How to handle culture shock

How to handle culture shock

What is it

Culture shock is one major aspect of moving abroad that not alot of people go too much in detail to. It is “the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, uncertainty, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within a different and unknown culture such as one may encounter in a foreign country.” ( as defined by Wikipedia) However I would say it is referring to really anything new that puts us outside of our bubble. Whether you take it as good or bad, it occurs and on occasion can be overwhelming. So here are my tips on how to remain content in your transitioning.

What it feels like

Culture shock can result in feelings similar to a mild depression. Many people experience this after the initial excitement of moving abroad has calmed down and the reality of their situation hits. You start off excited and giddy for all the new experiences and ways of life but then once you realize the work involved you begin to become rather pessimistic. I find this to be quite true for Americans moving to Germany. With such a stark contrast in cultural and social atmosphere, many people experience this aspect of culture shock.

It’s phases

Culture Shock is experienced in a series of four phases:

  1. Honeymoon: Hurray! youve done it! youve managed to move somewhere new and the novelty of it all has come and swept you away. Everything is darling and glorious in your new home!
  2. Frustration: oh hey, wait. What is this? why are people like this? how come things work this way? ohhhh what I would give to have things back like they were in my country…all of a sudden the novelty is gone and reality of change sets in.
  3. Adjustment: Alas, this is the way life is. You realize now your choices and begin to figure out how to settle and live life in a different way. Usually filled with a feeling of neutralism.
  4. Adaption: Youve figured out a routine. Set up shop now are confident in your abilities to navigate and manage your new life and home. Things are looking up and you are prepared for new challeneges.

How to manage Culture Shock

Going abroad is not at all easy. Moving out of your comfort zone, or bubble of security is always so uncomfortable. However, you’ve got two options now; run and hide or toughen up and put your best foot forward. If your interested in the latter then check out these following tips to help you succeed in your conquest.

  1. First off, boost up your self esteem. Look at you, you did it. You made a huge step forward in the world. Youve done something most people dream of but are never brave enough to attempt. You should be proud of your new accomplishment
  2. Remind yourself these feelings are only temporary. Everything new can be uncomfortable at first, but this duration of feeling is oh so short lived.
  3. Try and avoid excessive communication with aquaintences back home. As helpful as it can be, it prevents you from living in the present and being engaged in your new surroundings.
  4. Sit down and make  list of all the tasks you want to accomplish. Whether it is learning the local language or visiting that one super cool cafe. Find what interests you and make a plan on how to experience it.
  5. Get involved with the locals. The best way to adjust to your new surroundings is by socializing. Join a club, do some sports, connect! It helps you feel more in place and naturally learn about your new home easily and quickly.

How to help manage your friend’s culture shock

Culture shock isnt just a pain first hand, but can second hand put a damper on ones spirits. You may have found out how to adjust, but once a friend or expat newbie comes to you at the start of the phase, there are many ways you can help them reach your new found level of exceptional expat transition.

  1. Help them find a purpose. One aspect of culture shock is the lonelieness and feeling out of place. So if one feels as if they have a real role to embody, this is easily remedied.
  2. Get them out! the best way to do this is not by asking if they want to but give them choices that dont include the option of not coming along. AKA instead of saying wanna go out tonight? say, would you like to go here or there tonight.
  3. Be a good listener. Sometimes the simplest things help. If they need to rant about all their frusterations or upset feelings ( even if you knowwww and have been there) step down a moment and give them the attention they need.

Yes, there can also be many other things you can do to help out with culture shock, but it is imporant to keep in mind the basics of the situation. It is a temporary phase, and the initial joy and excitement you experience when you first came will resurface eventually. Change is an important part of life and once you learn to embrace it and live off of it, there is no limit to the adventures you can have abroad.

xxA

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

 

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

IMMOBILIENSCOUT24

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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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