InterNations Featured Blog
Recommended Expat Blogs: Germany
Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Germany:
Though we may speak different languages and have different backgrounds, we (Americans, Germans, and other nationalities living in Germany) are fundamentally all the same, wishing the best for each other and trying to do the best for themselves and their families.
Culture shock? Yup, daily. Even now to an extent, but about different things now than at the beginning. I had traveled in Germany a lot before coming here, so the basics of the culture (and knowing how to deal with culture shock) I already knew.
The biggest problem doesn't seem to be dealing with new situations, as in situations I had never seen. The bigger problem was dealing with situations I was used to at home and which are completely different here. Essentially the daily things of life became all consuming for a bit. Doing laundry, grocery shopping and renting an apartment all take on an extra challenge.
Everyday is a new adventure and, yes, there is culture shock, but I’m happy to say that it is not negative. Everyone seems to be very understanding and excited to teach me about their lives and the intricacies of their culture. The more time I spend in Germany, the more accustomed I become to the German culture, and the more I take on their attributes. Little things, like getting annoyed when the train is not exactly on time, makes my friends laugh and say that I “become more German everyday”.
Get into a fitness regime. Now – compared to Britain, if you go to a restaurant, you’ll tend to find that the food is not only very cheap but the portions are also very big. If you’re also drinking a mass of nice beer whilst eating a massive schnitzel, you’ll find that the calories pile on very quickly! So make sure you get a bike in this very bike-friendly city and make sure you keep active!
You can never be fully prepared, as you are going into a completely new experience, but I feel I much better prepared than others in my situation due to my previous experience in Germany. My advice would be to contact everyone in your family, work and social networks – there’ll be at least one person who knows someone with a connection in your destination, and this can be an incredible help at the start; just having a phone number you can call if you really need to, even if you never use it.
Since I’d visited Germany for a few weeks at a time prior to moving here, I already knew a bit about the country and what awaited us. But I think few things can prepare you for moving somewhere that you don’t really speak the language at all. If we’d had more time before moving here, I would have considered learning more German ahead of time. And now with the Internet, you can reach out to people in your area a lot more easily, from other expats to locals, which can definitely help you get adjusted more quickly in your new home.
The biggest difference I experienced was a life style change of going from being an employee to an entrepreneur. Learning German has been a frustrating process at times, and I’m still actively learning it. Speaking intermediate German has significantly improved the quality of my life and while I’m far from being fluent, I can hold conversations in German and have German friends.
No, I was not fully prepared for life in Germany even though I am someone who plans ahead. I did the usual thing of learning German before moving over here. I also visited for 4 weeks to see what Germany was like. But visiting as a tourist is not the same as living in a place on a daily basis.
I must say that it took me some time to adjust to the German way of doing things. Germany is very different from Italy. There is hardly any sun and hot days in Cologne in summer, German food leaves much to be desired for a non-meat eater and the people tend to be more rigid, not spontaneous, and cold. But every day I start to appreciate more and more the fact that Germany is well regulated and things do work here!
If someone asked me when I was in Canada, planning my move to Germany if I was prepared, I would have definitely said yes. However, once I got to Germany I realized that I couldn't have been further from the truth.
For my first two years in Germany I studied at an international university and, although I lived off campus, my immediate environment was multicultural to the extreme. I truly encountered Germany only after I had left the university bubble and started making more local contacts. So, to answer the question, I sometimes wish that I had spent more time in those first years on learning German.
For starters, I am a lot happier in Germany despite being so ignorant to my surroundings. I have mastered a little German but not enough to throw myself into the language with full understanding, so I spend a lot of my day blissfully unaware of anything being wrong. To be honest, I prefer this way of living! It means I can expose myself to things when I choose to, instead of having them forced upon me via newspaper headlines, overhearing conversations, etc. Of course, I care about important issues, but being away from the blatant displays of it has helped me to take in what is important and banish the rest.
Find ways to get involved with the expat community and the local community. I joined InterNations several months before moving to Germany and a few more online expat communities once I arrived. These groups offer great resources to learn more about German culture, networking, accommodation, insurance, transportation, and much more. My goal is to meet more locals and make more German friends in the coming years.
For me, the single biggest difference between life back in the States and life as an expat in Germany is boredom. That is to say, boredom no longer exists. Every day is different, especially as I attempt to live using a second language.
Are you an expat blogger and would like to be featured here? Get in touch with us!