My internship in Guildford
There are lots of prejudices against Germany, for example that we are over-punctual, we are totally into soccer and only live on Currywurst - not to mention the leather pants, which we are wearing all the time. I do not think you can generalize those things within 80.000 habitants, but how much is seriously discernible can be seen when you travel the world and realize how other people live and behave.
After 18 years of merely spending my holidays either in Austria or at the German Ocean, I have had the opportunity to leave a German-speaking country and absolved an internship in England, Guildford for three weeks.
To be honest, I didn´t have any expectations from that trip at all. We were informed about our host mother and that she already takes care of pupils and other “travelholics” for about 12 years. That fact pretty much insured us that our accommodation would be one of the best. Additionally, I lived there together with my colleague from Germany. Another hint that we wouldn´t be plunged in at the deep end. I was never really interested in the history or economy of England. I had no idea of the culture, except of those typical things like deep-fried chocolate bars, fish ´n chips and wishy-washy beer. The good thing: I had no prejudice at all and was able to enjoy all the first impressions.
The first acquaintanceship
Influenced by our typical cold and seemingly unfriendly German behaviour when there are newcomers in the office or at other multicultural gatherings, I was almost shocked by the greetings that I got when I first entered the office in my temporary company. As though they were already expecting me for years the whole team was happy to see me, immediately removed some folders and briefcases from a desk where I could seat and asked me worried how my flight had been and whether my accommodation had been satisfying. That was striking. The next positive point was the fairly young and multicultural team. At home I work on assignment for a company which contains 2 foreign employees within 1.700 people in general and the average age is 45! Here the bosses were a black couple, which immigrate to England approximately 10 years ago; another 23 year old colleague came from India and was talking about her Turkish boyfriend all the time; additionally, lots of different helpers from all over the world and only one guy was a native-born one. So I didn´t feel out of place at all and was looking forward to working there.
Another striking matter were the working hours, which distinguish to the Germans ones as well. Usually I get up at least at 5.30am so that the computer runs up at 7 o´clock to get the ball rolling. In England I maybe glanced a bit of the sunlight at around 7 o´clock and turned around in bed another time. I needed to start working at 10 o´clock until 17pm. Those were the ordinary working hours in Guildford. Only the big stores and tourist showplaces were open a few more hours, but never earlier. Needless to say that I preferred to sleep late, but I couldn´t imagine not having any time left after work for thinks like seeing the Doctor or other meetings that usually come up.
The family matters
Celle, the village where I come from is known for its timbered houses and fairly attracts senior-bus-tourists, that was probably the fact why I quickly noticed all the notable young people strolling through the streets. I also felt like that the average age for getting married and founding a family is roughly 10 years under my imaginations. My one colleague was only 4 years older than me and totally under pressure that she really needs to get married as soon as possible and have children or she´d be too old – at the age of 23??? At the age of 23 I might be a student or spend another year abroad or start a further vocational training, but I won´t already be married and pregnant!!! However, I really appreciate all the young happy families with their babies or small kids. It seemed to be enough to have an ordinary job and rather feel lucky. Another hint to a Germen stereotype – here you first tell about your position, your distinctions and your status, after that it´s your wife or husband and finally about your children, but not about their hobbies but at which secondary school they are learning, or at which university they are studying…unless they are riding horses or playing tennis… a big Brownie point for England!!
The weather, the food, the fashion...
The weather was definitely on my side. Before I flew to England my friends at home had laughed at me and had said that I would probably need an umbrella all the time. It turned out that I was lying in front of the Guildford castle in the sun the whole three weeks and was already busy putting sun-cream into my face while in Germany the people were called to help in Düsseldorf and Magdeburg, because there had occurred one of the biggest floodwater in the last century…dodom
German prejudices against English food are controversial as well. Plum-pudding and fried chocolate bars are only the most common things. Not everyone of our group could be convinced of the opposite, but I was fairly satisfied. I don´t need to mention MC Donald´s or Subway, but all the small bakeries offered lots of delicious small things to eat during a break. My host mother was an excellent cook. Every Sunday she prepared some kind of feast that I am only used to getting at Christmas or New Year’s Eve. One Sunday she made a filled turkey with thousands of different trimmings. I was impressed!!
Last but not least – the fashion. Unfortunately, that is a negative point. Lots of young girls aspire wearing the same clothes as their icons do. Thanks to Zara and H&M it is possible to buy similar things at a much lower charge. All well and good, but the English girls apparently do not notice that the tops and pants are also offered in different sizes… In summer 2013 the latest “shit” were leggings and belly-tops[, I am afraid]. The different ways of dressing itself were enormous between Germany and England - much too tight leggings worn on an inappropriate body, belly-tops combined with a neon-colored bra and so on. I was often wondering whether those girls had taken a look into a mirror before they left the flat and what the hell did say see??
All things considered, I was overwhelmed by lots of new experiences and influences during my stay in England. I treasure the English people as exceedingly friendly and to be easily pleased. It is not the most expensive dress or the best-paid job necessary to be able to found a family and be happy. No matter where you come from you receive a wonderful salutation and get an insight into the culture. All the people I got to know are dear to my heart and thanks to Facebook and all the other social media we hopefully stay in contact for a long time.