Organic food in Germany

After many years of debate, the European Union reached a couple of weeks ago an agreement on an overhaul of the existing EU rules on organic production and labelling of organic products.

This agreement was taken based on the increasing consumer demand for organic food in the european countries and, at the same time, it sets uniform rules across the EU with the aim of encouraging the development of organic production in the EU, as well as of improving the labelling of organic food.

Is this new agreement important in Germany?

Yes, this agreement is a huge step for the German market since Germany is a key player in the global organic market and has also played a pioneering role in the organic (people call it BIO here) food movement since many years ago.

What is the definition of organic food?

Organic or BIO products are made of ingredients, which were produced without any synthetic inputs and do not have any chemical additives.

Organic products do not contain toxic substances such as parabens, phthalates or lanolin, among others.

How do I know that I am buying organic food?

Easily. In order to regulate organic food standards, the German ministry of agriculture issued, in 2001, a bio label which allows customers to distinguish all the organic products* of the market.

*Organic products: no less than 95% of the product’s ingredients of agricultural origin must come from organic farms.

 

With more than 40% of the European market, Germany is the biggest organic importer in Europe with a turnover of more than €7 billion and more than 3.000 German companies producing around 50.000 products which carry this label. To date, every day an average of 20 new products are submitted for certification.

Where can I find organic food in Germany?

Finding organic food in Germany is really easy, as you can already imagine. Many businesses offer organic products (food, beverages, cosmetics…) due to the importance of the BIO culture in this country.

If you are interested in buying organic food check the following list of organic grocery stores:

#1 Denn´s Biomarkt

#2 Super Biomarkt

#3 Bio Company

#4 Alnatura

#5 TEMMA

#6 Reformhaus

What I really like about these businesses is that they do not only offer organic products but also products for allergy and intolerance sufferers (like me!).

Can I find organic products in regular grocery stores?

Sure! Many companies like Rewe, Kaufhof, Edeka or Lidl offer some organic products (not that many to be honest, if you really like to eat organic food it is much better to buy at a organic places).

Where can I get more information about this topic?

There are several organic associations in Germany such as Demeter, Bioland, Biokreis, Naturland, Biopark and Ecovin where you can find more information about organic products (press on the name to discover more). Some of these organizations operate worldwide and follow stricter rules than EU ones.

Another interesting information point is the International Green Weekwhich takes place each January in Berlin (more information pressing the name) and has attracted thousand of visitors in recent years (around 400.000).

Is there place where I can find organic beauty products?

Sure! Although many people relate the words “organic” and “BIO” to food and beverages only, beauty and skincare organic products are also present in the German market.

Since many years I also buy these kind of products, although I have to admit that since I moved to Germany I have discovered a lot of organic brands.

Therefore, and after trying different products of those brands, I am going to share with you which are my favourite ones (do not hesitate to tell me yours)

  1. Weleda – I love their face care and hand creams.
  2. Dr. Hauschka – I cannot choose just a single product… My favourites are the rose day cream, the soothing cleansing cream and the lavender sandalwood calming bodycream.
  3. Neobio – Trying their shower gels and shampoos should be a must 😉

If you guys decide to try any other skincare product or another organic grocery store please share your thoughts with me in the comments below. I am always trying new things, I cannot avoid it…

I hope you enjoyed this post 🙂 Do not hesitate to leave your comments below 🙂

 

 

 

Anuncios

Summer holidays

It is almost one year since My Expat World started this adventure. Thanks to you guys my previous small, familiar blog turned into a platform where we could share our experiences, learn more about Germany and the German way of life, as well as to travel the world.

Thanks to the blog I got to know different kind of people from all around the world who have extraordinary lives which inspire others not only to keep enjoying every single second but to share all those experiences with us.

You are my motivation to keep blogging.

Every time I receive some questions regarding Germany, every time you comment my social posts, every time you contact me to get some advice for you expat adventure… Those moments make me keep writing and developing amazing content for you. However, life had other plans for me the past few months and I was no able to write and develop quality content.

Sometimes life has other plans and people need to stop. However, I would like to keep in contact with you via Instagram with #SummerTheWorld

This lack of time made me realize that I need to take some time off to re-discover my blog, to write quality posts which answer all your questions, to put all my travel experiences together and to build up an amazing story which can be shared with you (and of course which be useful for you). In conclusion, I need to take some holidays to recharge my energy and provide you with better posts.

What does it mean?

It means that My Expat World is going on summer holidays, although it would be better to call it “creative holidays”.

During this weeks I am going to produce new content for the blog, in fact, I would like to start answering all  of your questions regarding Germany, the expat life and some of my trips before creating new content (If you still  have any question do not hesitate to contact me through the social networks or just by sending me an E-mail to expattheworld@gmail.com, I will be truly happy to help you J ).

#SummerTheWorld

I would also like to inform you that this is just a creative break on the blog, which does not mean that I will be offline and disconnected from you. Quite the opposite!

In fact, I would like to be connected with you via Instagram.

As I previously mentioned, your stories are motivating and inspiring, as well as a way to keep in touch. That is the reason why I would like to invite you to use the #SummerTheWorld so that we can be connected during this period of “creative holidays”.

No matter is you tag a selfie, a picture on the beach or just a picture of the coffee machine of your company, the important thing is to keep in touch during the summer time. Do you want to join this game? I am super exited and looking forward to see all your pictures 🙂

Furthermore, if you want to remember all the good things we lived together this past year you can always follow me on Facebook and Twitter, where I will keep posting information about Germany and other countries such as Greece, Spain, The Netherlands and more. And, of course, I will try to keep recommend you places for our traditional #SundayBrunch on Twitter (if you have never heard about it you can always follow my twitter account to join this tradition).

When am I posting new content again?

My idea is to come back to you in the middle of September (what a great idea to celebrate the first year of this blog, isn´t it?) so that I have time enough to put all your questions together, to organize my ideas and to create interesting content for you.

Once again, before I go on holidays, I would like to thank you for being part of this project, for sharing your experiences with me, for being curious and for contacting me. Thank you for making this blog possible! Thank you for being there!

I hope we read us again after the summer. In the meanwhile let´s #SummerTheWorld together!

Have a nice summer!!! Tons of love and gratitude for you!!

Best places in Germany

Unlike many people think, Germany is not a grey, serious and rainy country but an interesting place to discover something new every day.

After a couple of years living here I have had the opportunity to visit not only the well-known German metropolis such as Berlin or Hamburg, but also small ancient cities and the countryside. If you are willing to come to visit Germany in an unconventional way (by visiting some “non-so-touristic” places) keep reading this post because this week it is starting the “Best Places in Germany” post series. Are you ready to discover this remarkable country?

Best places in Germany (of the week):

Monschau

The first time I heard about Monschau was in December 2014, when I friend of mine advised me to visit its Christmas market. Since I could not do that (it is worthier to visit it during the week, instead of during the weekends) I decided to give this old town a chance during the summer time.

Located nearby the Belgium border, Monschau preserves an ancient style, which provides this small city with a special charm. The city center is divided in two by the Rur river, consequently, the two parts of the city are connected by ancient bridges.

What to visit in Monschau

  • Christmas market

Although I could not visit it (not yet 😉 ) I can imagine the importance and the magnitude of this market, since one of the most visited places in the city of Monschau it is its Christmas store (open all year)

  • Castle Monschau

Most part of the castle is in ruins nowadays. Reused as a hostel after the IWW it is the perfect location to host summer concerts.

  • Market square

The heart of the city. Here the visitor can find restaurants, ancient buildings with flowerbox adornments and remarkable spots to be amazed with the mountains surrounding the city.

Heidelberg

Heidelberg is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany, as well as one of the most important student cities.

Ancient castles, narrow alleys, hilly streets  and beautiful parks and gardens are part of the landscape. Its university is the oldest in Germany and famous for its medical faculty. In Heidelberg, everything is within easy reach either on foot or by bike.

What to visit in Heidelberg

  • Heidelberg Castle

The castle, one of the most important renaissance structures, was started to be constructed in 1210 A.D. and, although, it has been destroyed several times due to different wars it preserves its ancient splendour.

It is worth to visit the main attraction of Heidelberg and it can be seen from each corner of the city.

  • The Altstadt

Down in the Altstadt (the old town) there are plenty of narrow streets and squares full of restaurants, stores and cafes. The main square, Markplatz, is a cute place where to enjoy a good cup of coffee or a Rothhaus Pils, one of the most famous beers of Heidelberg.

  • River Neckar

Having a walk along the River Neckar is always a good idea to avoid the crowds and to re-discover Heidelberg. The view from this side of the river is really cute and, if the weather is good, this area of the city is the best place for a picnic.

  • Alte Brucke

The Alte Brucke (Old Bridge) can be discover after passing through a remarkable medieval gate. The bridge dates from the 18th century and it is the most visited bridge of the city.

Düsseldorf

And last but not least, the beautiful city of Düsseldorf.

The capital of the NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia) Region reflects the development that this area of Germany suffered some years ago.

The old industrial city of Düsseldorf led to a modern, cosmopolitan city, centre of fashion, glamour and international businesses. Known as the german city of fashion, Düsseldorf has the honor to have been ranked as the 6th world´s best city to live in beyond other important cities such as Frankfurt or Berlin.

What to visit in Düsseldorf?

  • Mediahafen

To understand the transformation suffered by this remarkable city it is important to have a walk around its “Mediahafen”. The old port was rebuilt into a modern area full of international business, restaurants and hotels. Frank Gehry, in charge of this transformation, built the most emblematic buildings of this area.

  • Altstadt

The old town is the core of the city. Full of narrow, car-free streets is the best place to discover the ancient Düsseldorf.

  • Königsalle

Ready to have a walk surrounded by the best fashion firms of the world? Just visit the Königsalle.

Special tips:

  1. From the Rheinturm the visitor can enjoy a strinkingly view of the city
  2. Benrath Schloss (the palace of Benrath), located 15 minutes away from the oldtown by subway, has beautiful gardens and tasty home made cakes
  3. Bilk is the best area to enjoy a good meal under the sun
  4. Stadttmite is the place-to-be for sushi and japanese-culture lovers (more than 10.000 Japanese live in Düsseldorf, the largest community in Europe)
  5. An “altbier” tour should be compulsory ;). Do not forget to try the traditional Düsseldorf Beer!

Have you ever been to Germany? Which are your favourite places? Share your thoughts!! 🙂 

The Expat Tag

A couple of days ago I discover the blog “Going American“, written by Sandra, a girl from Zurich who has just moved to Boston.

Among her interesting posts I found out one called “The Expat Tag“, where she threw together a few questions, inspired by an expat tag she saw somewhere around, as a way to keep in touch with other bloggers. I found it a great idea, therefore I thought I might also give it a go.

So, Sandra, following you can find my answers:

1. Where were you born, where did you grow up and where do you currently live?

I was born in Spain and after living in different countries I ended up in Germany

2. What made you leave your home country?

Actually, I left my country due to curiosity. I wanted to see the world, to discover other countries and to meet new people. Some adventure is good from time to time 😉

What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from?

Usually people tend to tell me something in spanish; “hola”, “sangría” or “paella” are the most common words people say.

Another usual thing is to ask me about the weather; “do you miss the sun?”. They get really surprised when I explain them that the sun does not always shine in Spain.

3. What was the easiest/hardest part in adjusting to your new country?

Thanks to all the people I have met since I arrived here I got a fast and easy integration. I attended to german parties, I lived and met german people, I worked with germans… All this non-international atmosphere helped me to learn and to get used to its culture and traditions.

However, it took me a while to get used to german food. People here use tons of sauce when cooking, and, at the beginning, I found it really hard  since I am used to the mediterranean diet.

4. Images, words or sounds that sum up the expat experience you’ve had so far.

expat tag
Discover an amazing country

 

Expat Friends´ Trips
Expat Friends´ Trips

 

New flavors
New flavors

5. Your favorite food or drink item in your new country?

I love their cakes. I think germans really know how to prepare good cakes and to serve them good a huge cup of warm tea or coffee.

Regarding the german drinks, I must confess that I really like the Altbier (the traditional Düsseldorf beer). My favourite one is brewed in the Schumacher Brauerei.

What’s the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to, back home?

I think this is a tough question. Actually I am not sure about the asnwer. I think I have always tried to be myself regardless of where I live, however, I know I have exeperience an inner change since I live here but, sadly, I can´t give a particular example…

6. Are there any cultural norms/phrases in your new country which you cannot stand?

I know I shouldn´t say this but… Waiting for the traffic light signal to turn green. I have already get used to it, but my first months here were a chaos. I wanted to cross the street and keep walking all the time.

Nowadays the opposite happens to me. Everytime I come back to Spain I am the only person who waits for the signal to turn green… Upsss…

7. What do you enjoy most doing in your new country?

I enjoy discovering it.

Germany is a country full of contrasts. Each region has different food, cakes, beers and even a different way to talk German! I found it really enriching as an expat.


8. Do you think you will ever move home for good?

I don´t know… I do not like to think about it. If one day I feel I have to move again I will do it. If I never get that feeling I will stay here.

The best plan is to have no plan 😉

#expattag

Carnival season

carnival cologne germany

Carnival is one of the most important events in the NRW (North Rhein Westphalia) region. Probably you have already heard about the Cologne Carnival, the fifth season of the year, one of the most celebrated events in Germany. But, why do germans celebrate carnival in such an intense way? Which is the symbolism of this celebration? 

To answer these questions we need to understand that Carnival has been celebrated in cities such as Cologne from time immemorial, in fact, it is difficult to find more information regarding the first time that a Carnival celebration took place.

However, during the french occupation, leaded by Napoleon, these celebrations were suspended.

In 1814, once the french troops left the city of Cologne, its citizens reestablished the carnival tradition as a part of a German revival. In 1823,  the “Festordnenedes Komitee”, the predecessor of todays Festival Committee, was founded to “organize” the street festival, which was getting out of hands.

The same year, on the 10th of February 1823, took place the first “Rosenmontag” of the city of Cologne. Given its Christian roots the date of “Rosenmontag” is determined by the church calendar. It takes usually place the monday before Ash Wednesday.

Traditionally, the fifth season of the year, is declared open the 11th November at 11 minutes past 11 hour. At that time people stop working and the carnival celebration starts.

Does Carnival take place only in Cologne?

As I previously mentioned, carnival celebrations take place in the whole NRW region, due its catholic roots. Some other cities where to enjoy this festivity are Düsseldorf, Bonn, Aachen and Dortmund.

Although all of the above mentioned cities celebrate the same festivity (carnival)  each of them has its own carnival troupes, parades and celebrations.

How can I celebrate Carnival?

If you want to have some insights about carnival celebrations I recommend you to read the following posts:

5 Tips To Celebrate Carnival

Carnival vocabulary you should learn to do not miss anything

Carnival: The fifth season of the year

9 new German laws

Changes in Germany in 2017

New year, new challenges, new intentions and… new rules?*

Some things changed in Germany since January 1st. If you are living in this lovely country maybe you want to keep reading this post to understand what it is new in Germany.

* Post updated the 29th of May due to the new streaming law which entered into force on April 2017

1. Minimum wage

Although the “minimum wage” concept was implemented in Germany  in 2015, this is the first time that the amount paid to workers have increased. From the 8,50€ per hour previously paid, the minimum wage had increased up to 8,84€ per hour.

The minimum wage is also valid for minijobbers (Important: the income received for a minijob cannot exceed the amount of 450€ per month).

2. Public transport prices

Usually, public transport prices increase across the country at the beginning of the year . In 2017 transport tickets will cost on average between 2 and 2,5% more.

3. WIFI on trains

Germany is working slow but sure on integrating WIFI in transports and public buildings. Therefore the implementation of WIFI on high speed trains (ICE) are great news for locals and tourists.

Although both classes (first and second) will benefit from this decision, second class passengers will have a limited data volume.

4. Electricity bills

German electricity providers started the new year raising their prices around a 3,5% due to the increased subsidies for renewable energy (Germany is investing a huge amount of money to implement renewable energies nationwide), as well as due to the high costs of upkeep of power lines.

5. Bike riders

The year 2017 leads to a couple of changes on the behaviour of bike riders. Why?

Until now bikers could “use” the pedestrians´ traffic light when there were no own lights signs for cyclist at traffic light crossroads. From 2017 onwards, cyclists have to observe the light signals for car traffic.

Another important change is related to families. The new legislation allows parents to accompany children on their bikes on the pavement, up to the age of nine. Are you ready pedestrians? 😉

6. Pensioners

Whoever retires in 2017 will have to pay taxes on 74 per cent of his pension. Until now, the taxable revenue was equivalent to the 72 percent of the pension.

In the end, this means that only 26 percent of remuneration will be tax-free in the new year.

7. Assistance program 

While up to now only people with predominantly physical afflictions were considered to be in need of care, the new guidelines will also cover the needy with mental problems.

This also means that more people than before will receive benefits from the long-term care insurance.

8. Kindergeld 

The German government provides money to parents known as Kindergeld, which is paid monthly per child.

How much do parents received in 2016 per child?

  • 190€ per child for the first two children
  • 196€ for the third child
  • 221€ for every subsequent child

From January 1st the amount received per child has increased 2€. The increase is small but when talking about raising a kid every bit is welcomed.

The Kindergeld is paid until the child reaches age 18.

9. Grundfreibetrag

The “Grundfreibetrag” is the basic personal allowance, is a part of the income not subject to tax (a minimum subsistence rate).

From 2017 on the basic fare for single persons climbs to 8.820€ and for married people up to 17.640€. That means that Treasury deducts taxes on income only if it is above this amount.

10. Illegal streaming

 

Since the past month of April german authorities have determined that not only downloading is illegal in this country but also streaming.

The previously known as a “grey area” has turned into a completely prohibited activity, which is driving crazy to many residents in this country.

What can you do now?

If you did not have a Netflix or Amazon Prime account, it is maybe the right time to open one. Choose your favourite platform and start enjoying their series and films, because if you try to watch any serie or film in a free of charge platform you may have to pay a huge fee.

How much is the fine for streaming?

Although the existing information is not clear enough, according to Focus journal, the fine a user will have to pay vary between 5 to 10€ per streaming.

Has this law a retroactive character?

No, it has not.

However, if you were not aware of this new law I would recommend you to stop using streaming pages as soon as possible.

Christmas in Germany – The importance of the Glühwein

Mulled wine Glühwein

Christmas time is not complete in Germany without drinking a glass of Glühwein, the traditional warm spiced mulled wine every merrymaker enjoy as they walk along the charming Christmas markets. But, what does exactly “Glühwein” means? And, more important, which are the ingredients?

Glühwein

“Glühwein” means “glowing wine” and, apparently, its name comes from the hot irons that were formerly used for mulling (these hot irons are not longer used).

Although the most common glühwein is made with red wine, some marketers also serve “Weißer Glühwein”, which is made with white wine.

The recipe

Glühwein is usually made with wine, which is heated up and spiced with Glühweingewürze (cinnamon, cloves, star anise, sugar and orange juice or lemon). Sometimes people add a shot of liquor. That kind of drink is known as Glühwein mit Schuss.

Another variant of Glühwein is the “Feuerzangenbowle” (Fire Tongue Bowl). The recipe is the same as for the “regular” Glühwein, but for this drink a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drip into the Glühwein.

A bit of history

The historic origins of Glühwein date back to when wine started going bad, but germans did not want to throw it, so they added some spices to drink it again.

The oldest documented Glühwein dates from 1420 and it is attributed to a German nobleman (Count John IV of Katzelnbogen), the first grower of Riesling grapes of the world.

Where you can find it?

Mulled wine GlühweinAs I previously mentioned, christmas time in Germany is not complete without drinking a glass of Glühwein at the christmas markets.

Glühwein is usually served in a limited edition ceramic mug. Inscribed on it you can find the name of the German city where you are, the current year and a christmas draw.

A glass of Glühwein costs around 3€ + Pfand (a small additional fee). If you want to keep the cute little mug as a souvenir of your visit to a particular Christmas market, you will lose the fee, if not they will give it back to you as soon as you return the mug.

How should you drink the Glühwein?

To be honest the purpose of drinking Glühwein is to warm people from the inside out, so I highly recommend you to drink it really warm. Once the Glühwein is cold it lose some of its charm and it can´t accomplish its main purpose. 😉

Furthermore, it is really common to drink a Glühwein while enjoying some traditional german specialities such as “Lebkuchen” (gingerbread), “Reibekuchen” (potato pancakes) or “Bratwurst” (sausage).

You still have time enough to enjoy this magic drink because the christmas markets are opened until the 23th of December, and they never run out of Glühwein ;).

If you are willing to visit any christmas in the NRW (Northe Rhine Westphalia) region in Germany click here to find more information about them.

Now it is your turn. Have you ever tried Glühwein? Which one do you preffer, red or white? Could you recommend a nice christmas market in Germany?

 

Job seeking in Germany

Look for a job in Germany

There are many different reasons why people decide to leave their home nations to start anew somewhere else in the world, however, regardless of the reason that motivated you to take such a huge decision, starting a new life means facing new challenges such as language learning, the integration into a new culture or finding a job.

Certain situations such as finding new friends or learning a foreign language depend on your social and learning skills and, of course, on your own interest.

Other situations, such as the financial one, depend not only on our inner ability to deal with economics but also on external factors that we can´t always have under control. One of those external factors is the job market, which is connected to the market´s demand and which varies depending on the sector.

Almost 600.000 job vacancies in Germany are to be filled as soon as possible

But, how is the German job market? Is it true that there are million of job opportunities in Germany? To answer those questions let´s have a look to the german labor market situation:

Some facts

  • According to Eures, Germany has the fourth largest national economy in the world
  • Over 90% of the companies are small and medium sized enterprises (which means that two-thirds of all the job opportunities in the country come from them)
  • In 2015 Germany came first in terms on foreign trade, just before USA and China

In which sector you can find a job?

Less than 600.000 vacancies were registered in Germany during 2016 and more than 90% of those are to be filled as soon as possible. At the beginning of 2016 the biggest amount of job offers were advertised in:

  1. Health
  2. Social work & Education
  3. Manufacturing industry
  4. Wholesale & Retail Trade
  5. Maintenance of vehicles

However the advertised job opportunities vary depending on the region. For example, 25 of the 50 largest german companies have their headquarters in NRW. Enterprises such as Deutsche Telekom, Aldi, Bayern or Metro Group are responsible of transformation of this region, which is one of the most important business area of the country. However, the development of the Baden-Württemberg region depends on the performance of small and medium.sized companies, since two thirds of the employees work for a SME. The key sectors here are automotive engineering and metal industry (Daimler AG is located in this region).

Although all the previous differences, there is still something that all these regions have in common: the job application process.

As you can imagine, since Germans are in love with guidelines, the job application process have some specific “rules” you should follow.

Let´s see how you can apply for a job in Germany:

Cover Letter

The cover letter is a key document because it is your presentation letter, which means, it is you opportunity to set yourself apart from the other applicants.

In your covering letter, you have to explain the company why you are interested in working with them and why your skills and competences match the job description specification.

Curriculum Vitae

As a rule in Germany the most recent professional experiences are usually placed at the beginning, following a photo and your personal information.

The most important categories into which your CV should be divided are:

  • Photo and personal details

It is recommended to take a professional photo.

  • Professional experience

Including the name of the companies where you have previously worked and a short description of your tasks.

  • Education

In Germany it is really important to mention which level of education do you have (master, bachelor, elementary school, PhD…). List to which schools and universities did you attend and, also, do not forget to mention if you have done any continuing education course.

  • Language skills

If you speak many different language you should explain how well do you speak them. Let´s see how you can do that:

          “Muttersprache” – Native Level (C2)

          “Verhandlungssicher” – Business Level (C1)

          “Fließend” – Fluent (B1/B2)

          “Grundkenntnisse” – Basic Knowledge (A1/A2)

Technical Skills

Under the title EDV list all your technical skills such as computer skills (Office, Gmail, Outlook) or more specific skills which that are important for your work.

Certificates

As I previously mentioned, in Germany it is really important to explain which level of education do you have, but it is even more important to prove it.

Therefore you have to attach all your important educational records to prove your education level, as well as all the language certificates that can prove which language level you reached (B1, A2..)

Another important certificate, if not the most, when applying for a job in Germany is the Zeugnis, which is a reference letter written by a previous employer. The Zeugnis is a description of the tasks you accomplished and your performance during the time you worked the company.

Once you have collected all the required documents I highly recommend you to keep two copies. One scanned copy, so you can have it in your computer to make some online applications, and a printed version that you can bring to your next interview.

apply for a job in germany

And you, are you willing to work in Germany? Have you ever apply to a job possition in Germany? Did you miss any information? Share your thoughts!

Top reasons people move abroad

reasons to relocate

People tend to travel to foreign countries. In many cases, the main reason is not tourism but the opportunity to find a good job and to start a new life. What can possibly motivate people to leave their home countries and relocate?

The reasons are different depending on the circumstances of each person. However, here you can find some of the most popular reasons to move abroad:

Better job opportunity

If you are struggling to find a good job waiting around is not the right answer. Relocating to other part of the world allow you to access to a new job market and to choose a place you know has the opportunities you are looking for.

Love & Family

You may want to move abroad to stay closed to the people you love the most.

Maybe your partner need to relocate due to job reasons leaving you no choice but to follow him/her in order to preserve your future together.

It may also be possible that you met the person you believe to be the right partner to grow old together so you may decide to move with him to start a common life in a new country (probably his/her home country).

A new language or a higher job position are important steps in the process of personal growth

Broaden horizons

For many the desire to explore, to discover, is the main reason to relocate to a new country. Moving abroad allows you to immerse yourself in a new culture, see incredible new things, learn a different language and, at the same time, experience a change in every single aspect of your life.

Weather

Good weather is one of the main reasons to move abroad. Did you know that the 62,2% of young people in Britain are willing to relocate somewhere warmer?

Personal development

Although personal development is a broad concept, many consider a new lifestyle, a new language, a higher job position or the opportunity to meet new people as important steps in the process of personal growth.

Life quality

Another broad concept used to elaborate the Mercer Annual Quality of Living Survey. A survey created to help multinational companies compensate their employees fairly when relocating and placing them on international assignments.

In your case, what is the main reason for you to leave your country? Would you add any other reason to relocate? 

How does your brain change when you learn a language?

how-does-your-brain-change-when-you-learn-a-language

 

Last friday night, while waiting for the subway, we started a nice conversation regarding the human ability to learn different languages and how does the brain can change when learning new languages. A couple of friends of mine mentioned some new studies which display that although our brain is ready to learn up to 25 languages once we reach a certain level of knowledge we tend to mix all of them. But what exactly happens when we learn a new language? How does our brain change when we learn a language?

 

Understanding language is one of the hardest things your brain does

 

Due to the fact that while we are learning a new language we are creating new neural pathways in our brain, the benefits of learning a new language are proportional to the effort expended by the brain.  The older we are the more difficult is to learn new languages.

Many scientific studies had shown that children use the deep motor of the brain to learn new languages while adults need to learn them consciously.  Despite the effort that our brain has to do, to learn a new language provide us with some benefits:

  • Increase concentration, intelligence and memory skills
  • Lower risks of Alzheimer
  • People who speak two or more languages have better cognitive abilities than people who only speak one
  • Learning a new language help to increase the hippocampus (the area of the brain that forms and stores our memories)
  • According to the Linguistic Relativity theory (also known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis), learning new languages change the way we see the world

 

Regarding all the proven benefits of language learning we should better start studying as much new languages as possible (until 25 our brain has space enough) or maybe not? But before forcing our brain to struggle among different languages we should ask ourselves the following question: Which is my goal?

If you really want to be fluent in a language, why don´t you better start learning that language until you reach a certain level of fluency. Then you can just maintain that language and start studying another one, otherwise you risk to don´t be fluent in any of them.

 

Language mix-up happens 

 

Once we reach a certain level of fluency our brain has to work harder to separate the information and choose the right words at the right time. The Language Transfer theory shows that language mix-up really exists, also by native speakers.

Transfer may occur conscious or unconscious. In the first case, it refers to unskilled language users which are influenced by their mother tongue while writing or speaking. However, the unconscious transfer refers to non-native speakers which may not realize the difference between structures and internal rules of the language, this transfer is usually overlooked by native speakers.

I am sure you are all familiar with all this transfers. Do you remember when you started learning a new language? At that certain point we all suffered the conscious transfer, most of the times when writing an essay. However, other studies show that at a certain fluency level our brain tend to mix the words of the different languages that we speak, regardless of whether any of them is your mother tongue or not. Does is happen to you? 

As an expat I am used to speak a different language depending on who is my listener and on the situation. Learning new languages is always an easy challenge which I love to accomplish. Recently I found out twoel acento funny things. On the one hand, I realized I mix French and German when I am tired. Sometimes I start a
sentence in German and I end it up in French (this used to happen to a friend of mine who studied in an American School when we were young, I always find it so cute…) On the other hand, a couple of days ago I found myself wondering why it is so hard for me to talk to one of my colleagues in English every time he tries to improve his English skills by talking to me.

Recently I read an article that explained how bilingual babies associate each language to concrete situations and people so that they can recognize which language is the most accurate for each moment. Might it also happen to multilingual adults? Maybe our brain also needs to associate people and context to a concrete language so that our neuronal paths can work rapidly and be more efficient, who knows…

And what about you, did the language transfer also happen to you? Have you ever tried to learn multiple languages at the same time? Do you know any other interesting theory? Share your experiences in the comments below!