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

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)|

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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How to kill it in the Munich expat game

How to kill it in the Munich expat game

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

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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

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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

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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

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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:

Toytown

Expat in the City

Internations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.