Making lifelong friendships in Germany

Making lifelong friendships in Germany

by Gail L. Winfree
Stripes Europe

It's unfortunate that some people live in Germany for years and never really get to know their German neighbors to form friendships during their stay. It's easy to meet and make German friends if you really want to! Here are a few ways to start building long-lasting and meaningful friendships with Germans, as well as other nationalities.

1. Move slowly in assuming new friendships by first meeting people on familiar grounds. If you work with Germans, get to know them and accept any invitations they might make.

2. If you have a particular interest or hobby, find a club that shares your interest and join it! Most German clubs welcome Americans and there a number of American clubs with German members.

3. Find a local Gasthaus or pub that you feel comfortable in and become a regular. It won't take long before people notice you and strike up conversations.

4. Take a German language course at the local Volkshochschule. This is also a good way to get to know people of all nationalities.

5. Get out of the house! Attend festivals, carnivals, and community events. Go to a local concert or soccer game. Maybe even consider taking up Volksmarching. Regardless of what you choose to do, it’s safe to say that you don't make friends sitting at home alone.

Once you've met some people, use a German phrase book and practice the language. You don't have to be perfect, just able to communicate. Evaluate yourself. How do you come across? Ask your new friends about themselves, their city and family life in Germany.

Talk about yourself when asked. Make it a two-way conversation and be sincere.

Continue to use your phrase book and remember it’s okay to make mistakes!

For Germans, invite your Americans friends to your home or Stammtisch. After all, you're the host. Show them you would really like to get to know them better. For Americans, invite your German friends to your home or to an American event.  Include your new friends in your established circle of friends. Eventually, the whole thing will become natural and more meaningful.

Once you've shared customs, holidays and experiences together, introduce each other to your own society. Instead of maintaining two separate societies, incorporate them into one and there you have it! A beautiful friendship. As you wrap up your stay in Germany, plan to get together again in the States which will help continue your friendship throughout life.


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