German Etiquette- Do's and Don'ts in Germany For Indian Students

As an international student studying in Germany, it would be good to familiarize yourself with the German culture and norms so that you don’t end up embarrassing yourself or offending the Germans! The German culture is quite different from what we’re used to in India, and it’s better to know this in advance than to land up at your university and get a culture shock.

Read through the various do’s and don’ts to follow in Germany and understand the German etiquette better:

Dos in Germany

  • Germans are very punctual. They’d rather reach a place before time than be late by even a couple of minutes. So be sure to make it to your classes on time. And if you are visiting some body’s house, it is better that you reach there in time & try to bring flowers.
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  • When you are meeting someone, greet him by shaking hands. If there’s a woman in the group, shake hands with them first.

  • Use the formal pronoun “du” when talking to elderly people.

  • You must understand that Germans love being organized and follow rules to the T, be it traffic rules or garbage segregation rules, they take it all very seriously, and while you’re in Germany, you should too. So don’t try to jaywalk on their roads. And ensure that you have 4-5 different types of garbage bins – one for biodegradable waste, one for paper waste, for glass, plastic, used batteries etc.

  • Address anyone with a Ph.D degree as “professor” or “doctor.

Don’ts in Germany

  • If you are going to a German restaurant, then do not wait to be seated by the waiter. It is common to share tables with a stranger and hence you can do the same. However, do not strike up a conversation with them.

  • Germans don’t kiss while greeting, especially in formal situations.
  • Make sure you do not get drunk in a bar and move in public. Public drunkenness is not appreciated especially in Bavaria.

  • Do not chew gum while talking to people as it is considered as bad manners in Germany.

  • When eating, do not put your elbows on the table, it is considered bad manners. Only your hands should be on the table.

  • Do not litter the streets with paper wrappers. There are dustbins everywhere and you should throw the litter in these bins.

German Business Etiquette

  • Don’t expect to reach anyone at their office beyond 5 p.m. on weekdays and always check if it is okay to call someone over the weekend or late hours for any official reasons.

  • Punctuality is appreciated and seen as a sign of respect to the other party.

  • Dress formally and conservatively for official meetings.

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