My Top 10 Expat Resources for Germany!

TopTEN
When faced with the prospect of picking up your life and moving to another country, it’s hard to know where to start or where to focus your mind.  In general, I believe there are two types of people and ways they handle life’s changes…..free spirits and planners. Many people are somewhere in the middle, but I think we all tend to identify more with one side or the other.  If you’re the type of person that just lets the situation guide you and are easily adaptable without much preparation, this blog post might not be as important to you.  However, if you’re like me and you’re the type of person that looks up restaurant menus before going out to eat, plans daily itineraries for vacations and/or spends hours scouring yelp reviews, I’ve got you covered. (Control freaks Represent!) Here are my Top 10 Expat Resources for Germany! (not in any order of importance)

  1.  Duolingo  https://www.duolingo.com  Visiting or moving to a country where you don’t speak the language can, at the very least, be a challenge and inconvenient.  There are a number of options to learn to speak another language.  Many apps/programs are easy to navigate.  Some of them are pretty pricey, but I found the FREE option of Duolingo to be a great start to give you some basic understanding of German.  The phrase I most frequently used when I recently visited Germany was no surprise….”Sprechen sie English?”  Most people do speak at minimum, some English, but Germans (and I think most people) appreciate it if you at least are making an attempt to learn and speak their language.
  2. Germany vs USA YouTube Channel  https://www.youtube.com/user/AlexandJim  Alex (German) and Jim (American) met through student exchange and their videos are really helpful and a lot of fun.  They have a perfect chemistry between them with friendly banter and exchange of ideas that make you hope that you find a great friend like that in your new country.  They touch on subjects like Stereotypes, Cultural differences, Food, etc.
  3. Get Germanized! YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/MeisterLehnsherr/featured Similar in concept to Germany vs USA, Get Germanized provides short videos explaining Germany from the perspective of a German.  Most of the videos are done by one guy, but at times he has guest spot videos.  He mixes information and comedy in a casual way that is both entertaining and useful.
  4. Expat BLOGS!  Look to the people who have gone before you. Expat Blogs are a wonderful way to get an idea of what other people in similar situations have experienced and learned.  Of course experiences may vary and you have to understand that, but I definitely found the blogs I read to be helpful.  It was the reason I started this blog.  I have some of my favorites listed on my page under “Blogs I Follow”.
  5. Country Specific Expat Websites  http://www.expatica.com/de  http://www.internations.org/germany-expats/guide These websites provide a broad range of content and links to other resources that can keep you busy researching for hours.
  6. Local Expat Websites http://www.expat-karlsruhe.com  This website is specific to the area where I am moving, but I’m sure there are others for different communities within Germany.  These websites provide access to local festivals, schools, shopping, customs and much more. It also connected me with the most valuable resource of all.  See number 7.
  7. Relocation Service  http://www.move-in.info/index.php?id=3&L=1  Again, this resource is specific to the Karlsruhe area, but I am sure similar service is available in other communities.  Trying to find an apartment, set up residency ( I hear the US DMV pales in comparison to the maddening and tedious German bureaucracy), connect utilities, open a bank account, etc in a foreign country with a language that you don’t speak is daunting at best.  We connected with with the owner of move-in.com, Carmen Sax, and she and her staff have been awesome so far.  They showed us around the area and quickly found a wonderful flat for my husband very close to his office.  Without their help, there is no way we would have been able to accomplish that in the short time we had before the move.  There is a cost involved and it’s not cheap, but neither is the assistance of a realtor (in Germany realtors usually charge 2 months basic rent as a commission).
  8. Expat Social Media Groups  Like I mentioned earlier, there are many groups of people out there that have already gone through this and are a wealth of information.  I found Facebook especially helpful.  Just search the term “expat” or “expatriate” and the country (or even city if you are moving to a large city) that you are moving to on Facebook and you will most likely come up with many options.
  9. MeetUp.com http://www.meetup.com/karlsruhe-meetup-group/  One of the things that I worry about when moving to Germany, is not knowing anyone.  We all need friends and social interaction.  Meet-up is a good website to look into to find some like minded people in your area, expat or not.  I was able to find a local English Speaking group near my new area.  They have regular social functions.  I will certainly check them out when I arrive.
  10. Google Translate Functions  When doing online searches for information in Germany you need to actually search in German if you want the best data.  If you use Google Chrome as your web browser, it has a great translate option at the top of the page. By clicking “translate” it will translate all or most of the page for you.  Of course for small amounts of text you can just google “German to English” and a handy translation text box will appear at the top of the page.

I hope you find these tips helpful and if you are a planner like me, I hope it helps keep your blood pressure in check! 😉

Tschüß

And so it begins…

Bad Berzabern

Bad Berzabern

Baden Baden

Baden Baden

Overlooking Heidelberg

Overlooking Heidelberg

heidelburg2

We are moving to Germany!  I’ve started a blog to chronicle this once in a lifetime experience of moving to another country.  Beyond that though, I want to pay it forward by documenting my journey.  When I was doing research on becoming an Expat, I read a number of blogs and watched as many videos. So I hope the information I provide will be helpful to the next person searching the internet for information and reassurance.

To start from the beginning, my brilliant husband came upon an opportunity to work at an awesome tech company in Karlsruhe, Germany.  We currently live in the Bay Area in California.  When he initially presented me with the prospect of moving to Germany, I thought he was crazy.  At this time of my life with 2 grown children, I never even considered that life would take us from the rolling hills of the Napa Valley to Deutschland!  I envisioned my life as traveling occasionally, continuing my career as a nurse and enjoying watching my kids’ lives unfold.  As life often does, I was thrown a curveball….an exciting and adventurous one, but a curveball, yet still.  After sitting with the situation for a few days, I came to the realization that this was a great opportunity for my husband career wise and a new adventure for us both together.

My husband was required to go to Germany for a series of additional interviews and tasks to prove his abilities to the company. It was a rigorous process.  His new boss is a smart man and also invited me.  It was smart because it provided me an opportunity to experience first hand the beauty of Germany and get an idea of what our life might be like there.  It made it much easier for me to stay on board.  Germany truly is a beautiful country.

After 9 days in Germany, we are now home and the enormity of tasks that are required to prepare for a move like this are running through my mind like a Cat 5 hurricane.  What weighs most heavily on me though are my kids.  I know they are grown and they don’t need me as much anymore. However, I do still need them.  It will be very hard to be so far away from them, although I know that I have raised them to be independent and strong.  I know we won’t be gone forever and how incredible it is for them to have a home base in Europe to see all of the amazing sites that would have been more difficult to explore before.

In my next blog post I will share some of the great resources I found while doing my research on Germany.  They were incredibly helpful!  How did people get information before the internet???!

But ’til then,

Auf Wiedersehen 🙂