Schatzi Schenk mir ein Dirndl

Schatzi Schenk mir ein Dirndl

Can you believe it? Summer is half way through and you know what comes after summer…..Herbst!..but most importantly for us Germans..WIESN SEASON!

aka my favourite time of the year.

Down here in Bayern, Tracht ( Dirndls and Lederhosen) are not just a seasonal costume, but a cultural uniform. Dating back to the 1600s, Tracht was a regional uniform to distinguish societal class. From Farmers to nobility, families wore a similar style of oufit.

It was distinguished by the quality of Dirndl or Lederhosen one had. It was not until the late 1800s that Tracht become more of a fashion that practical clothing, in the start of his reign, Prince Luitpold showed the public his love for these garments and it soon became widly popular amoungst the upper class.

Today in Bavarian, Tracht is used for many occasions such as; Oktoberfest, Summer fests, Weddings and even Christenings for local families. It is also a casuals summer outfit that can be seen worn throughut Munich on a Summery day in a biergarten or by the river Isar.

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 7.52.09 AMFor us expats ( and Münchners)  the fashion aspect is highly enticing. Thats where wonderful boutiques like Schatzi Dirndl come in. They not only provide a place to get your favourite Bavarian outfit, but offer a glimpse into the mix of local culture and mode scene.

I have recieved many messages throughout the year asking about where to get a good dirndl in Munich, and so I decided to team up with my favourite designer and show you all where to go to look your 2018 Oktoberfest best.

Ok ok it was a little sneak peak, but guys, we have time and I have ordered my dirndl this year..so check back in the next few weeks when the pre-wiesn season hype really kicks into full swing.

Bussi bussi babes

A

Photos by the Talented Tim Gresser

Peaches vs. Coconuts

Peaches vs. Coconuts

I am sure we have all at one point or another heard this metaphor, and if not. Lemme lay it out for ya.

It is said Americans are like peaches. We have a sweet, please-everyone soft outer layer that likes to be social and share all personal facts with the world, whilst we hide our problems deep down, in a compacted pity core.

Germans on the other hands are the coconuts. Gruff, hard exteriored nuts ( nut? seed?or idk fruit, what exactly is a coconut..brb googling)* they waste no time exaggerating social protocols and remain nice and closed off to the world. Unless you are special, do the hard work and get under that tough exterior to experience the good soft stuff within.

Honesly, whoever made this up was kind of wierd to compare a peach to a coconut. While I agree, Americans are awfully peachy. I think calling Germans a coconut doesn’t make much sense. At best, they are unripe avocados; they take a little time and a bit of waiting and then BAM ripe AF for the taking.

I think Germans get a harder rap then reality. Sure they are pretty reserved. Socializing, making friends takes time and commitment, but on the other hand I feel it makes sense. If you don’t know someone, you dont owe them closure.  It takes time to build relationships and bonds. Perhaps I am just a little biased though. I have never been a fan of my countries quick to cozy up attitude; I simply don’t trust it.

How do you all feel about this? Whats your idea on peach and coconut model?

 

 

* According to google “a coconut is a fibrous one-seeded drupe, also known as a dry drupe. However, when using loose definitions, the coconut can be all three: a fruit, a nut, and a seed. Botanists love classification.

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7 easy steps to get your work visa in Germany

7 easy steps to get your work visa in Germany

Alright, so sorry for the delay. Honestly this should have been one of my first posts since I always receive so many questions regarding it.

buuutttt without further ado, here are the steps to follow to gain that golden German dream.

Step 1: Arrive with the intent to thrive

So you have decided you want to live in Germany, fabulous! Wilkommen bb. Lucky for you, initial entry into Germany comes with a 90 day automatic visa (Schengen Visa) to valid passport holders of these countries.

Step 2: Find a cozy set up

Almost tied with step 1, step 2 can be as much of an adventure. For me I initially came to Germany as an aupair- super great for initial transitioning- but if you are here so then you need to find a flat or Wohngemeinschaft (roomies) asap. There are many great websites you can look at to apply for places, and naturally groups on Facebook I would recommend checking out as well.

Step 3: Register in your new city

This task is a bit more tedious, but as long you have your documents, patience and someone who can help you with German you are golden.

In Germany it is very important that you register your living situation to the city. Even when you’ve been here long term, every time you move residence you have to go to your local BĂĽrgerbĂĽro and notify them of changes. You will need your passport, apartment contract and appointment.

Step 4: Search for your job ( in 90 days)

Now the pressure is on. Thankfully the Schengen Visa has allowed you some time to kill if you havent already got any previous job leads, but you still have the clock ticking. My first recommendation would be to set up a Xing account- a German counterpart to your linkedin. Also, make sure you have a good German resume organized, this makes a huge difference when applying ( will shortly make a post regarding how to do this)

Check out websites, network, look around the city etc.. but remember it can be difficult when you first arrive matching job credentials here, so if your 90 days are ticking down don’t worry about having to settle for something less than your dream job. Upward mobility is an easily accessible theme here.

Step 5: Apply for your new visa

Congrats! you have a flat, you have a job, what shall we do next? apply for that visa baby!

First you will need to make an appointment with your local Ausländerbehörde to go and submit your application. Then you will need to get your paper work sorted out. This includes your Arbeitsvertrag (work contract), Antrag auf Aufenhaltstitel ( application for visa), and a Stellebeschreibung (Job description). Along with this, naturally you need your passport and a set of biometric photos for when your visa is printed. When you arrive they will usually hand you a form to fill out while waiting where you give your family background and information about health insurance.

The hand over of documents is pretty simple. Much similar to the DMV, you go and you wait for ages and ages until your number is called. You will go to a designated room and hand over your documents. Sometimes they will ask you a few questions, just to verify your information. If you don’t speak German, I would recommend bringing someone along to make sure the process goes smooth. Truuuusttt mee after waiting an hour you really don’t want to be turned around and have to make a second trip ( this has happened to me a few times unfortunately)

After you have submitted your documents you will recieve a confirmation letter and a temporary residence permit which will allow you to stay during the duration your visa is being processed ( If you have to leave the country DONT forget to take this along for reentry!)

Step 6: Wait for it….

Depending on if you’ve applied for a Qualified/ Unqualified or Blue Card the processing time can last up to a couple of months. Since your documents are being processed you are allowed to stay and live in Germany without any issue, however traveling out of the country is not really recommended. I mean the border usually doesn’t give much problems if you have documentation to prove you’re in the visa processing phase, but its best to avoid anything that could jeopardize the situation with immigration.

Normally you will receive a letter in the mail saying when your visa is finished processing and available to pick up. Before then, they will give you a contact number for your local Arbeitsagentur so you can call and check the status ( aka yes or no it is ready). Other than that, you just have to chill and enjoy your remaining free days.

Step 7: Pick up visa and party

Hurray! the mail has been received and it is time for you to go pick up your documents so you can head on into the German work world.

You will not need an appointment this time, but it is always recommended to try to get there as early as possible to beat the never-ending Ausländerbehörde crowds. Once arrive, you get your number and wait ( agaaaainnnn) until you are called. They will give you your documents and send you over to the Kassenautomat where you will hand over your passport to have the visa stamped and you pay. In my experience it was usually only around 60€ or so, but this varies, however your job will either pay or reimburse you for acquired visa fees. So, no worries.

 

All in all, it’s a rather easy and straight forward process. In my experience, everything you need in Germany can be accomplished if you are willing to do enough paperwork..boy oh boy do they love paper work.

Please comment below with your questions or if you have any additional points I missed, I would love to hear them.

As always, I’ll do my best to help out

xx A

 

Resources for Munich:

KVR|Kreisverwaltungsreferat

BĂĽrgerbĂĽro

Visa application forms

 

Housing websites:

Wg Gesucht

Immobilien Scout 24

Immowelt

 

How to easily file your German taxes

How to easily file your German taxes

Welcome to the world of the international adult. It is not just struggling to hold a full time job, speak a second laguage and naivgating oneself through a new culture, but also the joy of filing taxes in this world.

but no fear! the German tax system is rather easy to get through and with an average of 1.000 euro returns

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…it is definitly worth the hassle.

So sit back, relax, and let your friendly neighborhood expat guide you on the easy peasy tax return route

 

How to do your German Tax Return ( Steuererklärung)

First things first, make sure you have your Lohnsteuerbescheinigung ( tax summary, like a W2)  handy and have downloaded the latest copy of Elster

Ok, FYI there are ways to do your taxes by hand, however in this day and age I prefer the online option. Elster (ELektronische STeuerERklärung) is basically the dream tool.

Regarding this I have gathered for you a great guide:

  1. Print out the forms
  2. Sign
  3. locate a post office.
  4. Send them to your local Finanzamt
  5. Done!

Via the Elster method, it usually takes 1-2 months for processing to happen. However, you will have given them your bank data so one day your refund will automatically pop up in your account and voila! time to treat yo self

 

But but Aspen, my German isnt tax preparation reaadyyyyy

no fear kleines mäuschen, if you are not quite up to the challenege I would recomend you check out Steuergo .  This online tax assistance platform is directed towards expats and all in english ( yeehoo!)

but if you are a freelancer or have a bit more complicated tax situation I would recomend you see a Steuerberater. A Steuerberater is a tax preparer. Here in Germany it usually cost a couple hundred euros to enroll in their services, but they are very good at optimizing your return amount and naturally if you have a business, home, large family, multiple sources of income it can be in your best interest to have a profesional guide you along the German tax system.

You can easily search for a steuerberater by googling one in your zip code. There are always so many options, so it is not a tricky task.

 

 

Questions? Answers.

When is the tax deadline in Germany?

The deadline is May 31. However, if you missed it or were not able to find the time, extensions can easily be made. Also, in the German system, as an employee,  you are able to file your taxes from the previous four years. So if you miss out you can always do it next year without a penalty.

When will I get my money back?

I have been told typical procesing time is around 8-12 weeks ( or in some cases even 3 months) but if you have filed your taxes online this usually helps to speed up the process.

 

 

 

Moving to Germany, 2 years later

Moving to Germany, 2 years later

As many people have asked, and continually do so, I have finally decided to sit down and answer a why German post. Coming from Hawaii to Munich always seems to baffle people in conversation, and when the initial shock is over questions about the expat experience come up.

Where are you originally from?

I was born in California, raised in Hawaii and then moved back to Cali for a couple years for college. I would say Im not from either 100% but a good solid west coast mix.

 

What made you decide to move away from the US?

Have you ever been to California or Hawaii? paradise. ok you got me. However, economically it is a disaster.  At some point I found myself beginning to get trapped under mounds of debt and realized that having no health insurence was not a way I wanted to live my life. I was in dire need of some stability. So I packed my bags and searched for a new home with more opportunities and benefits.

 

How did you decide on settling in Munich?

I initially did some test runs in my search for a new home. I had some time in Geneva, Paris and London, but all the while I had a nack for visiting Munich and eventually fell in love with it.

 

Do you have family or live alone?

Most of my family is gone now ( one of the major reasons I left America) However, I did start out in Munich as an aupair but now I am a full fledged adult and live alone. On occasion I will visit my German family so I cannot say I am entirely out here alone and roughing it.

 

Was it easy making friends or adjusting to the culture?

HAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Oh boy is this the question. I could write a thesis on this bad boy, and have probably verbally done so many times. The German culture – in contrast to American- is a very hard nut to crack. In America it is easy to walk out and talk to any old Joe on the street and build an ever lasting friendship eventually. but no, not here. Germans are very reserved and very exclusive. You meet people basically only through other people and if you cant speak German at all it can be very difficult. I mean I must admit I have heard Munich is extra difficult regarding this and if I was in another city it may be easier..but I chose the hard route. All in all I cannot fully complain though, in a way I really appreciate it a bit more in comparison to the over friendly American style. I find here when you actually can get into a social circle, the friends you make tend to be far more loyal and valuable.

How do you cope with homesickness?

In all honesty I do not have so much homesickness as Munich feels to me more like a home than any other place I have previously lived. Sometimes though, when Ive had a hard day or want to cry from studying the language I will go get a Starbucks. It may be over price, under quality coffee but it does taste the same in every country.

 

How long did it take to learn German?

This is a pretty reletive question. First things first, German is extremely hard. Most expats I have met tend to avoid learning it. They find when everyone here speaks english it doesnt make so much sense but also I takes a loooootttttt of work and investment.  I was lucky. I chose to start my Munich transition as an aupair so I had some good time in between working hours to hunker down and focus on studying. I did sacrfice a lot of my free time to catch up from a life of single language living and many a times cried because learning German grammar is a night mare. Now I am about a B2 ( just under native speaker) my comprehension is about perfect but since I work in english my speaking is not soooo ideal.

 

Do you feel at home yet?

For the most part I can answer this yes. In my first year it was really hard and I often felt very alone and reminded I did not belong. I did not know the city well and was very shocked by the culture. Going into my second year ( and once I learned German) I began to feel more at ease. Now that the second year is nearly over I can say I am very well settled. I have a perfect flat, job, my language skills are blooming, the social situation is..almost solved.. all in all I am just about as cozy and content as an expat could be. I’ve come to find that calling somewhere home is not about being happy because everything alway being perfect, its about feeling happy when nothing is going right. It is always a struggle in some way or other to make it here but at the end of the day I find it always works out well for me. Some way or another.