Monday, August 17, 2009

How to blend in...

My favorite thing a German has said to me so far:

"Oh, you're American! I love Americans. They wear jogging pants & flip flops everywhere but they smell so nice and have such nice white teeth - very hygienic."

She then asked me to name my favorite smelly lotion stores. I will give her the dental card but lotion stores? People give me lotion for Christmas who don't know me very well. I probably still have some "Raspberry Reluctance" or "Thin Mint Passion" somwhere. I don't have anything against (midnight) pomegranates or oatmeal cookies and I have never personally wanted to smell like them but they even have scents for these too. Unless they start selling magic smelly hiking lotion that bugs aren't attracted too, I am not interested.

I am not claiming I don't ever use these products or even occasionally secretly enjoy them but my reasons might be another blog post in itself.

I will admit it does seem rather easy for me to pick Americans out of the crowds of tourists here in Berlin (but not usually by their smell.) Baseball caps, baggy shorts, flip flops, & white tennis shoes. Louder than normal voices. I doubt I always blend in. I am, much to my chagrin, still a product of my culture.

However, being in such a large city, one of my favorite things to do is play "Guess the Origin of the Tourist?" when my Ipod battieries are run out which is almost always I forget my Ipod. I can even pick German tourists out now when I am on vacation. Look for "the paw." (They will deny this and even claim this isn't a German company but don't believe them)

I was chatting with a British and German friend the other day and they both admitted to being embarrassed by their own respective tourists.

The funny thing is we probably miss those who do blend in.

My point being here that blend in as much as you can if you are a tourist but if you can't, don't worry. If you live here, one should probably make more of a consorted effort to "when in Rome, do as the Romans do."

If, however, you want to blend in with Germans, here are some pointers.
  1. If you are female, wear skirts.
  2. If you are male, manpris are totally in!
  3. Don't try so hard to match your bag to your socks to your belt to your necklace. Germans don't care so why should you?
  4. Flip flops are completely out unless you are 17.
  5. Naked kids on beach = acceptable
  6. Naked people on beach/grass/park = acceptable (Don't stare!)
  7. Wear a scarf. It doesn't matter what color. The way you tie it, however, does matter.
  8. If you are a little boy, wool tights are a mandatory winter clothing item.
Anything I missed?

Maybe this should have gone with the Random Tuesday Thoughts! ☺


Amber Liddle said...

The white tennis shoes always clued us in to who was American :)

Shermanim said...

Funny, I always wondered why my German friend here dresses her son in a shirt and wool tights in the winter. Now I know why. I will make up some skirts for our move so I won't be so terribly out of place.

Snooker said...

Nope, not random enough for Random Tuesday. This is a thought out entry. :)

Ways to spot an American tourist in Germany:
- Amber pointed out a biggie... the white sport shoes.
- Size matters, and like it or not, more Americans are BIG. If they are displaying other clues of their origin AND they are Super-Sized, then you have your answer.
- Jogging pants & Flip flops are already in your post.
- Hair styles - I can't put my finger on it, but they are different.
- Eyeglasses seem to be BIGGER in America (not all of course)
- Americans are the loud ones in the corner of the restaurant, on the bus, in the waiting line, almost anywhere. If they are present, prepare for the decibel level to rise.
- Big tippers
- Gum chewing with mouth open
- Eating popcorn with mouth open
- Americans just take up more space. When walking down the street we seem to expand our circle of space around the group.
OK, that's enough.
Cliff darling... these are generalizations and in no way are meant to reflect on every single American. :)

And oh hey! Thin Mint Passion, THAT sounds like a smell for an American!

cliff1976 said...

No, no, it's all gospel truth -- I embody all of that! ;-)

The tendency to utterly fail to recognize until it's way too late that they are standing on the bike path is what kills me every time. That happens every workday morning down where the cruise ships dock along my new path to work. Then they're pretty shocked to hear me calling their attention to there roadhogginess in absolutely perfect accent-free American English!

"Why, he cursed us just as naturally as if he'd been born in middle America! My goodness, Europe must be a country with great schools!"

Edelweiss Transplanted said...

And don't forget -- socks with sandals are a German classic.

Actually, you can almost always tell whether someone is American or European by their shoes alone.

This was a wonderful post. I'm going to share your advice with my exchange families. Many thanks!

Amber Liddle said...

Oh, I am afraid I did the stand in the bike lane too many times!!! I'm just not used to such useful lanes--they don't have them here in the US! I thought their sidewalks were just really wide :)

Tammy B said...

I must admit that I can't give up the flip-flops in summer. Maybe I can pass for 17??

Yelli said...

@ TammyB- I can't give them up either! {insert giant American Flag on forehead}