How to handle culture shock

How to handle culture shock

What is it

Culture shock is one major aspect of moving abroad that not alot of people go too much in detail to. It is “the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, uncertainty, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within a different and unknown culture such as one may encounter in a foreign country.” ( as defined by Wikipedia) However I would say it is referring to really anything new that puts us outside of our bubble. Whether you take it as good or bad, it occurs and on occasion can be overwhelming. So here are my tips on how to remain content in your transitioning.

What it feels like

Culture shock can result in feelings similar to a mild depression. Many people experience this after the initial excitement of moving abroad has calmed down and the reality of their situation hits. You start off excited and giddy for all the new experiences and ways of life but then once you realize the work involved you begin to become rather pessimistic. I find this to be quite true for Americans moving to Germany. With such a stark contrast in cultural and social atmosphere, many people experience this aspect of culture shock.

It’s phases

Culture Shock is experienced in a series of four phases:

  1. Honeymoon: Hurray! youve done it! youve managed to move somewhere new and the novelty of it all has come and swept you away. Everything is darling and glorious in your new home!
  2. Frustration: oh hey, wait. What is this? why are people like this? how come things work this way? ohhhh what I would give to have things back like they were in my country…all of a sudden the novelty is gone and reality of change sets in.
  3. Adjustment: Alas, this is the way life is. You realize now your choices and begin to figure out how to settle and live life in a different way. Usually filled with a feeling of neutralism.
  4. Adaption: Youve figured out a routine. Set up shop now are confident in your abilities to navigate and manage your new life and home. Things are looking up and you are prepared for new challeneges.

How to manage Culture Shock

Going abroad is not at all easy. Moving out of your comfort zone, or bubble of security is always so uncomfortable. However, you’ve got two options now; run and hide or toughen up and put your best foot forward. If your interested in the latter then check out these following tips to help you succeed in your conquest.

  1. First off, boost up your self esteem. Look at you, you did it. You made a huge step forward in the world. Youve done something most people dream of but are never brave enough to attempt. You should be proud of your new accomplishment
  2. Remind yourself these feelings are only temporary. Everything new can be uncomfortable at first, but this duration of feeling is oh so short lived.
  3. Try and avoid excessive communication with aquaintences back home. As helpful as it can be, it prevents you from living in the present and being engaged in your new surroundings.
  4. Sit down and make  list of all the tasks you want to accomplish. Whether it is learning the local language or visiting that one super cool cafe. Find what interests you and make a plan on how to experience it.
  5. Get involved with the locals. The best way to adjust to your new surroundings is by socializing. Join a club, do some sports, connect! It helps you feel more in place and naturally learn about your new home easily and quickly.

How to help manage your friend’s culture shock

Culture shock isnt just a pain first hand, but can second hand put a damper on ones spirits. You may have found out how to adjust, but once a friend or expat newbie comes to you at the start of the phase, there are many ways you can help them reach your new found level of exceptional expat transition.

  1. Help them find a purpose. One aspect of culture shock is the lonelieness and feeling out of place. So if one feels as if they have a real role to embody, this is easily remedied.
  2. Get them out! the best way to do this is not by asking if they want to but give them choices that dont include the option of not coming along. AKA instead of saying wanna go out tonight? say, would you like to go here or there tonight.
  3. Be a good listener. Sometimes the simplest things help. If they need to rant about all their frusterations or upset feelings ( even if you knowwww and have been there) step down a moment and give them the attention they need.

Yes, there can also be many other things you can do to help out with culture shock, but it is imporant to keep in mind the basics of the situation. It is a temporary phase, and the initial joy and excitement you experience when you first came will resurface eventually. Change is an important part of life and once you learn to embrace it and live off of it, there is no limit to the adventures you can have abroad.

xxA

How to efficiently Travel in Germany

How to efficiently Travel in Germany

We are hot in the middle of Summer and the fomo is real.

Unfotunately I will not be traveling much this summer do to work and studies, but I often hear a lot for most expats its a matter of budget ( especially the dear aupairs in this country), but fear not my friends! just because your bank account is low does not mean your hope should be as well.

One of the great things about Germany ( and europe) is the options to travel an stay in many wonderful places on a budget. So, here are som tips and ways I’ve learned to get around in my precareer days that will definitly help you keep on keepin on.

  1. Transport

We all know the schöne Deutsche Bahn, but with those Schöne prices, sometimes its not the best method to travel for a quick city trip. In my experience, I have found these two other opions to really up the ante and help me get from point A to B with ease on my wallet.

Flixbus

https://meinfernbus.de/

This great bus company has had my back in the aupair days and still provides a super option when I am budgeting. Unlike those in the US, busses here are a popular method of travel and a nice option at that. With so many locations in Germany and international, theres always a bus somewhere you can hop onto for a easy get away. I personaly like flix bus because not only is it super easily accessable but they have amazing prices and *bless* some strong af wifi game.

Blabla  Car

https://www.blablacar.de/

This next one is my go to even now a days. The app is amazing for last minute traveling. You simply add in your location, destination and it gives you a list of people who are driving your way. For about 10-20 euros a seat, you can spontaniously hop a ride. Its very well regulated and culturally people are really into it. So it can be a fun change of travel scenery if youre a people person like I am.

 

2. Accomidation

Hotels and Airbnb are fab and all…but the pricing and booking can sometimes be such a pain. If your not into this game, the following options for some cool casual city seeing may probably be right up your alley.

 

Couchsurfing

https://www.couchsurfing.com/

A bit out dated, I must admit, but still helpful every now and then. If you are looking to travel and need somewhere simple to stay or are looking to connect with locals, Couchsurfing can be a great option. You make a profile in their platform and it gives you a list of hosts in the area your visitng, you can chat with them, exchange numbes and voila! find yourself a free place to crash. Ive done it in emergency situations before and it worked out great. Granted sometimes it may be a little sketchy…but thats where our next option saves the day.

Friendsitting

https://friendsitting.com/

My new favourite contender! created by a pair of my friends in DĂĽsseldorf, this nifty little start up is an excellent option to the previous. Similar to the couchsurfing idea, you can stay wih new people in different cities for free..except these people are not strangers, they are friends of friends. The website is quite cleve if you ask me, it uses Facebook to connect your mutual friends and organizes them by availability, country and city. So you simply create a free account and go online and see where mutual friends are hosting. I like the idea because it connects me with people I have  better odds of clicking with and I feel a bit safer than if its just a stranger last minute.

Traveling is a really big cultural aspect in this country ( and continent!) and I believe it is one of the most important acivities a person can do to live their life to the fullest. So dont let your personal circumstances keep you down, I believe if your positive enough there can always be a way to get your way. For now here is my two cents, hopefully its helped you manage yours

 

Have a good summer sunshines

 

xxA

 

German Healthcare: Beginners guide

German Healthcare: Beginners guide

As an American, I can say this is one aspect to living abroad and in Germany in particular that I am incredibly fond of; healthcare! Having lived previously in a state where the prices were too high for me to afford coverage, I can say it is a relief to have the security of always having insurance.

The German Healthcare System

The German healthcare system operate under a dual private/public system. It is funded by sanctioned contributions that ensure healthcare for everyone ( public) or when applicable you can take out a special private healthcare plan. However, in order to get Private Krankenversicherung you must review some strict conditions.

Public Healthcare

If you are contracted in Germany as an employee to a company and make under 61,000 euro annually you ar required to take the government (public) healthcare, or Gesetzliche Krankenversicherun (GKV). The public healthcare is run by a little over 100 Krankenkassen, these all take a basic rate of 14.6% of your gross monthly salary. Although, if you are an employed worker earning under 850 euros a month then you are exempt from this taxation.

This public insurance covers you for primary care with doctors registered to your plan, both in and out-patient hospital care and even basic dental care. In addition, dependents living at your same address ( and registered) will receive coverage at no additional cost. GKV however will not cover private doctors, private hospital stays nor vision (for adults) or alternative treatments.

In order to register for public health insurance  one must be registered at the local town hall and have received an Sozialversicherungsnummer and have proof of employment you are then entitled to the public healthcare with all the benefits of a national.

In term of registration, most employers will take care of this portion however you can visit and review the different types yourself. Some of the largest (and most commonly taken) providers in Germany are AOK, BEK and DAK.

 

Private Healthcare

In addition to the standard public scheme, you also have the option to take out a Private Krankenversicherung (PKV) match any of the following criteria:

  • an employee earning more than 61,000 euros annually
  • working part-time earning less than 450 euros a month
  • self-employed
  • a freelance professional;
  • a civil servant or certain other public employee.

The private scheme typically offers a wider range of dental and medical treatment options and in some cases is tax-deductible. The levels of coverage and premiums are dependent on individuals as opposed to the public scheme which looks mainly on a per family basis.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the healthcare system

Germany’s dual healthcare system is placed somewhere in between the American Market run system and the British state-run system. With many options to opt in or out of the pros and cons vary depending on your choice of public or private sector coverage, however here are a couple of the most commonly heard praises and complaints;

Pros:

  • Your GP choice is not limited by zip code. You have the free range of doctors and hospitals regardless of location
  • The Private healthcare has a multitude of  different options for providers
  • You do not  need a referral when looking for a specialist, they just need to be covered by your type of insurance.
  • The cost of state insurance is dependent on your taxable income
  • All students receive discounts and special benefits for state insurance

Cons:

  • The higher your taxable income is the higher your contribution to state insurance is
  • Some Private health insurers wont except expats until they have reached a minimum residency term
  • There are concerns that with the public/private system, many doctors will move to the private sector to earn a higher income and in do so leave less skilled doctors in the state care
  • In some circumstances insurance companies do not cover the full cost of a hospital stay. Patients staying overnight in hospital may be charged extra fees ( such as meals)

 

 

Helpful healthcare phrases:

  • Hospital – Krankenhaus
  • Patient – Patient
  • Sick – Krank
  • I am allergic to… – Ich bin alergisch gegen…
  • I need a doctor – Ich brauche einen Arzt.
  • I need an ambulance – Ich brauche einen Krankenwagen
  • I need a hospital – Ich brauche ein Krankenhaus.
  • There’s been an accident – Es gab einen Unfall.

For a list of body parts and other useful terms check out this link

 

Wiesn Tent Guide

Wiesn Tent Guide

 

So many tents, so little time.

In total, Oktoberfest has a little over thirty different tents. Which can be pretty overwhelming. So here I have for you is a simplified list of the biggest and most popular fourteen tents.

 

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Previously known as Hippodrom, this bright delight of a tent is one of the first ones you will see when walking into the fair grounds. Known for being a singles tent, it is filled with younger crowds and local celebrities. One exciting addition is that next to bier you can spend your time here sipping Sekt.

 

Schottenhamel

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The kick off tent. Known for its historic first day event, in Schottenhammel at noon on the opening day the Mayor arrives and taps the first beer of Oktoberfest. Setting off the official celebrations. Aside from this, it is also the largest and oldest of the tents.

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Known as the ” Himmel der Bayern” ( Bavarian Heaven) this tent is filled with a dream blue cieling of stars and clouds. With around 10.000 seating, it isnt so small either. It is also famous for its evening rock bands accompied by dancing on the benches.

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Looking for somewhere glamourous and gourmet? Best head on over to Käfer. Known for being a hot spot for celebrities, this smaller tent is the perfect atmosphere to go and have a more relaxed Wiesn experience. It also has the longst hours, serving beer until 12:30 and staying open until 1am.

Weinzelt

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Desiring something other than beer? the Wine tent is your perfect match. With a great selection of wins and champagnes, this small tent is the best place to go. It also has many different food options including seafood and on occasion Thai.

Hofbräu

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The well known tourist attraction Hofbräuhaus in downtown Munich has its very own tent at the Oktoberfest. Knowing for its standing indoor planning and foriegn patrons, this tent is a good option for those looking to find fellow expat company.

Augustiner

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Known for being Munich’s favourite brewery, this tent offers a more traditional and family friendly atmosphere. With special deals for kids on on tuesdays, it makes a great group destination.

Known for its giant lion statue on the outside, this tent is a hard one to bypass. Often known as a hot spot for the local TSV 1860 football team, apply referred to as ” the lions”

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Known as being the only tent with its own personal yodeler, Bräurosl is a traditional tent with a impressive record of being the longest owned tent by a single family. Swing by for some great Oompha band music and history.

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Sitting underneath the famous Statue of Bavaria, this shooting inspired tent is home to some famous pork dishes and local shooting club championships. One of my personal favourites, its often a great tent to start the first day in.

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Known for its ox specialties ( and giant revolving spit at the entrance) this tent is a good place to go when you want a nice big meal to match your party.

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Living up to its name, this tent serves a variety of fish options, including the well known Steckerlfisch or literally, ” fish on a stick”.

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Known as the sporty tent. ArmbrustschĂĽtzen translates literally to ” Crossbow shooters tent” It includes one of the OKtoberfest highlights, a crossbow competition.

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Known as a spot for local football players, this tent has a nice atmosphere with much attention to detail. It is also known for being the spot Local TV stations like to come do their reporting from.

 

Also very important, this years maĂź pricing….

Big tents Beer prices 2017
Armbrustschützen-Festzelt € 10,85
Augustiner-Festhalle € 10,70
Pschorr-Bräurosl € 10,90
Fischer-Vroni € 10,95
Hacker-Festzelt € 10,90
Marstall € 10,90
Hofbräuhaus-Festzelt € 10,90
Käfer Wies’n Schänke € 10,90
Löwenbräu-Festzelt € 10,80
Ochsenbraterei € 10,70
Paulaner-Festzelt € 10,95
Schottenhammel-Festhalle € 10,95
Schützen-Festzelt € 10,90

 

Prostess with the mostess- your 2017 Oktoberfest guide

Prostess with the mostess- your 2017 Oktoberfest guide

SEEERRRVVUUUSSSS (expat) MĂĽnchners and travelers!

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Wiesn season is right around the corner and fast approaching. Hopefully you all have your Dirndls and Lederhosen ready to go. If not, and if by chance this is  new experience for you then allow me to make the proper introductions.

 

What is Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest ( or known to the locals as Wiesn ) is a 16-18 day yearly event in Munich, Germany. It starts mid September and goes until the first week of October. The origin of this beautiful beer festival began in 1810, when Prince Ludwig ( King Ludwig I)  married Princess Therese and they had a nice large party for the locals to celebrate.

What is it like?

There are fourteen different beer tents to attend. Inside they are full of loud, fun madness. Lots of live music, singing along to songs, dancing on tables and great big litre glasses of Wiesn Bier! Outside is spectacular. It is basically a giant carnival ( or fair). WIth rollarcoasters, a ferris wheel, haunted houses and games galour. And the best part, loads and loads of people dressed up in fantastic Trachten.

Location and getting there

Theresienwiese

By Sbahn:
S1 – S8 to Hackerbrücke, then about a 10 minute walk

By Ubahn

U3 or U6 to Goetheplatz or PoccistraĂźe
U4 or U5 to Theresienwiese or Schwanthalerhöhe

By Tram

Line 18 or 19 to HolzapfelstraĂźe or Hermann-Lingg-StraĂźe

By Bus

Line 53 to Schwanthalerhöhe
Line 58 to Georg-Hirth-Platz or Goetheplatz
Line 131 or 132 to Hans-Fischer-StraĂźe
Line 134 to Schwanthalerhöhe

 

Oktoberfest 2017 schedule

Saturday, September 16th at 11:00 am – Tuesday, October 3rd *

*always remember on weekends to be there around 9 or you wont get in a tent!

Beer Serving Hours
Opening day: 12.00 noon – 10.30 pm
Weekdays: 10am – 10:30pm
Weekends: 9am – 10:30pm

Daily Tent Closing Time: 12:30 am
FYI: The Käfer Tent and the Weinzelt are open until 1am with the last call for alcohol is 12:15am.

 

Food Guide

Common snack saviours to indulge in at Wiesn

Brezeln: Large soft Preztl
Hendl: Roasted chicken
Schweinshaxe: Pork knuckle
Weisswurst: White sausage ( typically eaten before noon)
Käse Spätzle: aka food of the Bavarian gods. Think extra scrumptious mac n cheese

Making a reservation

As fun as Wiesn is, finding seating can sometimes be a buzz kill. If you are looking to go in the weekends or evenings, the best plan is to make sure you have a reserved spot. Most times I only go then if I have a table with friends to sit ith. Otherwise you risk walking around for ages or even not being able to get into a tent. Prices tend to be reletively high, and its always best to book in advance. Often times however you cannot book individual spots but will need to book a full table ( a few hundred euros in the least)

Cost and cash calculation

If you have never been to the oktoberfest, first off let me tell you, it ain’t cheap.

Beer only is served in liter glasses called maß. This year they will be between € 10,70-€ 10,95 (plus tip!) depending on tent . In addition you will get hungry, snacks start at around € 4 and meals around € 10. Tents only accept cash, so its best not to enter with less than € 50 in your pocket.

General  tips

Do’s:

Pace yourself: Honestly. A litre of beer at a time can be fun enough but remember this beer is also typically higher alcohol content so before you get into the peer pressure of cheering and chugging, check yourself before you potentialy wreck yourself ( Wiesn Virgins, heres looking at you)

Hydration: As with the previous message, a Wiesn hangover is quite possible the worst hangover you will experience in your life. So much sodium so little time. However, if you manage to slip out, the next day Paulaner Spezi will be your beverage bff

Always carry cash: As I said before, 50 euro minimum is good to bring in a tent, if you plan to stay all day I would definitly keep a good amount more in your pocket as the atms are scarce and qeues nightmarish.

Dirndl Goals: Ladies, now is your time to shine. The dirndl is quite possibly the most amazing dress a woman can wear. It makes anyone look fabulous. But remember, where you tie the schleife counts. Left means single, right means taken and in the middle means virgin.

Lederhosen guidelines: Keep it simple gents. Lederhosen, a white shirt and haferl shoes. Perhaps a wool jacket or waist coat, but for goodness sake no checkered shirt or Lederhosen made out of jersey or jean. I will find you, and injure you.

Prepare your vocal cords: One of my favourite parts about Oktoberfest is all the intent singing! so if you are not a fan of sing alongs then its best you stick out to the Biergarten or Carnival. As for me, you can catch me inside belting my heart out to country roads and attempting to catch up to some Wiesn Schlager

Put your foot on the table and chug: If you are ready for some action and feeling tough, a foot on the table signifies to the tent you are man enough to down an entire litre of beer in one go. Hit that up if youre feelin lucky kid, and youll be recieved with the largest amount of applause in your life.

Dont’s:

Dont put your foot on the table and chug:…unless you are really really confident. The 5000-8000 spectators can quickly become a nasty crowd if you arent able to rise to the challenge

Don’t steal a maĂź: Seriously, hands off. I know it seems like such a cool thing to have and #souvenirgoals, but don’t. Just, nope.

Leave the staff alone: One sure fire way to get you kick out of a tent faster than anything is if you mess with one of the waiters/waitresses. So you better be nice ( and dont forget to tip!)

Leave the open toed shoes at home: Save your feet from the floor tradgedy of oktoberfest. Unless you are preferential to some toe stomping and beer soaked shoes.

Ladies, ditch the big purses: There is a high picpocketing rate in those giant crowds. So the less valuables you bring the better. And the added risk of losing  big purse once you set it down are pretty high

Dont accidently leave the tent: on occasion the exit is very close to the bathrooms and you can easily slip out and then not be allowed back in. So be cautious when heading out around on busy days

 

Have any questions or your own tips you would like to add? Comment below! I would love to hear about your experiences.

Stay safe and have a great Wiesn!

 

xxA