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The 13 types of Americans you meet in Germany

Here's our list of the 13 different kinds of people from the US you are likely to find in Germany. Which one are you?

The 13 types of Americans you meet in Germany
There are so many kinds of Americans in Germany - which one are you? Photo: DPA
Part of being an American is having a good laugh at yourself every now and again. In that spirit, we have collected a few of the main “types” of American that you will find drinking beer in Munich or laying on the banks of the Rhine.
 
With so many US nationals in Germany (in the past ten years, 324,000 have made the move here), it's likely you know one of these types or you'll meet one of them soon. Heck, maybe you're one of these types yourself!
 
 
Here are 13 types of Americans to be found around and about in Deutschland.
 
1. The exchange student
 
“Being in Germany, I just feel like so…cultured.” Man reading outside of the Bundestag in Berlin. Photo: DPA
 
We have all come across this American – they came to Germany for a semester to “improve their German”, but spend most of their time hanging out with the other international students. 
 
The spend all of their time outside of class eating bread and explaining to their friends and family why they MUST come to visit.
 
Whether 21 years of age or not, they are excited by the lower drinking age and availability of cheap wine and beer everywhere. Beer gardens are also their life. They may or may not have chosen their study abroad term in order to ensure – at least in years other than 2020 – they can go to Oktoberfest in Munich.
 
They can usually be found drinking in one of Germany’s many universities cities, like Münster, Heidelberg and Berlin.
 
2. The aspiring creative
 
“I just feel at one with myself when I am connecting with my art.” Man street painting in Bremen. Photo: DPA
 
This American moved to Germany to find their “inner muse”. 
 
Working as a dance artist, graphic designer, painter or performer, Germany is the perfect place for this American to experience a new culture and figure out what’s been “holding them back” in the States.
 
The artist-type American is not too hard to find. Usually found in groups, these Americans often dress in all black and love to ramble on about their upcoming work – even if they haven’t done any yet.
 
3. The Brooklynite
 
“I totally knew about Berlin before it was cool.” Man at the Hipster Cup in Berlin. Photo: DPA
 
The Brooklyn hipster can be found across Germany, and probably doesn’t actually come from Brooklyn. Still, this American has embraced the hipster lifestyle and isn’t afraid to tell you about it – and why Germany is the perfect place for it.
 
While there are many different shades to be found of the Brooklyn hipster, he or she probably is wearing something that seems more fitting to a 90s music video, only buys the newest music on vinyl and is rolling their own cigarette in a train right now. 
 
The Brooklynite is most likely to be found in Germany’s capital of Berlin (as they like to mingle amongst themselves) but will take a weekend trip to Budapest to “feel like I am east again” every so often.
 
4. The gentrifier 
 
“Look! Döner! And paintings! So cheap!” While not a gentrifier, this man excudes the excitement of one. Photo: DPA
 
In many ways related to, or even friends with, the Brooklyn hipster, the gentrifier is the American guy or gal that may be the reason your rent is so high. 
 
They move into hip-places like Berlin’s Kreuzberg and Munich’s Schwabing, get a month-to-month apartment from AirBnB paying €900 per month for 15 square metres, and then exclaim excitedly about “how cheap it is to live here!”
 
This American probably won’t stay in Germany for too long, but will tell all of their friends back home that they have to get over here to start “saving some money”. 
 
5. The startup guru
 
“My startup found a way to make Hamburg look just like San Fransisco!” Photo: DPA
 
The startup-er is a whiz when it comes to all things tech, which is why they moved to join Germany’s sizzling startup scene. 
 
 
Based in one of Germany’s many industry hubs, like Hamburg, Berlin and Munich, this American may not speak any German, but loves the benefits of the “Made in Germany” brand.
 
 
Whether the founder of a company, developer or marketing geek, this person probably came to Germany by way of Silicon Valley, but will stay because of the high living standard and work-life balance. 
 
6. The Bavarian
 
“Bavaria is the real Germany.” Lederhosen. Photo: DPA
 
This American believes that the only place to be in Germany is in its largest state, good ol' Bayern, and would never be caught dead in another part of the country.
 
The “Bavarian” came to Germany wanting it to be all the things they had expected (e.g. the land of beer and bread) and found their home in the halls of Munich and the surrounding countryside.
 
Because Bavaria is known as Germany’s home for beer, bratwurst and Brezel (pretzels), this German state ticks all the boxes for idyllic German respite, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
 
No need to name the Americans who don’t love Bavaria, though – they are just the people who live anywhere else.
 
7. The Cali-hippie
 
“These ribbons and flowers are so beautiful. And organic!” Photo: DPA
 
Only shopping at Biomarkt (organic food stores) or non-plastic shops, the California hippie is easily spotted amongst Germany’s hustle and bustle.
 
This person is glad that Germany has finally jumped on the vegan-food train, and loves that recycling and Pfand is a way of life. He or she is still upset, though, that they can’t get their Gardein or Beyond Meat burgers here.
 
Most often seen sporting Birkenstocks and a heavy jacket, this American probably still likes California best – but Germany is a great second home.
 
8. The military brat
 
“Where am I from? Hard to explain,” says every military brat. With all of its American bases, there are a ton of military families around Germany. Photo: DPA
 
Given the larger number of American military bases around the country, there is a significant number of Americans who come to Germany by way of the military.
 
For those officers, most of their time is spent working on base and within their units; not so for their children and spouses, who often mix with the local German culture.
 
This American may have been born and raised in Germany, or may have moved to one of the many bases around the country, but either way they feel a tie to Germany without being German themselves. Most of the time they are to be found in the south of the country, in areas like Stuttgart and Rammstein. 
 
9. The “gone-native”
 
 

Totally in style for #berlin thanks to @bywpwolfgangproksch sunglasses. #berlinhipster

A post shared by Kristin Gebert (@kristingebert) on

 
This person attempts to pass themselves off as a native – their German is flawless (or, at least good enough) and they pride themselves on not being asked where they come from. When the topic does come up, they might just lie.
 
This person eats their Muesli with yogurt, has Abendbrot at the end of the day and knows what time Tatort comes on Sunday evenings. The gone-native won’t often be found hanging around most of the other expats of Germany; they pride themselves on their extensive collection of local friends.
 
Despite living their life auf Deutsch, this American’s social media posts remain in English so that everyone back home knows that their heart belongs to Germany.
 
10. The all-American
 
The stars and stripes will forever be the best to the all-American boy or girl. Photo: DPA
 
In contrast to the “gone-native”, this guy or gal may live in Germany, but they are 100% American, baby. 
 
They still dress in t-shirts and basketball shorts, complain about the cereal offerings and import their favourite American snacks online. They are really upset that there are no American-style chocolate chip cookies and still celebrate Thanksgiving with their exclusively American and/or English-speaking friends when turkey day rolls around. 
 
Maybe they moved here for a job, or maybe they found love, but regardless, their heart still belongs in the ol’ US of A. 
 
11. The vagabond
 
 
This American has lived in so many countries they have lost count, and Germany is just another check on their list. With this type, questions like, “What brought you to Germany?” lead to long-winded answers filled with lively descriptions of Odysseus-inspired journeys far and wide. And don’t ask them how long they are planning to stay – they have no idea.
 
The vagabond American can probably speak a tiny bit of six of seven different languages, but German really isn't one of them. They hang around with other well-worn travelers and pride themselves on being a “citizen of the world”.
 
As to how they have been able to afford a year backpacking across Europe – no one, themselves included, can be sure. 
 
 
12. The political expat
 
The political expat moved to Germany because they were tired of American politics. Sometimes, though, politics follow you abroad. Photo: DPA
 
This American moved away from the US recently, and is very critical of American politics. Germany, on the other hand, is their safe haven. 
 
They applaud Germany for having a “socialist healthcare system” and having liberal politics open to all people. They likely go on long Facebook rants with their friends back home about the terrible political system in the US and nasty polarizing politicians. They don't know German politics too well, but it just has to be better – right?
 
When countered by Germans who tell them that 'Schland also has its share of right-wingers and company moguls, they refuse to buy it. 
 
13. The “hey, wait, I'm actually Canadian…”
 
 

Happy #CanadaDay from Berlin! Celebrating at the @BRLObeer brewery ??

A post shared by Adam ? (@travelsofadam) on

 
Near and dear to one of our journalists’ heart here at The Local, this American isn’t actually American at all – they're Canadian! 
 
Depending on where they are from, this may be tricky to know at first introduction, but don’t be fooled – a sudden “aboot” or reference to maple syrup will quickly set these fellow North Americans apart.
 
The good news is, if you do mess up and peg one of Germany’s Canadian residents as an American, there is no need to worry – they will be too nice to call you out on your mistake.
 

Member comments

  1. I don’t fall into any of these categories… I come to Germany to take part in their rich culture and spend holidays with family. I genuinely enjoy the people, it beautiful countryside, and vibrant cities. These look like TV stereotypes of an Ugly American… I guess its prospective (a bleak one, at that). I’m sure that’s why you felt the need to include your disclaimer of being from Canada (which in fact is part of North America).

  2. My husband and I (Americans) went to Germany every May for five years in a row, before Covid, to do “Familienforschung,” [family research], because many things are not online. (Primarily church books still in local church offices, and other material in civil archives.) Plus, we wanted to visit our ancestral villages.

    We can speak enough German to make ourselves understood. Our experience has been that people have respected our reason for being there, and have been extremely patient with us while trying to speak the language (even if their English is probably better than our Deutsch!).
    Sheryl

  3. I fall into several categories, but I’d think it’d be unfair to say political refugees are all pro-socialism or anti-Trump as many of us are not pleased with the new administration and their incessant need to punish the doers and reward the unproductive, plus the whole open borders thing. Well, unless of course you’re from Europe. Then you’re not welcome. What a disaster. It seems we are headed in all the wrong directions on nearly every issue.

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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