The Subtle differences to looking out for when working abroad - My take on Germany V's Ireland
Between sitting on a plane from Cologne to Dublin and writing this blog post exactly 40 days have passed. Which is enough time to figure out that Ireland and Germany are not as similar as I once thought. After a few confusing and weird situations I now know what it is you have to pay attention to when working abroad in Ireland.
1. ‘How are you?’ is not a real question!
In Ireland a ‘Hi’ is always partnered with a ‘How are you?’. For Irish people a simple ‘Hi’ without an attachment seems just as incomplete as a ‘Hallo’ without the ‘o’ to Germans. My advice for you: Either ignore the question or mutter your one word answer as soon as possible otherwise the person is already gone. Never answer in sentences or in stories, I am sure the woman from the electricity call center or the dustman didn’t want to hear how my day went.
2. ‘Bye’ is not a three letter word!
Fun facts I have found from working abroad: After making the move to work in Ireland, I can see that the Irish like to double check when finishing a call that the other person received the ‘bye’ so much so that it has become “bye bye byee. Bye. Bye. bye bye bye. Bye.” Whereas in Germany we have the short and sweet ‘’tschüss’’.
3. Ireland proves: Sun and rain is no paradox!
Yes, here in Ireland it rains often and without warning. I promise, every women’s handbag has a mini umbrella – just in case. I have been sitting in my kitchen and saw it raining in my front garden – so I ran to take my washing in and found that I needed sunglasses not an umbrella in my back garden. But don’t worry this is a common occurrence and definitley something to expect when planning on working in Ireland.
4. Waiting for the green man!
I am not sure yet if there exists a logic behind traffic light circuits for walkers – green for 6 seconds, red for 4 minutes even though no cars could come your way. Here in Ireland they appear to be a tad impatient when it comes to waiting at traffic lights. Doing so ad’s an extra 10 min’s to your journey. So they just cut cross the street when they feel it is safe to do so – something that is totally new to me, because in Germany you must always wait for the green light. - Working Abroad has given me some new - perhaps bad habits
5. ‘Two’ doesn’t just mean’ two’!
What do you do when you want to order two beers at a bar, the pub is crowded and a band is playing? Of course, you use sign language. But showing a ''two'' with your fingers is not as precise as you would assume. In Ireland this hand gesture can mean ‘two’ or possibly ‘peace’. For me my hand was in the reverse position, which I thought meant ‘two’ but apparently is something offensive to the Irish and can cause others to become angry. I was lucky, the barkeeper decided to take it easy and laughed and judged it as a small cultural misunderstanding.
6. There is not only one way a ‘cheers!’ could bring bad luck!
Fellow German speakers know what I mean when I talk about making a toast in Germany -i.e. no eye contact whilst touching glasses. We know what it means not to, and we now know how the Irish people’s private life looks for the next 7 years at least. In Ireland making a toast is slightly different, in general they make their toast and take a sip straight away because for the Irish, not drinking after a toast is bad luck - but I have yet to find out what happens if one does not drink.
7. Locals never freeze!
The easiest way to differentiate between locals and tourists is checking the people’s outfits on the street.
If the person is proudly wearing flipflops and shorts although the thermometer shows 17 degrees you can be absolutely sure they are 100% from Ireland, and then they announce that summer has arrived. At the same time a tourist wearing boots and a scarf would be complaining that winter is back. When looking to work abroad, see if you can get to talk to a local, I certainly brought the wrong type of clothing for Ireland.
8. The Irish Apology-law!
The Irish friendlyness is not just a rumor, its fact (at this point a traditional Irishman would clap into his hands). You can among others, experience this kindness on the street when someone slightly touches you. An Irish person would always say sorry and would smile at you. As a German I wouldn’t even notice when someone has slightly touched me as I am used to the daily battles on the street in Germany. From my working abroad experience I have no adopted this habit and feel a little peeved when fellow German speakers do not offer me an apology.
9. Put on your sneakers!
As Dublin is famous for its big global companies located here you can see many business women rushing to work in the morning or going home in the evening. Fun fact: EVERY woman combines her pencil skirt with neon coloured sneakers and changes them into highheels at the corner before arriving at work. Seeing 30 of these business woman rushing behind one another on the street makes this trend really enjoyable! – I think I might join them.
10. Irish bus drivers rule – Public transport NOT!
While Ireland’s public transport needs some serious improvements – they try to offset the fact with their lovely bus drivers. German bus drivers will not open the door if you have 10 cent too little, have a hot dog in your hand or you are one minute late, all this is no issue in Ireland. In Ireland the bus driver is your friend, who drops you to your stop with a smile. As a reward he gets a friendly ‘bye’ (bye, bye, bye, byeeee) and ‘thank you’ when someone exits.
Are you currently living and working abroad? Have you come up against some cultural differences that you find weird or funny? If so why not share your experiences with us – pop Kellie a call or an email to share your story – You never know you might find it up on our website.
Pssst don't forget we also have a German website - take a look & let us know what you think