Tips and advice to thrive in Germany


When living in a foreign country, you have to adapt to a new environment, various cultures and different social codes.

How did you manage to adjust to Germany?

How long does it take to feel at home? Would you say it is an easy process?

According to you, what is key for a successful integration process in Germany?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience!


Apart from some fringe groups, Germans in general are pretty tolerant and open-minded. They are, however, reserved and can feel difficult to get close to - though many do not mind (even value) your first steps towards them, so do persist in getting acquainted to them!
One thing Germans tend to off-put others with is their direct, open and honest approach to criticism. My advice: Do not take it personally if a German scolds your work results - he/she is talking about your work and only your work, and this has nothing to do with his/her opinion about you as a person!
Other than that, most German cities are quite cosmopolitan and offer a good life for people of many hues, although the countryside might be a bit stifling in this respect.
As with all foreign environments, your comfort level will in the end be determined by your actions and mindset:
- Have an open mind
- Expect the unexpected
- Do accept, not judge
(If the locals are doing it like that, it must be the right way to do it here.)

Do as the locals do. Hire a bike and explore. Keep up with your hobbies - there are clubs for everything in Germany.

Most of all, get proficient in German.  It will make it a lot easier for you.  Maybe take German classes, join local "Vereine", such as athletic clubs etc.   Biking is a great way to meet locals. Volunteering helps also.

I had no problems thriving here in Germany when I came here in mid 70`s. In my first job, they were all interested to get to know me as I was British. It was a small village on the Rhein. I was always getting invitations and if I needed any help, I got it from the colleagues. The next job was also okay, because it was for British Consulate and there were many British colleagues, as well as German, and all very friendly. I went for the first 3 years to German language classes and tried always to use the language as much as possible. Intigration was no problem for me. Many people speak English anyway here, so if one doesn`t know German, one can be understood.  I think it is not hard to get along and thrive here if one is friendly and polite and better to speak German.


The key to adopt to the life in Germany and in general to any other country is simple. You need to accept the fact that you are no longer in your country. Try by all means to hang around with the locals and not people of your own country. Speak the language of where you are, TV, radio and newspaper /books. Make drastic changes into your life. No one has forced you to leave your country, so be proud of your choices. I am out of my country 19 years, have lived abroad, learned different languages, eat different foods, different climate/environment, etc. And during all this, I had to tell myself that I was no longer in my country. I can tell you now, that I would have to learn to adopt to the life in the country I was born. I am happy with all these challenges, I grew up and gained  lot of experience, professionally and socially. Never undermine yourself, you can do it. Good luck,


I just learnt to be myself. Like anywhere else, not everyone is all embracing.  I adjusted to the food although first it was hard for me. I come from Uganda where almost all food is organic and fresh! Weather, people,culture, were not like back home but i accepted the fact that i had to adjust.Attending German classes, helped me make friends with people from other countries. In my neighborhood, i received rude stares (perhaps because am brown in color) but i never let it get on my nerves. In shops, i was always followed as if i was about to steal something! I found older Germans more friendly. I found a lot of advise on this forum and others. Its like i had an online family where my questions were answered from experience. To successfully integrate, be your self and start over in a new environment. Just read a lot about Germans and Germany and do as the Germans do! Its not easy but with time, you will get used to it.

Hi Priscilla,

Big thanks to ask me to share my personal comments. Ofcourse, I will. Please allow me a few more days.

TI Chowdhury

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I never managed to adapt to Germany and soon I ll leave this country. I tried really hard to adjust (mastered the language, tried to be social etc) but the fact that I was living in a very small town where there weren't any people in my age and where nothing was happening was the main reason I didn't manage to integrate.  My advice is to chose a place where you think you can LIVE, not a place where you just found a job. If you are living in a place where you feel comfortable the rest will come. Job, friends, activities etc. Not the other way around. Good luck to all of you. I hope no one will have my bitter experiences because honestly no one deserves it.

Hi George,
you're onto a point there with choice of where one should live as expat

a) Certainly the easiest to adapt* would be to choose a large city - since people in cities (globally) are generally more liberal to foreign influences/opinions/behaviours

b) Living in smaller towns as fresh expat can be like thrown into deep water. Looking back, we've spent the first decade in Germany in cities before we choose a very small town. But only after we understood the language, had several German friends and were able to "read/foresee" behaviour.

There are pros/cons with living in cities as well - we didn't use to converse, properly, in German the first 5 years because people were glad to use English and it was "too" easy to meet up with fellow countrymen and neglect learning the local customs. So adaption* is probably as easy in London/Berlin/San Paulo as everywhere else with a mixing pot with very small spices of local culture.

I think it also depends on the long term outlook - I found that people that left the backdoor open (mentallly), usually spend their energy different than those set on making it work, and hence the initial fear of making a fool of oneself is quickly overshadowed by the fruit of learning a totally different way of thinking, un-judgingly.

Hi all,

I am native German and for me it is interesting to see how foreigners try to adapt to our country.

I agree with some of the posts that it may be easier to integrate in one of the multi cultural cities in Germany like Berlin or Hamburg. The locals has more experience to deal with foreigners and integration. Further the east of Germany has got due to history very poor experience with other cultures. So I may be easier to integrate in the North, South or West of Germany. However you will not always have the free choice, right?

Germans often seems to be reserved when meeting foreign people. Language skills are one of them most important factors to integrate. Further you should consider to join a German club (Verein). Germans love their clubs and even if you do not speak German they will welcome you if you share the same hobby. I second place to meet the locals are courses e.g. for dancing at the Volkshochschule (aduld education).

I hope this hints will help you a bit. Good luck in Germany!

The jury is still out.  I have only been here a short time.  I am "feeling the chill" of being another oust lander in their land. That's o.k. with me, because where I came from there were too many newbies showing up and creating their own little groups of where  ever the came from (language, exclusive social circles, even to the extent that as a native English speaker, one could not get a job, do business, and so on right inside the U.S.), insisting that citizens of the U.S. learn their language, not the other way around. For me here in the land of the people who are from here, I know my place. Besides, it's a little hard to try & blend in when your physical appearance tells you are most likely from somewhere else. Actually, being made to know I am a stranger in someone else's land is not new to me. It's exactly how I was treated in the U.S. & even in Tanzania once they heard my accent when I spoke the language of the people there. I have not adjusted to living here in Deutschland yet, but I'm still waiting on it.

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