My name is Franziska Stefan and I am from Leipzig, Germany. I came to New York to practice my English, to gain some work experience and to travel abroad. After four weeks of language course at Embassy CES I started an internship at Wf360. Now I have the wonderful opportunity to post on Susan Bird’s blog.
I chose to come to New York City because I especially wanted to get to know the life and the people here. I figured out that there are a lot of differences between the USA and Germany, particularly that communication is special here. I want to give you some examples.
I went to a fast food pizza restaurant and while I was waiting for my food, a guy came in and ordered a pizza. He requested his pizza not to be too hot because he would be eating it immediately while walking. To make sure he was heard, he told the worker three times. This clearly made the pizza guy very angry as he said, “You said it to me three times now. I already heard it the first time. OK?” The weirdest part was that the guy got his pizza and left as if nothing had happened. In Germany you would never see such a situation, because IF someone would ask for another temperature of his food, he would be very cautious to ask only one time because it is rude to ask multiple times. Also, the pizza guy would only have bad thoughts about the customer and would never say it out loud.
Another situation happened to me at a subway station. While I was waiting for a friend, an older police man came out of a shop and said to me, “Have a wonderful weekend. And remember it’s Mother’s Day...” Also at a pharmacy, a costumer in the line asked me if I had found everything. In these situations I was very confused for the first few seconds as this would NEVER happen in Germany. People in NYC are just more vocal and nice.
I read a guest post of another intern at Wf360 about taxi drivers and I’m not totally agreeing with him when he said that every taxi ride in NY is horrible. I did however have unpleasant experiences where are all the drivers pestered me with questions! If you take a taxi in Germany they talk to you too but if they realize that you are not really interested in the conversation, they stop talking. In New York they are much more aggressive and ask you questions about your whole life.
Finally, I want to point out some little differences I observed in NYC that you would not see in Germany. This includes signs with prohibitions or notes which you can find everywhere in the city. Lastly– and this is the most typical communication element in the US – I want to mention that it is normal here to ask everybody how they feel during the salutation. For example, a waiter at a restaurant and the postman asked me how I was doing. In Germany you only ask a good friend how they feel and never a stranger.
After my time in NYC, I can summarize that the American or at least the New Yorker way of communicating is easier than the German one. I think this is because talking is more direct here and you don’t put so much weight in every word you say. I like the New Yorker way of communication and sometimes wish it would be a bit more easygoing in Germany. Hopefully, I can bring some of this NY style of communication back home.