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Gerald Wakeford
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My life in Germany

10 November 2010, 09:00  - Gerald Wakeford
I have been reading your articles on people's experiences living in America or Australia or UK, so I feel compelled to share my experiences living in Germany


Firstly, let me make this clear: most Germans speak English like white South Africans speak Xhosa! Not having knowledge of the German language makes living here basically impossible. I am one of the lucky ones who found employment with an international German company which has allowed me to survive with my limited German skills.


So you have almost certainly heard once in your life that Germans are unfriendly people, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong in sticking to this assumption, the German people are typically closed off to outsiders or people they don’t know personally.

Last time I checked SA has a population of 48 million people in comparison to Germanys population of approximately 84 million. The major difference is SA has four times the land space to Germany, so while in SA it is possible to drive for 100km and not hit a town while in Germany you get one every five or 10 kilometres.

Also most people make use of the public transportation system in Germany as it is much cheaper than paying R15 for a litre of petrol and on top of that paying around R2 000 taxes every year just for having a car

I catch a train to work every day and being brought up to respect women and my elders I always wait for them to enter the train first. However, in Germany this is not the norm, especially when it comes to men they have such a lack of manners it makes me want to klap them on the ear.

When the train stops there is a mad rush where there is no queuing system at all, it’s a free for all where they just push into each other and bump until they into the train, then once they are onto the train people will sit and put their bags on the seats next to them to avoid other people sitting next to them.
Young people are usually quicker to get seats so often old people are let standing being bump around while the train is moving and the younger people very rarely will offer their seat away.

In SA, weekends are reserved usually for sport and braaing while in Germany there is literally a festival every weekend within a 10km radius of where you are and let me tell you they are boring; it’s the same crap music with lots of schnitzels, bratwurst and beer and little stalls selling art in the park type merchandise and if you think sober Germans are drunk wait until you meet the drunk ones.

In Germany fighting is not normal and rarely happens and if it does the police are there to arrest you within 5 minutes and you face a minimum fine of R5 000

So in SA people seem to have more respect for each other because if they don’t they know they might just end up getting smacked while in Germany they just don’t seem to care because no one has the balls to warn a guy off.


Most full blooded men dream of taking their high powered sports car and flying off at 250km/h without the fear of getting flashed, while on the autobahn this is sometimes possible it is hardly possible to maintain this speed for more than a couple of kilometres as there is constantly building going on and there is so much traffic you always getting stuck in 20km long traffic jams, so flying down the autobahn is not always a option.

The annoying thing is also Germans drive on your arse at 200km/h. Now let me tell you that’s not fun and if you think you cool in SA with your Golf 5 GTI forget about that - here that’s the average car, most of the cars coming past you are top of the range BMWs or Mercs or Porches that make your Golf 5 look like a Golf 1.


If you can get past the language barrier and the common German rudeness, it’s a beautiful country where everything is structured to the T, the trains and buses are always on time, the government services are excellent and proficient, the working environment is great and always open with big prospects, the medical and dental system is brilliant (well in should be as on my R25 000 salary I pay R7 000 tax), crime is really petty and unemployment is at 5% and not because of lack of work but pure laziness. They just sit at home and the government pays them R10 000 a month.

I have the pleasure of staying next to the black forest and it’s beautiful, the air is fresh and in the summer it’s 30 degrees and in the winter it’s 0 degrees, so a bitter sweet symphony depending on whether you prefer hot or cold.

Moving to Germany is not like moving to UK or Australia, the visa requirements are strict and you either have to have a work contract of more than R40 000 a month or be married to a German women - I am the latter.

SA still remains my home and always will but because of the political structure being so unstable I just don’t feel safe in starting a family there. My holidays will always be spent in Cape Town or PE but as for my permanent residence I will remain with the bad mannered Germans for pure higher lifestyle and first world reasons.

- Are you a South African living abroad interested in sharing your views? What is it like for a South African living in a foreign country or how do you view South Africa from a distance? Send us your columns to and you might get published in our new Beyond Borders section.

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Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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