Paul: Total Munich
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Munich, etc.
I am a Brit born in the rain in Manchester, who has spent time as an aid worker in places like Rwanda, Somalia and Siberia, and have been living in Croatia for the last 12 years. I worked in Munich 25 years ago and am just moving back now to rediscover the city.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started three years ago on the island of Hvar, as it is an amazing island where the tourist information was terrible. I then started with Split and the Dalmatian hinterland and here I am now moving to Munich. I was delighted to win the FIJET Marko Polo Award 2014 for the best international promotion of Croatia at the National Society of Journalists.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
The blog is only just beginning and will start properly in March 2015, but two entries I enjoyed writing so far were about how I got fired from the Munich Sheraton for losing our pet snake in 1988, and the bees making honey at the opera, which is a great story not many people in the city know about.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Munich differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Home for me has been the island of Hvar on the Adriatic, and there have been lots of culture shocks so far. I have lived for more than a decade on an island with no traffic lights or roundabouts, where time is relative and technology a little backward. I spent my first few days in Munich walking around the city with my mouth wide open in awe. I spent days playing with the MVV travel app, for example.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Munich? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Not at all. I came first in January, and it was cold! Coming from the sunniest island in Europe, the snow of earlier January was something I was not prepared for.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
There are too many to mention over the years, and many will be in my new book, Around the World in 80 Disasters, but I did enjoy visiting a village in northern Somalia as an aid worker where it had not rained for more than 3 years. I, a Manchester boy, emerged from the car with lots of red hair, and the heavens opened. I became known as The Manchester Rain God, and the incident is still talked about in Somalia today, some 13 years later.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Munich?
- Learn the language.
- Embrace the culture.
- Meet and spend time with locals.
How is the expat community in Munich? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I have yet to really find out, but I get the impression it is large and active. There are several Facebook groups and weekly gatherings, so I think it will be easy to meet people. I am more interested in getting to know locals, although there are lots of fascinating characters from all over the world, I am sure. I would be happy to meet anyone who would like to show me a little of their Munich, so get in touch...
How would you summarize your expat life in Munich in a single, catchy sentence?
About to start! Ask me again in a few months when I have settled in, but I am certainly very much looking forward to discovering Munich again after a break of 25 years.