Oh how we love cultural collisions! In this NN interview, we interview our German friend, Helge Krueger, about the life ‘down under’ as a ‘Berliner’.
I have traveled to Germany many times; Stuttgart, Cologne, Dusseldorf and spent a year-long study abroad stint in Berlin. I majored in German, love beer and enjoy an occasional World War II tour when I’m there. It’s safe to say that I am bias.
Europe is for me a crossroad of the entire world. Multi-cultural for those with multi-interests. I admit it; I am a ‘Berlinerin’ at heart and I love Europe. I have only ventured ‘down under’ once on a couchsurfing experience with some amazing Australian navy guys who were equally hot as they were fun. Before my actual trip to Australia, you could say it wasn’t exactly at the top of my bucket list. Given my initial, relative lackluster desire to travel to Aussie country, my experience in Sydney was probably some of the most ‘fun’, in the spring break sense of the word, I have ever had.
Australia is, in my ten-day opinion, an island nation with world-class cities and diverse ecosystems that can only be experienced there. There is no end of things to do, see, climb, hike, eat and, of course, drink! The Aussies are amazingly friendly and love the outdoors as much as they love a dope party. But because most of my time was spent walking (if that’s what you want call it) from bar to bar accompanied by the most insane and obnoxious guys I have ever met in my entire traveling history, I really didn’t get to see everything I wanted. No Outback. No Great Barrier Reef. No Fosters (A beer that is actually nowhere to be found in Australia). I did find, however, that Australians were a lot like Americans. Same language, same television shows and an equal openness to strangers sitting on the bar seat next to them. Perhaps, it is for this reason, I am somewhat unmoved by Australia. It felt like a 20 hour plane ride to the west coast of the United States.
It seemed only right that I should seek to understand my love for Europe and my luke warm feelings toward Australia. For more insight into the tangible and intangible differences between Germany and Australia, I decided to interview my friend Helge Krueger-a native Berliner who has, over the last three years, transformed into a ‘Bondi Beacher’ to see how he compares the culture of Sydney to that of Berlin and Europe.
What do you miss the most about Berlin/Germany?
There’s a lot I miss. Berlin is quite a unique city that offers a lot that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. But what I miss the most apart from friends and family are the food, music, and soccer. Or in other words: a good late night Döner (shout out to Mustafa’s Gemüsedöner), the love for HipHop, and my team, Hertha BSC Berlin.
What are the three biggest differences in culture you’ve noticed?
1. Small talk
Small talk is huge in Australia. I guess there are different ways of interacting with each other in every country but small talk seemed very foreign to me when I first moved to Sydney. It’s not that common in Germany and Berlin in particular!
Australians are a fit bunch and take advantage of the great weather whenever they can. Everybody, literally EVERYBODY does some kind of exercise to stay fit no matter if it’s cycling, running, swimming, soccer, or beach volleyball. German’s are active too but not as seriously involved as Aussies.
Germans aren’t anywhere near as patriotic as Aussies. People think it’s fun to be patriotic down here and waving the Australian flag or singing the national anthem is nothing unusual. In Germany it’s sports related most of the time and not so much of a political statement.
Do people still give you crap about WWII?
People definitively do! For my friends it’s just a way to take the piss (Australian for picking on somebody) without being really serious about it. I can’t deny that WWII is part of Germany’s history but I think education and the fact that you meet Germans traveling all over the world makes people realize that modern Germany is one of the most liberal countries in the world.
What makes Australia a great place to live and work for a Berliner?
The weather is one of the main reasons why I decided to settle down here. You have easily 6 months of summer and living 5min away from one of the world’s most famous beaches isn’t too bad either. Australia seems to be far away from everything but in reality there are a lot of amazing places just around the corner. You can go snowboarding in New Zealand or snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef and it doesn’t take more than 3 hours of traveling from Sydney each way. When it comes to work life people are much more relaxed compared to Europe but still professional. It’s a much friendlier way of interacting with each other. No matter if it’s clients, co-workers, or your manager.
How is the party scene in Australia compared to Germany? Who has better dancers?
Germany definitively has the better nightlife. Don’t get me wrong, you can have great night out in Sydney but Berlin’s nightlife is simply unbeatable. Australia is more about the pubs whereas Germany has a much better club scene. That’s why Germans aren’t actually too bad on the dance floor!
Hmmm, I’m not so sure about that one!
What should every German know about Australia?
Surfing isn’t as hard as it looks, you can’t buy Fosters in Australia, and Vegemite is a religion!
What are great things to do and see in Sydney?
Sydney has a lot to offer but my top 5 things to do and see in Sydney are:
1. Bondi Beach on Australia day – Go for a swim on gigantic inflated flip flops with a fun crowd of 10,000 people and get loose at the Beach Road Hotel after.
2. Bondi to Coogee coastal walk – Have a stroll along the eastern suburb coastal line in winter and watch dolphins and wales
3. Melbourne Cup Day in Darlinghurst – Dress up, place some bets and watch the most epic horse race on earth at the Beresford Hotel.
4. Harbour Bridge walk – Walk across the Sydney Harbour Harbour Bridge and enjoy the best view on the Sydney Opera House on a budget.
5. Surf Lesson at Manly Besch – Manly Beach is one of Sydney’s iconic beaches and has great conditions for beginners who want to have a try at Australia’s national sport.
What makes you Nomadik?
I’m always hungry for new experiences and traveling is just one way for me to get my “wow-moment” fix. Living in a foreign country makes you experience these moments in the most random situations. I’ve been living in Sydney for three years now and there still isn’t such a thing as daily routine. I would recommend it to anybody. Leave your circle of comfort and go traveling. You’re only young once and the older you get the harder it is to leave commitments behind.
Who would win a fight Germany vs Australia?
(laughs) Aussies are definitively more fit… but then again, German Shepherds are smarter than Kangaroos. I suppose it would end up in a draw celebrated with lots of beers…
In our Sydney versus Berlin match, it looks like a draw………
I guess so!