I’m a Spanish engineer who came to Germany looking for the “Promised Land” and became unemployed some time later. Along the way I realized that many of my beliefs about Germany were totally wrong, so I had to redefine them. After that, I decided to tell my experience in a blog, partially to vent my frustration and partially to prevent newcomers from making the same mistakes. As time went by, I got to know not only negative aspects, but also positive ones. Therefore, I try always to give a realistic portrait of Germany, which is, without any doubt, a great country.
My first months here were really hard. My main problems came probably due to the language, since I didn’t speak German by that time, but I had headaches with my papers too. There are many offices to visit and many papers to arrange at the beginning. That’s not easy when you are abroad and you have no idea how the things work in that country, and much worse without speaking the local language! It takes a while to get used to “strange” habits as well. And to be honest, I must say that most Germans are not exactly the warmest and the most open people in the world… That’s a big barrier to get integrated here.
What strikes you most in Germany?
It’s amazing how urban and rural get along in this country. No matter if you are in the city or in the countryside, you can see industry and modern facilities next to farms, fields and forests. I love how they create value added with the environment. What I don’t like, however, is the over-accelerated and extremely rigid lifestyle of this society. It’s really stressful! I’d rather live more slowly and maintain some flexibility…
Has your lifestyle changed when you came to Germany? if yes, how?
Absolutely! My way of eating, my way of getting around, my way of relating to people and even my way of thinking have changed. In general, my life has become much less spontaneous. There is little room for improvisation now. Everything must be planned in advance here.
What do you miss the most from your home country?
Oh, so many things!! People, weather, places, habits, FOOD… It’s hard to say what I miss the most… I miss also the feeling of “having control”. In your country you feel confident in any situation because you know the rules and there is no language barrier. Abroad everything is more uncertain and even the simplest things become big challenges. To me it is especially frustrating that, due to the language, I can never show my best performance at work. Of course you can improve it more and more, but you will never be a native speaker. One way or another, that will always be a handicap.
Has some of the stereotypes about Germany and Germans been confirmed by your experiences here?
I would say many think that Germans are methodical, disciplined, efficient, cold and serious. Like any stereotype, some of them have been confirmed (for sure!), but some others are merely myths or just partially true. Particularly, I can bear witness to their coldness and individualism. It’s not easy to make friends over here…
What does multiculturalism mean to you?
In my opinion, multiculturalism is more than just people of diverse nationalities living near each other. To me, it means to be open-minded, to have curiosity about new things, to understand that not the entire world is exactly like the small piece of it that you know and, above all, to be able to incorporate into your thinking the best of each culture. In that sense, I think Germany is quite multicultural, though not fully. While it is true that some places go that way, mistrust towards strangers and reluctance to change are also not unusual.