This is my list of ten things that really lay out the character and dynamics of a natural-born German. Remember....I'm not a German, and just an outsider looking in. And I might be a bit sarcastic at times....with cause and reason. German personality anchors? Yeah....and these don't drag much.
First, if you are a German who has made it through college and university....you've walked a mighty fine line, suffered some long hours of study, and didn't get much of a chance to booze it up or party your way through college. You had to get on the right trail by age ten....stay on that trail....make every single high school teacher happy, and pass tests. When you went off to college....it's not like going to some party school in Florida, or taking lax classes via some nickel-and-dime college....they pretty much demanded your grades stay at a certain level, and at the end....they are as smart as they claim. Don't ever misjudge the value of a German education.
Second, rules are rules. If you ever went looking for a society that works extra hard to obey rules, this is the crowd at the top. It doesn't matter if we are talking garbage rules, driving rules, parking rules, ink-pen rules at school, dog-walking rules, or drinking rules....you'd best expect dedication and obsession to carrying out the rules. Looking for German rule-breakers? Start walking...it'll be a long walk.
Third, when they talk about vacations being necessary...it's not a joke. Most of German society need a release valve. They need that week in the summer and week in the winter. They need that ten days off to just lounge around the house and put up wallpaper. They enjoy a long walk in Bavaria, and drinking a chilled beer along the side of a Alpine retreat. When you get to the shock of six weeks of vacation a year for the normal worker.....ask what they do. It's not all fantastic trips. Some just want some time to sit on a bench along the river and gaze at boats going up and down the Rhine. Just some time to chill.....because they take work awful damn serious.
Fourth, when you stop at some little restaurant in the middle of nowhere....ordering a fine plate, and a chilled beer, and it comes out to be the finest little meal you've had in years....don't take it as being something new or different. People run restaurants throughout Germany, and they have pretty high expectations. The locals just expect it.
Fifth, and don't let it bother you....but Germans are a bit like cats, curious to the ninth degree. If you bought a new car....what'd you pay? If you went on vacation....where? If you are dating....who is it? Some Americans might take this as being questions by some Gestapo agent....but it is their tendency. They want explanations. They'd like to know the whole story. Gossip is juicy....even if it's just some one-line sentence about someone they don't even know.
Sixth, they'd like to fix problems. Most German guys have a decent garage and tool chest. Most German women have 366 different kitchen devices. A tree has fallen in the backyard? Watch for it to be cut up and removed within twenty-four hours. Roof messed up? Watch for the roofer to be over within a week. Kid lost his fancy ink pen for school? Watch for mom to have another one by 7AM tomorrow morning. Germans have an obsession to fix what needs to be fixed.
Seventh, high expectations are expected. If you go out to buy a new TV....it's usually a high-class more expensive brand. Germans expect what they buy to work, and to last. Same for the washer, the dryer, the car, the refrigerator, and even living room furniture. They pay more, and expect more. Oh, they still hunt for the best deal....but quality is a higher priority.
Eighth, dogs and cats in Germany? They are part of the family. If the vet says Sparky needs a 2k-Euro operation....the owner will find the 2k Euro to perform the operation. They take their dogs into pubs and restaurants They travel with their dogs. Elvis the cat....gets prime treats...365 days out of the year. Elvis gets a fancy cat tree that takes up ten percent of the living room. Don't ever suggest to a German that they put too much into their ownership of pets.
Ninth, I would be the first to admit that Germans have just as much bad taste in fashion as an American, except they might be more bold to wear bad taste stuff....even when they know it's bad taste. Gothic wear? Just sit on a bench in Wiesbaden in the fall and for young ladies in combat boots. Weird? Bad fashion? Just doesn't matter....they get into a fashion mode and they stay in their mode.
Tenth, once a German has taken to a position...just don't expect them to change or accept it as being wrong. A German....once convinced....is pretty much concreted down to a reflex. They were convinced in the first place, and rarely do they find the reasoning to switch.
Yeah, it's tough being a German. It's not for wussies, or people who flip-flop, or a society who hate rules. It's pretty much scripted, and if you are born into it.....you are signing up for the full-tour, with no waivers or easy exits.