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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Hannover, Germany

Oct 11, 2019


Hannover, Germany

Do you need to learn German before moving to Hannover? What are Germans like? An expat talks about living in Hannover, the cultural stereotype about German people being rude, healthcare in Germany and more.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Hannover

Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

No.

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If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?

They speak German. I learned a little to get around, but I found that people wanted me to speak English so they can practice their English. I didn't need to know any German before moving there.

Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?

A little, but I had traveled to Germany before so much of it was expected.

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How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

Not that much of a shock. I was more in shock about how good the healthcare system was. It was also shocking how I didn't need a car.

Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?

I was there for 4 and a half years and I think I was in the honeymoon phase for most of the time. Near the end when I knew I was moving back, I started looking at the negative stuff to I think justify my move back (which I regret). I started getting irritated with certain things, but upon reflection, I think I was being picky.

What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.

I drank more alcohol as it was certainly more accessible and a prideful part of the culture. It wasn't a regrettable amount though.

What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

I have type 1 diabetes and I was absolutely blown away by how amazing it was. I cannot say enough about this. My wife and I also did in-vitro fertilization, pregnancy and post-natal experience and it cost us 100 euros for the whole thing - with great results. I appreciated the emphasis on recycling, public transport was efficient (we didn't need cars), everything was in walking distance for us, and it was easy to navigate everything in English.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

I think the most challenging thing is the perception of German unfriendliness. The old people in German are absolutely horrible. They are by far the rudest, selfish, nasty people I have ever had to deal with. Other than that, it is a culture that really doesn't care to make small talk like in the states. I appreciate that, but some people see that as rude.

Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!

I accidentally asked for a bag of ice cream instead of a cup of ice cream. We all got a good laugh!

Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

Just move there - it is awesome!

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