One topic I hear a lot is about Americans not being able to make it abroad. Namely in Munich. Germany in general is a very different cultural climate but Munich is the cream of the crop when it comes to culture shock on us Americans.
We all know how reserved Germans are and how this, in the start, is different for Americans. However, In Munich it is much starker. It is a very conservative city and the people are a bit more closed off then in some of the other major German cities, but honestly I feel these are just excuses. Sure there are cultural differences everywhere, you wanted to be abroad and now you are, so this brings me to my first point:
Get a thicker skin
From my expat friends the thing I hear the most is the endless complaining about how cold Germans are. Well, tough deal babycakes. Maybe don’t be so sensitive. You are an expat for a reason, mainly being you wanted to live abroad. And with that comes cultural differences you must a just to in order to thrive ( if this is what you want). My first and biggest tip would have to be simply avoid sweating the small stuff. Don’t try to stay in your comfort zone. Embrace the difference, not be offended by it.
Find your social circle
We as humans are very social creatures, not having a circle of like-minded individuals to share with can be rather devastating. A lot of my expat/ attempted expat friends have said this fact was the make or break to the whole game. Which I toootallly agree. My first year here I was rather miserable. I chose to hit the books and work constantly, so next to being the odd American out I was also flooded with feelings of loneliness. Which did not help my adjustment one bit. It really made me doubt my ability to strive and thrive. I know people who had similar situations and eventually went home, blaming it on the city and saying they just weren’t allowed to make it. Honestly though, you need to try to work on finding your peeps first thing. It makes alllllll the difference on your progress. There are so many resources for meeting people. Meetups, expat groups, expat-german groups, sports groups, language exchanges..it’s endless. You just need to go out and search.
Find your purpose
toughened up, Check✓
Friend circle, Check✓
Whats next? Finding something you enjoy. I’m not talking like go grab some hobby, jog or knit a scarf. Find something that gives you a reason to wake up in the morning. Most of us expats are here to study or work ( or if you are a spouse, same samesies) but that is not enough to be a happy camper. We have so much work here adjusting, learning the language, adapting cultural practices, sometimes we face the fact we’ve lost ourselves a bit by trying to be an other person in this new life. Essentially you need something to combat all the work, and balance it out. For me, I found running. It’s great because it allows me to have a routine by myself but there are also many group in Munich where I can combine multiple things I enjoy; running and speaking German. So get on out, take a cooking course, get your sporty spice on, travel, volunteer a bit. Just focus on finding something for you.
Find out how to do stuff
Last but not least, let me remind you to get down to business. There is nothing more alienating than not know how to do basic life tasks in your new home; setting up a bank account, finding a language school, knowing what store to go to, filing taxes etc etc.. It drove me bananas. At first arrival I felt so limited and lost. You cant expect to branch out and hit your full potential, you’ve gotta go forth and find those resources, be independent and learn how to get things done. Youre self-esteem will shoot up and everything else will be a breeze. I mean, honestly, yea it’s a bit intimidating at first, but three years in now everything is eassyyy peassyyyy.
I’d recommend googling some blogs, or checking out these sites for some help on day-to-day Munich questions: