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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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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 Bürgerbüro 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

Bürgerbüro

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.