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16 Signs you’ve been Germanized

Started from the bottom now we German.

It feel so short, but really its been some years now, and as I take a step back and look at myself I can see how much I have changed as a person from my time in this counry. Most of all I can see the habits I have exchanged..which honestly, I’ve been told is no suprise.

Here are my top 16 identified signs of Germanization

    1. You are confused when a stranger asks “how are you?” ( Like, who is this person? why are they asking, we are not yet on familiar aquaintance terms”
    2. Sprüdelwasser is life
    3. You’re becoming fluent in Denglisch. So good, its practically your mother tongue.
    4. Youve began writting the number “1” the German way, whichused to confuse you as it looked more like a “7”, but now you understand it simply cant be done any other way.
    5. You’ve mastered all the ways to use bitte in everyday interactions. It is not simply please but also pardon, here you are, not at all, youre welcome, and go ahead. SImaltaniously youve also achieved the ability to hold full conversations merely with the word  doch.
    6. You no longer need an extended period of time to go through all those previously seeming extensive variety of  euro coins
    7. You have dreams in German and sometimes recall memories of people back home speaking in German
    8. Sometimes you forget wörter in English and begin to question who you are anymore
    9. In wintertime, you have a special relationship with Hausschuhe
    10. Next to that you now understand the full range of seasons; Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring and Spargelzeit
    11. You get withdrawls from going too long without eating bread
    12. You drink only juice in  Schorle form..goodness forbid you dare drink straight up saft
    13. You can sort through plastic, paper, compost, and Restmüll in your sleep
    14. You make plans with friends a well week ahead and are shocked and slightly taken aback when some asks to spontaneously meet for dinner or hang out
    15. Sundays are for doing nothing, and you wouldnt want to spend them any other way.
    16. Brot is life and Brezn is love

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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 Düsseldorf, 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

 

How to tip in Germany

How to tip in Germany

One of the most underated questions I’ve faced is the act of tipping in a foreign country. It’s one of those little things that tend to go slid under the rug and when you find it, you are like wait wait hey what howwwwwww.

When I lived in France I was completely baffled that no one tips at all and in some circumstances it was even considered rude to tip when you were recieving a service ( so odd right?-for an American at least!) in the states most individuals in the service industry live off of tips so we tend to focus on making sure we don’t forget and give the appropriet amount. Below is what I have come to learn and what to apply to various situations in Germany.*

*note these unwritten rules also tend to apply in German speaking parts of Switzerland and Austria

Tipping:

Wait Staff

This I found to be very interesting, both because of the difference in the states as well as my experience working as a waitress in Germany. When it comes to tipping at a resteraunt it is not uncommon to simply round the bill up to the nearest euro, however for a nicer sit down resteraunt the average is about 10%.

Although in groups this average changes to a table amount ( said to be around 15euro total sum) often you will notice that even as tedious as it is, wait staff are happy to split bills in between running around. They will most likely get a higher tip in total from all the split bills.

Helpful vocab: Zusammen (together) / Getrennt (seperate)

Bars

When going to a bar, same rules apply basically everywhere. If you are going up to the bar to grab some drinks and go then you simply round the bill to the nearest euro. However, if you are sitting down and being served by the bar staff, then the same rules apply to giving trinkgeld as if you were in a resteraunt.

Taxis

Taxis are a bit different than eating out or getting prettied up. For taxi drivers a smaller tip is normal. So typically between .50 to 2 euros would be acceptable. Similar to the bar rule, you generally just round up the fair. If I need to get a car, I personally prefer to get an uber or a taxi from the Free now app. This way I can pay ahead of time and not worry about how much to pay ( or having cash to pay, as often this is required). Additionally in the apps, they offer you average tip pricing options to include if you like, so no need to try and calculate on your own ( woohoo!).

Hairdressers

This is one question I was off to first seek out when I moved abroad. Since I need my monthly appointments, I always want to make sure I build a good relationship with my colourist. I know in the states people get really offended if you don’t tip after a hair service, but here it seems they are more casual. My hair dresser told me a couple euros is typically fair. Since hair dressers are paid more in Germany than in the states and Germans are not big tippers. Regardless of that I do believe ( and have come to learn) that with good service a tip of around 10%-15% is the correct thing to do.

Helpful vocab: schneiden (cut)|waschen (wash)|föhnen (blow-dry)|Strähnchen (highlights)

Paying:

When paying a resteraunt bill in Germany, a couple things different from that of the US ( and other english speaking countries I have experienced) First off, the server will come to you and verbally count out the amount at your table and you will pay there ( even with card). When tipping you simply let them know the amount for your card or when giving bar specify what the tip is so they don’t start looking for change. For example, if I was at a cafe and my bill was €8.20 I would give them a ten euro note and say ” zehn” to let them know my tip was  €1.80. As self explanatory as that seems I can say from my experience as a waitress in Germany it is still very helpful. The worst is when you begin to count out all the ridiculous amount of change in your  geldbeutel only to be told that its ok.

A side not: when recieveing services in Germany you may notice the culture is a lot less..errmmm.. “Friendly” than that of North American. This is due to the fact that they are not living off of tips and have a legal and very well regulated wage. So do not expect much over enthusiastic customer service during your visit. It is not them being rude but simply just culturally different. This is one of the main reasons you never are expected to tip over 10%.

Helpful vocab: bar (cash) |zehn (ten)|Geldbeutal (wallet)|