Some facts about Germany
The German: Germany is rather homogeneous. The 16 states of a Germany share a common language, though with regional dialects. There are roughly seven million foreign residents in Germany, including Turks, Danish, Sorbs, Poles, Russians, and others. Germany has one of the world’s highest levels of education, technological development, and economic productivity (beginning with the Wirtschaftwunder). The standard of living is very high and Germany is largely a middle class society. Germans are much more formal than other Europeans and they draw clear distinctions between friends and acquaintances, still preferring to use the formal address of “Sie” in the work place instead of the less formal “Du”. Do not use “Du” unless invited to do so.
Language: German is the official language, though you will encounter many different dialects, when you travel around. German, like English, belongs to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language tree. You may also encounter Turkish while in Germany, depending upon your location.
Making friends: If you want to make German friends, you will need to make the effort to do so. Most German students will not go out of their way to seek friendships with study abroad students.
Strangers: As mentioned previously, Germans tend to be much more formal than the Spanish or Italians. Expect politeness but a degree of formality when first interacting with Germans. Racism: Racists, unfortunately, exist in Germany, as they do in every country around the world. However, you will find that they are in the minority. Though Germany is a rather homogeneous country, the majority of German people strongly disagree with (and dislike) racist behaviors and beliefs.
Women’s issues: Female students will generally not find much difference between the way they are treated in the US and the way they are treated in Germany. Germany is generally a safe and open place for women, although women traveling around alone (particularly at night) should exercise due caution. Unwanted attention from men is best ignored at any time.
LGBTA issues: German people are generally tolerant of homosexuality, although (as not in the BD) you will probably find that tolerance decreases and homophobia increases as you move away from large cities.
German cultural resources: Make sure you have started to educate yourself about German culture before you leave home. Some recommended resources include:
Culture Shock! Germany – book
Deutsche Welle at www.dw-tv.de
Goethe Institute: www.goethe.de
Resources for German Studies: