And now what?

Regardless of the economical and financial point of view, the European Union was born to remind us that we can live in peace together. The EU is based in peace and collaboration agreements.

UK joined the EU in 1973 sharing its principles of stability, respect and prosperity. Furthermore, being part of this alliance allowed the UK citizens to work, live and travel freely all around the EU.

Until four days ago.

Four days ago UK decided to leave us, its citizens surprisingly voted for the renowned “Brexit” causing an unprecedented uncertainty on the whole EU.

There were two fact that impressed us the most regarding this decision. On the one hand, Google reported that searches for “What does it mean to leave the EU?” and “What is the EU?” peaked after the referendum. Does it mean that UK citizens did not know the consequences of their votes?    

“Many people are regretting about what they voted. They did not know the real consequences of the Brexit” – N.C Spanish expat in Oxford

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On the other hand, mostly elder people voted for the Brexit while young people voted massively to remain. Does it mean that elder people decided the future of my generation and the upcoming generations without being aware, as we previously saw, of the consequences of this decision? 

“The older generation over 50 voted mostly to leave. Most of them will be dead in time for the next generation to suffer” – G.M. Northern Irish expat in Montpellier 

And now, what’s next? What’s going to happen with Scotland and North Ireland (which massively voted to remain in the EU)?

“We will probably become independent and join our EU neighbors. We’ve just caused a recession for ourselves and upset our European neighbors” – G.W. Scotsman expat in Düsseldorf

And how will this decision affect expats? How will this vote change the way the next generations understand the freedom of movement of workers and citizens in the EU?

“No one was expecting this result in my company. They still do not know what is coming next since most of the employees are foreigners. There are trying to figure out how can they manage this situation” – N.B. Spanish expat in Manchester

One important principle of the EU is freedom of movement for workers and citizens, allowing the social and cultural enrichment of the member countries. How will this decision affect all the UK citizens living abroad? And the foreigners living in the UK? We should not forget that 1.2 million people born in UK live abroad placing the UK fifth among the EU countries for the size of their expats in other EU countries.

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“Many people are thinking about to leave England. They feel there are not welcome here right now. I will stay until they kick me out, then I will move to other european country where I feel welcome” – A.L. Spanish expat in London 

What comes next is still a mystery for all of us. While some governments stand up for a fast and immediate exit others, like the German one, are willing to concede the UK a period of time to fix all its internal emerging problems (Scottish independence?, The establishment of borders in Ireland?).

However, it is clear that something is changing in the EU: People want to feel part of the EU, people are raising their voices, they want to be listened, they want a better Europe. Then, why instead of following arising nationalism ideas do we not stay in the EU to try to change it from the inside?. As EU citizens we have the tools to express ourselves and to generate the institutional change, then let´s do it! Leaving is just the easy way, working from the inside can be tough but it is the right way.

“We can be patriots, why not? But not nationalists. Nationalism brought us many conflicts in the past. We are facing lots of problems as europeans right now, we should stay together” – O.T. Spanish expat in Köln

 

Let´s face the nationalism that tries to destabilize what our ancestors started building 70 years ago and let´s be united in this uncertain period. There are so many challenges we have to face right now as europeans… Let´s work on them together! 

“The worst part is the not economical one, as most of the people think… it is moral! We fought to be free from nationalism, and we are now allowing it to coming back in name of…freedom!” – A.B. Italian expat in Essen

Do you feel European? What is your opinion about the EU? What do you think about the UK decision? Did you vote in the referendum?  Which is your expat point of view regarding everything what is happening right now in Europe?

Share your thoughts with us! We are happy to read your opinion!

5 pieces of advice to my pre-expat self

Which advice you would give yourself if you could go back 3 years in time? 

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Three years ago some of us had just arrived in Germany while some others did not know that the universe was planning to bring us here.

If we could come back three years in time we would give us some advices before starting this expat adventure:

1. Never stop dreaming: If you can imagine it, you can achieve it

If you believe in something, go for it. Nothing and no one can stop you.

There will be days you will reconsider everything, there will be moments you will want to go back to your family (your comfort zone), sometimes you will feel homesick…

However, never forget that if you believe in yourself nothing can stop you. If you wanna change something just make the first move.

The most common obstacles while living abroad are traditions and language. Do not wait until the last minute to learn the language and to adapt yourself to the local culture. The earlier you do it, the earlier you will start overcoming any difficulty.

2. Do not lose your inner child 

Learn from each single moment, look around with the same curiosity as if you were a child, talk to different kind of people, laugh at yourself, enjoy simple things in life, face this adventure in a positive manner and never stop smiling, because this is the adventure of your life.

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3. Every person comes to you at the right moment

Every single person you will meet living abroad will come to you at the right moment. Together you will experience remarkable adventures which allow you to evolve as human beings, and your friendship will be a special relationship that will least the rest of your life.

Every person comes to your life for a reason. Learn from them because they will make a difference in your life.

4. Integrate yourself into the local culture

Do not be a conformist; learn the language, make local friends, try local food, travel around the country, go to local festivals, taste typical drinks, go to after work meetings, discuss with different kind people, get used to the local way of transport, speak the local language (even if you are just starting to learn it)…

Be ready to discover a new culture and to experience it, integration is the first step to feel at home.

5. Each situation will teach you a life lesson

Expats are outside their comfort zone. Expats are far from home. Expats are trying to be part of a new culture with different traditions.

Sometimes a trivial thing can be huge problem: a misunderstanding due to the language, looking for a job, a legal matter… Learn from these situation and keep always in mind that there are no problems, there are just solutions.
And the most important advice:  Enjoy this experience like you have never done before, because this is the best life lesson you will ever learn.

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3 curiosidades de Maastricht que no te puedes perder

“Nuestro destino nunca es un lugar, sino una nueva forma de ver las cosas”. Henry Miller

Regresar a un lugar que habíamos visitado anteriormente es una manera de redescubrirlo. Perderse por sus calles una vez más nos permite verlo con otros ojos y fijarnos en detalles que antes habíamos pasado por alto.

Alguna vez habéis tenido la sensación de que esa ciudad que tan bien creíais conocer os ha vuelto a sorprender?

A nosotros nos ha pasado con nuestra querida Maastricht. Nuestros últimos viajes nos han enseñado otra cara de la ciudad que queremos compartir con vosotros. Aquí os dejamos 3 curiosidades de Maastricht que no os podéis perder:

1. La libreria Selexyz Dominicanen

Antiguamente, hacia 1294, pertenecía a los Dominicos, durante la segunda guerra mundial fue un hospital y, tras su abandono, el ayuntamiento de Maastricht la vendió a una empresa que construyó, en el año 2005, una impresionante librería de tres pisos.

En esta iglesia se mezclan habitualmente amantes de los libros junto con turistas que se pasean entre sus pasillos (700000 al año) y reconocidos escritores que organizan firmas de libros. Al final del edificio se sitúa una cafetería donde poder disfrutar de un buen libro y un buen café.

Por todo ello, es considerada una de las librerías más bonitas del mundo.

2. Basílica de San Servando

Este impresionante monumento del siglo XIX está formado por unas grandes vidrieras a las que acompaña un precioso altar. Sin embargo, no dejéis de mirar al suelo, ya que en una de sus alas se encuentra un curioso laberinto cuya historia se remonta a 1885.

Aquí podéis leer el post que hemos escrito explicando la historia del laberinto de San Servando. ¡Esperamos que os guste!

3. Plein 1992

Llegados a este punto os recomiendo que volváis a agachar la cabeza pues en este lugar se encuentra el monumento conmemorativo del famoso tratado de Maastricht. Se dice que se eligió esta ciudad holandesa para llevar a cabo el tratado ya que se sitúa muy cerca de la frontera belga y alemana, lo que la lleva a evocar un sentimiento europeo difícil de encontrar en otros lugares.

Junto al monumento se encuentra además un moderno puente con unas maravillosas vistas de la ciudad de Maastricht.

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Cada visita a nuestros vecinos holandeses supone un nuevo descubrimiento por eso no nos cansamos de pasear por allí.

Y vosotros, ¿habéis tenido alguna vez la sensación de re-descubrir una ciudad?

German health care system

“Bist du krank?”

Are you sick? – Get used to listen to this question almost everyday because… the weather is so crazy in Germany!

One day we wake up in a 20 degrees sunny day and the day after it is rainning and the temperature does not reach the 10 degrees.

Spring season is back!

Germans love drinking tea as a first step to recover themselves from sickness, however, and just in case this german technique is not helping you, we would like to let you know how the german healthcare system works.

German healthcare system

The german healthcare system assures universal coverage to all the citizens. Therefore the most recommended thing to do when you register yourself as a resident in Germany is to take out a Krankenkasse (a public health insurance company).

In case of unemployement you will have to carry out a fix monthly payment (between 140-160€) to the Krankenkasse that you choose. However, if you are employed, an amount of 8,2% of your income will be substracted to pay the public health insurance.

If you are willing to have more coverage you can always enrolle in a private insurance. In this case be aware of two things; the older you are the more expensive the insurance will be, and the doctors you can attend to are usually the same in both cases (with public and private insurance).

How to go to the doctor

In Germany practitioners are not associate to the Krankenkasse, so the best option, if you need to visit one, is to google it or to ask a friend if he can recommend you a good doctor.

If you are a european citizen and you are living in Germany for a short period of time (2-3 months) you can always use the european health insurance card and you won´t need to pay for the consultation.

In case you are a resident in Germany you will be asked to show your Krankenkasse card every time you visit the practitioner.

The consultation

First of all you have to visit the Allgemeinarzt (general practitioner) and then he will transfer you to a specialized medical practitioner.

Allgemeinarzt practices have also their own laboratory, in case some blood tests are required. However, if you need more specific tests the doctor will transfer you to another practicioner (in most of the cases you will have to look for one on your own, so check google or talk to your friends once again for a recommendation).

Taking time off for sickness

If you are employed you can take a day off to stay at home without going to the doctor, however, after the second day you will need to visit him to get diagnosed and to take time off for sickness.

In Germany it is really easy to book off sick at the office since they are really afraid of being contagious, therefore they prefer to stay at home instead of going to work (a time off sick due to a light cold can last 3 days).

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Medication

In comparison to other european countries Germany is really cautious regarding the selling of medical products. Basic things such as peroxide and mercurchrome are hard to buy without a prescription.

Whenever you need to go to the pharmacy visit your doctor first and ask him for a presciption. If you contract a public insurance it will take care of the costs of medicines.

Following you can find a list of the existing Krankenkassen and the private health insurance companies in Germany.

I hope it was a usefull post and you enjoy a nice spring season!

Saint Servatius Labyrinth

Each part of the world is unique. Each city is an unbelievable place full of amazing corners ready to be discovered. Through the buildings we can have a better insight about the history, the inhabitants and the culture of each place that we visit.

The labyrinth of Saint Servatius is one of those amazing places full of charm and history worth to be discovered.

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The maze or labyrinth was designed in1885-1887 by Pierre Cuypers, the architect responsible for the restoration of the basilica in the second half of the 19th century.image

The theme has a link with the sculptures located on the upper part of the portal where you can find the maze. These sculptures represent several parts of the Old and New Testament and the story of the salvation. Beginning with Abraham and ending with St. Servatius, the centerpiece holds the Holy Virgin Mary crowned in heaven.

As a contrast with heaven, the mosaic represents a map of the earth, where everybody is a pilgrim constantly searching for ways to find the Holy Land and Jerusalem.

The Holy City as spiritual goal is represented as a fortress with eight corners and towers, the mount of olives and the mount of calvary.

Also represented are the two main cities of Christendom in the East and the West: Constantinople and Rome, and also two important cities for Maastricht: Cologne (capital and siege of the archbishopric and the most important city of the Roman Empire at the north of the Alps) and Aix –la-Chapelle (the place where the emperors of the holy roman empire of the german nation were crowned during the Middle Ages).

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The best way to enjoy the height of this work is to stay in the corner of the labyrinth so that you can see the whole maze at the same time at the sculptures. Are you fancy to discover this amazing place?

Kölner oder Düsseldorfer?

Ahora tenéis la opción de decidir de que lado del Rhein estáis 😉

Aquí os dejo el link para que podáis votar:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/karstenschmehl/welche-stadt-ist-die-nummer-1-am-rhein?utm_term=.wi4036YGG#.hnWJ20Q11

Y vosotros, sois más de Düsseldorf o de Köln?? Si ya vivís en Alemania seguro que hace tiempo que os habéis decidido por una de ellas, por la altbier o la kölsch, por la Kö o por Rudolfplatz, por un Altstadt o por el otro 😉 Los que estáis pensando en venir a Alemania… Aquí os lanzo la pregunta!! Así igual os apetece curiosear en internet información a cerca de ambos sitios.

Mi opinión: Las dos son unas ciudades preciosas y llenas de vida!! Aunque… Yo ya he elegido una 😉

Seid ihr Düsseldorfer oder Kölner??