To quote one of my favourite authors, Bill Bryson, “I am a stranger here myself”! And that’s how I will probably always feel, no matter how long I will stay in Germany.

Thinking about my parents who came from Styria to a small Carinthian town with a population of roughly 8000, living there for more than 30 years they were considered “newcomers” all their lives. I guess it’s easier living in a large cosmopolitan town, where you don’t stick out like a sore thumb. Luckily, due to the kind of company my father was working for, with his special education, he was not the only crazy Styrian being swept into the deep mountain village – sorry, town – to work and live there.

I at least have managed to occupy a town with roughly 67,000 inhabitants. Even though the city centre doesn’t seem much bigger than the ones insmaller Austrian towns with approximately a third of people living there.

What makes me feel like a stranger? Germans and Austrians can’t be that different, can they? Well …obviously, they can. The language is only a minor barrier … apart from a more pronounced accent / dialect we use different words for the same things than the Germans. A chair is a chair is a chair. No matter whether it’s a comfy one, an office chair or a kitchen chair. Not in Germany … resulting in laughter or questioning looks when I use my Austrian expressions.

And the food! Oh boy! Eating out sometimes is like running the gauntlet. Ordering – bravely – a Schnitzel (I know, I know I will be disappointed) I need to think beforehand to give a special order. As in: skip the veggies with the hollandaise sauce and the weird orange salt on fries. Pizza: with a sigh, because I just know it will be a weak example of the real thing being served in Italy, forget the dollop of dried oregano in the middle. However, surprisingly, the best and most Italian style pizza I had was frominternational delivery service “Domino’s Pizza”. I wonder what that tells us about German cooking?And THEY say the British food sucks … yeah, sure!

Feeling like a stranger is not just a matter of another country and culture. It’s also the difference in German and Austrian character. Due to our Austrian history, being a melting pot and influenced bySouthern and Eastern countries – after all, once upon a time “the sun never went down” in the Austrian monarchy – the Austrian in general is warm and not at all scared to hug his friends and family. I couldn’t imagine NOT hugging my best friends – male or female – and this is something I miss incredibly. In Germany? It took ages until one of my German friends opened up in these regards. How come it’s especially from “strangers here themselves” I receive the most warm-heartedness? Because that’s just the way they are? Of course, not every German is cold and unable to show feelings. But those seem to be exceptions. One of my friends actually confirmed this German characteristic … when I dared to thank him with a hug for installing two lamps … that it took them ages, years, if ever, to come to the point of hugging.

Yes, I am a stranger here! I will always remain a stranger, I will always sound like an Austrian, keep my Austrian passport and identity … and I will always shudder when I have to use some German words that barely come across my lips. (Like “Brötchen” instead of “Semmel” – roll -, “Quark” instead of “Topfen” – cream cheese -, “Blumenkohl” instead of “Karfiol” – cauliflower -, and so manymore …) One adapts, of course, but in the end one will always be different! And I’m proud to be!


20 thoughts on ““I AM A STRANGER HERE MYSELF”

      1. He is an American writer who lived many years in England. “I’m a stranger here myself” describes his experiences back in the States … very funny and laughing out loud short column style stories. I can really recommend him.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re very welcome. Especially with the bad news hitting us left and right some good reading to entertain and escape everyday life is a treasure. I’m sure you will enjoy it.


  1. I think You’re right,
    I knew a German lady who had lived a very long time in Italy, who had married an Italian and was saddened when her German accent was evident in her perfect Italian. I didn’t understand why it bothered her so much. Maybe this was the reason: she didn’t want to feel a stranger

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      1. I totally agree … and the main thing is to be able to communicate. My Italian and French are very basic – sadly, due to too little practice – my Spanish is more like a Spanish-Italian mixture and my Russian is reduced to being able to read the words and introduce myself. But I discovered that it is very appreciated to at least try and talk a few words in the language of the country I’m visiting. Just like I appreciate foreigners speaking in my mother tongue. Even with English having become something like second nature to us …

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      2. The accent only indicates that we speak more than one languages. I think it should be a brownie point earned. Unfortunately it is not the case here. People with accent has to overcome more barriers, but we struggle and we survive…

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Your description of the way Germans treat their language reminds me in certain ways of English since it can create so many words for just one thing. Minute differences are somehow enlarged. I guess this is how those subtleties come from, but to a non-native speaker like me, it is a long learning curve.

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    1. Oh yes! Reading British and American books a lot I discovered so many differences in words used either in UK or The US. Like flat and apartment, pants and trousers, fag and cigarette, … I fear I might mix British and American English all the time 🙈😁

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      1. 😂Same here! British English was taught at school! Some of the first video tapes I bought were “Jeeves and Wooster” with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry and I hardly understood a word of their heavy British accent. Quite different to the school English listening exercises 🤣.

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      2. I love “Jeeves and Wooster” videos. I watched those twice actually, which spoiled my reading of Wodehouse books forever. They do have a quite distinct accents. LOL. Somehow Hugh Laurie managed to have an American accent when he shows up in American TV series.

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      3. Yes, brilliant, isn’t he? … Wow, I hadn’t expected anyone else knowing Wodehouse and Jeeves and Wooster. Hugh Laurie’s facial expressions are priceless … We are such nerds, but lovely ones 😉. I have most of his books and those at “Blandings castle” are a hoot too! There is also a new author, ben schott, who is officially allowed to write jeeves mysteries, accompanied by Bertie, of course. I think there are two out and I enjoyed them very much!

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      4. Haha, the nerd girl club members. I need to check out Ben Schott. I hope there’s another pair as good as Laurie and Fry to act on them. I doubt it. These two are too good. LOL. Somehow, in a very strange way, the relationship between Jeeves and Wooster reminds me of certain Asian literature in which the noble woman’s maid is very clever, who has to design all kinds of clever ways to help her mistress.

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      5. 😄Wooster does get in the most awful scrapes … so innocently naïve … and the inimitable Jeeves … need to watch the series again soon … just shows us “normal” people often have more common sense than those “above us”. … Nerd girl club! I’m in 😂


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