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An Expat’s Guide to Surviving Emergencies in Germany

"Emergency room" by Thierry Geoffroy - Thierry Geoffroy. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Germany is a relatively safe country to visit, ranked 77th in world crime, making it statistically safer than the USA which is ranked 30th. It’s also ranked 79th in terms of violent crime in the world, which means if you keep general common sense and your wits about you while traveling in Germany, you should encounter few problems. That being said, you never know what you may run into while abroad. It may only be a brief case of culture shock or it might be something more serious. Whatever the case may be, we’ve got you covered. Here are some possible problems, and how to deal with them while in Germany:

Cultural differences:

German people are straightforward and they shoot from the hip. What does this mean for you as a foreigner? It means that much of what you would consider ‘rude’ or ‘impolite’ to do in public or in a stranger’s company, doesn’t necessarily apply here. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself scolded for doing something wrong. You may find yourself being yelled at for not ordering drinks at a bar fast enough, for taking too long to bag your groceries at Lidl, or for riding your bicycle in a non-sanctioned area. Don’t take these things to heart! The directness can work in your favour, as it can free you from worrying about being polite and allow you to express yourself freely and share you opinion, even if it has a negative side.

Nudity is also something that’s openly accepted and viewed in public in Germany (especially in summer), and that includes the young and the old. You may not be used to seeing so much skin on show, but it’s nothing to get too bent out of shape about. Try your best to take it in your stride, and spend less time in public sunbathing areas in hot weather if you find it too unnerving.

Medical Issues:

Germany is much like North America and Great Britain when it comes to water, food, and sanitation. There are very little, if any issues outside of that odd dodgy bathroom in a underground bar that you may encounter.  Rabies is most commonly found in bats in Germany, (when it is found at all) so if you plan on spending time caving, make sure you’re up on your rabies vaccinations. It’s also wise to make sure you wear tick repellant if you go hiking in the many Bergs Germany has to offer, as they are nasty creatures that could carry Lyme Disease.

If you do find that something has come up and you need a doctor or in case of emergency, we have some phrases that will definitely come in handy. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use them!

Rufen Sie einen Krankenwagen!

Call an ambulance!          

Ich brauche einen Arzt.

I need a doctor.

Es gab einen Unfall.

There's been an accident.

Oh no! I’m lost!

Germany has an amazing national train system and all of its main cities have fantastic public transit systems. The buses and trains run exactly on time, so it’s usually best to arrive early and if you find yourself missing a bus or a train, another will come along quick enough. The awe-inspiring public transport, mixed with stops announced in German, undoubtedly means that you may, on your journeys, get lost. German people are amazingly helpful when it comes to giving directions, as long as you ask. So if you get lost, try these out:

Entschuldigung, wo ist…?

Excuse  me, where is…?

In welche Richtung ist... ?

In what direction is… ?

Ist es in der Nähe?

Is it near?

Just In Case...

Hey, things go wrong sometimes and that’s ok. What’s important is that you’re already prepared for them before they happen. Here’s a list of important numbers and websites that you should have bookmarked or kept in a safe place.

If you’re Canadian, American, Australian, or from the UK, here are the links for your respective embassies in Germany.

If you need an ambulance, Emergency medical attention or suspect a fire call 112

If you need the police call 110


Naturally any trip to Germany will be smoother, and that little bit easier if you speak the language. Whether you’ve studied German for years or are new to the language, we have courses starting near you that can help you prep for your trip!