With our largest pool of au pairs from Germany arriving in the spring and summer, I thought I would cover a few highlights about our largest recruitment country in Europe. Germans make wonderful au pairs because they are very organized, efficient and punctual.
- Capital: Berlin
- Population: 82,422,299 (July 2006 est.)
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Government: Federal Republic
- Religion: Protestant 34%, Roman Catholic 34%, Muslim 3.7%, unaffiliated or other 28.3%
- Climate: Temperate and marine; cool, cloudy, wet winters and summers; occasional warm mountain wind
German is the official language. However, Germany has a multitude of dialects. It is usually possible to determine a German’s native region from his or her dialect and pronunciation. These dialects differ greatly. If, for instance, a Frisian or a Mecklenburger and a Bavarian were to carry on a conversation in their respective pure dialects, they would have great difficulty understanding each other.
|Guten Tag/Abend||Good Day/Evening|
|Wie geht’s?||How are you?|
Germany has a population of approximately 82 million (including 7.3 million foreigners) and is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. Only Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Northern Ireland have a higher population density.
Cultural Tips for German Au Pairs
Without stereotyping, these are some cultural traits common to au pairs from Germany:
- Qualities: Germans make wonderful au pairs because they are very organized, efficient and punctual. They are quite good at following rules so be sure to outline your needs and requirements from the beginning.
- Driving: German au pairs tend to have very good driving experience. However, it is helpful to remember that cars outside the United States tend to be much smaller so driving that SUV or minivan might take some getting used to.
- Working Relationship: German culture is quite blunt. Don’t be surprised if your German au pair makes statements without the usual polite “small talk” that Americans are used to. This is not rudeness; it’s just a cultural difference.
- Sense Of Independance: German young people are raised to work out their own problems independently. They are not accustomed to asking for help or assistance. It is helpful to try to remain aware and if your German au pair is struggling or homesick, ask her/him if help is needed.
- Analytical Eye: Similarly, part of German culture is to look at things with a critical eye. Germans view their own political and social systems critically and question why things are done in a certain way. Again, don’t be offended if they express critical views of politics or other general topics.
- Great English Vs. Cultural Differences: Finally, since most Germans speak English quite well it is easy to quickly forget that their culture is different than ours. If any sources of frustration develop, try to ask yourself if a cultural difference could be at play. Keep lines of communication open with your au pair and, if further help is needed, speak to your Local Childcare Coordinator.