My name is Jessica Sachson, an American from Charlotte, NC and just over a year ago I moved to Frankfurt, Germany. This was not my first experience living abroad in Germany. I had the great fortune back in 2002 to study International Business at a University in Mainz, Germany. I never thought in a million years I would be back and when given the opportunity I was excited to return. Shortly after the big move I began to blog on our travels and life abroad. This move to Frankfurt happened because my husband accepted a new position with his company, for a two year assignment. Newly married, we jumped at the chance to begin our marriage in a unique way, creating a life abroad. I had a full-time career in marketing and a part-time job teaching yoga, which were put on hold to make this move overseas. Lucky for me, my yoga training came in handy and helped me land a full-time position teaching yoga in Frankfurt.
What has been your best/worst experience in Germany?
The best experience living in Germany is how centrally located Frankfurt is to the rest of Europe. It makes it extremely easy to travel and it is always amazing, even if the flight is just 60 minutes, to land in a different country and experience different cultures – now that is incredibly cool. For the down side, this has not so much to do with Germany per se, but could happen each time you move somewhere new…culture shock. I really believed having lived in Germany before, I would not experience it this time around and it hit me like a ton of bricks. It took a good 3 months to overcome and once I did, I truly loved being here.
What is it that you like/dislike the most here?
What’s fascinating about culture shock is something that appears, at first, to be a dislike can actually turn out to be something that you appreciate. A big shock was discovering, with the exception of restaurants, Germany is shut down on Sunday! Back home on Sundays, this would be the day we would run our errands and get all of our shopping done for the week. It took a little bit of time to adjust and make sure we used our Saturday wisely. Thankfully, now, it doesn’t even faze us anymore.
Do you think Germany is a multicultural country?
Yes, I do believe Germany is a multicultural country. Walking down the streets in Frankfurt, you always hear tons of different languages. The city is known to be very international, with plenty of expats. It’s exciting to meet new people, learn their story and make connections that would have been hard to make had it not been for this experience.
Have you committed any cross-cultural mistake in Germany?
Luckily, I have not, but my husband is a different story. I was feeling a bit under the weather during the winter time and asked him if he would stop by the pharmacy to pick up some Vicks vapor rub. I came home that evening and saw in Germany the brand is called “Wick” not “Vicks”. At first I did not think much of it until I was telling a German friend of mine and she began to laugh uncontrollable. Of course, I asked why she was laughing, she told me and we both began to laugh together (if you are curious, just google the reason Vicks was changed to Wick in German-speaking countries!).
Do you actually feel integrated into the society? accepted by the Germans?
Yes, I do feel integrated and accepted. Teaching yoga here was instrumental to making me feel like I “belong”. All of the students have been so warm and welcoming. By being open and willing to put myself out there, truly has lead to many meaningful friendships that I know will not end when we move away.
What is the opinion of Germans and Germany in your home country?
Back home, when we shared the news we were moving to Germany, I wish I had $1 for every time we heard how much beer we would drink here. I would say other than Oktoberfest, this really hasn’t been the case. It’s safe to say we were not really fans of white wine and believe it or not, Germany is known for excellent white wines that we have grown to appreciate and truly love.
What stereotypes about Germans/Germany have been confirmed? 🙂
It is interesting the differences when it comes to efficiency and your bank account. For instance, in the States, should you have an issue with your bank card, a new one is generally received in a couple of days. Once it’s received then you have the option to select your pin. Here it is completely opposite. I remember when my husband had to get a new bank card because the chip in it had a defect, it was a 2 week ordeal. He had to wait one week just to receive the card and then wait another week to receive his pin, separately, in the mail.
What is it that you miss the most from your home country?
First and foremost, we miss our family, friends and our dog Natalie. The decision was not easy to leave her behind, but it was for the best. We are loving life here but definitely looking forward to the day we are reunited with everyone. Additionally, Kevin, my husband misses a really good IPA beer and I wish a Target store existed in Germany.
Anything else you wish to share with us? An advice to a new comer?
- Learn as much of the language as you can, so you don’t feel like a total outsider. Even if it’s just to know how to order in a restaurant or go shopping.
- Travel, travel, travel – take advantage of this time aboard and explore other places – you’ll be so happy you did.
- If you can, definitely document this rare experience. I knew before moving I wanted to start a blog and its been a great way to update family and friends on our travels and life abroad.
- Taking yourself out of your home country can be scary, yet empowering to step out of your comfort zone. Try new foods or join an expat group; basically fully enjoy this time because before you know it, it will be over in the blink of an eye.