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

 

Wiesn Tent Guide

Wiesn Tent Guide

 

So many tents, so little time.

In total, Oktoberfest has a little over thirty different tents. Which can be pretty overwhelming. So here I have for you is a simplified list of the biggest and most popular fourteen tents.

 

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Previously known as Hippodrom, this bright delight of a tent is one of the first ones you will see when walking into the fair grounds. Known for being a singles tent, it is filled with younger crowds and local celebrities. One exciting addition is that next to bier you can spend your time here sipping Sekt.

 

Schottenhamel

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The kick off tent. Known for its historic first day event, in Schottenhammel at noon on the opening day the Mayor arrives and taps the first beer of Oktoberfest. Setting off the official celebrations. Aside from this, it is also the largest and oldest of the tents.

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Known as the ” Himmel der Bayern” ( Bavarian Heaven) this tent is filled with a dream blue cieling of stars and clouds. With around 10.000 seating, it isnt so small either. It is also famous for its evening rock bands accompied by dancing on the benches.

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Looking for somewhere glamourous and gourmet? Best head on over to Käfer. Known for being a hot spot for celebrities, this smaller tent is the perfect atmosphere to go and have a more relaxed Wiesn experience. It also has the longst hours, serving beer until 12:30 and staying open until 1am.

Weinzelt

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Desiring something other than beer? the Wine tent is your perfect match. With a great selection of wins and champagnes, this small tent is the best place to go. It also has many different food options including seafood and on occasion Thai.

Hofbräu

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The well known tourist attraction Hofbräuhaus in downtown Munich has its very own tent at the Oktoberfest. Knowing for its standing indoor planning and foriegn patrons, this tent is a good option for those looking to find fellow expat company.

Augustiner

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Known for being Munich’s favourite brewery, this tent offers a more traditional and family friendly atmosphere. With special deals for kids on on tuesdays, it makes a great group destination.

Known for its giant lion statue on the outside, this tent is a hard one to bypass. Often known as a hot spot for the local TSV 1860 football team, apply referred to as ” the lions”

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Known as being the only tent with its own personal yodeler, Bräurosl is a traditional tent with a impressive record of being the longest owned tent by a single family. Swing by for some great Oompha band music and history.

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Sitting underneath the famous Statue of Bavaria, this shooting inspired tent is home to some famous pork dishes and local shooting club championships. One of my personal favourites, its often a great tent to start the first day in.

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Known for its ox specialties ( and giant revolving spit at the entrance) this tent is a good place to go when you want a nice big meal to match your party.

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Living up to its name, this tent serves a variety of fish options, including the well known Steckerlfisch or literally, ” fish on a stick”.

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Known as the sporty tent. ArmbrustschĂĽtzen translates literally to ” Crossbow shooters tent” It includes one of the OKtoberfest highlights, a crossbow competition.

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Known as a spot for local football players, this tent has a nice atmosphere with much attention to detail. It is also known for being the spot Local TV stations like to come do their reporting from.

 

Also very important, this years maĂź pricing….

Big tents Beer prices 2017
Armbrustschützen-Festzelt € 10,85
Augustiner-Festhalle € 10,70
Pschorr-Bräurosl € 10,90
Fischer-Vroni € 10,95
Hacker-Festzelt € 10,90
Marstall € 10,90
Hofbräuhaus-Festzelt € 10,90
Käfer Wies’n Schänke € 10,90
Löwenbräu-Festzelt € 10,80
Ochsenbraterei € 10,70
Paulaner-Festzelt € 10,95
Schottenhammel-Festhalle € 10,95
Schützen-Festzelt € 10,90

 

Prostess with the mostess- your 2017 Oktoberfest guide

Prostess with the mostess- your 2017 Oktoberfest guide

SEEERRRVVUUUSSSS (expat) MĂĽnchners and travelers!

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Wiesn season is right around the corner and fast approaching. Hopefully you all have your Dirndls and Lederhosen ready to go. If not, and if by chance this is  new experience for you then allow me to make the proper introductions.

 

What is Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest ( or known to the locals as Wiesn ) is a 16-18 day yearly event in Munich, Germany. It starts mid September and goes until the first week of October. The origin of this beautiful beer festival began in 1810, when Prince Ludwig ( King Ludwig I)  married Princess Therese and they had a nice large party for the locals to celebrate.

What is it like?

There are fourteen different beer tents to attend. Inside they are full of loud, fun madness. Lots of live music, singing along to songs, dancing on tables and great big litre glasses of Wiesn Bier! Outside is spectacular. It is basically a giant carnival ( or fair). WIth rollarcoasters, a ferris wheel, haunted houses and games galour. And the best part, loads and loads of people dressed up in fantastic Trachten.

Location and getting there

Theresienwiese

By Sbahn:
S1 – S8 to Hackerbrücke, then about a 10 minute walk

By Ubahn

U3 or U6 to Goetheplatz or PoccistraĂźe
U4 or U5 to Theresienwiese or Schwanthalerhöhe

By Tram

Line 18 or 19 to HolzapfelstraĂźe or Hermann-Lingg-StraĂźe

By Bus

Line 53 to Schwanthalerhöhe
Line 58 to Georg-Hirth-Platz or Goetheplatz
Line 131 or 132 to Hans-Fischer-StraĂźe
Line 134 to Schwanthalerhöhe

 

Oktoberfest 2017 schedule

Saturday, September 16th at 11:00 am – Tuesday, October 3rd *

*always remember on weekends to be there around 9 or you wont get in a tent!

Beer Serving Hours
Opening day: 12.00 noon – 10.30 pm
Weekdays: 10am – 10:30pm
Weekends: 9am – 10:30pm

Daily Tent Closing Time: 12:30 am
FYI: The Käfer Tent and the Weinzelt are open until 1am with the last call for alcohol is 12:15am.

 

Food Guide

Common snack saviours to indulge in at Wiesn

Brezeln: Large soft Preztl
Hendl: Roasted chicken
Schweinshaxe: Pork knuckle
Weisswurst: White sausage ( typically eaten before noon)
Käse Spätzle: aka food of the Bavarian gods. Think extra scrumptious mac n cheese

Making a reservation

As fun as Wiesn is, finding seating can sometimes be a buzz kill. If you are looking to go in the weekends or evenings, the best plan is to make sure you have a reserved spot. Most times I only go then if I have a table with friends to sit ith. Otherwise you risk walking around for ages or even not being able to get into a tent. Prices tend to be reletively high, and its always best to book in advance. Often times however you cannot book individual spots but will need to book a full table ( a few hundred euros in the least)

Cost and cash calculation

If you have never been to the oktoberfest, first off let me tell you, it ain’t cheap.

Beer only is served in liter glasses called maß. This year they will be between € 10,70-€ 10,95 (plus tip!) depending on tent . In addition you will get hungry, snacks start at around € 4 and meals around € 10. Tents only accept cash, so its best not to enter with less than € 50 in your pocket.

General  tips

Do’s:

Pace yourself: Honestly. A litre of beer at a time can be fun enough but remember this beer is also typically higher alcohol content so before you get into the peer pressure of cheering and chugging, check yourself before you potentialy wreck yourself ( Wiesn Virgins, heres looking at you)

Hydration: As with the previous message, a Wiesn hangover is quite possible the worst hangover you will experience in your life. So much sodium so little time. However, if you manage to slip out, the next day Paulaner Spezi will be your beverage bff

Always carry cash: As I said before, 50 euro minimum is good to bring in a tent, if you plan to stay all day I would definitly keep a good amount more in your pocket as the atms are scarce and qeues nightmarish.

Dirndl Goals: Ladies, now is your time to shine. The dirndl is quite possibly the most amazing dress a woman can wear. It makes anyone look fabulous. But remember, where you tie the schleife counts. Left means single, right means taken and in the middle means virgin.

Lederhosen guidelines: Keep it simple gents. Lederhosen, a white shirt and haferl shoes. Perhaps a wool jacket or waist coat, but for goodness sake no checkered shirt or Lederhosen made out of jersey or jean. I will find you, and injure you.

Prepare your vocal cords: One of my favourite parts about Oktoberfest is all the intent singing! so if you are not a fan of sing alongs then its best you stick out to the Biergarten or Carnival. As for me, you can catch me inside belting my heart out to country roads and attempting to catch up to some Wiesn Schlager

Put your foot on the table and chug: If you are ready for some action and feeling tough, a foot on the table signifies to the tent you are man enough to down an entire litre of beer in one go. Hit that up if youre feelin lucky kid, and youll be recieved with the largest amount of applause in your life.

Dont’s:

Dont put your foot on the table and chug:…unless you are really really confident. The 5000-8000 spectators can quickly become a nasty crowd if you arent able to rise to the challenge

Don’t steal a maĂź: Seriously, hands off. I know it seems like such a cool thing to have and #souvenirgoals, but don’t. Just, nope.

Leave the staff alone: One sure fire way to get you kick out of a tent faster than anything is if you mess with one of the waiters/waitresses. So you better be nice ( and dont forget to tip!)

Leave the open toed shoes at home: Save your feet from the floor tradgedy of oktoberfest. Unless you are preferential to some toe stomping and beer soaked shoes.

Ladies, ditch the big purses: There is a high picpocketing rate in those giant crowds. So the less valuables you bring the better. And the added risk of losing  big purse once you set it down are pretty high

Dont accidently leave the tent: on occasion the exit is very close to the bathrooms and you can easily slip out and then not be allowed back in. So be cautious when heading out around on busy days

 

Have any questions or your own tips you would like to add? Comment below! I would love to hear about your experiences.

Stay safe and have a great Wiesn!

 

xxA

Tips for finding a flat in Munich

Tips for finding a flat in Munich

So you have managed to take the leap and move to Munich but now are in search of the second essential piece; a flat! And I’m certain as you have heard-or experienced- it is a double doozy trying to find accomidation in this sweet little city.

However, my dear expats, Aspen is here to help. I shall provide you with some of my best resources and advice to kill the 089 housing game.

  1. Know German ( or someone who does)

When in Germany, speak German! Most ads are in German and most landlords prefer a German speaker. When applying it is far more effiencent to write applications in German-you get much better and more feedback.

2. Types of rent

Unlike in the United States, rent is not such an easy topic to break apart, so here are some key words you should keep in your flat hunting vocabulary:

Kaution: The deposit. Typically in Germany the deposit will go into a special bank account held by your landlord that requires signatures from both parties. Although sometimes it is just transfered over with your first months rent payment, in which case it is always smart to keep bank statements tracking these transactions.

Kaltmiete: Literally ” cold rent”, this describes a contract in which utilities are not included in the rental price.

Warmmeite: The price of rent which includes utilities and Nebenkosten.

( Warmeite does not include internet,  or RundfunkgebĂĽhr)

Nebenkosten: These are basically building management fees. So anything associated with the building such as trash removal, cleaning services or elevator maitenence can be included in the NK. This will cost will change due to how much heat you use, in addition once a year you should recieve a seperate water bill. You will have to pay for the water bill if youve gone over your allowence, but sometimes if your under you can get a refund.

The Kitchen: This, to me, was always a strange topic. In Germany you can rent flats that don’t have kitchens, i.e bring your own stove. Coming from America where kitchen is not counted as furnishing I have had quite a few disapointing experiences. It is important to read ads well as sometimes there is a kitchen, sometimes not and sometimes you must even pay extra for the kitchen that is already there.

Wohnungsbewerbung: The rental application. Sort of similar to applying to a job, when applying for housing you will need a cover letter, CV and proof of income.

3. Rental Abbreviations to know:

2 Zi. Whg : 2 Zimmer Wohnung :2 room apartment

WG :Wohnung Gemeinschaft : Flatshare

Mobliert : furnished

EBK : Einbaukuche :Kitchen is included (stove, cabinets, fridge, sink)

EBK (Abl VHB____) : Kitchen include, but for a cost (VHB; verhandelbar; negotiable)

Parkett Wood floors

Laminate: Laminated floors

Tiefgarage : Car garage, usually an additional cost associated

2 OG m. Lift : 2nd Obergeschoss: Third floor (English) , with elevator

Spulmaschine : Dishwasher

ca. 100 qm (or m2) : About 100 square meters multiply by 10 to get square feet

Nachmieter: Someone who is looking to leave a lease earlier than scheduled

Untermieter: Sub-letter

ab. 1 Juli: Available 1st of July

ab sof. :sofort frei : Available right away

 

4. Websites to find housing

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IMMOWELT

 SĂśDDEUTSCH ZEITUNG IMMOBILIENMARKT

WG-GESUCHT,

AIRBNB

Hopefully this can be a helpful start to your search. As always, feel free to contact me if you need some more advice or have some to share.

Best wishes little fishes

xxA

 

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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