So recently I have been rereading my previous posts and now it kinda feels that the things that were surprising or weird for me when I arrived to Germany are no longer so. I’m getting used to living here in this country, to all its traditions and customs. Fortunately, I can adjust to almost any conditions quite easily and I’m not likely to experience culture shock, but I feel obliged to give some advice to those who have decided to take a leap of faith and start a new life in this amazing country but still feel a bit confused or frustrated.
Germany is indeed a fantastic country with a high standard of living, sincere and hospitable people, tempting food and drinks and an incredibly impressive culture. But before you do come here, there are a couple of things you may want to know.
1. German is hard
Although I have been learning German for quite a period of time, and I’m not bad at languages, but the fact that you have studied German won’t prepare you for actually speaking it and understanding it when you first arrive. But no worries, this will come eventually. And don’t be afraid to speak as you need to master your skills. Even if you make 10 mistakes in one sentence, no one will laugh at you because even Germans admit that their language is hard.
2. BEER EVERYWHERE!!!
Well, I knew about that one before moving. But I didn’t actually realize that it literally is everywhere. They do drink a lot of beer in Germany and you will as well I guess. Well, stereotypes exist for a reason and after all, Germany does have the best beer. So, if you don’t like beer, start liking it 😉 It is an important step to adapting to Germany!
3. No shopping on Sundays.
That one was the most weird for me. Just a couple of days after I arrived I needed to get some groceries so I headed to the nearest supermarket. I still remember how confused ans surprised I was when I saw that the store was closed. But I didn’t give up and went to another shop which obviously wasn’t opened as well. But then someone told me that only gas station shops work on Sundays here. So don’t forget to get some food on Saturdays or you will have to eat out on Sundays.
4. Lots of paperwork
There’s no escaping paperwork in Germany, doesn’t matter what you are intending to do here. So it should come as no surprise when you’re moving to Germany. As I have shared before, there are so many documents and forms to be filled everywhere. But in fact, I don’t find it that bad. Yes, it does take time to get all the papers and it is a bit irritating. But as Germans are really well-organised, they do all things for a reason. So I do hope that all my rushing from one office to another will pay off somehow some time 🙂
5. Don’t bring lots of high heels with you
This one is for ladies. I am a huge fan of high heels but since I arrived to Germany, I wore heels only… once. Yes, you can wear such shoes to parties or for some special occasions, but for every day be sure to have some comfy flats or sneakers because in Germany you walk or cycle everywhere and there are cobble stones and stairs everywhere.
6. Germany is cold in wintertime
It is only November but I’m already wearing my winter jacket (I wonder what I will have to wear in January or February…) When I complain about the weather, people always remind me that I am from Ukraine which is even more freezing, but still… And Freiburg is claimed to be the warmest city in Germany. Is it really? But I’ve been told that last Christmas the temperature was about 20 degrees here and there was no snow. But it’s rather an exception than a rule. But I do hope for a warm winter without snow and rain!
You are meeting up with your German friends on a Sunday evening? You are most likely to be watching Tatort, a crime TV series. I was surprised that this show has been running since 1970 and is still so popular! Many people watch Tatort in different pubs and bars together with their friends. So as soon as an episode starts, you had better keep quiet for the next ninety minutes as everyone around will be into watching the crime.
8. Pay attention to the signs
When I first came to Freiburg, I had a hard time because it always seemed to me that all bicycle riders wanted to hit me. Well, soon I did realize that no one was willing to hurt me, it was me who was walking on the wrong side.
So do pay attention to road signs and markings as it can save you from being hit 🙂
9. Separate your garbage!
Germans are remarkably environmentally friendly and separate their garbage in up to seven different bins. Blue for paper, yellow for plastics, brown for organic waste, black for everything else. I hope I got it right 🙂
10. Finding accommodation is challenging.
Especially in autumn, when all the students are searching for an apartment to live in. And the prices are quite high, too. So it’s a great idea to find accommodation in advance. I have to move out from my room at the end of the winter semester, namely in March, but I’m gonna start looking for a place to live in January.
No worries, if you want, you can forget everything that I’ve written above and experience Germany on your own. Most of the tips come from my personal experiences so as they say, take it or leave it. But you might want to take some of the advice… All in all, be open and positive and know that it will take a while to warm up to Germany and its culture. Just don’t be too hard on yourself and everything will be just fine!