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Germany

Crippling Bureaucracy But Great Beer

A survey carried out by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation on the experience of foreign researchers from 98 countries from 1997 to 2001 who spent 15 months on average in Germany found that "more than 93 percent of the research fellows said they profited scientifically from their stay in Germany," according to Foundation president Wolfgang Frühwald. But not all those surveyed had positive experiences to report. While some complained about the poor access to computers and the Internet in scientific institutes, others griped about the inflexibility and lack of motivation among Germans. Most however bemoaned the country's cumbersome bureaucracy; just a fifth had positive things to say about Germany's foreigners' offices. Many, especially those from Asia or Africa with a family, reported difficulties in finding a furnished apartment to stay in. Most also spoke about culture shock. "People smoke too much; drive too fast; you can't shop on Sundays," was how the survey summed it up. One thing, however, made a very positive impression on the visitors: German beer. "It's the best thing there is," was the general conclusion.