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!

 

 

 

 

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!

Actualités en Allemagne

Stuttgart

Nouvelle année, nouveaux objectifs et… nouvelles règles?

Certaines choses ont changé en Allemagne depuis le 1 Janvier. Si tu habites déjà en Allemagne, ou si tu prévois de déménager cette année, continue à lire ce post pour mieux comprendre l’actualité en Allemagne.

1. Salaire Minimum

Bien que le terme “salaire minimum” ai été défini en 2015 pour la première fois en Allemagne, cette année est la première année que le salaire minimum payé aux salariés a augmenté de 8,50€ par heure auparavant à 8,84€ par heure.

Le salaire minimum est aussi valide pour les “mini jobbers” (À prendre en compte: le salaire reçu pour un “minijob” ne peut pas excéder 450€ par mois)

2. Prix des transports publics

D´habitude, dans un pays, les prix des transports publics augmentent chaque année au début du mois de Janvier. En 2017, les tickets de transport coûteront entre 2 et 2,5% de plus.

3. WIFI dans le trains

Depuis plusieurs années, l’Allemagne avance timidement mais sûrement dans l´intégration du WIFI dans les transports et bâtiments publics.  C’est pourquoi l´installation du WIFI dans les trains à grande vitesse (ICE) est une bonne nouvelle non seulement pour les usagers et aussi pour les touristes.

Même si la première et la deuxième classe dans les trains allemands vont bénéficier de cette nouvelle technologie dés à présent, les passagers de deuxième classe auront de volume limité de données.

4. Facture de l´électricité

Les fournisseurs d´électricité allemands ont commencé l´année en augmentant les prix de presque 3,5% .

Il y a deux raisons pour cette augmentation. La première est la diminution des aides reçus par le gouvernement allemand, car celui-ci subventionne davantage les entreprises produisant des énergies renouvelables. L’Allemagne est en train d´investir massivement dans l’implémentation des énergies renouvelables à travers tout le pays. La deuxième est les coûts élevés de la maintenance des lignes haute tension, qui ont obligé les fournisseurs à augmenter leurs tarifs.

5. Cyclistes

L´année 2017 est arrivée avec des changements pour la conduite des cyclistes. Pourquoi?

Jusqu´à aujourd´hui les cyclistes purent “utiliser” le feu rouge des piétons s´il n’y avait pas de feux rouges pour les cyclistes aux carrefours. À partir de 2017, les cyclistes devront respecter les feux rouges  dédiés aux voitures.

Un autre changement important qui s´est produit, implique les familles. La nouvelle législation permet aux parents d’ accompagner leurs enfants sur les trottoirs, tant que ceux-ci sont âgés  de moins de 9 ans. Etes vous prêts amis piétons? 😉

6. Retraités

Quiconque prendra sa retraite en 2017 devra payer des impôts sur 74% de sa pension retraite. Jusqu´à présent, le revenu imposable était équivalent à 72% de la retraite.

En fin de compte, 36% de la rémunération sera exempte d´impôts en 2017.

7. Assistance program 

Jusqu’à l´année dernière seulement les personnes diminuées physiquement par une maladie étaient considérées comme ayant besoin d´aide. Cependant, à partir de cette année  les personnes  ayant des problèmes mentaux seront aussi couverts par ce programme d’aide.

Ça veut dire, que plus de personnes pourront bénéficier de cette aide aux soins de longue durée.

8. Kindergeld 

Le “Kindergeld” est l´argent que le gouvernement allemand verse aux parents pour les aider dans leurs dépenses  associées à l´entretien des leurs enfants. Le “Kindergeld” est distribué mensuellement aux familles.

Combien d´argent ont reçu les parents allemands en 2016 par enfant?

  • 190€ par  enfant, pour les deux premiers enfants
  • 196€ pour le troisième enfant
  • 221€ pour chaque enfant suivant

À partir du 1er Janvier, l’indemnité reçue par enfant a augmenté de 2€. C’est une augmentation symbolique mais toute aide est bonne quand il s’agit des enfants.

Le “Kindergeld” est payé jusqu’à la majorité de  l´enfant.

9. Grundfreibetrag

Le “Grundfreibetrag”, ou abattement à la base, est une part du salaire non imposable.(un subside minimum pour vivre)

À partir de 2017, la part non imposable augmente à 8.820€ par an pour une personne seule et à 17.640€ par an pour des personnes mariées. Cela signifie que le Trésor Public ne taxe le revenu que si celui est supérieur à cette assiette nouvellement définie.

 

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.

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!

What wikipedia can´t tell you about Lingoda

When you arrive to the office and the first thing you see is one of your colleagues trying to comunicate with a foreigner, you realize how important it is to speak different languages.

Versión español aquí

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As we are living in Germany we try to improve our german knowledge everyday, however, German is not an easy language (have you ever tried to pronounce Brötchen or Quietscheentchen?) furthermore we do not have as much time as we wished.

At the begining we attended to different german schools, but the lack of time implies a lack of motivation (leaving the office at 18.00 and taking a german course betwen 18.30-20.30 can be a bit exhausting). After talking with some other expats we found out a solution: An online language school. But, how can it be possible? Was it another website where people can only check the grammar?

This language school is called Lingoda. Probably you  have already heard some information about it, however, for us it was something new that stoked our curiosity. That is the reason why, we decided to try it. 

First of all, we created our own profile and we chose the level we wanted to learn. In our case we decided to refresh our B2 knowledge (sometimes is good to review some old grammar).

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Then we decided to join some group classes. Here came our first question: When do we have time? Due to our work it is difficult to balance working times, learning, doing fitness and having social life so we decided to book a class one tuesday at 19.00. However, we had to cancel it in the very last minute…

After this awful beginning we decided to check the website deeply until we found what we were looking for: Flexibility.

Lingoda is full of group and individual classes, each of which are about different subjects. The classes are scheduled at different times among the day and during the weekends. If you do not find the right class for you, you can always book a private course. Once we discovered it we did not cancel any other class because we could planified our courses based on our needs and our timetable (yes, sometimes it is good to take a course on the weekend and to learn easily and relax at home).

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Our first class was a writting-group with 4 students and the teacher, who was an austrian. We had 5 minutes time to introduce ourselves and the class took one hour. All our group courses where more or less the same: Introduction and 60 minutes course. Depending on the teacher and the students it can last a bit longer, but it never takes less than one hour.

Although each course has a different topic (we learned things about the german education system and how to prepare a job interview) we recommend you to take an individual course if you want to learn something specific. And do not worry about buying books or learning material! Everything is provided by Lingoda

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A good point about Lingoda is that the teachers are native speakers and some of them also live abroad, which makes easy for them to understand the difficulties of learning a language. Once we had a teacher who was living in Latin America, that class was amazing. She was really nice and we learnt a lot!

Since one month we are improving our German at the same time that we are learning more about the german way of life (how to prepare a job interview, why sausages are so important… ). In our case improving our german knowledge is important to live here and to communicate with others, however, Lingoda offers courses in different languages: French, Spanish and English, which can be also really useful for our next destination (Latin America, France, USA… As a expats we never know which will be our next stop).

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Have you ever heard about Lingoda? Have you ever used this online language school? Tell us your experience!! Otherwise, if you need more information just check its website: https://www.lingoda.com/ and start enjoying while learning 🙂