I have always had a touch of wanderlust and have explored Asia, South America, Central America, Australia and Europe. I actually met my husband when we were both studying abroad in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2007. Though I have been passionate about travel and different cultures for as long as I can remember, I never really pictured myself living in another country long-term. That started to change the longer I was in a relationship with my now husband and we thought more about where we should eventually live. Germany seemed like a good choice for the both of us and before I knew it, I was packing my bags to move overseas.
After living here for a year and half, there are so many things that I’ve come to appreciate about living in Germany. For starters, there are numerous festivals, markets, tours, hikes, conventions, beer gardens, vineyards, galleries, museums and castles to explore all over the country. Public transportation, especially train travel, makes it convenient to get around the country and Europe. Let’s not forget all the delicious German bread! I can never walk by a bakery without taking a peek at the tempting baked goods on display.
Some of my best experiences in Germany have happened while trying new things and exploring. Last summer I learned about walking wine tours (Weinwanderungen) where you can hike though vineyards and sample different regional wines and cuisines at the stands set up along the hike. It’s a great way to get some fresh air, see the countryside, meet locals and sample some delicious German wines. I also enjoy going on guided tours of cities, museums and buildings to learn more about the history of an area from a local expert.
Learning and using German has been one of my biggest challenges since moving to Germany. I took beginner German classes when I was living in Canada and continued taking intensive intermediate and advanced German classes once I moved to Germany. I struggle with speaking German on a daily basis as my husband and I are in the habit of speaking English with each other. When we met, I spoke no German at all and we mainly spoke English when we were getting to know each other. I think it’s important as a newcomer to Germany to learn as much German as you can. Though many people speak English, especially in big cities, being able to speak and understand German will greatly increase your quality of life and will make it easier for you to make friends, understand more about your surroundings and integrate into German society.
I find that my perspective on the multiculturalism of German society really fluctuates with where I am in the country and who I’m surrounded by. In our small town of 10,000, I often feel like I’m the only foreigner around. If I travel for 30 minutes on the bus, I’m in a metropolitan city surrounded by students, expats, workers and travellers from all over the world.
If I could give advice to someone planning a move to Germany, I would suggest finding ways to get involved with the expat community and the local community. I joined some online expat communities several months before moving to Germany and a few more once I arrived. These groups offer great resources to learn more about German culture, networking, accommodation, visas, workplace culture and much more. Though I have started making friends with people in the expat community, I’d really love to meet more locals and make more German friends in the coming years.
There is always something to see and do in Germany. Being situated in the centre of Europe, it’s a great jumping off point for travels all over the continent. I feel lucky to call Germany my new home.