typically german; – Anja Spohr, Belinda Villbrandt und Gastautoren

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Artikel der Kategorie July, 2011

„Du“or „Sie“ – German politeness

July 14, 2011 Von: Belinda Villbrandt Kategorie: Living in Germany Noch keine Kommentare →


“Hi Klaus, ich bin Ernesto.” might be the absolutely wrong address when talking to your director the first time. Also your new colleague might be cross with you after immediately calling her “Helga” and “Du”. It would be a pity if  you cause trouble right on your first day!

In Germany it is quite important if you accost someone –“Du” or “Sie”?

“Sie” is afflicted with the more formal and polite way. It is mostly used when you meet someone for the first time or in the following context (i.e.):

–       Consultation,

–       Visiting public authorities,

–       Shopping (IKEA might be an exception),

–       Contact to schools and kindergartens,

–       Contact to real estate agents

Usually you say “Sie” in Germany. Also in a job-related conversation with customers or supervisors focus is put on the “Sie”.

The constellation of the team, its culture or personal preferences of team members influence the decision between “Du” and “Sie” significantly.

Generally you are on the safe side when using “Sie” as the formal form at the beginning.  Then you can secretly watch how the interaction develops.

In case of doubt it is maybe a good idea to just ask, what the local custom is.


You can say “Du” to me

Addressing someone informally is often considered to be very rude and sometimes even insulting.

Consequently the “Du” calls for an explicit preceding proposal. “Wollen wir uns duzen?” (Do you want to say “Du” to me?”) is a formal act which can lead to significant discord when it is said heavy-handed. There are some useful basic rules.

–       It should always be the older person offering the younger one the “Du”.

–       Adults offer children and teenagers the “Du”.

–       In a job-related situation the hierarchically superior person offers the “Du”.

While the “Du” is normally sealed with a handshake in business life, it is very common in private circles to clink the glasses or even celebrating it with a kiss on the cheek. Even though the “Du” cannot be equalized with friendship it is important for many Germans in evidence.

Managers and staff memebers

At work you should think about the possibility of “Du” complicating conflicts or the discussion of displeasing issues.

Not many people are communicatively professional enough to deliver bad news.

“Sie” keeps a certain distance which opens up a better demarcation.

Overall you can say that “Du” is much more common when you work in social jobs, in trade, advertising industries or IT, than in public authorities, banks or insurances.

In international companies, which are settled in Germany, sometimes a hybrid form between “Du” and “Sie” is used; people are addressed formally with their first name.


Neighbors and friends

Most German people need some come-up-time before being ready for the “Du”. So, always use the formal “Sie” when talking to just-met neighbors, parents of your children’s friends or other nice people.

The more similarities you will find by the time, the the easier the step towards the “Du”. But keep in mind that it will need its time. So, do not be irritated. The “Du” is no unconditional premise for the development of fructuous and fulfilling relationships. It will work out all by itself, and if not as fast as you expect, it does not necessarlily means people around you may not like you.

However, the trend of informal addressing spreads out. The use of “Du” becomes much more popular.

Not just because of the implementation of social networks, but also in the “real life”, the handling becomes much more easy-going.

With the aid of composure and polite manners, relationships between people can be established and cultivated easily.



Get ready for Germany!

July 14, 2011 Von: Belinda Villbrandt Kategorie: Living in Germany Noch keine Kommentare →

Speaking German

The Exercise book “German for every day” is in front of you? Wonderful!

In Germany you say “preparation is half the way to the finish line”.

And yes, it appears that arriving in a country and knowing at least a bit of the language has many advantages. If you need German for your job, you should prepare by attending language courses. If the company you are working at requests a language you are able to master better than the German one, the most important phrases for daily life will be enough.


In addition to „Guten Tag“ and „Auf Wiedersehen“ the compliment „Mahlzeit“ is one of the most important Socializing-business-vocabs. No matter in which department, both in the cafeteria, on the aisle, or the lavatory and at the car park. Between 11 am and 2 pm you are never wrong with “Mahlzeit”. (Some jokers even say “Mahlzeit” when a workmate arrives half an hour late to work.)


Getting ready for arrival

You and your luggage touch new ground. Germany. Having contact to Germans is often considered to be easy-going, because usually everything is structured, well organized, neat and tidy.

In case your employer has connected you to a Relocation Agency, you have the best support, but if this is not the case, it is your turn to attend to the needed documents or the transfer of your driving license.

You will find further information about house-hunting, kindergartens, schools or possible recreational activities in our blog in the coming weeks and months.

First information

As a short overview we have summarized under the headline “Links” a few information of other providers. You can find recent information about both moving-, working or living conditions and social safety and insurances in Germany.


Keep in contact and create new relationships

Moving to another country means leaving the known field and starting for a new and different place/life.

Deciding for this opportunity will be taken up different by those who stayed at home.

There might be people who comprehend your decision and share your happiness, but some might look at you with fearing eyes.

During the first time you will put your focus and power on getting along well with everything and everyone. Talk to your family and friends about the way you want to keep in contact. Nowadays there are many possibilities for staying in touch. You can write emails, talk via Skype or use social networks like Facebook or Twitter. You just need to be prepared for the way you want to communicate.

Keeping in contact with those you have set your heart out, strengthens you for the first days in the new country. A careful and aware handling with farewell and restart helps you focusing on the new and also make it easier to feel at home in your new life.

Set objectives

Rome was not built at one day. Also you will need some time to arrive fully and orient yourself.  Setting realistic and manageable goals is part of change.

Acclimation should be your best bid during the first weeks. For some of you that truly means to manage the German climate, the four seasons and different weather conditions.

Also within human interactions you will find a certain “climate”.

How do people receive you in your new job? How is the relationship between you and your neighbors? How do daily accomplishments succeed?

Building a plan piece by piece is a basic condition for settling in. Focus on the aspect that everything is in working order and on creating a daily routine that fits.

Until your household is not equipped completely, you can rely on service providers, just as car rents, cleaning service or laundries.

A German quote is called “in rest rests the force-“This is –especially during the first weeks- the key for arrival and settling in.


Opening a bank giro account

July 14, 2011 Von: Belinda Villbrandt Kategorie: Living in Germany Noch keine Kommentare →

Bank giro account

You can simply not live without owning a bank giro account in Germany! When you take up employment the giro is indispensable for the payment of your earnings.

Most banks require a private poverty in form of a fixed residence for the opening of a giro account.

But how do you choose the bank you trust? There are some important questions you should ask in advance:

–  Which cash points draw out money free of charge? Just regional or also nationwide?

– May I use the cash points immediately after the account opening and the bank card’s transmission?

– Am I able to set up a standing order and to issue a direct debit authorization?

– When am I allowed to apply for a credit card? How long does the processing of applications take?

– How much are the monthly account administration charges?

– Which extend could my overdraft credit have? Which interest rate needs to be paid in case of consumption?

Quite many banks offer giro accounts with online-access for free admission. Visit http://www.girokonto-onlinevergleich.de/ for a helpful overview.

For the account opening you need documents like your identity cards or the certification of your German address. This means that you  need an address in Germany  at least as a secondary residence, which is registered in the responsible registration office.

Paying cashless

It is usual in Germany to organize the periodic monetary transactions, as for example wages and salaries, rents or other financial contributions via the personal giro account.

Furthermore the cashless paying in hotels, restaurants, shopping malls or petrol stations is both simple and meanwhile established. However there are a very few stores or service providers, who only accept cash.

And there also are some, who make a declaration of minimum charges for the use of bank- or credit cards.

Therefore a small stock of cash may turn out to be the knight in shining amour.

However you should look after getting your bank- and credit cards soon, after opening your account.


Direct debit authorization

For periodical payments, such as rents or membership fees direct debit authorizations are very helpful. They grant your creditor the permission for collecting an arranged specific amount from your account.

From then on it is your responsibility to guarantee an adequate covering of your account and to certify the withdrawn amount promptly and on a regular basis.

This way of payment offers the possibility of filing a protest at your bank within six weeks after the withdrawal. The retained amount will be booked back to your account. All what’s left is the conflict with your creditor.

The process of direct debit authorizations has been established in Germany and usually flows smoothly.

So, it is our recommendation to use direct debit authorizations whenever possible.

Money transfer orders

If you want to be the master of this action, establish a transfer order. This is often chargeable. On a defined date, e.g. 1st or 15th of a month a defined amount of money is transcribed to a fixed recipient. In case of a change in the remitted amount you are responsible for fitting the transfer order. Higher fees are included often.

Overdraft credit

By owning an overdraft credit you can overdraw your account until a fixed limit is reached. Usually a periodic monthly income is required for the credit’s granting and needs to be provable. The credit amount depends on your income.

You should always keep in mind that the overdraft credit is attractive on the one side, but quite expensive on the other side. Therefore you must try to limit the use to exceptional circumstances.


When opening your account you will need to sign the so called “Schufa-Klausel”. By doing that you accept an exchange of your data with the credit agency Schufa.

“Schufa” serves the purpose of guarding contractual partners of possible loss of money. Thus, they safe both name, date of birth, previous and recent addresses and so called positive and negative characteristics of a person. The last ones apply to not contractional behavior (e.g. not-paying of credit rates) or judicial enforcement measures. In case of someone with such a “negative Schufa”, the bank will audit the request carefully and might only allow an account relationship under special agreements.

http://www.schufa.de/ will deliver further information.