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

Anuncios

Buscar piso sin morir en el intento

looking for a flat in germany

Tanto si buscáis un piso  como si buscáis una WG la cosa se complica bastante dependiendo en que ciudad de Alemania viváis, pero no os preocupéis que aquí os voy a dar unos consejos.

Como empezar

A los Alemanes les encantan las entrevistas, así que preparad vuestra mejor sonrisa (y un montón de información sobre vosotros) que vais a tener que dar una muy buena impresión. Otro dato importante es que en este país es muy común que los pisos estén sin amueblar (las WG ó pisos compartidos también). Llevarse la casa a cuestas es  normal. Aquí os enseño las tres opciones que os vais a encontrar:

1. Piso sin amueblar (lo más normal) – Unmöblierte Wohnung

2. Piso con cocina incluida: Esta se suele comprar al arrendatario anterior o bien se “compra” mientras se paga el alquiler, ya que se incluye en el precio del mismo

3. Piso amueblado: Mucha suerte!! Los muebles se suelen comprar al dueño o a los antiguos inquilinos. – Möblierte Wohnung

WG-Piso compartido

Si buscáis una habitación en un piso (WG) donde podáis conocer gente, os recomiendo esta web: http://www.wg-gesucht.de/ es la que mejor funciona.

Aquí podéis ver fotos de vuestra futura habitación y toda la información relativa a precios, que tipo de persona buscan en el piso y disponibilidad. Os recomiendo contactar con muchos pisos (donde vuestro perfil encaje) y escribir toda la información posible sobre vosotros en el email: edad, aficiones, trabajo, sueldo…

Cuanto más escribáis mayores opciones de recibir una respuesta. Si aún no domináis el alemán no tengáis miedo de escribir en inglés! La mayoría de la gente contesta sin problema.

looking for a flat in Germany

Piso invidual

Aquí la cosa se complica un poco más. Hay varias webs pero la más conocida es esta: http://www.immobilienscout24.de/.

Si para encontrar una WG os he recomendado contactar con muchas, aquí os recomiendo un esfuerzo doble. En Düsseldorf (así como en Köln), la demanda es muy grande y los precios de los pisos están elevándose cada día un poco más. Siempre que sea posible llamad por teléfono para conseguir una cita, muchas veces las inmobiliarias no contestan los e-mail si ya tienen varios candidatos.

Aquí la entrevista varía un poco, hay veces  esta está programada para que dure 15 minutos y otras veces puedes estar durante una hora hablando con el dueño. Todo depende de cuanta información queráis obtener el uno del otro.

image

El arrendador

En Alemania hay varios tipos de arrendadores:

  • Particulares
  • Inmobiliarias

Muchas veces los dueños del piso son flexibles y dejan que los arrendatarios hagan la pre- selección (de ahí que los horarios de visita puedan ser más limitados). Otras veces son las propias inmobiliarias las que se encargan del proceso (sobre todo cuando el piso lleva algún tiempo vacío), en este último caso hay muchas opciones de que lleve a cabo una jornada de puertas abiertas. Esto consiste en citar a 10-20 personas el mismo día  a la misma hora para ver el piso.

Tras pasar la pre- selección (enhorabuena!) ahora llega el momento de la verdad y es entonces cuando el arrendador decide quien va a ser el futuro inquilino en función a un montón de documentos que os va a hacer rellenar

Los documentos 

Tanto para la WG como para el piso los propietarios suelen pedir información sobre el sueldo neto de la persona (a veces incluso piden una copia del contrato de trabajo). Otros documentos que os pedirán serán:

  • SCHUFA
  • Auskunft: Documentos con información personal como ingresos, número de cuenta, estado civil,etc…

looking for a flat in germany

SCHUFA

Este concepto no existe en otros países como Francia o España. La SCHUFA es un documento oficial donde consta que una persona tiene o no deudas e impagos. Los arrendadores lo solicitan para asegurarse que no están alquilando su piso a un moroso. Si lleváis menos de 3 anos en el país puede que no podáis solicitarlo, depende de cada persona. Aquí tenéis más información: https://www.schufa.de/de/.

Redes sociales 

Muchas veces en los grupos de expatriados de facebook la gente que se muda publica anuncios avisando que su piso se queda libre. Estad al tanto! Suele ser una manera bastante rápida para poder organizar una visita sin tener que depender de la inmobiliaria desde  el primer momento.

Ahora que sabéis todo lo que hay que hacer os recomiendo ¡Mucha paciencia! Y os deseo ¡¡mucha suerte!!

8 Facts you didn´t know about Germany

Ready to discover new facts about Germany?

1. Germans drink around 120 liters of beer annually per person

2. It is said that the Christmas tree tradition comes from Germany

3. 60% of the most popular videos in YouTube are not allowed in Germany

4. Germany was the first country to introduce the daylight saving time

5. Berlin is 9 times bigger than Paris and it has more bridges than Venice

6. Fanta was created in Germany due to the difficulties to import Coke syrup into Germany during the World War II

7. Each year 5500 World War II bombs are deactivated in Germany

8. Germans have around 300 bread varieties

 

Which fact surprised you the most?

5 pieces of advice to my pre-expat self

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

pexels-photo-196667

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.

image

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 society

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.

image

Eurovision contest

Two days ago we were celebrating the europeday and next Saturday we will celebrate the eurovision song contest. Did you know that in Germany they usually make special plans for that night? Most of people organize dinners at home to watch the show with their family and friends

Have you also planed any special soiree? We have some ideas in mind.

Versión español aquí

What is the eurovision song contest?

It is an annual song contest which takes place since 1956. Since then this contest is broacasted annually reaching an audience between 200 and 600 million viewers.

Why a song contest?

The idea of eurovision came up after the second world war to reinforce the sense of unity among the different european countries. Its first edition took place in Switzerland and where seven countries participated. At that moment each country sang two different songs, however, since 1957 the rules changed and each country has now the possibility to perform only one song during the contest.

Which countries take part in the contest?

Eligible participants include active members of the European Broadcasting Union, including countries that are not part of the EU. Last year Australia performed as a guest being the first non member of the EBU performing in the eurovision contest.

This year Australia will repeat as a guest (of course! they have been boarcasting the eurovision contest since 1983, so they deserve it!) and there will be a special perfomance. Justin Timberlake will launch his new single!

Which groups participate this year?

Following you will find the eurovision contest official YouTube channel to check all the musicians who will play at the festival, but not without first sharing with you the videos of our favourite artists:

France

Sweeden

Australia

Official YouTube channel

https://www.youtube.com/user/eurovision

May the best win!!!

Eurovisión

Hace dos días fue el día de Europa y este sábado se celebra eurovisión. Sabíais que los alemanes, en general, son fans de este show? Muchos se juntan en casa para verlo con su familia y amigos

Vosotros habéis planeado algo especial? Nosotros tenemos un par de ideas en mente.

Qué es eurovisión?

Un certamen musical que se celebra desde 1956. Desde entonces se retransmite de manera anual tanto en Europa como en países no europeos, alcanzando una audiencia de entra 200 y 600 millones de personas en todo el mundo.

Cómo surgió la idea?

En la Europa de la post guerra se puso en marcha este concurso para reforzar la unión de los países del viejo continente. En su primera edición (en Suiza) sólo participaron 7 países cantando dos canciones por país, aunque desde 1957 cada país tiene la oportunidad de cantar sólo una canción.

Qué países participan?

Participan sólo los miembros activos de la unión europea de radiodifusión, que incluye países que no forman parte de la UE. El año pasado se invitó por primera vez a un país que no es miembro activo, debido a su larga trayectoria emitiendo el festival (desde 1983): Australia.

Este año actuará un artista internacional para presentar su nuevo single por primera vez en la historia del festival. No os perdáis lo nuevo de Justin Timberlake si sois fans!

Qué canciones participan este año?

Aquí os dejamos el canal de YouTube para que podáis ver a todos los grupos que formaran parte tanto de la primera como de la segunda tanta eliminatoria, entre ellos otra vez Australia, pero no sin antes presentaros a nuestros favoritos:

 

Francia

AMIR-e1456771351965-555x305

Suecia

image-9-555x305

 

Australia

Dami-Im-Banner-copy-780x400

 

Canal oficial de eurovisión 

https://www.youtube.com/user/eurovision

 

Que gane el mejor!

10 pistas sobre lingoda

Para andar por el mundo lo mejor es saber varios idiomas. Así nos podemos comunicar mejor allá donde vayamos. Pero cómo podemos hacer para aprender tantos idiomas sin morir en el intento?

Igual ya conocéis la página de la que vamos a hablar (por aquí es bastante popular), pero nosotros la acabamos de descubrir y, sinceramente, os la queremos recomendar.

image

Lingoda es una web creada para aprender idiomas de manera dinámica sin moverse del sofá, o mejor dicho, para sentirse en una academia sin salir de casa. Desde hace un mes nos hemos puesto serios para refrescar el alemán (que por mucho que vivamos aquí nunca está de más seguir aprendiendo y mejorando el idioma) y el resultado ha sido gratificante.

Cómo funciona lingoda? Aquí os dejamos 10 sencillos pasos para que entendáis mejor de que va todo esto:

1. Qué os apetece aprender? Inglés? Español? Francés? Alemán? Ligoda ofrece cursos de todos los niveles en estos idiomas. Desde A1 hasta C2

2. Una vez elegido el idioma lo primero que debéis hacer es crear vuestro perfil en la web. Después pasáis a seleccionar el nivel que tenéis, o el que queráis aprender/repasar y listo! Ya podéis empezar.

image

 

3. Ahora viene lo más interesante; qué tipos de cursos hay? En Lingoda podéis encontrar cursos grupales o individuales. En el primer caso suelen ser grupos reducidos, 4-5 personas, cosa que se agradece ya que se puede aprovechar mejor el tiempo. La otra opción son cursos individuales (muy recomendables si queréis reforzar algo en concreto del idioma) En nuestro caso nos vino muy bien para repasar cierta gramática que estaba un poco oxidada.

4. Los profesores son jóvenes nativos. Esto es algo muy interesante, ya que algunos incluso no están en su país de origen sino que viven en otros países, por lo que comprenden perfectamente cuan difícil puede ser aprender un idioma y saben como ayudarte. En nuestro caso la mejor profesora fue una chica que vivía en Sudamerica. Aprendimos un montón en esa clase!

5.Cada sesión dura una hora, que se puede alargar un poco más si es necesario (dependiendo del grupo y el profesor). Por experiencia podemos decir que nunca dura menos de 60 minutos, siempre hay algo que aprender!

6. Lo bueno de esta web es que es una escuela virtual, por lo que ofrecen distintas clases entre las que escoger (como si estuvieseis en una academia): Gramatica, speaking o writing.

image

7. Cada nivel y cada clase ofrecen distintos temas. Entre los temas que nosotros tratamos estaba el funcionamiento del sistema educativo alemán o como preparar una entrevista de trabajo en Alemania.

8. Otro dato positivo es la amplia variedad de horarios, de modo que podéis adaptar las clases a vosotros. Así si estáis trabajando tanto como nosotros 😉 podéis estudiar idiomas al salir de la oficina o los fin de semana.

image

9. Una vez completados todos los cursos necesarios para acabar el nivel que hayáis escogido recibiréis un certificado CEFR, o mejor dicho, un certificado oficial que afirma que habéis alcanzado el nivel deseado dentro del marco de referencia europeo para las lenguas.

10. El último punto del que vamos a hablar fue la primera pregunta que nos vino a la cabeza: Qué tiene Lingoda que no tenga otra web de idiomas? Después de algo más de un mes os podemos contestar: Cercanía. Los profesores suelen ser siempre amables, además suelen conectar sus cámaras de modo que podamos verles la cara. No es sólo una web donde te enseñan la gramática y listo, sino que los profesores están ahí para resolver dudas y adecuar el curso a tus necesidades.

Conocíais ya Lingoda? Habéis hecho algún curso con ellos?

Para los novatos como nosotros os dejamos su página web para que le echéis un ojo:  https://www.lingoda.com/ 

German beers

If I ask you: What would you drink if you were in Germany? You will probably answer…

Beer!!

However, there are different kind of beers depending on the German region where you are. Do you already know which beer belongs to each region?

Following you can find 7 german beers I would like to recommend you. Could you guess about which regions and beers I am talking? Check if you know a lot about beer. Keep reading until the end!! Let´s begin! 

image

1. Our first beer takes its name from its place of origin. This beer contains only a 3% of alcohol and it is usually mixed with woodruff syrup (Waldmeister) or raspberry syrup (Himbeere), which provide it with a green colour, in the first case, and a red colour, in the second case.

 

2. This time it can be more difficult to guess about what beer and region I am talking, however, let´s try it! 🙂

This beer tastes and looks similar to the weath beer, however, it has a peculiarity: The beer from this region is elaborated half with barley malt and half with weath malt. Formerly, the water of the river was used to elaborate this beer. That is the reason why, the beer takes its name from this river.

 

3. This universally recognized beer has a 4% of alcohol and its taste and look reminds us to Pilsner beer. It is composed of malt, hop, and mineral water. Hint: Its logo includes a key with a red-coloured background. 😉

 

4. Our next beer dates from 1390 (in the Middle Ages) and it obtains its characteristic colour due to the low fermentation of the malt during the brewing process.

 

5 – 6. This two beers are rivals (as well as the cities where they come from). The first one is elaborated with high fermentation yeast and dark malt. The second one is a blonde beer with a 5% alcohol and a certificate of origin. Both of them are usually served in small glasses (20 – 30cl). Tip: Both of them love Carnival 😉

 

7.  Finally we are going to talk about the most important beer during the Oktoberfest. With a 5% of alcohol this weath beer is mostly consumed in the region where it comes from, and it is served in one-liter glasses. Its almost transparent colour is due to the weath malt.

 

Was it easy to guess which beers and regions are we talking about? If so, maybe you are germanizing ;). If you still want to know if your thoughts were the right ones just scroll down and check the map 😉

 

  1. Berliner Weisse -Berlin    
  2. Gose – Lower Saxony
  3. Beck´s – Bremen
  4. Köstritzer (Schwarzbier) – Thuringia    
  5. Altbier – Düsseldorf
  6. Kölsch – Köln
  7. Weissbier – Bavaria

7 signs you are becoming German

Are you getting used to the German way of life? Are you including potatoes and sausages in your diet? Do you also think that the christmas markets are the place to be during winter time? If you answered yes to all these questions it is a sign of your “germanization”. Are you becoming German? Here you can find definitive 7 signs you are becoming German

1. When you
move you bring your old furniture to your new flat

image

In Germany it is quite usual to do not leave a single nail in your old apartment when you move to a new one. Germans
take all their furniture when they move: the kitchen, the freezer, the wash
machine… also the bulbs!

If the furniture does not fit in the new apartment they leave it in the street, so that other people can re-use it. Recycling the old-fashioned way! 🙂

2. When you
see a ray of light sun and you run outside your flat

image

It does not matter if it is winter or summer. Germans are crazy about the sun. If there is
a sunny day they will be on the street enjoying it. Everytime the sun shine the
streets are crowded of people having a walk or drinking a coffee in the terraces.
No one will stay at home during a sunny day.

3. When you split the bill

image

Zusammen oder getrennt? That is the question. If you come from the south of Europe there
is a high probability that your answer “zusammen (together)”. In some countries
it is common to invite friends for a coffee or to pay a meal.

However, a good german would have answered “getrennt (separate)”. In Germany they split everything, also the coffee bill! So, if you want to invite a friend do not be
surprised if he looks weird at you.

4. When you
remove your shoes in the entrance of your flat

image

It is a non-written rule. When you enter in a flat you have to remove your shoes, to
leave them at the entrance and to walk barefoot.

The main goal of this non-written rule is to avoid scattering the snow and the water of the rain around the whole flat. It is a good idea, taking into account that the average of rainy days in Germany is around 128 days per year.

Do not forget it when you visit a german friend!

5. When you like to spend a day at IKEA

Spending the day at IKEA is a german common hobby. No matter which day of the week, if
you go to IKEA it will be totally crowded. We do not know the reason why
germans love to spend their time there, but it is quite normal for them.

Did you know one of the biggest IKEA of the world is located in Germany?? Concretely in
Düsseldorf.

http://www.rp-online.de/nrw/staedte/duesseldorf/duesseldorfer-ikea-ist-jetzt-der-groesste-der-welt-aid-1.1144216

6. When you cannot wait to get off the public transport

Germans tend to be ready to get off the public transport before it stops. Usually they
start to queue up at the previous stop. In the subway they queue up during 2
minutes, however, it can take longer when you travel by train.

It looks like if they were always on a hurry! Can it be due to the punctuality of the Deutsche Bahn? We would like to apologize before sharing the following with you: German public transports come hardly on time! Maybe that is the reason why germans are always in a hurry?

7. When your idea of a perfect summer plan is to organize a BBQ in a park

When summer comes organizing a BBQ in the park is THE PLAN. Nothing else can make germans
happier than a good BBQ, beers and friends.

In fact, it is easy to organize one. You just need to buy some beers, food and to find a place in some random park around the city or in front of the river. Sincerely, we do not why they
love BBQ so much, is it maybe not because of the food itself but due to the weather (as we said before)?

We are almost “germanized” 🙂 After some years living here we like their way of life. An what about you, are you becoming German?

3 places you will love about Maastricht

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things”    –    Henry Miller

Coming back to a city which we have already visited is a way to rediscover it. Getting lost among its streets once again allow us to see the place in new light and to pay attention to little things that were overlooked during our first visit.

Have you ever had the feeling of rediscovering a city?

We had that feeling during our last visits to our beloved city of Maastricht. The city surprised us in different ways every time we visited it, allowing us to discover new amazing places. Here you can see 3 places you can´t miss when you visit Maastricht:

1. Selexyz Dominicanen bookstore

In the year 1294 this antique church belonged to the dominicos, during the second world war this place turned into a hospital. After it was abandoned, the town hall of Maastricht sold it to a company which built a three floors bookstore. Walking around its hallways the visitor can find tourists taking pictures, book lovers, a cafeteria (to enjoy both, a good coffee and a good book) and renowned authors signing their last novels to their fans. Those are the main reasons why this place is considered as one of the most impressive bookstores of the world.

 

2. Saint Servatius basilica

This huge basilica is formed by cute stained glasses and an impressive altar. However, I would like to recommend you to look down to the floor, so that you can appreciate the maze located in one wing of Saint Servatius basilica.

Here you can find a post that we wrote regarding the history of Saint Servatius labyrinth. We hope you enjoy it!

Maastricht

 

3. Plein 1992

This time we would like to ask you to look down again, since you can find here a commemorative monument of the Maastricht Treaty.

It is said that the treaty took place in the city of Maastricht due to its proximity to the german and the belgium border, which provides the city with an european atmosphere hardly to find in other places of europe.

Close to the monument there is a modern bridge from where the view of the city is amazing.

Maastricht

Each time we visit our Dutch neighbours means a new discovery. Therefore we love traveling to the Netherlands and spending the day walking among its antique buildings.

What about you? Have you ever surprised yourself by rediscovering a city?