InterNations Featured Blog
Laurel: Monkeys and Mountains
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Germany, etc.
I come from Canada where I worked in university management. I moved to Germany for the man who is now my husband and am writing the popular travel blog Monkeys and Mountains and doing additional freelance travel related work, most recently developing iPhone tours of Munich.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I had done a bit of blogging before moving to Germany and had decided before I moved that I would become a professional travel blogger. I’ve been doing it for almost two years now.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favorite entries are the ones that are helpful to my readers and include practical tips such as Expat Living: How to Live the Good Life Abroad and 5 Fun Ways to Learn a Language. My posts on sightseeing in Germany have also been popular, especially My Favorite Castles of Southern Germany and My Favorite Places to Eat in Munich. People like recommendations that can help them feel at home and discover another locals favorites. I was shocked at how popular Culture Shock in a German Hospital was, but it turns out it was something a lot of people could relate too.
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?
I’m fortunate that I have lived as an expat before in S. Korea and Thailand, which helped me adjust fairly quickly and as a result I didn’t experience any major culture shock – except to readjust to stores being closed on Sundays and closing earlier than they do in Canada. 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.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Germany? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Having been an expat before, I made decisions and preparations based on my past experiences which served me well. I also enrolled in an eight-month intensive German course, which I didn’t enjoy, but I’m glad that I did it as it gave me a foundation in German.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Being handed a bed pan in the recovery room after an operation with the doors wide open to the reception area. Much to the nurse’s confusion, I declined and insisted on some privacy.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Germany?
- Find a purpose – Finding a purpose will make it so much easier to adjust to life in any country, whether it is finding a fulfilling job, volunteering, or writing that book you’ve always wanted to write.
- Make friends – I’m a much happier person when I have a few close friends and I think that’s the case with most people, so make an effort to make friends right from the start. I attended a book club meeting my first day after moving to Munich and a couple of the members have become good friends.
- Learn the language – Yes it’s true, many people speak English, especially in larger centers, but learning German really will improve your daily life.
How is the expat community in Germany? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I lived in Stuttgart first and found it was a bit tougher there than it is in Munich. Munich has more special interest groups, i.e. hiking, badminton, book clubs, cycling and photography clubs to name a few so it’s easier to meet people that share at least one of your interests.
How would you summarize your expat life in Germany in a single, catchy sentence?
Biking to beer gardens and adventures in the Alps.