This time I mean asocial more in the English sense, not having a lot of friends. People here are polite, but reserved. This was covered in my Dutch book too, that they protect their privacy fiercely, and this means a strict separation between your work life and your home life. Upshot = your colleagues don’t want to be your friends. That essentially means that my workaholic husband won’t be making any friends, because work is pretty much all he does. This was kind of bumming him out on his birthday last week.
As for me, well, the thing is, a lot of Germans are like that too – not the privacy-protecting thing so much, but you get the impression that they made all their friends in kindergarten and after that some kind of door closed. And DrBob didn’t notice this while we were still in Germany, because he still has his kindergarten friends.
(Parenthetically, this keeps happening: DrBob remarks on how hard things are now that he’s all foreign, things that I’ve been putting up with for the last eight years, but he manages to complain without ever acknowledging that that must have been difficult for me. It’s hard to make friends, it’s exhausting to have to function in a language not your own, he really misses his home, his people, his culture, and it’s really hard not to say “dude: I KNOW, alright?”)
Anyway, I spent eight years having a hard time making friends. I did make some, say about nine, and only three of those are actual Germans, two of whom are married to eachother. So I’ve changed one basic principle of my expatness: I used to believe that you don’t move 10,000 miles away from home just to hang out with other Anglos, but now I’m ready to look for friends among the expat community. Friendship is one of a great many things that are culturally defined, and if you want friends to whom friendship means the same things that it means to you, well, you’ll have an easier time if you look to your own culture. Not that it’s impossible, and I’ll be perfectly happy if any of my perfectly nice Dutch acquaintances turn into real friends, but if they don’t, I won’t take it personally.
Schlock du jour of the day: That’s What Friends Are For, by Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Gladys Knight. (Schlock, she says. As if she didn’t know ALL the words by heart.)