InterNations Featured Blog
Olesya and Jasper: Hmsies
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Germany, etc.
We both first came to Munich when we were studying for our year abroad in 2011, but whilst that only lasted a year, Jasper went back to Munich in early 2014 on a more permanent basis with Olesya coming not long after.
Jasper is now working at the European Patent Office dealing with customers who need help getting inventions patented whilst Olesya has recently moved to Paris to work in a business school. We both studied languages at university and we always knew we’d like to live abroad one day!
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Actually, our first ever post was about our Erasmus experience! Although there was a lot of information online, there were still a lot of things that we were not prepared for! Afterwards, we decided to post on a regular basis about our experiences abroad as well as covering some hot-topics in our popular category “Current Affairs”.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Yes – our first ever blog post about tips and tricks when going on Erasmus in Germany.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Germany differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
We actually wrote a post about the culture shocks you may experience living in Germany. In a way, although Germany has many advantages and is a wonderful place to live in, there were many things we missed from back home (and not just the fish and chips!).
However, getting used to living in Germany wasn’t that hard and if there were ever any awkward, cultural mishaps or other problems then we realized that at the end of the day, they make very funny stories!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Germany? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
We probably weren’t that prepared for all the bureaucracy that lay in wait. The German government seems to love it whilst we found it all a bit of a drag. We’d perhaps suggest doing a good amount of research in what it is you need to do before moving over here so that you are not surprised by all of the form filling that you have to do!
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Well, there has been no shortage of funny experiences we have both had during our time in Munich. Jasper experienced a particular culture shock when he went to a German sauna for the first time. Being a typically prudish Brit, he thought it’d be nothing just going into a sauna wearing his swimming shorts, but very quickly got the evil-eye treatment from a room full of fully-naked sauna-goers. It turns out that whilst wearing swimwear in a British sauna is a must, in Germany it is usually a no-no! Meanwhile, Olesya tried the international dating side of things, however, one time a German guy she met took her for a walk in the English gardens after lunch and then decided to sit down on a nearby bench and to start reading his book. The conversation wasn’t exactly flowing, but it was nevertheless odd to be sat next to your “date” whilst he is engrossed in the latest crime thriller. He later called her to say “I don’t think this is gonna work out.” (At least they’re honest!)
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Germany?
Our top three tips for living in Germany are:
- 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!
- Watch out for strange rules – As we lived in Munich, a very traditional Bavarian city, there were many things that seemed a bit bizarre to us. For example, they have banal laws about almost everything so if you cross the road on a red light AND you address the police officer as “Du” instead of “Sie”, you can face a hefty double fine there!
- Learn the language. – This probably applies everywhere but whilst many people in Munich can speak English well, you miss out on so much if you can’t speak German. If we weren’t able to speak it, we probably wouldn’t know about the various festivals that take place in and around the city, or which of the stunning lakes outside of the city we should visit or where the best hangout spots in Munich are, so it’s definitely worth picking up the language to make your stay in Germany a bit easier and a lot more fun!
How is the expat community in Germany? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Well we first came to Munich as students and, because we were living in halls, we were able to meet a lot of like-minded and similar people quite quickly, and they are people we were still able to call friends when we came back to Munich. Our friends are a mixture of local Münchners as well as other expats, so we didn’t have many problems meeting people here!
However, when you move to Germany for work, it can be trickier to make friends because German colleagues like to keep their professional distance for example. In this case, we would recommend finding online groups such as this website to find people in the area and to participate in some fun events.
How would you summarize your expat life in Germany in a single, catchy sentence?
München, I mog di!