 22
Hi! I spent 7 years in Germany in various cities (Husband is in the British Army) and loved it. I think there is untrust and stereotyping which ever country you are from, but what I found was that once you mix with everyone...........it doesnt matter where you are from we are all basically the same. Good and bad.
It will be a wonderful experience for them, some thing they will always have. 2of my children were born in Germany (Military hospitals) and we have been back many times to visit, its a beautiful country. Make sure you fly out and visit!!
post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonnie1965 View Post
Being American: others are saying Germans don't like Americans much and that my sister should pretend she is from Canada. I understand the dislike of American politicians, but does that bleed over to individuals to a great extent?
that just the liberal media telling you that stuff. no matter where in the world you go 90% of the people are not going care who you are or where you come from. 8% of those left will want to try out there english on you, or something else, I have had kids try, english, dutch, german, and even russian on me. only about 2% are not going to like cause your american or just cause you are not from there country. That is assuming you are not going to the middle east.

One of my best stories of traviling was when i was visiting my cousin who is married and lived in germany for years. She asked me to get a chicken for dinner, so off i went, got there, found out i did not know the german word for chicken, and they had no chicken in the display case. so i ended up flapping my arms, and making chicken sounds, to which every one lauged and one old women told the word for chicken(which i hvae long forgotten)

hey it worked, i got the chicken.
post #7 of 22
My niece spends half the year in France, but quite often travels to Germany. She is fluent enough in French that she has little accent left. I know in the earlier days of the Iraq conflict, while in Germany, she would speak German, but if she faultered, she resorted to French so that no one would know she was American. It was an issue over there for a while.

In her travels, she has come to understand that most of the Europeans that she meets accept her with no issue, because they fundamentally understand that it is the current administration that is the problem. She's good, her government is bad. This isn't media hype, this is reality. And she voted for Bush so I wouldn't call her biased.
post #8 of 22
My cousin was stationed in Germany for three years (came back several months ago), and whenever he strayed away from the area right around his post, he ran into a lot of hostility. He and some friends were even attacked by some Germans once, and had to run for it.

He said that some of the older people seem to be "still smarting" from their defeat in WWII, but for the most part, the problem is the behavior of America under the Bush administration: "They see America as a great big arrogant bully," my cousin said.

Lest anyone think he's making a political comment, let me add that this is the cousin who will be going to Iraq this fall. Voluntarily.

And Bruce, my friend, with all due respect... the "liberal media" is a myth. If there were any such thing, then we would impeach presidents who secretly trade arms for hostages or falsify evidence in order to start a war... not presidents who simply try to keep their private lives private.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
My cousin was stationed in Germany for three years (came back several months ago), and whenever he strayed away from the area right around his post, he ran into a lot of hostility. He and some friends were even attacked by some Germans once, and had to run for it.

He said that some of the older people seem to be "still smarting" from their defeat in WWII, but for the most part, the problem is the behavior of America under the Bush administration: "They see America as a great big arrogant bully," my cousin said.

Lest anyone think he's making a political comment, let me add that this is the cousin who will be going to Iraq this fall. Voluntarily.

And Bruce, my friend, with all due respect... the "liberal media" is a myth. If there were any such thing, then we would impeach presidents who secretly trade arms for hostages or falsify evidence in order to start a war... not presidents who simply try to keep their private lives private.
on the same hand we would impeach presdents who, lie on oaths?
That was what got him in trouble, along with white water. lets not get into where the evidence came from, as your statement was 100% wrong. As this is not what this thread is about. the media is very one sided, even fox is one sided the other way. Its not hard to see that.

Sorry, but having been there, i would be willing to bet, some of your cousins friends where acting up that caused the issue. Like when i came out of a bar one time, and one guy i was with started yelling racial junk at some other people on the other side of the street. Young people with drinks in them do tend to mouth off. Sure there always be some that will not like you cause your american, or cause your not from there country, etc, but those are in the mintory, majority of people dont have time to care.
post #10 of 22
Bruce, I know we disagree on a lot of things, and I try to approach that with patience and usually some humor... because I really don't want to get into a serious political disagreement with anyone here. I don't come here for that.

So I do let a lot of things pass, including some things I know to be incorrect -- but I will not stand back and let you make that kind of claim about my cousin. He is a captain in the United States Army. He is not a drunken thug, and he does not go overseas and embarrass his country the way you describe.

I guess I should have ignored the "liberal media" comment, but I just couldn't. Still, I tried to respond briefly and lightly. And certainly you're entitled to your opinions, right or wrong -- but talking about my cousin crossed the line. Please, let's stay respectful.
post #11 of 22
i did not say your cousin, i said friends, there is a difference.
just like when some stuff happened to me, i just happen to be there when it took place. I am sorry you took it that way.

But am i supposed to change my personal experince or views? i was just in germany not to long ago for almost a month for work. no one said or did anything, and i went out alone at night, was sitting in clubs, by myself talking in english, and trying my very bad basic german.
i kinda get lost after hello how are you, where is the bathroom, and can i have a beer.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by theimp98 View Post
But am i supposed to change my personal experince or views?
No, of course not... just please don't make baseless assumptions about mine.

I almost ended that first post with "Peace, brother" -- I'll do that now:

Peace.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunasmom View Post
...I think there are only certain parts to not tell people you're American. I visited Germany on a european tour about 10 years ago and the only place on the tour I was told to say that was at Castle Neuschwannstein....
Why at Neuschwanstein? That seems odd. What would the tour guides do if they found out you are American?

BTW, aren't the kitchens in the castle amazing? They reminded me of that movie Legend.
post #14 of 22
As someone who has had experience from both cultures I can give a little different viewpoint.

I have both american and german nationality. My mom is german and my dad is retired military. So on occassion we did move over there to live for 3 years at a time.
Germans love what america has to offer as far as movies, food, technology, etc. But in all honesty they are not "fond" of americans because of their egocentric views and thinking that the US is the only superpower out there. I can see why they feel this way since I feel the same. This really tends to turn them off and other nations as well.
Germans overall are very friendly and it all depends on who you are around. Just like any other country, you are going to have your crazy, weird, and bad people. I will tell you one thing that you will not have to worry about. Germany is a LOT safer than the US as far as crime. The crime is no where near what the US experiences.
As far as schools go, is she going to a military school or german school? The schools over here are a joke. The germans schools are a lot more demanding and tougher. However, their education system is excellent as far as preparing students for the future.
On a whole, Germans can be and are very friendly. I've always felt more comfortable over there than I do here. Just tell your sister to try to be open minded when she goes over there and I hope she has a wonderful time because it is a beautiful country to experience. Good Luck!
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for your advice and for sharing your experiences My sister is bound to agree with people over there concerning our politics She will be in a college setting most of the time. Her daughter will be attending a German school. I hope she can fit in well. It will only be for 10 months. I am hoping it will be a wonderful adventure for them.

My brother was in Germany (military) when the wall came down. He has related a few experiences but they are from a young military guy's perspective, of course. Sis will be at the other end of the spectrum.

I doubt I will be able to fly there to visit (the money thing) but I would so love to do so! Will have to check into prices.

Again, thanks all of you. They leave in September so will let you all know how it goes.
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by SwampWitch View Post
Why at Neuschwanstein? That seems odd. What would the tour guides do if they found out you are American?

BTW, aren't the kitchens in the castle amazing? They reminded me of that movie Legend.
I think at the time there were a lot of politcal advocates hanging around there who felt they needed to pick on the U.S. All we were told (in 1997) "If you're approached by anyone who asks you where you are from, just say Canada." No one on the tour group was approached though.

I just love castles in general. That one is a particularly awesome castle with the way the rooms are theme and change.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonnie1965 View Post
My baby sister (29) is going to Germany in September to teach at a college for a year. She is taking her 13 yr old daughter with her. She has had a lot of conflicting advice. So here are the more pressing issues:

Schooling: My niece has only attended charter schools. Some are saying that the schools in Germany are very strict and formal. Will she have a lot of problems fitting in there? Does your niece speak German? And, if so, is she fluent? If she doesn't speak German, she'll be unable to attend public school, and will have to go to a private, English-language school, of which there are a fair number. German schools were at one time very demanding, but little money has been spent on education for the past two decades, so now they can only be classified as mediocre, at best, as the (OECD) PISA tests show. "Formal" is an absolute joke. There is little or no discipline in German schools, unfortunately. I was absolutely shocked at the lack of discipline when I first started teaching here, and even more so when friends' kids and our nephew were first enrolled in school. "Anti-authoritarian" takes on a whole new meaning here!

Being American: Others are saying Germans don't like Americans much and that my sister should pretend she is from Canada. I understand the dislike of American politicians, but does that bleed over to individuals to a great extent?There is some anti-American sentiment here, but I have to disagree with those posters who say the "older generations" harbor such sentiments. I suspected as much when I first visited Germany in the 70s, as a teenager, and to my surprise found that those who grew up under the Nazi regime, with some diehard exceptions, were grateful to the U.S. and Americans for the role they played in liberating, and then reconstructing, Europe. WWII survivors are few and far between nowadays, anyway. There is considerable criticism of Bush and his policies, and some resentment among so-called "intellectuals" of the "American influence" on German/European culture, but most Germans are very familiar with the U.S. due to films, television, music, literature, GIs, etc., and aren't overtly hostile. It's not a good idea to go flag-waving or try to justify Bush's actions here, but there's certainly no need to pretend you're not American.

She is so excited to be going! She will receive a Eurorail pass for herself and will buy another for her daughter. They hope to see as much of Europe as they can while living there. I have never been outside the US and she has no memory of living anywhere other than Portland.

There are probably other questions I am forgetting but the schooling is the most pressing right now.

Thanks!
A little bit about why I feel qualified to reply to your queries. I'm an American, born, raised, and educated in Philadelphia, PA, and I spend at least a month a year in the U.S.. I visited Germany several times as a teenager, attended graduate school here, and have been married to a German since 1979. I've lived here on a permanent basis since 1982, and teach English at a junior college.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonnie1965 View Post
My brother was in Germany (military) when the wall came down.
Wow -- and I was over there when it went UP! I was only five, but I remember asking my father what all those people did, that they had to build a wall to keep them out.

My father said, "Well, it's more like the wall is there to keep them in."

Well, that sounded even worse -- like imprisonment. It was the first time I confronted social injustice, and I think it had a lot to do with shaping who I grew up to be.

The day the wall came down, I sat there watching it on TV with tears of joy pouring down my face. What a wonderful day! Your brother must have been thrilled to be present at such an historic moment!
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat View Post
A little bit about why I feel qualified to reply to your queries. I'm an American, born, raised, and educated in Philadelphia, PA, and I spend at least a month a year in the U.S.. I visited Germany several times as a teenager, attended graduate school here, and have been married to a German since 1979. I've lived here on a permanent basis since 1982, and teach English at a junior college.
Thank you! I will PM you.

My sis will be in Trier, teaching English at Trier University.
post #20 of 22
Hi Bonnie,
While I was in Germany (in 2003 when the war started and sentiment was not great for US policies), I found that most people really understood the difference between an American Person and the American Government. In fact, people were very interested in exactly how elections worked (try explaining "electoral college" in broken German) and how involved the average person was in politics. I walked down the streets of Berlin in my Old Navy Flag Tees and nobody said a word to me.
The schools there can be demanding (I am sure that varies just like it does in your own home town). I don't know anything about the American schools.
I also found that you get a LOT of respect from locals if you try to speak what German you know. I have problems with verbs, so I would sometimes say "can you tell me how to going to the main train station" or something like that. Nobody ever laughed at me. Mostly they were impressed that I could come up with the basic vocabulary to ask questions. If you decide to go sightseeing while you are there, just look around the train station, there are lines at the ticket windows that say "English". I was surprised how many people wanted to practice their English on me once they did learn I was American.
As always, the best advice is to respect the fact that you are not "in Kansas anymore" and that you should respect the country you are in. Do what you can to respect their culture. Good luck to your sister and niece!
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marine View Post
Hi Bonnie,
While I was in Germany (in 2003 when the war started and sentiment was not great for US policies), I found that most people really understood the difference between an American Person and the American Government. In fact, people were very interested in exactly how elections worked (try explaining "electoral college" in broken German) and how involved the average person was in politics. I walked down the streets of Berlin in my Old Navy Flag Tees and nobody said a word to me.
The schools there can be demanding (I am sure that varies just like it does in your own home town). I don't know anything about the American schools.
I also found that you get a LOT of respect from locals if you try to speak what German you know. I have problems with verbs, so I would sometimes say "can you tell me how to going to the main train station" or something like that. Nobody ever laughed at me. Mostly they were impressed that I could come up with the basic vocabulary to ask questions. If you decide to go sightseeing while you are there, just look around the train station, there are lines at the ticket windows that say "English". I was surprised how many people wanted to practice their English on me once they did learn I was American.
As always, the best advice is to respect the fact that you are not "in Kansas anymore" and that you should respect the country you are in. Do what you can to respect their culture. Good luck to your sister and niece!
Great post! Your experiences seem to jibe with mine.
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marine View Post
...I also found that you get a LOT of respect from locals if you try to speak what German you know. I have problems with verbs, so I would sometimes say "can you tell me how to going to the main train station" or something like that. Nobody ever laughed at me. Mostly they were impressed that I could come up with the basic vocabulary to ask questions....
Wise words! This is good advice for travelling to any foreign country.
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