5 things not to tell your German boss during your internship abroad

Application, Before your departure, Internship

First of all, if you are still looking for an internship in Germany, either to improve your German language and have a professional experience abroad, check out our internship offers in Germany:

Or, You do your already get your internship in Germany?

Congratulations! Now there are just some few cultural obstacles you must be aware of. But don’t worry! We got your back and tell you the five things you shouldn’t say to your boss during your german internship.

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  1. “I was not late, you are too early”

Punctuality is a huge thing in Germany, especially in the working environment. If your boss tells you to be there at 5, you better be there at 4:59 – at least. Actually, there is a German saying which can be translate to “five minutes before the set time is the punctuality of the German” (fünf Minuten vor der Zeit ist des Deutschen Pünktlichkeit). And this is true for many Germans. Some of them are so punctual that they arrive on time, when they try to be late on purpose.
If you are working in a German company and usually show up late, you won’t be the favorite intern of your boss, that’s for sure. So always try to arrive on time or even a bit earlier.

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2.- “How are you?”

Yes, you read that correctly! Of course, you ask also in Germany about the mood of the people around you, but it’s a bit different. Whilst in many cultures this question works almost as part of the greeting and there is no honest answer expected, the Germans take it very seriously (as many things). When you ask someone how they are, better prepare to get an honest answer and not just a “fine and you?”. So, if you are not willing to spend three minutes of your life hearing about your coworker’s cat who had to go to the vet, better don’t ask at all.
In general Germans don’t like small talk. It seems inefficient to talk about unimportant subjects. The only conversation filler they do have, in case of uncomfortable silence, is about the traffic (if you recently arrived from another place) or about the weather.

3.- “I don’t like German beer”
You did not just tell your German coworker you don’t like their national drink! If you tell them, you don’t like beer in general they can still forgive you. But if you refer specifically to the German beer and communicate your dislike, you’ll get in trouble with the whole office.

Firstly, they’ll tell you that there is not just one German beer, but a variety of up to 6000 different types of beers and every region has its own brewery. There are just few brands you can buy in the whole country, on parties and other events the people mostly will stick to their local beer.
Secondly, by disliking the German beer you may even dislike a whole part of their culture. We’re not just talking about the Bavarian Oktoberfest (of which, by the way, exist many similar festivals in all over Germany). If you don’t drink beer you’ll miss out on most of the festivals in the village.

Furthermore, you can’t take part of the ritual of Feierabendbier (a beer after work) together with your coworkers. This after-work-gatherings will probably take place in a Biergarten (beer garden), a kind of pub, where you sit outside under trees and enjoy a drink with your friends. But you don’t just sit anywhere! In a Biergarten you’ll take seat on a Bierbank (beer bench) at a Biertisch (beer table). You got an impression the German beer obsession now?

4. -“Where are your Lederhosen?”
If your image of Germany was being created by the videos you saw of Oktoberfest, we are sorry to disappoint you. The traditional Lederhosen (leather pants) and Dirndl (the dress for the women) are just common in the alpine regions of the German speaking countries (also in Austria for example). What you see at the famous beer festival is – at least for most people – just a big dress-up party.

No one wears this on a daily basis. Yes, they do wear this cloth for example at family events or village festivals in big parts of Bavaria, but at least if you are not working as a waitress in a traditional restaurant you don’t wear it at work or in your free time.
In conclusion: this question is even unappropriated if you do an internship in Munich, Bavaria, but if you are in any part outside of Bavaria this question can even get people offended – especially in the north of Germany they have a big problem with this stereotype being generalized for all German culture.

5.-“Your sausages are not that good”

 Excuse me? The Germans are very keen of their sausage culture. Studies say that every German eats 30 kg of sausage per year. And they have over 1500 different kind of sausages in Germany. So again, when you tell a German you don’t like their sausages, they’ll reply “Have you tried all of them?”.
Also, there is – like with the beer – a whole culture around this food, which you can even see in the German language. There are at least six German sayings, which have to do with it! You can be a beleidigite Leberwurst (an offended liver sausage), if you didn’t get your Extrawurst (extra sausage = special treatment) and therefore see yourself as an armes Würstchen (poor little sausage). During your internship you may also hear your boss say “Es geht um die Wurst” (it’s all about the sausage), while talking about an important project, which determines the future of the company. Or hear him yell “Das ist mir wurst (wurscht)!” (it doesn’t import me a sausage) to express his indifference towards a topic. Oh yes, Germans love sausages!

And finally, this article has to come to an end. But that’s the way it is – or like the Germans tend to say: Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei (Everything has an end, just the sausage has two)

Now that you know what not to say to your German boss, we think you are prepared for an internship in Germany. You won’t regret it!

If in the future you want to look for an internship abroad, we can help you.  Check out our internship vacancies around the world.

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