The Cultural Differences Between Israel and Germany
I am an Israeli married to a German. Our home is run in German and the environment is Hebrew speaking. We have lived in Germany and in Israel. I find that observing the cultural differences is an entertaining and enlightening exercise. Here are the main pointers I have noticed.
1. First of all there is space - Germany is just bigger than Israel. Israel is 22,000 square Kilometers, the size of Germany's Hessen state alone. This means everything in Germany is bigger. The Germans have more room.
1.A. Driving and parking - Germany has the famous highway network, which allegedly has no speeding limit - Germans are definitely better drivers, but Israelis are better parkers. I see this issue as a subtext of space perception. In Germany there is just more space to park in. Therefore, there is no need for exceptional parking skills in Germany. The parking problem in Israeli cities is more acute than in German cities (with the possible exception of Berlin). Germans also do not tend to enter the city center with a car, as the train and tram infrastructure is very good. Israelis on the other hand are very adept at parking in the most unconscionable places and very tight spaces.
2. Time and speed - Time is grasped differently in Germany and in Israel. In Israel one is always in a hurry, under pressure. In Germany there is a time and place for everything. We simply do things faster in Israel and even if it means things are less organised, they will work. The chaotic atmosphere is in fact productive and conductive of positive results. Germans take it easy - the pace is slower. When I moved back to Israel after two years in Germany, it took me 3 months to come back to snuff in terms of speed at the workplace.
2.A Infrastructure and improvisation - The infrastructure is better in Germany. For example: trains and buses are organised and actually show on time (OK its not Switzerland, but still, the time-table is mostly adhered to, in most places... I am advised its gotten a lot worse since I lived in Germany). Public transportation in Israel is always late. Sometimes buses come in groups...the drivers must have taken their coffee break together. Or they are racing each other to the last stop, so if one has stopped at a certain location the other race participants do not bother to stop and pick up passengers...
Telephone cables in Israel just hang loosely on the walls, especially in older houses and this makes for a big visual mess. Handymen in Israel are usually people who learned the trade on their feet, from daddy. In Germany everything is more established.
2.B. Education and Certification - The system of educating professionals is more rigid in Germany than in Israel and training takes longer. Its also harder to be accepted to a workplace in Germany, as you need the right certificate. In Israel you may have a chance at a certain job if you make the right impression in an interview and regardless of your training.
3. Order and hierarchy - The Germans have a saying "Ordnung muss sein!" it means order must be! Orderly activity is part of the German cultural DNA. If you follow the instructions you are given, you may predict the result with a high chance of being right. Certain steps will lead to certain results, as expected 1+1=2. Hierarchy is not questioned in Germany , simply obeyed (see next point).
But in Israel there is always room for improvisation. Hierarchy is always questioned and independent thinking is encouraged. "Chutzpah" or cheekiness is part of the Israeli cultural DNA. The writers of the book "start Up Nation" maintain that this cultural DNA in Israel is what nurtures innovation. In Israel there is room for doubt, sometimes 1+1 is not 2 but rather 2.5. If you were instructed to bring 3 letters, a clerk might just ask for 6. In Germany you need a meeting to cut your hair or even visit a friend, in Israel you just walk through the door.
4. Obedience (and papers) - Germans are an obeying folk. It might seem macabre to write about the Holocaust in such a blog, but I am certain that Hitler and his cronies would have been less successful if the German cultural DNA did not contain a strong component of obedience. Authority is not questioned. If you are told to produce certain documentation, then you must do so (people who do not have the right papers cannot get a job today and back in the days of World War II the right papers could have saved your life!).
5. Noise and Quiet - I already mentioned that there is time and place for everything in Germany. The hours of rest (13.00 to 15.00 on weekdays and Sundays) are a serious matter. You could be evicted from your rented apartment if you use your vacuum cleaner on a Sunday - because of the noise - certain "noise" limitations such as this example are actually included in the renting contract. You do not hear a lot of noise on the street in Germany. Neighbors' quarrels are such a phenomenon in Germany that there is a TV show about this.
In Israel everything is noisy. Cars are always hooping and people shouting as they call each other on the street. Hebrew is spoken in a louder tone. To a German, two Israelis having a conversation sound as if they are arguing. The only time a German makes more noise than an Israeli is when he or she is drunk!
6. The fun factor, motivation and aspiration - Israelis are an ambitious people. They are willing to take risks and promote themselves and have an attitude of a "know it all". Success is a driving factor, as is financial status and well-being. We live in uncertain times, so we might as well push for the top!
In Germany the biggest motivator is the fun factor. In Germany the word for fun is "spaß". Germans work in order to put aside enough funds so that they can sponsor their hobbies. The free time, the time for fun, after work (Feierabend - a term translating to "an evening for celebration" is the term for after working hours) and on weekends is the reason Germans go to work. Give a German his pension and his hobby and he is content. We live in uncertain times, so we might as well have some fun and enjoy ourselves!
I originally recall thinking that there are 7 pointers. But by varying the counting method I now have 8 (or 6...), well 7 is the average, so for now I will leave it at that.
בלוג זה נכתב בבלוג כתיבה אישי בשנת 2016.
לאחר מכן פורסם בPULSE בלינקדאין.
בכל מקרה , הוא רלוונטי מתמיד ואנו מקוים שתהנו לקרוא אותו, גם אם הוא באנגלית.