13 September, 2015

Misconception #5: All German Men Love To Wear Lederhosen

Since I arrived in Munich in 1982 right in the middle of Oktoberfest, it was not hard to image why I got the impression that all Germans loved wearing Lederhosen and Dirndl.

Initially, I regarded men in Lederhosen drinking excessive amounts of beer with a feeling of anthropological curiosity. This quickly developed into a strong aversion. Then an outward snobbish dismissal. Like many of the local traditions I was exposed to, it took me a long time to come to terms with their strangeness.

It’s one of the odd things about life, it is so much easier to know who/what we don’t like, rather than recognise who/what we do like. It is also so tempting, as an outsider, to judge the locals and believe their shortcomings are responsible for our personal unhappiness.  

In the end, it is all about getting beyond the stereotypes. Yes, many German are sticklers for punctuality, they generally don’t practice the principle of “customer is king”, they are not the best of dancers, some like dogs more than children, and many men like to wear Lederhosen… But, equally, they generally do help their neighbours, they tend to know a lot about international news, they take pride in a job well-done, and they bake fabulous cakes. But, are any of these things true? Maybe. Maybe not.

Certainly, some of the Germans I know possess one, a few, or all of these traits. It doesn’t really matter because none of the traits makes the person what they are… a living breathing fine human being.

Anyone who goes and lives in a foreign country goes through various phases of transition: elation, resistance, transformation, and then integration. Depending upon what sort of experiences you have, the second phase can last a long time. This was certainly the case with me. The real learning experience starts with the third phase of transformation, when you actually start challenging and changing your beliefs. And the last phase, integration, is where the fun begins!

No comments:

Post a Comment