On my trip to Sarajevo last month, something odd happened: I ended up in a dorm full of German guys. One of them turned out to be wonderful, but the others made me feel like I was being mentally raped.

In the world of bold over generalisation, there surely are worse tourists than Germans.
They're not loud, don't drink too much (and when they do, still behave decently), they usually attempt to learn at least a few words of the local language, and outside Spain and Italy, they even dress well.

Yet, I find myself avoiding them when I travel – to a point where I have actually told them I'm English, Irish, Australian or French. Multiple times. Where especially American or Australian travellers tend to stick together like glue when they meet abroad, I feel like the odd one out when I meet Germans. Heck, it's the reason I left the country in the first place! Even when I lived in Germany, only about a fifth of my friends were German, starting in kindergarten.

While Germans, with high salaries and a higher holiday allowance than almost every other country in the world, can be found in many places in the world, there are very few Germans who travel long term or live life outside the 9-5 bubble. And you know what? That's totally fine if that makes them happy. The thing that ticks me off is that as a nation, the only thing we love more than rules is enforcing them on others.

In people's minds, it's impossible to believe that I chose not to live in this country any more. One of the first questions they always ask me is 'So, when are you coming back?', to which I often reply 'When I'm old and sick and the NHS has ceased to exist'. Needless to say the average German takes this as an insult, not as sarcasm. I can appreciate the country I was born in: Germany is great if you like to live somewhere safe, clean and organised, if you always want to know exactly what's going to happen every moment of every day of your life. If you were born in an unstable country, it must be heaven. If you like to have a colourful, vibrant life, it's about the worst country in the world to live in.

On said Sarajevo trip, I found myself talking to three of the four German guys in a bar, and all they could ever say was 'Why do you do this?' 'Don't you think you should do xyz differently?' or 'No, the way you do it is wrong'. It was an interrogation, but through the haze of beer and gin&tonic, I didn't realize it. At the end of the night it dawned on me that I had told them everything about myself, yet didn't know more than their names and professions. Once again, I had turned into an object of curiosity.

That's why I love the UK, and other countries where people are often perceived as 'cold'. The grass surely isn't greener on this side, neither is the standard of housing, overall cleanliness and safety, but that's not what it's about. There are plenty of boring, superficial, racist, conservative or otherwise unpleasant people in Britain as in every other country of the world, but in general, people aren't as outspoken about it. The cloak of politeness, fake as it may be, gives anyone who prefers to dance to their own tune some breathing space.

Yes, I'm a control freak, I over-plan and am anal about cleanliness (excellent skills for travelling in India, I know). Yet, I think there's more to life than living according to the rules. When we travel, other Germans see me as someone they have something in common with, but 99% of the time, that just isn't the case. My Germany was never the middle class, house, garden, dog, car, university and office job Germany that Germans that can afford to travel live in. My Germany was one of the working class, of the autonomous scene, of foreigners that knew that even if they spoke the language perfectly, they'd never be accepted there. A Germany of all the people that knew that they live outside the very narrow norms of the country. It was the exact opposite of theirs, and rather than explaining that to a total stranger, I prefer to lie about where I'm from.

How well do you connect with people of your own nationality, especially while travelling?


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