Posts tagged ‘friends’

March 22, 2011


Trekking Antarctica - not a hard requirement for friendship in Germany, but it helps :-), pic:

In Germany when you know somebody for roughly a decade, have spend significant time together doing stuff like walking across Antarctica, studying for midterm and finals together – for the duration of your studies (that would be several years) -building a house together or hosting each others families for extended vacations, you are in each others wills and you would trust your life and that of your loved ones to the other person – then you have made a friend.

Alternatively you can grow up together sharing early memories of the sandbox, the 2nd grade math teacher and your respective first loves.

Everybody else are either colleagues (who in rare cases can become friends – given time) or acquaintances.  That woman you meet three times a week at the playground and talk to about pretty much everything – acquaintance!

In the US you meet somebody twice, exchanged a few friendly words about something other than business, you maybe have a coffee together some day, you might be willing to lend the person your pen for a few minutes  – then you have made a friend.

When I left Germany to go to business school I had maybe 10 really good friends (and lots of acquaintances).  When I started business school a few days later  I had 360 new friends – overnight, most of them I never met before.

Neither one approach to friendship is better than the other.  They are just different, very different and one needs to be aware of.   And the end effect might be just the same: after almost 14 years in the US I don’t have more than 10 really really good friends, German-type friends, the kind whom I entrust my live to.  In Germany you build them up slowly, very slowly; in the US you start big and then pare them down coming out at approximately the same number.

Just so you know.