Back in 2004, freshly graduated, when the world hadn’t yet talk about the financial crisis and in my home country it was still unthinkable that houses’ prices could ever drop down, I got what I still, even today, consider a life-time job opportunity. That’s simply how my German adventure started. It was supposed to be for a couple of years but then one thing led to another and ten years and three cities later, here I am, still enjoying life in my beloved adopted country. So enriching and intense has been my experience that at some point I decided I couldn’t keep everything for myself and created a blog to share my “adventures” in Germany.
When I arrived here I could only speak some English, no German at all. Willing to fix this, I jumped directly into a shared apartment together with another two Germans. After six months I could already speak basic German and after two years I became fluent. At work, my boss and colleagues were totally understanding and kept on checking on me every day during the first months. For me integrating into the German society has definitely not been a struggle, but rather an immense pleasure. I think if you are respectful with their ways and take the time and effort to learn the language, Germans will demonstrate you that there is much more than the cliché …
What strikes you most in Germany (good and bad)?
What stroke me and still strikes me the most is the immense civility shown by German individuals, as well as, their respect towards other individuals and society as a whole. I consider Germans to be honest and sincere (sometimes maybe too much 🙂 ) and this of course makes me feel very comfortable. A possible “side effect” is their inflexible approach sometimes. Normally it is not a big deal, but sometimes it can get ridiculous. My favorite example: a restaurant offers “spaghetti bolognese” and “tagliatelle carbonara” in the menu, but what you would really like to have is “spaghetti carbonara”… well good luck!
Has your lifestyle changed when you came to Germany? if yes, how?
Completely. I went from having lunch and dinner at 14:00 and 21:00 respectively in Spain, to 12:00 and 19:00 in Germany. I already have plans for 2015, while in Spain I would normally not know what I was going to do the day after. Indeed, going back to Spain is for me now a cultural shock and it has “sponsored” one of the most popular posts in my blog “the Germanisation”. For example, now, when the sun is out, any other plan I may have goes immediately on hold! First what’s first. Here you don’t know when the next chance might be…
Can you tell us about a cross-cultural mistake you have committed in Germany?
While over time Germans may become your trusted faithful friends, this normally doesn’t happen overnight. When I moved to my first apartment, I went one by one ringing into each of the 26 neighbor’s doors in my block to introduce myself and announce I was new in the building, the city and the country. Let’s say now I know this is not quite how it works here … 🙂
What does multiculturalism mean to you?
To me multiculturalism is a synonym to enrichment. While other cultures may sometimes be shocking and difficult to assimilate to (believe me, integrating myself in China was a completely different experience than integrating in Germany), the multicultural experience to me has proved to be infinitely enriching: colleagues from many different nationalities, friends from up to 32 countries I counted in my Facebook and of course my Spanish friends and family both in Spain and all over the world. And last but not least, my Polish boyfriend. Multiculturalism is a way of life, luckily, my way of life. When it comes to Germany, I think it depends a lot where you live. Yes, big cities like Berlin or Munich are very multicultural, while small towns may not be what one could call “multicultural”.
I can only recommend everyone this international or German experience (it doesn’t have to last ten years!). This is my fourth time abroad and every country I lived in gave me much more than what I could have wished for. Living and learning. Always…