How to become a German

Weier, deutscher Spargel mit glatter Petersilie auf Holztisch

It’s happened! My valuable source of English quirkiness is henceforth lost. I regret to inform you, dear readers, that Mr K, formerly known as ‘My English Husband’, has now reached the ultimate stage of naturalisation. On Wednesday, 6 April 2016, at 11:49 hrs, he bought a Jack Wolfskin all-weather jacket. Meanwhile he has received a ‘welcome-to-the-club’ letter from Angie.

So, I said, ‘So now that you’re a proper German, do some German things! He came up with quite a few. Here’s a to-do list for those among you who are still practicing.

  1. Use ‘Na?’ as a universal greeting.
    Never underestimate the power of this Tardis of a word. It may only have two letters, but depending on the length and intonation of the vowel – which, believe you me, can be stretched to the duration of a cricket match – as well as the facial expression going with it, it can mean anything between Whaddup? and Wipe that cheeky smirk right off your face, you bum! You still owe me an apology for standing me up last Tuesday! Again, German is easier than you think. Some more examples of what ‘na’ may stand for:
English German
Good morning. Na?
How are you? Na?
Fancy seeing you here. Na?
Good to see you. How did your date go last night? Na?
Does that Matjesbrötchen still repeat on you? Na?
How’s work going? Na?


  1. Find something to moan about.
    Anything. There’s always something. The weather: it’s always too hot or too cold. Das gibt’s doch nicht!
  2. Give a stranger a hard time out of the blue.
    Preferably, yell at a child riding his bike on the pavement, ‘Das hier ist ein Bürgersteig und kein Radweg!’
  3. Confirm any piece of information saying ‘Genau!’
    The Germans’ favourite word ever.
  4. Do The Pout.

For more advice, turn to How To Be German In 20 Easy Steps.

Then again, my German husband still drinks his tea with milk and comments on our little one’s bowel movements with ‘My word, what a ripper!’ And, to be fair, he only bought the Jack Wolfskin fashion item at the recommendation of Which? magazine. Perhaps he may still be blog material after all …

See you next week, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

The Pommes Buddha says: Ich habe keine Zeit.

> Audioversion


Germans are everywhere

hiking in the mountains

During my time in Australia, some of which I spent travelling around the country, I realised that there’s no escape. I was picturing a secluded part of the world, literally the furthest away from my home country, where I would be left in peace and have a chance to immerse myself into a different culture, completely unfettered by my roots, for a while. But no!

Not only did I not feel secluded at all because, obviously, there was e-mail and Skype – and even people on the telephone in Europe sounded like they were just around the corner. But also, wherever I went, on every last bloody jeep safari into the remotest part of the bush, I would bump into fellow countrymen and women.

Germans do like to travel. The World Tourism Organization UNWTO says that until 2011 Germans were the world champions of travelling, at least based on the money spent in tourism.

Whenever my English husband and I are hiking abroad, he takes mischievous pleasure in a little pastime he calls Spot the German. Having trotted the odd part of the globe, he says you can always recognise Germans by their top-notch, super-organised equipment. And by their Jack Wolfskin coats – which, he assumes, will expand into a fully-equipped tent or ready-to-use canoe at the hassle-free pull of a strap.

I was surprised to hear he’d never heard of Jack Wolfskin before going backpacking. I thought it came from some English-speaking country, but it is actually a German brand.

‘You would never see a German on a hiking trail just wearing a pair of old trainers,’ says Mr K. Yes, we like to be prepared. That makes us feel safe. And when we’re prepared and feel safe, most of us will be in the right mindset to actually let our hair down.

When I went on a trekking tour in Tasmania, I was incredulous at one Irish girl wearing trainers. It did say on the equipment list that rain and mud were to be expected. And this poor girl ended up with very, very, very wet feet, while my feet were nicely dry and snug in my Meindl leather boots. Sometimes it’s nice to be German.

But, oh, what woe if we fall prey to imponderabilities! Imagine … ‘Liebling, I’ve lost my Swiss Army knife. Go, go, you can make it without me!’ – ‘But Schatz, I think we’ll be fine. It’s only the Cologne Zoo cable car.’

Now get your pickaxe, coz next week we’re going on a pub crawl.

The Pommes Buddha says: When in doubt, ask a German. (There’ll probably be one right next to you.)

> Audioversion