Audio

Toxic positivity & life abroad // Podcast episode

Shaun is an expat from South Africa and the host of the great podcast The Germany Experience 🇿🇦

I was lucky to be invited for an episode with him in which we discussed the topic of mental health as a foreigner in Germany, life as a content creator and got into the issues with toxic positivity.

Have a listen and let me know what you think ⤵️

xxA

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10 things Americans learn when they move to Germany

For an American, traveling away from home can be scary. Especially when it’s abroad.

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But, truth be told, there is not much to fear, I have here for you  the top 10 things us expats must encounter when we enter Deutschland.

1. Personal lives are meant to be personal

Coming from America, the land of excess, personal information sharing is a big subject that’s always coming in plenty. You randomly open up to strangers waiting in line at the grocery store, you start discussing your family life with a bank teller or let your local barista know all the gossip on your recent break up. No no no my friend, not here in Germany. The people here tend to believe in keeping the small talk to a null and sharing is only reserved for family members and certain inner circles.

 

2. Life has three genders

Get ready to make your dictionary your best friend. In Germany the lovely and simple gender neutral english “the” is replaced by three other articles, der-die-das. Why? because artichokes are feminine, water is definitely neutral and boxes are of course masculine. And the fun doesn’t end there, depending on grammatical situation articles can even change genders. how fun is that??

 

3. Convience is but a concept

The German lifestyle is one of regulation, routine and leaves not much room for spontaneity. Want to go out with friends? you better plan ahead. Thinking about doing your laundry on a sunday? How dare you. Want a great career?cool, go and get a degree for that specific area and don’t move anywhere else. Everything is very well-organized and there is always a respected place or time. Gone are the days of shopping after 8pm or getting nearly anything done on a sunday.

 

4.Silence is golden

If Germans were American they would have only one amendment that really matters; the fifth. There is nothing more important than exercising your right to remain silent. While Americans find it a gosh darn shame to waste a perfectly good small talk opportunity, the Germans are more than relieved when you decide to keep a nice stuffy silence going in the local transportation on your morning commute. Be sensible my dears, excessive noise is but a luxury.

 

5. Everything can be recycled

As I have previously mentioned, Germans love their order. And this trickles down to even the smaller things such as waste. Well, to be honest, in Germany not much is waste because the majority of items can be recycled ( yeehoo!) Glass is organized by colour, plastics are separated, organic waste has a bin of its own, paper, electronics  all have their respected areas. Not to mention in every grocery store there is machine where you can exchange your bottles for cash. Recycling is not just a choice but a way of life.

 

6. Cash is King

Start learning to carry more notes around with you. Most places wont accept cards, regardless if its a debit or credit card. Sometimes the minimums are also a bit high. You cant always rely on cafes, shops or even the ticket machine to take your card. Unlike America, cash is your best bet when out and about.

7. Sparkling drinks are fabulous

The mystery of German fixation on carbonated beverages will always be there. They love it in everything. Water is always bubbly and juice is mixed half and half with this water. If you don’t like the carbonation you must always specify you want still water otherwise you will get sparkling. And sometimes on the occasion there wont be any still water available.

8. Bikes are best friends

Most city infrastructures in Germany are build with their avid cycling citizens in mind. Separate bike lanes and streets are a very popular integration. Opposed to America where our streets are massive and the automotist and cyclists are always in a power struggle. Here there is a leveled order between drivers of all kinds.

 

9. There is no one stop shop

Grocery store, pharmacy, butcher, baker, candle stick maker. Thats right. Over here along with the rest, everything has its place. Gone are the days of super walmart or Costco. If you want to get your shopping, you must hop around. True you can get a couple standard  or prepackaged options at a grocery store.

 

10. Always test stereotypes

With all of that being said. Germany can come off a certain way, but it does not mean every person you encounter will be the extra replica of your expectations or anything I have written here. In my experience I have been surprised once and a while by the variety. Granted stereotypes exist for a reason, but I can guarantee you there are a lot of very Americanesk Germans out there and very Germanian Americans. In the end its about personal preference I believe. Be open, be yourself and embrace something new.

Going to the Hairdresser in Germany

Going to the Hairdresser in Germany

Pre-PS– *If you’re keen for more details, a little story or additional visuals, check out the Youtube video I’ve linked at the bottom of this post*

A big topic not alot of people adress in expat life is the day to day routines, this including lifestyle routines and today I am talking about hair. For me this has been a big point of stress and not only is it tricky to avoid the wrong cut while trying to communicate in a second language but if youre one for reular colourings, this can be verrryyy hazardous.

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I have had my fair share of german hairdresser horror stories ( both appearence and wallet related) so please let me give you a hand with some tips to avoid disaster.

First things first, if you have not found your dream hairdresser who can assist you in english, here is some basic vocabulary to help you manage the perfekt cut:

  • schneiden (cut), waschen (wash), föhnen (blow-dry)
  • lang (long) – kurz (short)
  • länger (longer) – kürzer (shorter)
  • vorn, vorne (at the front) – hinten (at the back, also, in the neck)
  • am Hals (in the neck)
  • an der Stirn (at the forehead)
  • an den Seiten (at the sides)
  • rechts (right) – links (left)
  • über die Ohren (over the ears), hinter die Ohren (behind the ears)
  • ins Gesicht (into the face)
  • gleich lang (the same length)
  • glatt (straight)
  • stufig (cut in layers)
  • fransig (fringy)
  • der Scheitel (the parting)
  • der Pony (the fringe)
  • der Schnitt (the cut)
  • die Frisur (the hairdo)

If you are looking for some colour assistance, refer this vocab:

  • Farben (to colour/dye)
  • heller (lighter) – dunkler (darker)
  • Strähnen (Highlights)
  • Blondieren (bleach dont confuse with blonde highlights!)

*note on blondieren, this is essentialy a full bleach wash. Worst idea ever if you dont want to look like a platinum blonde mess. Would not recommend, also can easily be mistaken. so heeaaaddd my warning fellow bottle blondies

Choosing a salon and what to expect

I like to think of myself as a bit of a salong expert as the things I to my hair are pretty tedious and extreme…now in the past four years I have popped around to many salons in Munich-high end to low end- and let me tell you, times are tricky. In the lower end casual salons most likely youll get a decent price but the customer service is not the best and of course they ask if you want to blow dry your own hair ( what?!) even in the more bougie salons this can happen oddly enough ( German things oder was?) compared to the states there is not so much a full service aspect to it. Dont expect to automatically get your cut/colour and then a blowout with styling included. Often times this costs extra to have your hair dryed and styled after. And when it comes to the hairdresser, small talk usually wont happen. Like most in the German service industry, its a get in and get out transaction. In all honesty, youre best bet is to get a recomendation.

Luckily for me I found a fabelhaft hairdresser here. Her name is Buba and she is a wizard with the ways of hair. She works at a salon here in Munich called Kazu . I have recommended so many people to her as; 1. she speaks fabulous english 2. super friendly and chatty 3. has never let me down.

If you are in Munich definitly book a slot with her and tell her Aspen sent you (;

If you’re in another part of Germany, then my dear I wish you the best! If ever you need some more specified vocab help or hair advce in this glorious country, write your girl a little note

xxA

( If you’re interested in how tipping for hair in Germany works, I mention it in this video below )

How to wear a Dirndl

How to wear a Dirndl

Many ladies come to Munich excited to try on one of the gorgeous local outfits; the Dirndl. However at first it can be rather intimidating as there are so many options and styles to choose from. So with the help of my friend Schatzi Dirndl, I have for you a little example guide.

The Vocabulary

First things first, what the heck are these dress pieces called?

The Dress: Dirndl

Corset or bodice: Mieder or Dirndl oberteil

Blouse: Bluse

Apron: Schürze

Bow: Schleife

The Traditional Dirndl

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Here we have a simple style in some very typical colours.

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 1.28.01 PM  Traditional Dirndls are often found in Red, Blue and Green ( particularly Tannenbaum grün) They are paired with either a checkered dress or schürze and a full shoulder covering bluse

The Modern or Couture Dirndl

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This Dirndl is a very unique option to show the modern flare seen nowadays at Oktoberfest. In Some areas and zelts it can be a very big fashion competiton and many woman strive to have the most unique dirndl.

In General, the modern dirndl is highlighted by the variations of colours and patterns. Some years I have seen them with wild patterns, mountains of ribbons, jewels and even pearl embeleshments.

Two other differences would be the mieder and Bluse

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 1.34.12 PMThe modern bodice style is still rather traditional but instead of ties, goes together with man hidden metal clasps. In terms of the blouse, this is often a longer 3/4 sleeve style, often with a bit of lace or decorative piece around the collar.

Tying the Schürze

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One of the most frequently asked questions for dirndls is which side to tie the bow.

When tying the schleife on your dirndl, the location in which you put it can send off a couple different messages.

Left: This means you are in a relationship or married

Right: Single ( and ready to mingle)

Middle: Child or virgin

Back: Kellnerin or widow

What do you think about Dirndls? have you gotten yours this year yet?

I hope this post helped you out a bit! let me know if you have any other dirndl related topics and I’d love to chat with you

Happy shopping

xxA

Dirndls curtesy of Schatzi Dirndl  and Trachtlerin

Xaver’s Wirtshaus

Xaver’s Wirtshaus

German food? YES first thing on everyone’s mind is typically images of our lovely bavarian eats like Schweinebraten or Schnitzel or a great big ole Brezn, but let me tell you, here in Munich they have a way of mixing traditon with modern.

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I was recomended to go to a reletively new wirtshaus in Glockenbachviertal called Xaver’s. It was founded and is owned by three siblings from a local Munich family. I checked out the menu and it seemed pretty tasty ( also mainly localy sourced, so super cool!) and called them up, invited Hayley and we went for a meal.

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The oldest of the siblings was there to show us around, chat a bit about the Xaver’s way and give us a bunch of ssseeehhrr sehhhrrrr lecker food #teamjakob

Peep some of our delicious meal here

but don’t let me carry on here, see the vlog bellow to get the full feel and enthusiam

xx A