German Stereotypes….truths! lies! and more!

by Michelle on December 20, 2012 · 112 comments

If there’s one country that people seem to love stereotyping, it’s Germany. Perhaps it’s from the image of Germans that Hollywood movies give, but I always find that people hardly ever give you a neutral response when you mention the word “Germany” or “Germans.”

Example 1:

Person: Hey, so I’m moving to Iceland.
Everyone: Well then have fun. Remember to bring a parka.

Example 2:

Person: Hey, so I’m moving to Germany.
Response 1: OMG Oktoberfest!!! Chug! Chug! Chug!
Response 2: OMG you should go to Berlin! I was in Berlin for a month and I can’t even remember it…that’s how epic it was!!!
Response 3: Why Germany?! Aren’t they still Nazis?!
Response 4: Hope you like sausages and schnitzel!

And while most Germans will blame Bavarians for all their stereotypes, being a Canadian living in Germany, I can’t help but notice some of these stereotypes on a day to day basis (I live in Baden-Württemberg). While most stereotypes aren’t fully true (how can you say a country of 80 million people are all the same?), some I do find hilariously true to a certain extent. After living in Germany for a few months now, here’s my observations on the most popular German stereotypes. Do I agree? Or disagree? Read more to find out!

Germans are very punctual

One of my German friends told me that Germans consider it better “to be 30 minutes early, than 5 minutes late,” which I find true. What I find amusing is how some Germans will search up schedules on the Deutsche Bahn website, so it’s not even, “Hey, let’s meet at around 5,” but rather, “Hey, let’s meet at exactly 17.27.” And when they say 17.27, you better be there at 17.27.

Of course when you do run late, they’ll tell you it’s fine, but underneath their happy, smiling exterior, you can totally sense their disappointment. Unless of course, you blame the transportation. In the land of punctuality, for some reason the Deutsche Bahn is never fully reliable. All Germans seem united in their hatred for the Deutsche Bahn, so just work that into your excuse, and your tardiness will be forgiven.

Germans are very efficient and love making schedules

When I first noticed my 26 year old roommate penciling in all his plans on his wall calendar and computer calendar, I was definitely pretty surprised. Sure, it’s common to write down deadlines for school assignments, and work shifts, but I was surprised that everything from “call so and so” and “grocery shopping” were all written down. While not all Germans I’ve met do this, most of them do like having a plan for the day.

There’s no “Hey, let’s hang out sometime!” because that would be too vague, and perhaps bordering on chaotic for a structured German day. Instead, I find Germans to really want a purpose in everything (perhaps so they can pencil it into their schedules). So instead, something like “Hey, let’s meet for coffee on Thursday at exactly 17.27″ would be the correct German response.

Germany is the country of insurance companies

I’ve never heard of this stereotype until I moved to Germany, but when I did move, one of the first things I’ve noticed was this word “Versicherung.” And it would be everywhere – elegantly written across large fancy buildings, to every other commercial on TV with cute puppies and flowers mentioning this word “Versicherung.” I thought it must have been something exciting, mystical and very European, until I found out that it meant insurance.

Germans are cold

Ironically, the first time I’ve met a bunch of Germans was when I backpacked across Australia. There, I made lots of German friends and had the time of my life partying with them almost every night. So when I told people back in Canada that I was planning on moving to Germany, and people would respond with, “those Germans seem like really cold people,” I was genuinely surprised.

Living in Germany, I can sort of see why people think that. Back in Canada, if you go to any given bar or club, there’s always guys wanting to buy you drinks. If you walk down the street, it’s likely you’ll get chatted up. You get hit on at the bus stop, marriage proposals in the food court, and someone always seems to make jokes in the elevator to keep the silence at bay. If you’re reading in a coffee shop, someone will comment on your book, and people will invite you to house parties after five seconds of talking to them. After a week in Canada, if you don’t have more friends and drinking buddies than fingers, than you’re definitely doing something wrong.

Of course, all of this rarely happens in Germany, and I have to admit – I still have more fingers than German friends in Mannheim and I’ve lived here for way more than a week. But does this mean they’re “cold” just because they’re not as open as other countries? I find that Germans like to have a sense of purpose before initiating a conversation, so saying something like, “Hey, what’s up?” to a total stranger is pretty foreign to them. When you do strike up a random conversation with a German though, I always find them to be such friendly people, and it makes you think about the value between quality versus quantity.

So are they cold people? No, I don’t think so. Reserved is a better word….

Germans are reserved

German student rez hallway

Unlike home, where it’s common to become “instant best friends” with someone, Germans tend to need some time before they open up to you and include you in their “circle.” What I find surprising is how Germans always keep their doors closed in student residences, and despite studying and living in another city, a lot of them go home almost every weekend. Some of my friends say that they know people who go home every weekend! I’ve been in student residences (rez) on weekends, to find the place empty and completely quiet, when back home, any rez on any given weekend would be packed with people passed out in the hallways.

Total culture shock.

When I lived in rez, I remember that everyone had so much fun and we became such good friends that we only went home for Thanksgiving, Christmas and reading week (Canadian equivalent of spring break). Some people had so much fun in rez, that they didn’t even go to class. However, a lot of Germans seem to refer to their friends in rez as their “classmates,” and their “friends” as their childhood friends from their hometown.

Therefore, don’t feel too dejected if Germans aren’t rushing over to become instant besties with you. Close friendships with Germans don’t usually happen overnight, but when they do form, I find it a lot more genuine (aka none of that “OMG your top looks so hot” when you know it makes you look frumpy bullshit).

Germans love beer

It’s true.

Germans love bread

I’ve been told that I’ve never actually had bread until I came to Germany, because those sliced packages of bread we have in North America (you know, like Dempsters), isn’t actually bread, but toast (even when it’s not toasted). Or more specifically, “American toast.” And so, it’s easy to note that Germans take their bread very seriously. But for good reason, because it’s delicious! There’s bakeries on almost every street and every train station, and some of them even open for a few hours on Sundays!

Germans love sausages

I’ve never actually seen my German friends eat sausages on a regular basis, so I can’t quite confirm this point. Maybe they do but hide the fact when I’m around so I don’t rush to tell all my friends back home that all Germans love sausages, further contributing to this stereotype. My roomie is also a vegetarian, so I can’t even spy on his eating habits for the purpose of this post. However, walk around any German city centre, and you’ll find stands selling bratwurst, currywurst, wurst wurst….so someone has to be eating them!

Germans have no sense of humour

I find all my German friends to be very funny, but then again, I’m easily amused. Actually, I think almost everyone is funny. Especially very serious people, because I find serious people especially funny in their need to be serious all the time. You know?

With that said, yes I do think Germans have a sense of humour. While their humour is more subtle, and not the sort of drunken debauchery (“Haha Tucker Max is the shit!”) sort of humour (even after a crazy night out!), they are definitely funny in their own way, and hearing a German joke is always a delight.

One thing I will note, is that sometimes Germans don’t always get that you’re telling a joke (until you tell them that you are) and they might interpret it very seriously. In that case, always tell them you’re telling a joke beforehand. That way, they’ll laugh if they find it funny, or just stare at you blankly if it’s not funny (because Germans won’t forcefully laugh at your jokes if they’re not funny just to be nice).

Germans are very unromantic

I know a German guy (and don’t ask how I know) who says that he’s a really nice guy because he’s always honest to every girl he meets. “I grew up with five sisters” (or something like that), he said. “And I see how some guys treat them and it’s horrible. They’re such douche bags. I never want to be like that, which is why I always want to treat girls with respect…because I’m such a nice guy. Did I mention that I’m a really nice guy?”

So you must be thinking, “aww this German guy must be a total romantic!” Well, that is if you ever meet him, since he “flirts” with girls by saying, ”Hi you’re very pretty. I don’t to be in a relationship with you because I have to move to (German hometown) in a few months, but do you want to have sex?” And in all seriousness, he actually finds this to be very sweet, honest and affectionate.

hmm.

With that said, while German guys aren’t like French guys, who write heartfelt love poems all the time… they just show their love in different ways. And on the plus side, it’s uncommon to find couples sucking face by the lockers here, as you do in high schools back home! So yay for avoiding those awkward moments when you need to get something from your locker but can’t!

Germans all have dogs

I thought all Germans would be walking around with these large German Shepards everywhere, but I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of cute little fluffy dogs as well. SO CUTE. Although it is also annoying when you’re walking down the street and talking to a friend, and you keep losing your train of thought because you keep getting distracted by cute little dogs everywhere.

Germans love football

Not all Germans are passionate about football (soccer), but a majority of them do love it. Which I don’t mind, because I love it too. When one of those Bundesliga games are on, everyone seems to be running to the nearest TV. And almost every shop has some sort of Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund product to sell. I also see Schweinsteiger’s head pop up everywhere for different endorsement deals. I just have to find a Schweinsteiger Versicherung ad, and that should totally complete my German experience.

Germans love rules

It’s true. There’s signs everywhere telling you what you can’t do. Some of them I can’t read, but I know it must be stating something that is not allowed, whatever that may be. My least favourite is their garbage rules. I mean, I love it because they’re actually self-actualizing and doing something with their waste, rather than chucking it in the US like we do in Canada, but at the same time, there’s different bins and coloured bags for everything. Does wax paper go in the paper bin? But it’s waxy so maybe in the product waste bin? There’s bits of cookie dough on there though…do I have to scrap it all off to put in the food waste bin? When I first moved here, I was in fear that one accidental move will probably have the cops at my door. So instead, I usually put my ambiguous garbage in a bag, and bring it to the city centre, and throw it in a public garbage can there, like I’m sure all the other confused expats do.

Have you lived in or visited Germany? What are your thoughts about German stereotypes?

{ 112 comments… read them below or add one }

Christopher December 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Great post! I’ve lived in Germany for 18 years now, and I can confirm all of this. I’ve been told that Munich, my hometown now, is the “coldest” place: the place where it’s hardest to make friends, and it’s very true.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say our bread in N. America isn’t real bread. And I have insurance for EVERYTHING now. Hahahahaha

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Michelle Michelle December 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Wow, 18 years is a long time! I’ve never heard of that stereotype about Munich, but such a shame since I’ve been there twice, and it’s such a lovely city!

Haha those commercials must be highly effective if you have insurance for everything. Now you fit right in! :)

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Micheal January 14, 2014 at 5:41 am

I’ve always wanted to move to Germany to live but I’m still working on getting all the information so I don’t make a horrible decision. Hahaha

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Michelle Michelle January 17, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Let me know if you need any help!

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Micheal January 18, 2014 at 6:31 pm

I may need some! :P any way I can get in touch with you?

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Shaun December 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm

While in Berlin I was at House of 1000 beers and I did observe those classic German mannerisms when they interacted with each other. Kind of hard to describe but if you watch a satirical impression of Germans it was that on a much smaller, less exaggerated scale.

Glad to see you’re getting to know the culture and people enough to stop the differences!

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Michelle Michelle December 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Haha that must have been fun to watch! Did you contribute to any Canadian stereotypes by saying eh after every sentence, and apologizing for things that aren’t your fault? :P

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Daniel McBane - Funny Travel Stories December 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm

When it comes to following rules, I remember reading somewhere that in many countries, you can do what you want until you are expressly told not to, while in Germany, you can’t do anything until you are given permission.

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Michelle Michelle December 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm

I would say those are wise words to live by in Germany! Haha

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Alex @ ifs ands & butts December 20, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Great list! I always love hearing people’s thoughts on the stereotypes. I had never heard the dog stereotype, but there are definitely a lot less in Germany than in the US. Then again, I’ve always noticed the dogs in Europe are WAY better trained than those I encounter in the US.

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Michelle Michelle December 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Oh really?? The Germans love dogs stereotype is really popular, although I’m not sure where I first heard it from. Search up “Germans love dogs” though, and you’ll see what I mean :)

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Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz December 26, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Maybe there are more dogs in Germany because Americans try to dry them in a microwave?

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Lea December 21, 2012 at 9:46 am

Thank you for creating a humorous, non-offensive post about this topic. I, as a German spending a lot of time abroad, have met lots of people who stereotyped me very quickly (and sometimes had a very weird idea of Europe, think “do you have cars like this?” *points to a VW*). I think one shouldn’t be talking about other nations or cultures without having experienced them longer than a week.
Spending time abroad really does open up your eyes!
- And yes, it’s true about the Wurst. ;) Just don’t think sausage in one piece, but one cut in round slices.

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Michelle Michelle December 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Ahh good to know about the wurst! Thanks for confirming it :P I’ve had the cut up ones a few times…I actually prefer them since they’re less messier to eat!

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Shaun December 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm

btw I mean’t spot. not stop the differences…. lol. I curse you dyslexia!

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James, überlin December 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Hey Michelle,
Great list. As English people in Berlin we couldn’t help noticing some of these things too (although we’re almost as reserved as the Germans, at least when we’re sober!). You’re right, they do have a (slightly odd) sense of humour, but you definitely have to make it clear you’re making a joke (Germans always start with something like, “it was so funny…”) – which really takes some getting used to.
Glad you’re enjoying your time in Deutschland, and that you liked our list too http://www.uberlin.co.uk/what-i-know-about-germans/ )
Keep up the good wurst!

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Michelle Michelle December 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Thanks James! Hope you’re having fun here too :)

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Greg Prohl December 22, 2012 at 4:18 am

Great article, Michelle. Very funny and insightful. I don’t generally like travel related articles without some accompanying photos, but this one’s an exception. You did a nice job of poking some fun without being offensive about it, a tough balancing act to pull off. Like most folks, I’ve heard of these stereotypes and wondered how much truth there is to them. Good to know these things as I hope to one day get to Germany for some extended time.

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Michelle Michelle December 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Thanks Greg! Yes, I would definitely recommend living in Germany, even if it’s just for a few weeks! I’m sure you’ll love it, and you might even be able to judge these stereotypes for yourself! :)

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Julika December 22, 2012 at 8:52 am

Fantastic list! As a German I must admit I usually don’t like German stereotypes… I don’t eat meat, I’d always choose a wine over a beer, and I’m never punctual. But the other things you wrote about? Are totally true! The Deutsche Bahn really is one of the favorite things to complain about, beside the weather, of course. Germans are indeed reserved, and words like “love” and “friend” are always used with caution. Germans don’t like shallow set phrases and fake compliments. That’s why we are simply bad at small talk, and appear to be unfunny and cold… :)
Thanks so much for sharing this!

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Michelle Michelle December 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Thanks Julika! Interesting enough, I have met quite a few Germans who are vegetarians. :) Ah yes the weather…it’s definitely an universal thing to complain about…unless you’re from somewhere sunny like Australia :P

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Evez December 24, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I agree with most of your points.. Wonderful list! :) I guess the most imporant thing is to see somebody else (no matter where that person is from) as the person he or she actually is..
Great blog by the way!

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Michelle Michelle December 26, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Thanks so much!! And yes, I agree :)

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Jam @icoSnap December 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Great post! I’m quite surprise that Germans actually love to party. Before I moved here in Germany, I thought it was so strict (well reserved) that there are no clubs, etc. But to my surprise just around the corner from my apartment is a bar/clubs.

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Michelle Michelle December 31, 2012 at 1:16 pm

It’s funny but I’ve always thought of Germans to be partiers despite their very reserved stereotype. Images of Oktoberfest always pop into my head! Haha.

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D December 27, 2012 at 3:26 am

Haha, I lived in Germany for three months this summer, and this is a pretty great list! I was kind of surprised about the exactness of the timing as well! Although as much as everyone complains about the Deustsche Bahn, it’s still more reliable than most public transit in Canada. The romantic thing kind of cracked me up – encountered some very blunt people too! But at the same time, there are some romantic elements too. There are more love locks on the bridges in Cologne than there are in Paris! And the whole tradition with the May Day trees is kind of cute too. Met a German exchange student the other day who wasn’t super into football, but man, was that kid good at foosball!

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Michelle Michelle December 31, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Haha public transit in Canada is the worst! And yes, I’ve seen those love locks in Cologne! My friend from there said that the idea of doing that actually originated from Cologne, and not Paris, as most people would believe!!

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kellogs December 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Nice thoughts on the German “thing”. Now I don’t want to collect any resent but you know, not everyone is a Canadian cutie in order to fully use the decimal system for friend-counting after a week in Canada. I have been to neither Canada nor Germany but I did have enough interactions / surveilance on both gangs. I am going to always prefer Germany over Canada, the latter falling into the money grubbers and cold-hearted stereotype – from my personal experience from Eastern Europe (latin strain too btw).

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Michelle Michelle December 31, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Aww sorry to hear about your bad impression of those Canucks you met! :( If you ever get a chance to visit Canada though, I’m sure there will be plenty of people to win over your heart :)

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Resi December 29, 2012 at 7:14 pm

You know, i think there actually was a insurance commercial with Schweinsteiger around 2006. Can’t find it now though. :D

The one stereotype I never understood was the one with punctuality. Because I’m probably the most punctual person among my friends and I’m always at least 10 minutes late. But maybe that are just my people. :D

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Michelle Michelle December 31, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Now I know that if I’m ever bored, finding that Schweinsteiger insurance commercial will be my number one priority! :P

Haha and that’s exactly like me! Maybe I need to start hanging out with you and your group of friends! :P

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Emma January 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm

I had been in Germany only for five days and I already could confirm all those stereotypes that you mentioned :D. Great post though, I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

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Michelle Michelle January 14, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Aww thanks!! :) How are you liking Germany so far?

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Rhinelander January 10, 2013 at 2:42 pm

You are right in most of your statements.

One main problem is, that germans e.g from Baden-Württemberg are very different from Germans e.g. from Northrine-Westphalia or Lower Saxony.

Especially swabians won’t recognize if someone is joking. I made this experience while spending some years in Stuttgart. That’s exactly what you have written. You would not have this Problem in other parts of Germany.

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Michelle Michelle January 14, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Ohh good to know! I’ll keep an eye out for any cultural difference I can spot the next time I go to another state here! :)

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Sab January 14, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Hahahaha, what a fantastic post.
I’m a half German (half Italian), but born and raised in Germany, so let me add something to your list. Germans are very accurate. When German friends having dinner in a restaurant, they won’t just split the bill in the number of participants… NO NO, they will bring pen and paper and calculate exactly the amount that every single person has to pay. I would say, Germans are also a bit stingy. I’m a woman and dating German guys can be frustrating. Of course we split the bill in the restaurant (I’m already used to that)… but after we take a cab home and the guy wants to split the taxi bill again? Errgh. I’m done with the German Guys… Not for me :)
Great article, keep up the good work!

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Michelle Michelle January 14, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Haha you’re totally right!!! I remember when I was in Australia, you can always hear the German backpackers counting up their daily expenses at the end of the day and dividing it amongst their group. I don’t think anyone else from another country did that!! At least it’s “fair,” but I guess I’m just too used to guys back home paying for my things without thinking twice about it!

Aww don’t give up on German guys! I have one, and he’s quite cute. :D

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UltimaThule September 26, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Nope, the Germans are not the only ones doing that. In the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and my native Finland) EVERYBODY pays for what s/he has ordered. Try to skip that or pay less than you owe, and you will be considered as a freeloader, a parasite, not better than a vermin. And if you don’t have money, someone else will pay for you that time – but you are expected to pay back.
There was one guy from the States who complained that Finland doesn’t have a dating culture – which we really don’t have, at least not how the Anglo-Saxon/English speaking world considers.
It is a matter of honour for everybody to pay for themselves. Especially to women because if the man pays for the dinner, drinks and entertainment, it implies that the woman will have to pay him back ON her back. We are not for sale, never have been, and we take pride for that. We will have sex (quite easily – we are pretty promiscuous, just like the men), but if you try to PAY us to get us into bed when we are not interested… You’ll be lucky if you will only bruise your ego that night.

I think it is because Finland never has had this “idle upper class” that the South Europe (all countries south from the Baltic Sea, including Germany) – everybody had to work in order to survive the harsh winters. There was no time for mid- or upper-class-women to sit around and dream of marriage or such romantic nonsense. Who needs diamond rings or roses when you can put that money into a down payment for a house or an apartment?

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Hanneke October 21, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Actually the Dutch are also the same in the very exact bill splitting to the nearest decimal sense (I’m actually Dutch). So Germans are not the only precise ones out there!

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anonymous January 16, 2013 at 8:49 pm

there’s a very fitting joke about the “rules” stereotype:

why don’t germans ever steal anything?
because it’s illegal.

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Guest January 18, 2013 at 1:42 am

This is actually really funny because it’s true! I am German (well half German and half Columbian) but I lived all of my life in Germany (Hessen) and I am living in the US for 5 months now, and to read the stereotypes about Germany from your perspective just makes me laugh. The only statement that I have to disagree with, is about the misunderstood humor, because that was exactly the impression I had when I came to the US, that I always had to explain to everyone that I was joking and back home, I never had that problem! I love how you observe all of these little things though, and I’m glad you’re enjoying your time there ;-)

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Michelle Michelle January 21, 2013 at 10:49 am

Being in the US, you must be finding a lot of American stereotypes as well! :) I did when I lived there!

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Siggi January 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Great list, Michelle. I am a Baden-Wuerttemberger who has lived in Canada, lives in India now and is married to a Pinay, so obviously I am a fan of your blog :) As to the “reserved” thing: when I studied in the US, I was told during orientation week that we all have two walls, an outer that you scale to becme an acquaintance, an inner to become a friend. Americans and Canadians tend to have low outer walls but a serious inner wall, Germans have high outer walls but much lower inner walls. That explanation still works for me, and I kinda think our system is less … fun. It constrains. As to humour, German humour works differently. Read stuff by Christian Morgenstern, Wilhelm Busch, Kurt Tucholsky or Erich Kaestner or indeed Heinz Erhard, it’s brilliant stuff. But humour works differently in English, why I was awed as a teenager when I first encountered Dickens

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Michelle Michelle January 21, 2013 at 10:54 am

I totally agree with you about the walls! It’s a great explanation and it does make a lot of sense :) And thanks for the suggestions! I’ll look into those writers!

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Nyakio January 21, 2013 at 2:55 pm

i totally agree with you? I have been in Germany since Two months but why don’t they smile? In the S bahn they all have the long faces like the whole worlds burden is on their shoulder or this Far away empty look…….. Why? I come from a country where an empty look will definately have someone in the bus whispering to you that “smile its a peaceful day today”………..

They should trade places with my countrymen then………………..

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Michelle Michelle January 25, 2013 at 11:28 am

They do seem to give you a polite smile, especially when someone comes to sit next or across from you. Coming from Toronto though, it’s a lot worse. Canadians are known to be super friendly, but taking public transit in Toronto is the worst!

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Maren January 23, 2013 at 10:05 pm

This was a very interesting post, and quite funny, too! I like your whole blog a lot, in fact. I started jumping from post to post even before I could finish this tiny little comment here. :)
Really really hope you enjoy Mannheim; that’s my hometown – may I ask which school you’re teaching at?

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Michelle Michelle January 25, 2013 at 11:30 am

Thanks! :) The school I teach at is actually in Ludwigshafen! Everyone recommended that I live in Mannheim instead since it’s a short commute and a lot more fun as a city…. I’m definitely happy to be here!

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Remy February 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I’m German, and I have a very good sense of humor…

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Hage February 5, 2013 at 2:30 am

der war gut :D

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Michelle Michelle June 26, 2013 at 3:46 am

Hahaha :P

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Robert October 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Remy, that’s not funny!

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Andi February 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm

I live in Bavaria near to Austria and I really had to laugh :D, It’s all so true, but unfortunately the part that germans are not being nazis at all isn’t that true as most germans say, especially in the eastern part of Germany many of them are.

You should totally visit Bavaria someday (NOT MUNICH or any bigger city.. they all suck, if you really wanna see a nicer part of Bavaria visit the smaller towns), It’s the best part of Germany :) (since i read that you were already in Austria, which is a great place too)

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Ann March 5, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Well, Andi, I think I have to disagree with you on that. It’s true that there aren’t as many people from abroad in eastern germany but that doesn’t mean that there are Nazis around ever corner! And I live in eastern germany. Actually I’m really curious as to how you’ve got that impression?

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Michelle Michelle June 26, 2013 at 3:50 am

Hmm yea I have heard about racism going in the East. I know this one guy who studied at the University of Leipzig and he said that people there were really hostile to him! He’s Peruvian but from Canada…I don’t know, maybe they’ve mistaken him for being Turkish? I’ve met Germans who dislike Turks from all part of Germany! :(

Also other than Munich, the only other Bavarian city I’ve been to is Würzburg, where one of my friends live. I love that city though! So cute!

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Alex July 25, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I actually have to say that it s not only the Germans who dislike Turks and Arabs but all the other peeps to.My guess is that is because Turks usually don t tend to assimilate.It kinda leads to suspicion a kind of”Why do they not mingle with other peeps and don t get involved into the society?Most likely they re keeping a plan b, gonna go back to Turkey if something happens and leave us in this mess alone”,but its only a thougth i had.It s the only thing i could think of because most other people like Vietnamese,Koreans,Russians,Polish,Canadian or any other people would have a warm welcome and Germans are rather curious and interested when they meet this people,but with the Trukish people it kinda doens t fit…

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Rumi February 10, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I just wanted to say, that this was a very funny post :D I am German myself and for most of the things…it is true. Some things I never realized before, but now that you said it :) I really like, the way you wrote the article – it is not hurtful (as oposed to some other things) and very great to read. The puncutality thing reminded me of myself. As I get very nervous if I am just 5 minutes to late. Only situation where I relax is, when the train is stuck somewhere. But then I still send a message stating that I will be around 5 – 10 minutes late, because of some problems.

As for the one thing I read about in another comment here – equally sharing expenses in a cafe during a date. As a german woman myself (and now beware this is only my opinion) on the first dates I don’t want a guy to pay for me because 1) I would feel less indipendent XD Somehow this goes agains my sense of equality. And 2) I would feel like I own something to him. S, if I don’t want to see him again, it would feel forced anyway to meet up with him again.

So much to that :D Keep up the good work

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Michelle Michelle June 26, 2013 at 3:54 am

Thanks Rumi!

Haha after living in Germany, I’ve started to feel paranoid too whenever I’m late meeting someone! Even now that I’m back in Canada for the summer, I’d show up somewhere actually on time, only to have to wait 10-15 mins for my friends, because that’s Canadian punctuality :D

I think in North America, girls are just used to guys paying for things, that we sort of see it as a sense of entitlement that girls should have! But I definitely understand what you’re saying about the independant thing :)

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Geraldine March 1, 2013 at 7:01 am

Fantastic post!!!! Living with a German man for 3 years now and evry detail of yours matches him to a T

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Michelle Michelle June 26, 2013 at 3:55 am

Haha…I hope he takes all the good aspects of being German! :P

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Michael March 14, 2013 at 3:56 am

Great post and very enjoyable to read. I am German too and I am surprised and amused at the same time how people from other countries notice our behavior.

And yes you are absolutly right, we love our schedules, cause they help us to get some stuff out of our mind -you know as germans we have to remember much more information: the exact place with (better GPS coordinates) and time to the split second for a date. ;-)

Even if we may seem to be reserved, most of us love to help others regardless of nation, religion, clothes… whatever we don’t care.

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Michelle Michelle June 26, 2013 at 4:14 am

I think after I live in Germany for awhile, I probably have a huge stack of schedules in my closet :P

And yes, the last part is very true! You guys are very helpful :)

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sakshi April 7, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Hi..
Your post as well as the comments were fantastic enough to read. loved it! I am soon planning to move Germany for my masters(2 years). Except that reserved thing part (since I am a talkative 1), I really hope to realize all of the mentioned stereotypes :) good work gal..

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Michelle Michelle June 26, 2013 at 3:57 am

Thanks! Where are you studying? I’m planning on doing my masters there too! :D

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Yvo April 15, 2013 at 4:26 am

That article really made me smile. I am German, but I have been abroad for more than a year now (obviously I miss the German bread!! ;)), and find it pretty funny to think about my own culture and to see what other people think about us.

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Michelle Michelle June 26, 2013 at 3:58 am

I know what you mean! Haha. I’m back in Canada for the summer….it’s only been 2.5 weeks but I’m missing the German bread already!!

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Huong Le April 15, 2013 at 5:09 am

Love your post and people’s comments.
I live in U.S.A, recently know a German guy, high educated person, keep an important management position at a well known oil/gas company, hard worker. So far he has paid two dinners (not dates, refused twice when i offered to pay), very humble, caring, and funny. I can’t wait to find some German stereotypes from this guy. :)

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Michelle Michelle June 26, 2013 at 4:00 am

Germans tend to act a bit more ungerman when they’re abroad, so you’ll have to look closer to uncover all his German traits, hahaha :D

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boerns April 23, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Hi, I’m german and I do work for a company that sells…well…insurances :) Just wanted to let you know that you won’t get fined for putting trash in the wrong bags (maybe garbage men will leave a note some day), but you probably would – for taking your home-trash to public garbage cans, if getting caught :) Enjoyed reading your article, thanks for your patience and understanding :))) Wish you always good times in da “good old g”.

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Michelle Michelle June 26, 2013 at 4:04 am

Good to know thanks! Luckily, I did eventually learn all the German rules for throwing out the garbage! Who knew that would be such a hard task? :P

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Katrin May 23, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Big Like! So funny, I’m German and really enjoyed this article! It’s just so true! :)

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Michelle Michelle June 26, 2013 at 4:09 am

Thanks Katrin! :)

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Helen Lastinger May 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Love reading this and all the comments…one day I would love to visit Germany :) I am part German and am trying to do some research on my Great Granparents who were from Germany.

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Michelle Michelle June 26, 2013 at 4:06 am

You totally should! It’s a really fun country! (despite all these stereotypes haha) :P

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Ilse May 31, 2013 at 9:01 am

What a true and nice post which is presented very charming, winking and cosmopolitan by you! Great! Although some characteristics / circumstances may differ a little between the German federal states – you exactly take the biscuit ;-)
Btw, my experiences as a German in relation to stereotypes abroad:
Old people abroad, outside Europe, asked sometimes (for example): “Do Germans always eat ‘Sauerkraut’?” or “Do German women mostly wear ‘Dirndl’?” (In our northern German state of Hamburg: Never ever, ha ha.)
Younger people abroad: Surprisingly few stereotypes! (Probably the blessing of the Internet, and a truly great kind of international ‘travelholic’ today :-)
Many happy landings to all !!

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Michelle Michelle June 26, 2013 at 4:08 am

Thanks!! Haha yea I remember on one of my first days of German classes, my German teacher told us all to remember that only Bavarians wear lederhosen/dirndls and celebrate Oktoberfest! :P

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Emily June 11, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Awesome posts. find many common personality. Wanna go to Germany now…. Is it ok to speak English?

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Emily June 11, 2013 at 8:52 pm

p.s. Can you have a post for American Stereotype?? I kinda need it…

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Michelle Michelle June 26, 2013 at 4:09 am

That’s a good idea! I’ve lived in the States too. I’ll look into making one soon! :)

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Rosalie June 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I am a German (well, 3/4 German, 1/4 French), though I do not live in Germany. Frankly, I prefer German guys (referring Germans are very unromantic). They’re usually (though there are still many exceptions) straight-forward and bold. Though they might not be as stereotypically romantic like the French, I must say THANK GOD for that; I find those poem-writing, song-singing dudes amusing and if my boyfriend would do that, I’d dump him on the spot.

I love their subtle sense of humors and their seriousness. Even more than that, I admire that they stick to solid, detailed schedules (as I do, too; structure is very important to me, though my childhood therapist chalked it up to OCD).

Anyway, how many women certainly love the muscles (hell yes, that is hot), I adore their personalities:)

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Michelle Michelle October 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Haha yes, I do prefer unromantic German guys over sappy love poem writing French guys :D Luckily in North America, guys mostly fall in between those extremes so I never have to worry about one or the other :) Although now that I’ll be living in Germany for at least the next two years, I’ll have to get used to it I guess! I do like that they’re punctual :)

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Hans July 3, 2013 at 9:22 am

Re.: “Germans are cold”. You made a very good point, we’re reserved, and careful in a way. It can take ages before a “Bekannter” (acquaintance) becomes a “Freund” (friend). I have tons of Bekannte, but just a few Freunde. Another thing – and kind of a minefield for non-Germans – is how and when to address someone formally/informally. In German we have “Sie” and “Du”, so if I’d introduce myself to lets say a new colleague with “Hello, my name is Hans”, he or she would probably ask back “does Hans have a family name too?”. Very thin ice, there are people at work I know for more than a decade, and we’re still not on a first-name basis. And I don’t see a “you can say you to me” in the future here, it just would feel inappropriate.
FYI: http://venturevillage.eu/how-to-be-german-part-1#

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Michelle Michelle October 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Oh wow, that’s crazy! I have learned about the du/Sie in German class. Normally I’ll use “Sie” to people older than me, and “du” for people my age or younger when I meet them for the first time. This one time when I was working at the gymnasium, I accidentally used “du” to an older teacher at the school, and then felt really nervous every time I saw her afterwards haha!

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Sabine July 4, 2013 at 8:13 pm

I really enjoyed reading your post. Well done! As a German living and teaching in UK I notice a lot about stereotypes and it makes me laugh a lot. Luckily I do not consider myself as a typical German as I don’t like beer, don’t think I am a cold person and I find it hard to make lists all the time… :-) I also noticed that some people around me could make a perfect German though they are not… :-)

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Michelle Michelle October 15, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Hope the UK is treating you well! I’ve always thought about moving there :) And haha yea, every once in a while, I meet someone in Canada who could be the perfect German in training…. :D

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Alex July 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I didn t even think about all this things,despite i was born in Russia.I guess i m a “native” already :)

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Michelle Michelle October 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Yes you must be :D

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Steven July 25, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Hey,
thanks for the article, laughed my a** off :D
German greetings ! (P.S.: Yes, without “Wurst”, without us ;) )

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Jennifer August 5, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Thank you for writing this, I really enjoyed reading it! It’s very funny and true!
I found this webpage because I wanted to know what people from foreign countries think about Germans – because I skyped to a guy from the US and told him that I’ve actually been told to be THE german stereotype – and in the first moment he looked kind of shocked, so I wondered what might have come to his mind :D

I’m also from the south of Germany (Ba-Wü) and I indeed love beer (that’s what I told him after I’ve seen his look)! And I am always on time (although I don’t make appointments like “17:27″). That is also the one thing I had to learn when I moved to another city and had a lot of colleagues from elsewhere – that you shouldn’t be in time when you’re invited to a party. I will go to the US in winter and I was told to be at least 1 hour late to not make a lame impression. But that it still depends on the party, it also might be that I should be only 15 minutes late or at least 2 hours… ?! I just really don’t get that – where is the sense in that? If you want people to come one hour later, why don’t you just tell them to come one hour later? It would make life so much easier! But that’s probably my very German thinking :)

I’d like to say a lot more, but I think most of it has already been told.
For example that you will have to pay a fine if you throw away your apartment waste into public dustbins as you have to pay for the litter service and avoid that by doing this. There already have been a lot of places where they disassembled the dustbins due to people throwing their apartment waste into it. So you better throw cookies to the “gelbe Sack” ;-)
And I would also feel extremely unpleasant if a guy would pay for my food at the first date, for the same reasons the other girl listed below – feeling of owing him something and independence.
And also the friendship-thing etc.pp.. really good article! Again, thank you!

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Michelle Michelle October 15, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Haha I like your joke there Steven :P

And thanks Jennifer! Funny you mentioned the party thing, because after living in Germany for a year, I got used to showing up to parties on time, that when I was in Canada for the summer, I showed up to a party on time, and was surprised that I was the first person there (other than the host). The others didn’t show up until an hour later…. :P

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Jay July 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm

I loved Germany and the Germans .. and like you too I find nearly everyone funny …. I find their unfunniness funny lol …. Such a great country , well run and the best drivers I have ever encountered . Had a great time driving through their country with my music up full blast and smiling away to myself (Us Irish like to smile) …And I only met one person who did not speak English … I think they are a great race who are a bit insecure to be honest and think that they will not get a good reception where they go but when they see that you like them they open up and become so friendly and helpful and sincere . just like you said … ……….Thanks for the article .. I enjoyed it …

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Michelle Michelle October 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Haha yes! Their unfunniess is so funny! They should make a reality show based on it :D

I think they might be insecure because of the lack of compliments they give one another. And probably because everyone else in the world has these stereotypes about them :P

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Kathy September 3, 2013 at 6:34 pm

I so loved your article! I am a German living in the US since 2010. I had to laugh reading the points about the Wurst and punctuality! We are indeed very punctual. I sometimes have a hard time with my husband (who is American) being somewhere on time. Wether it is a doctor appointment or just leaving for dinner at a certain time, he just never seems to care much about all that.

Anyway, I sort of agree about building friendships with Germans. BUT, on the contrary Germans seem to have difficulty in North Amerivca as well. I do! I’ve been living in South Carolina for 2 years and have made friends with only one female who happens to be American (married to a German), but has lived in Germany for a decade. So I guess because we have so many things in common we get along well. Then, there are other neighbors on our street and they don’t seem to be interessted about hanging out with us although we chat on a regular basis when our kids play outside. I invited one other woman two houses up the street twice for some coffee and we sometimes textmessage each other. Yet, we are even friends on Facebook, but she never came over. Soooo strange!!!!

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Michelle Michelle October 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm

That is strange! Maybe it depends on where you live too? I’ve heard that in some smaller towns in the US, the people there can be pretty close-knitt and you really have to make a effort to be included in their circle. Even in Canada, it can be intimidating to meet people in a new city, but luckily there’s bars to help you make new friends :D

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CraftyCat September 3, 2013 at 11:41 pm

After reading this, I’m even more excited for my Foreign Exchange trip I’m doing for my school to Germany. I’ll get to stay there, with my German buddy, for 3 weeks, then my buddy will stay with me here in America for 3 weeks. :) Sadly, it won’t be for another 3 years :’( , but that’ll just give me more time to learn the language :3

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Michelle Michelle October 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Wow 3 years is a long time away! But that’s great that you’re planning so far in advance! Sounds like you know exactly what you want! And by then, your German will be perfekt! :D

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Mia September 11, 2013 at 5:07 am

Michelle, great article. You are very articulate and observant – wonderful traits in a writer and traveler. And you do a wonderful job of describing Germany. Although, living in Canada I have to say – I don’t think Canadians are THAT friendly. I live in Toronto and people here are always in a hurry or scared to gaze at each other, while Montreal is the opposite. I think it is ridiculously easy making friends there. Germany, on the other hand, is probably way more difficult than those two.. I’ve met tons of German people and while super friendly when traveling, they definitely show the traits you described! Again, love it! Keep it up!

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Michelle Michelle October 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Thanks! And you’re actually spot on about Toronto! I always say I’m from Toronto to friends abroad, but I’m actually from a suburb near Toronto. I’ve never liked Toronto despite efforts to try to love it there haha. I find the people there rude and nothing like all the stereotypes you hear about Canadians. If you’re still living in Toronto, you should check out the suburbs….you’ll meet tons of warm and friendly people :)

Montreal is a great city though…I completely agree with you!

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Christian Marques September 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Hey, what canadian city did you was born and live in?

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Michelle Michelle October 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm

I’m from a suburb in Toronto, but I’ve also lived in Montreal and London (Ontario) :)

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Robert October 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Great post. Actually the first one I have read of any kind and I have lived in Baden-Württemberg for 3 years now. Kinda strange huh? I guess I was just searching for confirmation of what others thought of Germany and came across your post. I live in a small village near Schwäbisch Hall which is one of the coolest German towns I have been to since being here. Great Schnitzel burger by the bridge in the center of town. I have been to München for a soccer game and also October Feast and toured the city twice now. The trip on the Bahn to the soccer stadium was insane to say the least. Bayern fans are completely crazy football fans. As for the October fest I went last year and again I have to use the word insane. Millions and I do mean MILLIONS of drunk ass people from basically all walks of life but mostly Germans. They do love their beer and so do I. Bread and beer are best in the world and I have broke bread and drank beer in a lot of country’s. With all that said and the fact that I live in Baden-Württemberg I would have to agree with you completely on your assessment of the culture here. My wife is a native Schwäbian and was even born in Schwäbisch Hall and she even says the people in this state are rude and look miserable all the time. She says its completely different if you live up by Berlin west and Hamburg. I tend to agree.

We have been all over Germany since we have been here. We just actually got back from the Blank Forest to buy a Cookoo clock This past weekend. Triberg is absolute beauty. Week before the Volksfest in Crailsheim. They say the second best fest in the west next to October Fest in München.
We go to Frankfurt and Stuttgart all the time and we love Frankfurt.

So as an American I am starting to acclimate to the way of life. YES, A LOT OF RULES, and I hate rules of any kind. Thing is they all seem to serve an order or purpose and if you don’t break rules then great place to live.

I think about the humor here. I think I have figured it out and its mostly a language thing. As American we just say things kinda backwards to them so it just doesn’t come out funny and vise versa. I Also think about the relationship point you made. I have found out over time that I would take two real friends in Germany than ten fake USA friends. When German’s state that you are friends they stand by it. Not like most so called American friendships. PLASTIC PEOPLE SUCK! No plastic people in Germany.

So in closing I have to say a great first read for me with your post. Enjoyed it and I have started to enjoy my stay here. Looking forward to Berlin in the Spring and more castles, wurst, and beer.

Danke!

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Michelle Michelle October 15, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Thanks! I really liked living in Baden-Württemburg although I’m living in Bavaria currently, haha. I’ve been to Oktoberfest twice, and it really is crazy! Haven’t been to a soccer game yet, but really want to score some Bayern-Munchen tickets! When I lived in Mannheim, every once in a while I’ll encounter trains filled with drunk people singing (usually on my way to Mainz or Kaiserslautern) and then I always know there’s a soccer game that day :P

Haven’t been to Triberg yet, but have heard about all the wonderful things there. And I love Frankfurt too! The skyscrapers remind me of home :)

And that’s true about fake people. Although I feel like in North America it’s our culture to be (or at least appear) super inviting….like I’ve absentmindedly said things like “let’s hang out sometime!” when you have no intention on doing so, since everyone back home does that all the time. I think it’s cute when I say that to someone here, and they always say “ok sure, when?” :)

And I love Berlin! Have fun there! :)

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Isaac Wonderboy October 8, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Hi Michelle :)

What a great blog ! I was once an exchange student to Germany in 2011, lived in Wurzburg and went to David Schuster Realschule. I’m actually from Durban, South Africa ( don’t know if you’ve been here before ). I must really say that Germans are punctual and love making schedules right in advance. Well off course the beer is their daily bread as well as soccer. They also adhere to rules every now & then.

I’m coming there next year for the Christmas holidays and New Year’s and hope to stay there in future.

Keep up the good work :)

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Michelle Michelle October 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Thanks Isaac :D

I’ve been to Würzburg to visit a friend earlier this year! It’s such a cute place! Currently I’m living in Bavaria so I’m not too far from there!

I’ve never been to South Africa, but I’d love to go! It’s actually one of my top countries to visit :D

Are you going to give up sunny SA for Germany? But either way, I’m sure you’ll have a great time :)

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Miriam October 10, 2013 at 5:54 pm

I’m german and that is so true about the jokes! If someone is telling me a joke that isn’t funny I give that blank stare, because I don’t forcefully laugh. I don’t know, I feel kinda uncomfortable pretending to laugh and I think you would notice it and I don’t want to give the impression that my friendship is fake! But if I’m with my circle of friends and someone makes a bad joke, we tease that person about the joke until it’s funny! And if someone is telling me a joke I don’t get I ask to explain it to me.

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Hannes November 14, 2013 at 10:32 am

I am German and I discovered your blog. I laughed.
:D
Are you maybe interested in getting in touch???
You could mail me to my privat mail address;)))

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GrößterNehmer December 17, 2013 at 11:15 pm

What a wonderful post! Thanks, Michelle!

I was surprised that you didn’t mention what springs instantly to my mind, when I hear the words “german” and “stereotype” used in one sentence, tough: cars. We Germans love our cars. Especially driving them on the Autobahn at considerable speeds. :-) Maybe that’s one reason why we like to complain about the Deutsche Bahn. Another reason, of course, is, that we like to complain. About what? Anything and everything. You name it, we complain about it. I guess, everybody has someone in their family, maybe an aunt, maybe an uncle, who constantly complains about something. That’s us! All of us. No exception. Period.

Another thing: you noticed closed doors in your dorm. Did you notice locked doors? Germans love to lock und unlock doors. Even if we’re just shopping for half an hour, doors, windows, patio doors get locked. In the movies or on TV thieves often break a window, reach in and open it. Not in Germany! Window handles are often fitted with locks. So if you break a window, you better make sure you remove all the shards from the frame because you probably will have to climb through it. Chances even are, if you have your house, flat or whatever not properly secured (read: locked) and get burglarized the insurance company turns down your claims.

And, yes, you are absolutely right, we have insurance for everything. If you look hard enough, you might even find an insurance that insures your farts agains being stinky… :-D

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Doug K January 24, 2014 at 7:26 am

Maybe I should go to Germany. All my life in the US, I’ve felt like I’ve been kind of an odd outlier, as an American who doesn’t quite fit in. Reading your article makes me think I ought to take some time to learn German and learn about the country and its people.

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Micheal January 29, 2014 at 10:27 am

I’m the same man, I’m Australian and I feel like I don’t fit in here, by everything I’ve read, seen and heard about Germany, it sounds like I’d fit in there better and be happier there.

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eep January 30, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Should I go to Germany for a month?

I’m Asian from Finland.

I would go to America, Canada or Australia but
I’m limited to Europe. It’s kind of an exchange student thing.

Would most of the Germans even like me?

I’m loud, talkative, funny (at least I think I am XD) and outgoing.
I don’t drink or smoke and I don’t want to “waste time” watching
others drink. I’m kind of stubborn and sometimes too honest.
I’m also short tempered…and slow. I have cheap sense of
humor (beavis & butthead, south park, conan o’brien).
Also I don’t do small talk unless someone starts a conversation
first.

Everyone thinks I’m an Asian with mixture of (stereotypical) American
and Finnish manners.

Please help me if you can :D
Sorry if I offended Germans – If we ever meet, you can beat me up.

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Hope February 3, 2014 at 10:48 am

Ha! I live in the Heidelberg area for 8 years now. You are totally spot on. Both my boys were born here and act more “German” than American :)

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Kailena April 2, 2014 at 6:39 am

I lived earlier in Germany and I found your article quite interesting and accurate as well. I am in the states currently but I am moving to Baden-Württemberg at the end of July I am really excited about going back I have missed it. Right now I am just in the process of trying to get a job and/or figuring out how to get a long term visa. If you have any advice I would greatly appreciate it.

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