Making German friends in Germany….is it really that hard?

I feel like one topic that always arises in a conversation with my non-German friends living in Germany, is about the difficulties of making German friends. I may not be the most outgoing person you’ll meet, but I’m also not shy. Being someone who’s lived in almost a different city or country for the past five years, I feel like I’ve always made friends effortlessly wherever I went.

Then again, perhaps it helps that the countries I’ve lived in are Canada, the US, and Australia – countries known for very open, friendly and outgoing people. I’ve made friends at uni, work, parties, and even just walking down the street.

Now with Germany, as much as I do like it here, it’s hard to ignore the stereotypes of Germans being cold and unwelcoming. Some of my friends are some of the most outgoing people I know, and yet they still struggle in making German friends. Looking back on all the friends I’ve made since I came here in August, I realized that I do have quite a bit of German friends. True, had I been living in another country, my friends count may be triple of what it is here, but at the same time, I guess I must be doing something right!

So, after brainstorming and thinking back on all the different ways I’ve met all these Germans, here’s a list of things you can possibly do to meet some more Germans! (They’ve worked for me at least!)

Live in a student residence
I subletted a room in a student apartment for the first two months that I came here, from someone who was away in another city for an internship. With so many students living together, it’s not too hard meeting some Germans!

Live in a WG
This is pretty much a shared apartment, and having a few roommates who are German can be a good way of becoming friends with them. While I only live with one other roommate, we’ve become pretty good friends, and through him, I’ve also met all of his friends. I’ve also noticed that when I was apartment searching on wg-gesucht.de, by telling these potential roommates that I’m moving to Germany from Canada, some have ย offered to show me around the city, or meet up for coffee, even though we didn’t become roommates.

Mutual Friends
I was pretty lucky that I had a Canadian friend living in Mannheim when I first moved here. Through her, I was also able to become friends with some of her friends. Even if you don’t know anyone living in Germany, it doesn’t hurt to also ask your friends from home. Maybe one of them did an exchange to Germany, or know some Germans that you could potentially meet through them and become friends with.

Dating a German
Ok, maybe I’m jumping ahead a bit, but dating a German is a good way of meeting other Germans!

Going to parties, clubs and bars
While Germans tend to stay within their group of friends when they go out, it is entirely possible to meet them on a night out. Sometimes you may have to be the one to approach them first, but it never hurts to talk to one and see what happens!

Travel to other countries
Yes it does sound ironic, but it works! Germans love to travel, and the ones who go abroad tend to be the most outgoing. Some of my German friends have joked about traveling to Australia to make more German friends, and in a way it’s true! I did become pretty good friends with some German backpackers during my time in Australia, and I’m still good friends with them!

Using the ToyTownGermany forums
True, the site is catered toward English speaking expats living in Germany, so it’s unlikely you’d make any German friends on there. On the other hand, it’s great for making friends in general. I’ve used it and met some girls that I’ve become pretty good friends with. Because it’s a website for expats, most of these people are also probably going through the same feelings of adjusting to living in another country, and also figuring how ways to become friends with the locals. In that case, it’s great to be able to team up, and go out to make some new German friends together!

Have you found it hard making friends in Germany? What thoughts and advice do you have?

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20 Comments

  1. February 5, 2013 / 11:52 am

    I haven’t found it particularly hard, but I do realize sometimes it is more just one-on-one with Germans, or the Germans who are really comfortable hanging out with a bunch of English speakers (so the one’s who have usually been abroad). Sometimes, it’s just too difficult to have conversations occurring in two different languages. Great tips!

    • Michelle
      Author
      February 16, 2013 / 2:14 pm

      Yea it’s true about the English thing….most conversations tend to be a mix of both languages!

  2. February 7, 2013 / 4:32 pm

    A friend of mine actually created an ‘English-speaking’ group on Facebook for our city here in Germany. I’ve been to some of there get together and it was quite fun meeting new people (Germans and non-Germans as well). Some of them wants to practice their English (and we try our best in speaking Deutsch but we always just end up speaking English again).

    • Michelle
      Author
      February 16, 2013 / 2:18 pm

      That’s a really good idea and it must be pretty fun! ๐Ÿ™‚ Like tandem partners ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Chris
    February 17, 2013 / 8:35 pm

    Nice to sorta read my name here ๐Ÿ˜› Although we did only one night out (Lisa introduced us ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) you will be remembered.

    But yes you’re right, travelling Germans are the most outgoing. Also, bear in mind, that we Germans have the same problems, it’s not we have a “secret German code” to make friends quickly ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Michelle
      Author
      February 18, 2013 / 7:09 pm

      Haha I still find it so strange how you randomly found my blog! And that’s because you moved so far away! You probably do a lot more traveling than I do these days…maybe you should write a post on here ๐Ÿ˜›

      See you soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Siggi
    March 27, 2013 / 9:36 am

    When I studied in the US for a year, we were told that Germans and Americans both have two walls: you climb the first one to become an acquaintance, the second one to become a friend. Germans have rather high outer walls, but once you made it, you graduate quickly to friend status, and surprisingly often it’s friend for life. Americans have low outer walls, making many acquaintances, but have a high second wall for true friendships. Sounded plausible to me, and still does; I guess Aussies and Canadians are more like Americans in this respect.
    Now, for practical tips: In smaller towns the local Stadtfest is always a good place to meet friends. We tend to be most open during those, and there are more ways to meet, like in the line for beer, wine or the toilets – it’s way easier than in a club or a pub. A local English conversation group is indeed a good idea. Then there is the Volkshochschule. Every city has one. Take a class in Ikebana, Fotography, Spanish, cooking, whatever. People will often go out for a beer after class, and you make new friends. Or join a Verein – it’s constitutionally mandated that Germans have to belong to at least three Vereins. Sportverein, Musikverein, a choir, a chess club – those are good places to meet new people. And going to events like lectures, vernissages, etc are also worth it. Germans don’t chat as easily on their own, but they will respond to spontaneous light remarks, like in a queue: “Es kann sich nur noch um Stunden handeln” (it will not last more than a few hours). At a Stadtfest, you might ask people for advice which beer/wine is best and which local food item is woth trying. You will be flooded with advice. (Basic line: Entschuldigung, ich bin neu hier. Was sollte man hier essen/trinken/ansehen…)

  5. lost
    April 5, 2013 / 11:10 pm

    All very nice. As a southern European being here is not nice. In a pub people ask: what is this foreigner doing here? I have been with a German girlfriend a long time (almost married) and know what they think about foreigners: inferior beings. My ex used to call monkeys tunned guys and said turks should not be allowed to drive cars..You can make friends if you behave like them: eccentricities are frowned upon. Germans tend to take but not give e.g: They speak English with you as a native, since it is a free English course. However, they will probably won’t help you improve your German.
    I do not expect much if any of them, doing otherwise is wasting energy. And I know well enough to know what political correctness is and what they truly think about you. Cheers

    • Shameme Adams
      May 13, 2013 / 4:05 am

      Oh that’s really sad :(. I never knew that some German people were like this. I am half Asian and ADORE making new friends. I have always fancied a German one I must say (plan on visiting too)! and will make friends with anyone, from anywhere, because everyone’s equal to me!!. IF you and your German girlfriend wanna be friends just add me on Facebook!, it’s Shameme Adams and my profile picy is a little kokeshi doll!.

  6. Saphire
    June 12, 2013 / 3:32 am

    Great tips on making friends when you are younger but once you have a family, living in Germany as a foreigner takes on a whole different dimension. For starters, you are no longer a traveling young American, you become an Auslรคnder which in of itself has multiple connotations, most not positive. Second, and more importantly, dare not achieve more or have more than your neighbors. Third, you will constantly be told how things should be done and that you are in Germany and should therefore speak German (even when it is in your own home). The myriad of inhospitable acts are endless and finding a true friend is harder than finding a winning Lotto ticket. Having lived here for almost 15 years I think my grasp on the nuances of the land are well grounded. Back home and in other countries I have friends galore, here a handful would be an exaggeration.

    • Mel
      October 1, 2013 / 10:45 pm

      This is probably the most truthful response I’ve read. I lived in Germany as a soldier from 2003-2005. I was single, just visiting, and I loved it. The women were great, open, and the people were friendly, etc..I lived in the Kauserslauten area, where Germans and Americans meet a lot. Unfortunately, I had to go back to the states and moved to new york… Fast forward four years…2009 to the present. I decided to move back to Germany. I got married to a German woman and have two children. I’m now seen as an “auslander” which basically means that I’m an immigrant who thinks and behaves differently than the German way (German social structure is very important, it means order and safety for Germans). I speak the language o.k. but I make mistakes. This is frowned upon by Germans. “Intelligence” is basically the German God. If you are an auslander and you don’t speak the language fluently or don’t have a college degree, people will NOT respect you, you will be labeled as unintelligent until you are fluent. I’m in my final year of university study, so at least I won’t have to worry about one aspect. Once you’re older (28 and up) Germans expect you to compete with them, even with insignificant things, such as who’s child has the most gifts for Christmas (had a neighbor bragging to me about how much money he spent on his daughter). Higher achievement is very important to the German ego,(which is crazy because they only spend about 500 euro a year to go to university in Germany, while I “many Americans” have to pay around 15,000 a year for a good college degree). So most Germans are educated (obviously) so they feel superior to others because of this. Germans are quick to point out titles (Ph.d, Dr. officer) and expect recognition. If you disparage or insult a person with a title, you can be fined. This causes some higher educated people to feel powerful, and some may provoke you because you can’t trash talk them back without getting fined.

      Working with Germans can be quite difficult. They are very analytical, nit-pick, and complain about things that really aren’t a problem. If you correct them, they are easily offended because they consider it a challenge to the German system/structure (what they’ve been taught, even if it is wrong). Germans see a challenge to authority as chaotic and dangerous, while Americans see a challenge to authority as an expression of freedom against a possible threat to those freedoms. In the work place, women are much more authoritative and disrespectful toward men than in the U.S. This will rub a lot of Midwesterners the wrong way (New Yorkers or Californians will perhaps fair better). Men are seen as inferior to women in many ways (emotionally, socially, while multi-tasking, or in leadership positions) and it manifests itself in the workplace. There are a lot of stereotypes about Americans that Germans have that you should be aware of. The basics are: 1. lack of intelligence 2. Overly patriotic 3. Fat 4. Eat Mcdonalds all the time 5. uncultured 6. uneducated 7. Americans Think America is the best 8. red-neck 9. aggressive 10. horn dogs

      Germans have a very rigid way of seeing and defining things. For example: instead of calling the music genres “rhythm and blues” and “hip-hop”, by their given name, rhythm and blues, and hip-hop… they throw two different genre’s together and label it “black music.” This makes no sense at all because black, white, and may other people have created rhythm and blues and hip-hop, and continue to do so. Its a strange way to categorize music by the color of the people/persons who created it?? Should country music be called “white music?” I just find labeling music genres by “races” quite simplistic.

      German men are somewhat more feminine compared to American men. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, just different. Eye liner/ pencils, tight jeans, man purses, crossing of the legs, very reserved, and very thin. This is only a generalization, I know there are exceptions. German men prefer to hang out with their guy friends more than meeting girls, while most American guys prefer hooking up with/ dating girls over hanging out with a bunch of guys. Because of this, there is a weird type of animosity that German girls and German guys have toward one another. It keeps them single well into their late 20’s to early 30’s. You’ll find a lot of single beautiful German women who simply are not interested in men, they want to live alone (they are not lesbians either).

      Friendship in Germany is quite difficult, but not impossible. It’s much easier to make foreign friends while living in Germany. Enroll in a language school and you’ll meet people from all over the world just like you, recently relocating to Germany, learning the language, and feeling the social isolation that Germany is know for. I’ve been here for a total of 6 years, and most of my friends are “auslanders” people who have moved to Germany from other countries. Germans love to drink and watch futbol, your best bet to make a german friend is to go to a local bar, drink a few beers, watch the game, cheer, and if your german is good enough, spark up a conversation about a goal, game, or futbol player. Meeting Germans at sports clubs and things of this nature might work for the rare individual, but I’ve had no luck with it (German men will keep you at a distance unless they are very relaxed). It’s far easier as an American to speak to German women opposed to men. Forget what you’ve heard, Many German women recognize your American accent or behavior immediately, and for some reason they react in a much more positive way toward foreigners, than toward a German man who would spark up a conversation in the same way. They are willing to help you, and most speak a little english. Be very friendly, smile, be confident, and ask for their number. If they are interested they will give it to you, if they are not, they won’t b.s. you (like American girls) and make excuses…they’ll tell you. I’ve had absolutely no problem dating and meeting german women, (married now). The bonus to this is that you’ll find several very attractive women who have great personalities, while this is more difficult to find in America. German woman don’t like to be smothered at all, so hold yourself back if you get a really nice catch.

      Overall, Germany is not America, and it’s not a very friendly place, but it’s not as bad as France or Russia (If you think Germany has problems with Americans and isolation you should try France or Russia). I loved it as a young single guy because of the ladies, drinking, traveling, adventure, and partying, but once you’re beyond the teens to early twenties, settle down, and you live in Germany, there’s a big shift away from how you are seen when young, opposed to how people are going to react to you when you are older. The only way to overcome some of the aforementioned obstacles is to become fluent in German, don’t be afraid to talk to the women, and get a good job. Other than that, Germans will look down on you and you will suffer.

      • munjid
        November 10, 2013 / 8:12 pm

        I enjoyed reading your comment. It was very useful. enlightening!

      • Reg
        January 27, 2014 / 3:58 pm

        My friend, I almost wept reading your e-mail. It crackled with the truth as I’ve experienced it living in Germany. Thank you for being bold enough to share your thoughts about the German experience. I must admit that at 42-years-old, I still struggle with German although I’ve lived here for seven years. My track record with languages hasn’t been the best. I cannot fathom why the German men aren’t friendly like the women. Anyway, I’m just glad that someone had the courage to articulate some of the frustrations I’ve been feeling lately. I’ve been thinking about relocating back to the States, but that place has kind of gone bananas. Thank you for your words of wisdom and reflection! Cheers!

  7. ASHWIN
    August 3, 2013 / 8:21 am

    I love to communicate with Germans. Please contact me Ashwin
    My country of origin is South Africa
    I have knowledge of German SETTLERS IN SOUTH Africa .

  8. mark
    October 25, 2014 / 5:29 pm

    I’m visiting Germany for the first time and wondering if i can hook up with any female companion who is going to take me around for few days of my stay

  9. gautam
    August 10, 2015 / 6:59 pm

    Hello

    i am Gautam From India

    I want some Germany friends
    Because I plan visit there on this year !maybe is Octomber and I hope know more about Germany culture !^ ^

    please contact my Number : +91 8401865626
    My skype : hfi.india

  10. Marcelo
    February 24, 2016 / 12:26 am

    The truth about Germans is that they are racists. I’ve been here in Germany for six months and I have tried a lot to make friends but it’s useless.. I went to university, clubs and discos.. even in these places, the girls are close and not willing to talk to someone from other countries. If someone has black hair or black skin, they have to live in a total alienation and despair for them. Germans are not willing to talk to foreigners even if they know some German.. they are not like American, French and British girls who are so open and willing to talk.

  11. luisa
    September 5, 2016 / 5:13 pm

    Hey guys…am an african woman relocating to Germany soon…am searching for friends

  12. shadreck
    November 24, 2017 / 6:41 pm

    I M finding it difficult to make friends here in Germany.

  13. Hussam
    May 5, 2018 / 3:22 pm

    Hi guys,

    I am on a trip to Germany, I am looking for a friend in August in Bonn/ Germany/

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