What brought you to Germany?
I had been interested in living and working overseas since I had a semester abroad experience when I was pursuing my undergraduate degree. Quite a few years later, I found a job opportunity in Germany. I thought it would be a great way to do some good and to experience expat living.
What opinion did you have about Germans before coming? Has it changed?
Before my first trip to Germany, I had very little knowledge of the country and people other than what I had seen in movies. I alternated between wondering if people wouldn’t be very friendly or if they’d be farmers dressed in Tracht and drinking from huge beer glasses. I wrote more about it here.
I traveled to Germany and learned that neither idea was really what it was like here but I still didn’t have an accurate picture. When I found out that I would be working here, I read as many expat blogs as I could before I moved. From that, I came away with the idea that people would be scolding me for doing anything wrong (such as jaywalking) and that I would never be able to make any German friends.
I am thankful to find that both of those assumptions have been proven wrong! I have yet to be scolded and I have some wonderful German (and expat) friends who have been so kind and friendly.
What is it that you like/dislike in Germany?
There are many things to like about Germany. Personally, I like the quality of life. People seem, for the most part, secure. They have plenty of time off and know how to enjoy it well. They know that they can stay healthier since they have good health insurance and adequate sick leave in the event that they do get sick. I love that there always seems to be some sort of festival or event no matter what the time of the year. I’m a big fan of the big push for recycling and conserving resources.
Even though there are many positive aspects of living here, Germany does have some down sides, too. I have gotten so frustrated by people not respecting personal space. While in line at a grocery store once I was shocked when, without warning, a woman behind me grabbed me by the waist and shoved me to the side. Apparently she wanted to get by but an “excuse me” or tapping me on the shoulder would have been a much more polite way to ask! I have also experienced people blatantly cutting in line or bumping into me on the street. It was definitely a culture shock for me because in America, people tend to be respectful of lines and apologize for running into someone.
What is your favorite thing to do in Germany?
I live in the Pfalz region of Germany, which is a lovely wine growing area. I joke that if people ask about the beer here, we tell them about the wine. I really enjoy attending the culinary hikes and local wine festivals, where I sometimes try the area’s specialty, white wines.
I also enjoy some of the great outdoor opportunities available in the area. Since we’re in the Pfälzerwald, hiking is a popular activity. Additionally, I love to attend auto free days when the local two-lane highways are closed for bicycling and parties in the towns along the route.
What would you say to a person who is thinking of moving to Germany?
Do research before moving here but come with an open mind and form your own opinions. Attempt to integrate yourself as much as you can; learn German (the Volkshochschule is a great place to start) and once you’re more fluent, join community clubs or organizations. Attend local events. Try to make some German friends, remembering that to have friends, it’s important to be a good friend (i.e. honoring your commitments, being punctual, and treating others as you’d like to be treated). Look for the good in others and in your newly adopted country. If you expect to have a good time, you probably will!