Best Christmas Markets in Germany

 

If you are a huge fan of Christmas season, I am glad to tell you that next Thursday (11/21/2019) is the opening of the Christmas Markets in Germany. A magical time of the year where each city, full of Christmas lights and decoration, emits a delightful scent of Glühwein (typical mulled wine) and traditional food.

To be honest, I also think that this is a beautiful time of the year. Most of the people here in Germany enjoy this time to spend some quality time with family and friends, to open their advents calendars, to offer little surprises and to be more compassionate. Families come together and spend time buying Christmas decoration and having some hot drinks in the markets.

This markets tradition is celebrated all around the country. However, each city has different markets and each market has its own decoration and stands.

Do you want to know which are the top 5 Christmas markets in Germany?

Let’s check them together!

 

Dresden

The capital city of Saxony is our first stop.

The Striezelmarkt is considered the first Christmas market not only in Dresden, but in whole Germany.

It dates from 1434, when Friedrich II, Elector of Saxony, allowed traders to have a public holiday the Monday before Christmas. This celebration took place at Altmarkt square, where the Striezelmarkt is located today.

Its 240 stands attract around 2 million visitors every year. 80% of the stands belong to traders who come from the Saxony region.

One of the most relevant moments, during the time the market is open, takes place the Saturday before the second Sunday of Advent. That day a 4 ton Dresdner Christsollen – a raisin stollen – will be baked and carried from Zwinger Schloss to Striezelmarkt. The Dresdner Christollen is a piece of cultural history produced in only 120 bakeries and pastry stores around Dresden.

This festivity is known as “Stollenfest” and the organizer is the Schutzverband Desdner Stolle e.V. association.

The blaze of lights, the smell of Glühwein and Christmas music spreading through the market make this place a to-put-on-your-list one.

 

Opening time 2019

From the 27th  of November to the 24th of December

 

Monschau

This medieval city situated on the border with Belgium deserves a visit at this time of the year.

If you have already been here during summer time, you might already know that this stunning city is located between mountains – which gives it with a magical feeling. This feeling becomes stronger during Advent and Christmas time.

Here not only the market is decorated with lights and advent wreaths, also other business such as bakeries, restaurants and fashion stores are decorated according to the decoration of the Christmas market.

In the market, among all the stands, we can find Glühwein as well as traditional food such as Flammkuchen and melted cheese.

The most beautiful moment comes when the city’s choirs sing Christmas songs and go all over the market.

However, if you’d rather buy Christmas decoration during summer or spring, do not worry! There is a 3 floors store in Monschau where only Christmas objects are sold. And you know what? It is open from March to December! 😉

 

Opening time 2019

From the 22nd of November to the 22nd of December

 

Cologne

I am sure you have already heard some opinions about the Christmas market in front Cologne’s cathedral. Or maybe, you have already heard about the one in front of the Chocolate Museum.

Well, those markets are good. But what about discovering some less-touristic ones?

In this post I want to talk you about the one in Rudolfplatz, beside the famous Hahnentorburg from s.XIII.

This market is called “Santa Claus Village” and its decoration is stunning. Most of the stands are “two floor houses”, whose roofs are decorated with reindeers, candies, presents… It is a familiar market where you really feel in Santa’s village.

Another nice thing about this market is that some bands play live Christmas music every evening.

 

Opening time 2019

From the 25th of November to the 23rd of December

 

If you are willing to discover more cute places, I highly recommend you the Heumarkt market.

This market is one of the oldest in the city and the stands are organized by trades (food, leather, toys…), as tradition dictates.

Also an ice skate rink can be found in this market. In fact, this rink is the largest in Germany with a 1,800 square meters surface. This rink will open until the 5 th of January 2020.

 

Opening time 2019

From the 25th of November to the 23rd of December

 

Münster

In my opinion this could be the largest Christmas market in Germany because the whole city is a market.

How is this possible?

Easy. Münster is the home of 5 Christmas markets which are connected among them in a way that you can walk from one to another without even realizing. Well, that’s not 100% true… Each market has its own decoration and thematic, so at a certain point you realize 😉

A market that I really like is Aegidii market. This market has an impressive nativity scene, a 6 metres high wooden pyramid and a fairy tale area.

This year traders will even offer warm beer and cocktails. Are you ready to try them?

 

Opening time 2019

From the 25th of November to the 23rd of December

 

Nuremberg

I must recognize that I have never been to this market, however, the information I am about to tell you is really reliable 😊

The most stunning market in Nuremberg is called Christkindlesmarkt. Every year one child acts as a Christkind and appears on the balcony of the Church of Our Lady to open the holiday season and sing a traditional Christmas song.

This festivity takes place on Friday before the first Sunday in Advent.

Once this market is open the whole city scent mulled wine, rum punch and roasted almonds. If you visit this market, do not forget to try its famous Nuremberg bratwurst and gingerbread.

 

Opening time 2019

From the 29th of November to the 23rd of December

 

Your turn

Have you ever been to a german Christmas market? How was the experience? Do you know any of the above mentioned ones?

In case you want to share your experience feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social network. I am alway thrilled to read your adventures!

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

Mini-job in Germany

 

Around 8 million Germans work mini-jobs and, for most of them, they are their only source of income. Although this model – known as “minor employment model” – is heavily criticised, its success from an economic perspective has motivated other European countries to consider it as an option. Mini-jobs are

But, what is a mini-job? What about health insurance? Can a minijobber get fired?

In this post I try to answer all your questions. Let’s go!

What are mini-jobs?

A mini-job is any form of employment with an average monthly payment of no more than €450.

Although mini-jobs are typically related to cleaning jobs, they can also come from agencies, startups, language schools and larger companies looking for part-time help.

Which are the pros?

  • Minijobbers – people who have a mini-job contract – with no alternative source of income pay zero taxes on earnings up to €450
  • The state covers the minijobber’s social and health insurance
  • All minijobbers have the same rights as other employees, meaning that “same rights” apply on holiday and sick pay, as well as on maternity leave
  • Minijobbers can take on another side job

Which are the cons?

  • Minijobbers are usually paid a lower wage than fully employed colleagues
  • To improve emplyoment statistics – you may have heard that the unemployment rate in Germany is around 4% – politicians count minijobbers as regular working people
  • It can be difficult to turn a mini-job into a full-time job.

Who benefits from this kind of job contract?

Both parties.

For minijobbers, a mini-job is always a good opportunity to earn some money – the €450 arrive always to the person’s bank account with tax deducted already –  and get some experience in the German market.

There are my students that work as minijobbers while studying just to get some extra money. At the same time, many expats use this system to try working in a multicultural environment until they feel secure enough to work for a large company.

For employers, a mini-job is a good deal to save some money – they do not have to pay for insurance obligations – and to hire motivated professionals. A good example of this are startups companies. Most of them use this system to hire people until they have enough earnings to pay for higher salaries.

Why are mini-jobs more popular among young people?

Mosel Valley: More than Wine

 

After reading all your questions and posting some nice pictures in my IG account, it is time to explore the German Mosel region also in the blog.

Are you ready for a weekend trip in the picturesque Mosel Valley in western Germany?

The Mosel river valley is one of the most stunning, beautiful landscapes in Germany, including steep slope vineyards, kilometers of hiking trails, fairy tale castles and cute wine villages. As you may know, the Mosel valley creates the ideal conditions for wine culture, therefore its wine is recognized due to its high quality. Did you know that these vineyards were first cultivated by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago?

In fact, the Mosel river begins in France and flows into Germany where it twist sharply for around 250 kilometers. It is along this winding river gorge (see photo above) that we can find Riesling vineyards. Riesling is a floral, aromatic grape – first recorded in Germany in 1435 – with a high level of frost resistance. From this grape variety comes one of the world’s finest white wines in a vast variety of styles.

But did you know that spending a weekend in the Mosel valley is not only a highlight for wine connoisseurs? It’s actually a great opportunity to discover stunning landscapes and fairy tale cities.

Let’s start our trip!

 

Cochem

Pressed against the Mosel by the valley walls you can find Cochem’s charming old town, dated from the 18th century. Under the gaze of the romantic Reichsburg castle you can find ancient, half-timbered houses and stunning medieval gates all around the old town. Do not forget to walk around the medieval Markplatz and to comtemplate the baroque town hall from 1739.

Another emblematic building is the Klosterberg, a capuchin monastery built on top of a mountain around 1630 and used as a monastery until 1802. Nowadays it serves as the city’s cultural center.

Last but not least, do not forget to visit the Enderttor, the largest of Cochem’s three Medieval city gates, which provides the old town with lots of Medieval charm.

Bremm

Strolling through a vineyard with a 60 degree slope can be a great adventure if you like hiking. At the end of the climb you can find Gipfelkreuz, a viewpoint from which you can enjoy a dramatic view from the Mosel valley and, at the same time, savor a glass of fresh Riesling wine.

To climb this path I highly recommend you to wear suitable shoes, since it is a quite dangerous and steep hiking trail.

Briedel

The small town of Briedel is the ideal place to enjoy some peaceful days with your friends and/or relatives. To be honest, this is not the most tourist town of the Mosel valley, however, it is a special one.

If you want to taste wine from the town’s viticulturists while you enjoy a ride in a carriage among the steep vineyards, Briedel is the right place for you.

This is a worthwhile idea to learn more about the production process, the type of grapes cultivated by each producer and to enjoy some stunning views of the valley from the Aussichtsturm Prinzenkopf observation deck.

By the way, if you are lucky enough you may have the chance to taste the grapes directly from the vineyards.

The wine

Today’s vineyards cover around 9,000 hectares of steep hillsides, most facing the south or southwest. Half of the vines grow on steep slopes turning this valley into Germany’s most spectacular wine region.

Some facts about Mosel’s wine:

  • 60% of the vines growing in this area are Riesling, followed by Elbling (produced only in this region) and Müller-Thurgau.
  • Around 90% of Mosel’s wines are white ones.
  • The Calmont vineyard at Bremm with it 68% gradient is the steepest vineyard in Europe.
  • Winemakers mainly produce high quality Riesling.
  • Most winemakers offer tastings at their wine cellars.

Cycling paths

Although Mosel is known for its steep slope vineyards, this region is really well prepared for people who love biking. If you want to enjoy fantastic panoramic views of the river, the small villages and the vineyards, I recommend you to travel the Mosel valley by bicycle.

Luckily, the Mosel area is surrounded by kilometers of cycling paths and, moreover, each village and city in the valley has different guest houses where you can stop, enjoy tasty german food and take a rest.

In our case we spent the night at Korkenzieher guest house, whose owners are a nice young couple who not only manage this “hotel” but also its restaurant and, at the same time, organize tractor-drawn-wagon tours through the vineyards.

 

Your turn

This valley is a beautiful area with a lot to offer. Cycling, discovering incredible hiking paths, enjoying stunning views and visiting dramatic Medieval cities is a unique opportunity you should not miss. This place is dramatic!

Have you ever been to Mosel valley? Is there any other hidden gem you would like to recommend us?

In this case feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social network. I am alway thrilled to read your adventures and suggestions!

 

 

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

Best Expat Blogs 2019

 

First of all, I would like to thank Sparpedia.ch for nominating me for the Best Expat Blogs 2019 Award. This is the first award I receive this year, a great achievement for me as a blogger and a confirmation that my reader base is now bigger than just my family and friends 😉 .

Having said that, I would also like to thank all my readers for following my expat and traveller journey. If you are new to My Expat World: Welcome to this adventure.

My Expat World is a expat blog created to share my journey, inspire others to move abroad and to help expats (and future expats) in Germany to better understand this amazing country.

My name is Hor and I am a traveller and brunch lover. I enjoy outdoor activities, to discover new places and I LOVE the snow. Find more about me here.

If you want to know more about this award and vote for me 😉 just click on the banner above.

Once again, thank you Sparpedia.ch!

 

 

New Regulations in Germany 2019

 

For more expensive train tickets to a new packaging law, many changes have come to Germany since the beginning of the year.

As we enter the New Year many new laws and regulations take effect in our host country. Therefore, whether you already live in Germany or whether you are planning to move to this beautiful, welcoming country, it is good for you to discover what changes have been implemented since the 1st of January 2019.

Ready to discover more? Let´s start then!

Family

  • A new law on Day Care arises – The idea behind this law is to improve the supply of child daycare centers in the whole country by offering longer opening hours, better services such as lunchrooms and a completely free daycare center to low-income families.
  • The monetary help known as  Kindergeld” increases as follows:
    • €204 per month for the first child
    • €210 per month for the second child
    • €235 per month from the third child onwards
  • In case of divorce child support increases as follows:
    • 0-7 years: €354 per month
    • 7-12 years: €406 per month
    • 13-18 years: €467 per month

Housing

  • The tenant’s contribution rate for modernization costs the landlord has incurred will be reduced from 11% to 8%. Good news if you are planning to rent a renewed flat!
  • A cap will be introduced for the amount by which the landlord may raise the rent to €3 per square meter within six years. However, in cases where the Kaltmiete’s price does not exceed €7 per square meter, the cap will be limited to €2 per square meter.

Social Security

  • Diverse gender – A new German law, approved in December 2018, introduces a third gender option on birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, and other legal documents. This means that people born with reproductive anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male (also known as intersex) are now recognized by the German government.
  • New Packaging Law – From a customer point of view, this law will allow you to know if you are buying a product with a single-use packaging (Einweg) or if it is reusable (Mehrweg).
  • Fuel labeling – The European Union harmonized the set of fuel label to provide drivers with better information on the fuels. The three new labels will be as follows:
    • Gasoline-type fuels: Marked by an “E” inside a circle
    • Diesel-type fuels: Marked by a “B” inside a square
    • Gaseous-type fuels: Mentioning the specific subtype within a rhombus.

Work

  • Contributions to unemployment insurance, levied as a percent of income, decrease in 0.25 points.
  • The increase in the minimum wage from €8.84 to €9.19 per hours. Good news, don´t you think?.
  • In response to growing concerns over elderly care, a joint effort by Germany’s healthfamily and labor ministers is now in the pipeline. 13,000 positions will be opened this year to attract new applicants interested in working in this sector.
  • From now on, the monthly installment of the “Krankenkasse” (Health Insurance Company) will be equally paid between employees and employers. So far this installment was paid by employees. So this is good news, isn’t it?
  • Reintegration into the labor market of people who have been unemployed for a long time by creating subsidized jobs will be encouraged. The requirements for accessing this aid are as follows:
    • The unemployed person is at least 25 years old.
    • The unemployed person has received unemployment benefit II (also known as “Hartz IV”) for at least six years.
  • The right to go back to work full-time again arises – People who have reduced their working hours for at least one year, within five years, have now the right to go back to work full-time if they want to. This right, however, will only be applicable in companies that have more than 45 employees and as long as the person has a minimum of six months career in the company.
  • To consider a job a midijob the minimum monthly remuneration must not exceed €450 and the maximum monthly payment must not exceed €1,300.
  • Company bicycles and transport vouchers will be tax-free.

Your turn

Have you ever heard about all these new regulations? Do you think that I missed any important information? Is there any other new regulation/law you would like to share with us? In this case do not hesitate to leave a comment below or to contact me via Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

 

Always glad to read your comments! 🙂

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

 

Interesting facts about Germany (Part II)

Some weeks ago, and after some controversial comments of #germancolleague that I shared with you in Instagram, I wrote an interesting, funny post about the german language, culture and history, so that we all could better understand this beautiful country and its citizens.

Since knowledge does not take up any space, I am back to share with you more interesting facts about Germany, its geography, its beers and some inventions that we can attribute to this country.

Are you ready? Then, let´s discover more interesting facts about Germany!

Beer

  • The world’s oldest brewery is located north of Munich and it is operating since 1040.
  • There is a law about how to brew beer in Germany – The Purity Law (Rheinheitsgebot) allows only water, barley and hops to be used in the production of beer. This law came effective in April 1516 after the unification of Bavaria to maintain the “purity” of beer and to lessen the competition between brewers and bakers for the grain of wheat. If beer could only be made with barley… Less problems to get some wheat 😉
  • You can drink a different German beer every day for almost 15 years.
  • The Oktoberfest started as a wedding party – 6.700.000 liters of beer are consumed at this enormous festival, which takes place in September.
  • There are around 1.300 beer breweries in Germany, which produce over 5.000 types of beer.
  • Be aware of where you are when you order a beer in Germany – Each region and city have their own beer. If you order just a beer in Düsseldorf, you will get an Alt, in Köln you will get a Kölsch and in Munich a Weizen.
  • In Berlin you can order a beer which is not brown – The Berliner Weisse is a white beer with either raspberry- or woodruff-flavored syrup.

 

Geography

  • Germany has the world’s narrowest street – Located in the city of Reutlingen this street is called “Spreuerhofstrasse,” and it is approximately 31 centimeters at the narrowest point and nearly 50 centimeters at the widest.
  • Approximately one-third of Germany is still forested.
  • Germany is the fifth largest country in Europe, covering an area of 357.022 square kilometers.
  • Germany’s largest wooded area is the famous Black Forest –  A mountainous region full of pines and fir trees, which also contains the source of the Danube, one of Europe’s longest rivers.
  • Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany – Its name means “Windy peak” and you can take a cable car up to the top of the mountain to enjoy spectacular views of the Alps.
  • Germany shares borders with nine other countries – Germany´s neighbours are France, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.

 

Inventions

  • The first magazine was invented in Germany in 1663 – It was called Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen (Edifying Monthly Discussions) and it was a philosophical magazine.
  • Do you like Fanta? – Then you may already know that Germans created this soda during the World War II due to the difficulty to import Coca Cola during Nazi times.
  • It is said that the first Christmas tree was created in Germany – Rather than being draped with illuminate lights and candies, the original tree was decorated with nuts and fruits such as apples.
  • Coffee filter paper was created in Germany – Melitta Bentz, a housewife of the city of Dresden, started to experiment to find a way to prevent coffee from becoming too bitter. When she tried using the blotting paper from her children’s school books, she had her “eureka” moment. It was 1908 when she patented her invention.
  • Have you ever heard about Haribo and its Gummy Bears? – The iconic Gummibärchen (Gummy bears) sweets were invented by Hans Riegel around 1920. He used acacia gum to create coloured candies. He started his own company to sell these tasty sweets in the city of Bonn around 1922. In fact, Haribo is just an abbreviation of Hans Riegel von Bonn.
  • Germans invented the first car – Carl Benz´s patent for a vehicle powered by a gas energy is often regarded as the birth certificate of the automobile.
  • You can credit the Germans for inventing the accordion – Christian Friedrich Buschmann was a german musical instrument maker who attached bellows to a portable keyboard with vibrating reeds. Naming it “Handäoline”, he patented this instrument in 1822. The first accordion was used in 1829.
  • Handball – This worldwide known game in which two teams pass a ball using their hands with the aim of throwing it into the goal of the other team, was invented in Germany.

 

Your turn!

Did you know any other interesting facts about german beer or geography? Did you know that Germany is the country thanks to which nowadays we can enjoy all these great inventions? Did you know other inventions we can credit Germans for?

If so, share them with us by leaving a comment below or via Social Networks. I hope you liked this post 🙂 Read you soon!

 

 

 

 

Paternity Leave: Rights and Job Protection in Germany

 

A couple of days ago I had an interesting conversation with both an American and a German guy about parental rights for employees in Germany. I think it was an interesting talk, because it was really enriching to better understand each country´s point of view about the necessities  and labour rights of parents-to-be.

To write this post, I thought that it would be interesting if I answer all the questions that the american (let´s call him Sam) asked to our german friend, so that we can better understand how parental leave works in Germany, which are your rights during this paid time off work and, last but not least, which are the most important german terms you should learn if you are expecting a baby in Germany.

 

How does the paternity leave work?

  • As an employee, you are entitled to parental leave until your child turns three.
  • Both parents can take time off work to enjoy their newborn (or newborns). Therefore, the parent intending to do this must apply seven weeks in advance. Do not worry because during this period your job will remain open to you and your contract cannot be terminated by your employer.
  • Parental leave can be taken by the mother and the father individually or jointly. Grandparents and other relatives can also take parental leave under certain circumstances, for example if the future parent is a minor.

What paternity pay and/or benefits can I claim?

  • Mothers are entitled to full pay during the first 14 weeks. This is known as mother protection time. However, both parents can claim some parental benefirs if they are on leave during the first 12 months after the birth.
  • This benefit is called “Elterngeld” and it is fully explained together with other important legal german words at the end of the post.
  • Important reminder: Those receiving parental benefit (Elterngeld) are still allowed to work part time up to 30 hours per week.

Can I extend my leave?

  • Usually, changes to parental leave or unplanned extensions must be agreed with the parent´s employer.
  • The extend leave is known as “Elterngeld Plus”. In this case, parents may get 28 months of financial support if  both parents work part time up to 30 hours per week at the same time. If so, the applicable percentage is the 65% of the difference between the average nett income before the birth plus earning post-birth.
  • The idea behind the “Elterngeld Plus” is to  “give mothers and fathers more time for family and greater flexibility”, said the former federal family minister Manuela Schwesig.
  • Important information: Parents can choose between Elterngeld or Elterngeld Plus, or they can combine both models. Let´s see this with some examples:

 

Can I travel while I am in paternity leave?

  • From a legal point of view, there is no problem to travel aborad while enjoying paternity leave. However, if you plan a long stay abroad you should be sure that the Krankenkasse (health insurance) takes over the cost in case of illness. In general, german health insurances covers up to six weeks when travelling outside the country. Afterwards, you have to insure yourself and your family privately.
  • Important information: This rule always applies – regardless of whether you travel during parental leave or just like that – but many people tend to forget it 😉

I struggle with the germans word, could you please explain me the most relevant ones?

Mutterschutz

This is the most important word: Maternity leave.

The “Mutterschutz” is considered a period of time to prepare yourself to welcome your baby, as well as a time to rest after the delivery.

Some important information you should take into account:

1. In total, the mutterschutz last 14 weeks. As a mother-to-be you can enjoy the 6 weeks before the delivery to prepare yourself for that moment. After the child´s birth you still have 8 weeks to rest and to enjoy your newborn (extended to 12 weeks in case of  multiple births).

2. The health insurance (Krankenkasse) covers a maximum of 13€ per day with a limit of 390€ per month, the rest is covered by your employer. Let´s see how it works with an example:

Frau Müller (traditional german name 😉 ) earned 2.800€ gross per month during the three months previous to the birth, which means that she earned 1.950€ net salary per month. If we calculate how much did she earn per day during the past 3 months, we can see that her net salary per day was 65€ (1.950*3 = 5.850€/90 = 65€). In this case, the Krankenkasse covers 13€ and the employer 52€.

3. In the case that Frau Müller had a private health insurance, she will receive 210€ in a single payment.

4. During maternity leave you will keep receiving your salary (Mutterschaftgeld)

5. Your job remains open to you and your contract cannot be terminated by your employer during the Mutterschutz because you are protected by Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz).

 

Elterngeld

Elterngeld is a tax-financed payment for couples who became parents. This subsidy will be paid during the first 14 months after the child´s birth and it must be divided between both parents.

The amount of the elterngeld is based on the after taxes income of the parent which ask for it. A person who earns less than 1.000€ per month will get between 100% and 67% of his net income, however, a person with a net income higher than 1.240€ per month will receive 65% of it (with a limit of 1.800€ per month).

Who can get this subsidy?

  • People who recently became parents
  • Parents of adoptive children
  • If the parents of the newborn didn´t work in the months previous to the child´s birth, they will receive a subsidy of only 300€ per month
  • Multiple births – In this case the parental allowance increases by 300€ for each additional child
  • If the beneficiary earned more than 250.000€ in the calendar year preceding the child´s birth, there is no entitlement to Elterngeld

Elternzeit

Elternzeit is a paternal leave provided by the employer, which can be taken any moment during the first three years of the newborn´s life.

This parental leave can be a full suspension of working hours or a reduction of the working day.

Both parents have the right to go on parental leave. Let me show you some examples to better explain how it works (these are real cases of friends of mine):

– Example A: Some friends of mine decided to divide their Elternzeit between both of them, therefore, each of them took 6 months of paternal leave (first the mother, and the last 6 months the father). Both parents enjoyed a full-time paternal leave so that they could enjoy the first year of life of their son.

– Example B: Other friends of mine decided to divide their Elternzeit in a different way. In this case, the mother took a 12 months parental leave after Mutterschutz and the father enjoyed 2 months of parental leave, one month in August (to enjoy some summer time with his daugther) and the second month once his wife´s parental leave ended, so he could spend some time with his daugther before she started the kita (kindergarden for babies).

During Elternzeit both parents are protected by law, any termination of employment is invalid during this period. That means that neither the employer nor the employee can terminate the employment contract.

When should I apply for Elternzeiz?

7 weeks in advance.

This is easier for mothers-to-be, since they have 8 weeks medical leave after the child´s birth. However, fathers have to ask for parental leave 7 weeks before the birth takes place, if they want to go on family leave right after the child´s birth.

Your turn

What about you? Did you have children in Germany? Have you ever ask for parental leave in Germany? Was the process complicated?

I still remember the american´s face when our German friend explained him how does the Elternzeit (Parental Leave) works. Alhtough, to be honest, also in Spain we don´t have such a great work-life balance. In fact, this is a quite sensitive topic in my home country…

How does work-life balance work in your home country? Do you also benefit of parental allowences, elternzeit and such things? Feel free to share your experience by leaving a comment below 🙂 or via social networks.

 

 

Interesting facts about Germany (Part I)

If you follow me on Instagram you have probably heard some stories about #germancoleague.

Since a couple of weeks, I realized that he´s becoming famous and, at the same time, he´s generating mixed feelings among my lovely Instagram family. Don´t get him wrong, he is really nice, the only “problem” with him is that he never got the chance to learn interesting facts about other cultures 😉

So that you don´t have the same problem as my colleague, I prepared a nice and interesting post about Germany, its history, its culture and its language.

Wait! Do not run away! I am not becoming a history teacher! 

This post is a funny way to discover some interesting (and maybe unknown) facts about Germany.

Are you ready now? Keep reading!

History

  • Germany was once a cluster of small kingdoms, duchies and principalities – They were unified as the German Reich in 1871. Later it became the Third Reich and in 1949, after the war, the nation was divided in two parts: the German Democratic Republic (Soviet-supporters) and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). The 3rd of October 1990, East and West were reunited.
  • Berlin was not always the capital of the country – Before Berlin, there were five other German capitals including the cities of Aachen, Regensburg, Frankfurt-am-Main, Nuremberg and Bonn.
  • Germany is home of famous inventions  – The light bulb, the automated calculator, the discovery of insulin, the invention of the clarinet, the automobile engine, the LCD screen and the Walkman, among others.
  • The first printed book was in German
  • Although the population is on decline, Germany still has the largest population in the European Union with around 81 million people. 3 million live in the capital, Berlin, and around 18 million live in the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region (Düsseldorf, Essen, Köln, Dortmund…). It is expected that population drops to 67 million by 2060.
  • If you look at a satellite image at night, you can clearly see the difference between East and West Germany.
  • Mattel produced a Barbie doll of Angela Merkel to celebrate her 50 years old – The Chancellor of Germany (since 2005) was ranked as the powerful person in the world by Forbes magazine in 2012. Will she win the next elections?

Language

  • German is spoken in different countries – It is the official language of the following countries: Germany,  Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.
  • The German alphabet has extra letters –  A part from the common 26 letters of the alphabet, germans have umlauted forms such as ä, ö , ü and the famous “ß”, which do not exist in English.
  • There are two main divisions of the German language – “Hochdeutsch” and  “Plattdeutsch”.
  • When JFK visited Berlin he said “Ich bin ein Berliner”  which can be translated as “I am a jelly donut”.
  • Dialect changes drastically depending on where you are
  • German has hilarious proverbs
    • Das ist nich dein Bier! – “None of your business” –  literally “It is not your beer!”
    • Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei – “Everything has an end, only sausage has two”
    • Ich kriege so eine Krawatte! – “It really annoys me”  – literally “I get such a tie!”

Culture

  • Germans are the third largest beer consumers in the world – After the Czech and the Irish.
  • There are over 300 kinds of bread in Germany – So if you want to try each of them, you will need approximately one year. Are you ready?
  • The Christmas tree tradition came from Germany – Here it is called Tannenbaum and every single german person has one Christmas tree at home, mostly natural not plastic ones.
  • Berlin, the capital of the country, is nine times bigger than Paris and it has more bridges than Venice. Can you believe it?
  • In German schools, once German kids  are in the 4th grade, they are placed into Hauptschule, Realschule or Gymnasium, which pretty much determines if they will go to university or straight to the work force. Is it the same in your country?

 

Your turn!

Did you know any other interesting facts about german culture, history and language? If so, share them with us by leaving a comment below.

Within the next weeks I will come back with more information about german beer, geography and inventions. Read you soon!

5 Tips for Getting a Job in Germany

Some time ago I got the chance to discover an online platform which helps expats to understand the german labor market and to get in contact with different employers. This platform, called Employland, is a great tool for international professionals who are looking for new challenges. Therefore, I invited Employland to share some advice with you. Are you ready? Let´s go!:

Planning your next career step in Germany? Not a bad idea. Opportunities for skilled workers and professionals from all over the world are only increasing here. The German economy has been growing steadily and there is a high demand for qualified workers, which cannot be satisfied within the German labor force. Long story short, the German labor market needs international professionals!

Employland, the internet-platform which brings together international professionals and employers in Germany, shares 5 tips for getting a job in Germany

1. Qualifications in high demand in Germany

Are you a nurse, a train conductor, an engineer, or an IT-professional? Then you’re in luck! These professions are some of the skill shortage professions in Germany. Due to Germany’s changing demographic and expanding economy, there is a high need and great lack of skilled labor in Germany. More than one million open job positions have been recorded recently.

Curious to know what other fields are experiencing a skills shortage in Germany? These professions are listed by the Federal Employment Agency in the so called White list, published twice a year.

An important note: Workers in the hotel and gastronomy industry do not appear on that list, but are always in high demand!

2. German language skills wanted for employment in Germany

In some professions, German proficiency is a must-have, as regulated by law. As a nurse, a doctor or a lawyer, for instance you need to prove you have German language proficiency. The required proficiency level may vary from state to state, but typically the B-Level is required.

Even though German language proficiency may not be mandatory for other professions, it is always a plus to have. The German labor market is still not very flexible when it comes to language.

Companies tend to expect employees to have German skills, but as always there are exceptions to the rule. While professionals having to deal with customers need to be proficient in German, IT-professionals may be able to find jobs not mandating German proficiency more easily.

In Germany, the majority of companies has exclusively German as their business language, but there are also some who have English as their business language and things are changing. The skills shortage and the need for international professionals will probably pressure companies to be more flexible when it comes to German language skills. But for now, it’s a good idea to practice your German.

3. Recognition of foreign qualifications in Germany

Even though it might not be mandatory for your particular profession, it may prove useful to have your foreign qualifications recognized. Whether or not you need to have your qualifications recognized depends on your profession. If you want to practice a regulated profession in Germany, you need to have your qualifications recognized.

Regulated professions include that of teacher, physiotherapist, nurse, and medical doctor, for example. If you want to exercise a profession that is not regulated (such as plumber, accountant, or electrician), you do not have to undergo the recognition procedure.

Exception: If you are third-country national and you want to exercise a non-academic profession in Germany, you need to have your qualifications recognized in order to obtain a residence title and practice this profession in Germany.

EU-/EEA-nationals who plan to work in a non-regulated profession in Germany do not need their qualifications recognized. However, they should still keep the following in mind: Training and education systems differ internationally.

Recruiters in Germany may not be able to assess foreign qualification efficiently. While they know which competencies and knowledge to expect from candidates who hold a Master`s or Bachelor`s Degree, your foreign degree may not tell them anything about the duration and content of your studies or training.

The recognition, which includes a description of your qualifications, helps German employers understand your skill and knowledge level. Thus, through qualification recognition you may raise your chances of getting a job.

4. Finding a job in Germany

How do you find a job in Germany? The Internet is obviously the most efficient way to find a job in Germany from abroad.

Check out job portals online, as well as German newspapers’ job markets online. Companies’ career websites are also a good place to look. You probably know social networks like LinkedIn, where you can create your profile.

Have you heard of our Internet platform? We bring together international professionals and German employers. Create your personal profile on our platform www.employland.de free of charge, so that employers from all over Germany can find and contact you.

5. Job Application in Germany

Make sure you know what companies in Germany expect from a job application.

The procedure and norms for applying for a job vary from country to country. For example, a cover letter is a must-have for a German job application, though it is uncommon in many other countries.

A cover letter is a running text in which you describe your motivation and your competencies. It does not reiterate the information that recruiters find in your CV. Instead, the cover letter is a good means to leave a compelling impression and display your personal skills.

Cover letters should be individual, crafted specifically to each company you contact. Recruiters use the cover letter to learn why you want to work in their company specifically, why you are passionate about that exact position, and why you are the one and only candidate to do the job.

Even though the CV seems to be common everywhere, be aware that the structure varies from country to country. A few examples of CV characteristics are how information is formatted, which information about former positions should be included, how detailed descriptions should be, and if a picture should be included. Be sure to have a good idea of how a CV in Germany typically looks before applying.

We wish you great success for your job search in Germany!

 

*About Employland:
Employland is an Internet platform which brings international professionals and companies in Germany together. Professionals from all over the world create their personal profiles free of charge on https://www.employland.de/en. Employers in Germany are able to view these profiles and contact prospective employees. Job placement is free of charge for professionals. In addition, Employland is also able to look after an employee’s residence and work permit and the recognition of qualifications, if requested.

Also check out the Employland blog which offers lots of information about life and work in Germany in German and English language.

 

New Regulations in Germany 2018

Coming back home after holidays is always something exciting; catching up with friends to talk about what happened the last couple of weeks, organizing dinners at home, enjoying a good glass of wine after work, discovering your mailbox full of informative letters… Wait, informative letters? What does it mean? Germany is, as you may already know, a very administrative country, which means that the administration will inform you every time that something change.

Yes, at the beginning of 2018 the German administration had a couple of things to share with me and, of course, I would like to share this information with you. Keep reading to discover the legislative changes in Germany in 2018

Social Security

  • The monthly installment of the “Krankenkasse” (Health Insurance Company) decreases to 1 percent, although the monthly fixed rate of medical insurance remains at 7,3% of the gross salary.
  • From the 1st of January onwards, the “Krankenkasse” for freelances will be calculated based on the latest income declaration.
  • Employees subject to temporary employment contracts will have the possibility to cancel their health insurance plan the moment their labor activity comes to an end.

Housing

  • It is expected that real state prices increase during the year 2018 but not at the rate we have seen in the last couple of years.
  • Construction of new properties will be more expensive. If you have a savings account dependent on construction, think twice before putting the first brick 😉

Family

  • Benefits of the maternity leave, or “Mutterschutz”, will be extended to students, interns and high school pupils.
  • Another important administrative change will be the amount of money that people who already have children will receive from the state. This monetary help known as  “Kindergeld”, will increase in 2€.

Let´s remember how much money did German parents received per child in 2017:

  • 192€ per month for each of the first two children
  • 198€ per month for the third child
  • 223€ per month for each subsequent one

Work

  • Decrease in the percentage of salary retained for pensions from 18,7% to 18,6%.
  • Increase subsidies for companies which hire people with any kind of disability. In this way the German government aims to provide companies with more facilities to hire new employees and, at the same time, to generate social consciousness among German entrepreneurs and its employees.
  • From the second semester of the year onward, companies with more than 200 employees will have to facilitate information about how much do they pay to men and women in equal position and to publish wage data in anonymous form. Thanks to this new law, German female employees will access to important information which will allow them to know how big is the wage gap in their companies. At this point, it is important to remember that Germany has one of the worst records in Europe when it comes to equal pay (women earn around one fifth less than men).
  • The deadline to present the income statement will be extended until the 31st of July (These are great news for those who have to present the income statement in Germany, aren´t they? :)).

To sum up, let me share some important german news with you, which are related to the main topic of this post.

Breaking news: Majestätbeleidigung

The offense for the use of the word “Majestätsbeleidigung” is deleted. Until a couple of days ago, this word was considered an insult towards foreign government bodies and senior officials. Paragraph 103 of the Penal Code penalized with punishments of up to 3 years for those daring to call “Majestätsbeleidigung” (foolish majesty) to any foreign representative.

The discussion on the suppression of this crime arose in 2017, when a German comedian used this word in one of his monologues to refer to Mr. Erdogan, the president of Turkey.

Breaking news: 500€ bill

This year european citizens are going to say goodbye to a bill that many of us we have never seen, but we have heard about its existence: The 500€ bill. Since the beginning of the year the EU have stopped printing it and, at the same time, it has been determined that this bill will be out of circulation at the end of 2018.

Did you like the post?

If you have heard about any other legislative change in Germany, which you consider relevant or that I forgot to mention, just leave a comment below or via the social networks and share it with us.

Have a nice week!