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!

 

 

 

 

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Paternity Leave: Rights and Job Protection in Germany

 

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

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

 

How does the paternity leave work?

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

What paternity pay and/or benefits can I claim?

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

Can I extend my leave?

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

 

Can I travel while I am in paternity leave?

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

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

Mutterschutz

This is the most important word: Maternity leave.

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

Some important information you should take into account:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Elterngeld

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

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

Who can get this subsidy?

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

Elternzeit

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

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

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

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

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

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

When should I apply for Elternzeiz?

7 weeks in advance.

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

Your turn

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

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

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

 

 

Interesting facts about Germany (Part I)

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

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

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

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

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

Are you ready now? Keep reading!

History

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

Language

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

Culture

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

 

Your turn!

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

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

Christmas in Germany

One more year the season of joy, celebration and forgiveness has arrived to Germany. Since the end of November, most of the streets are decorated with colorful lights as well as with lovely, traditional Christmas markets all around the country. The smell of Glühwein (traditional mulled wine) goes across the cities reminding us that it is time to look back, be grateful and share our time with our loved ones.

Since the beginning of the advent, people in Germany are getting ready to celebrate this period of the year with their families and friends. But, how do Germans celebrate Christmas? Do they have any special tradition? Let’s find it out!

Most relevant days

As well as many other European citizens, including Spaniards, Germans like to celebrate both Heiligenabend (Christmas eve) and Weihnachten (Christmas Day) with their loved ones. In most of the cases, family members get together to decorate the Christmas tree, to cook tasty traditional meals and to attend to midnight mass. Another important German tradition is to place all the Christmas presents under the Christmas tree.

The second day of Christmas, Saint Stephen´s Day, is a public holiday here in Germany. For many people, the 26th of December is a quiet occasion spent with friends or family to recover and to get ready for the winter sales, which start the third day of Christmas. Saint Stephen´s Day is also a good occasion to attend with the family to a special church service on behalf of this saint.

Another important day during Christmas time is New Year´s Eve, known here as Silvester. Unlike in Spain, this is a day to spend with close friends who are mostly invited to enjoy a home-made meal, often in the form of a buffet.

While in Spain we like to spend the last day of the year surrounded by our relatives, here in Germany most of the people prefer to celebrate it by hosting home parties or by attending to any New Year´s Eve Party. Does this mean that we Spaniards do not celebrate the entrance to the new year? Of course we do! However, we still follow the ancient traditions of eating 12 grapes at midnight with our loved ones before attending with our close friends to any new year´s event. A totally different way to celebrate, don´t you think?

Food

In terms of food, Germans know how to celebrate this season sitting around a table full of delicious meals. Depending on the Christmas day they like to eat different kind of products.

A traditional Christmas Eve´s meal consists of carp or salmon accompanied by fried potatoes, sauerkraut, sausage and potato salad.

On Christmas day, Germans do like to start the day enjoying a variety of sweet snacks such as Plätzchen(biscuits covered in sugar), Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Stollen(bread filled with dried fruit and marzipan) and Spekulatius(cookies flavored with cinnamon and other spices). Despite all the edible goodies during the day, they always have some room for a traditional Christmas Dinner. As a main dish, German families usually enjoy a roasted goose, turkey or duck, served with red cabbage and followed by a classic post-goose sweet such a pudding. Could you imagine yourself eating so much on Christmas day? At the beginning I was a bit shocked by this “all day eating” tradition.

In Spain, the 25th of December is the perfect occasion to spend time with the family while enjoying a huge meal consisting of seafood, traditional cold meat such as jamón or chorizo, lamb or hake, fruit andturrón (a confection made of almonds, honey, sugar and egg white and usually shaped into a rectangular tablet). Furthermore, as a country of wine producers, this beverage plays an important role during Christmas celebrations. In Germany, however, people prefer to accompany their meals with Sekt (sparkling wine) or champagne.

To celebrate the last dinner of the year, Germans enjoy preparing authentic homemade traditional recipes such as Sauerkraut, marinated herrings, potato salad, raclette and fondue. Silvester is traditionally full of activities such as playing games like “Bleigießen”, eating Berliner doughnuts, attending to mass, watching the popular English-language sketch “Dinner for one” or drinking Feuerzangenbowle. Midnight is marked by fireworks, toasts with champagne and best wishes and followed by a traditional midnight soup. In contrast to Spain, Silvester is mostly celebrated with friends either attending to public parties or preparing nice homemade meals.

Christmas presents

As in many other countries, Christmas presents in Germany are shared during the night of the 24th of December, so that people can open them either after dinner or the morning after. In many Catholic families they are told that the Christ Child gave the presents, however, in protestant families are told that Father Christmas or Santa Claus brought them.

Although Santa Claus is becoming really popular in Spain, we still like to keep our Christmas traditions. For us, the night of the 5th of January is a magical one, because the Three Wise Men come from a faraway country to make our wishes come true. When the night falls and everybody sleeps, Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar visit every single Spanish dwelling delivering all the desired presents.

Despite the different traditions, both, Germans and Spaniards, we like to organize family gatherings and to spend time with our loved ones, who may are far from us the rest of the year. Ok, it is true that this season is partly about giving and receiving gifts as well as cooking and eating tasty homemade meals. However, the real meaning of Christmas is similar in both cultures. This season is a good opportunity to look back and be grateful for all the things in life that we are fortunate to have.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in 2018!

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.

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!

5 tips to celebrate carnival

carnival cologne germany

Do you remember I have already talked to you about the fifth season of the year? Yes, carnival is back!! Here I give you a couple of tips so you do not miss anything during the next five days.

When to start the celebration

The Thursday of carnival, also known as Weiberfastnacht, at 11.11h. The first thing you should make at exactly 11.11 is the following:

  • Grab a beer (Kölsch, Alt, etc…)
  • Choose the Berliner you wanna eat
  • Say out loud: Alaaf!! Helau!! (remember the word changes depending on which city you are living in)

Question: Why carnival starts at 11.11h?            

There are many theories about this topic. One of the most famous is related to christian symbology. According to it the number 11 is an incomplete and a sinful number. So from that moment (11.11h) until Ash Wednesday people should celebrate and party, because after Ash Wednesday day it starts Lent time. The period of Lent is the time of purification, illumination and fasting that precedes Eastern.

What to wear 

Some germans have a different costume for each day. Other people they just have a different costume for each year. No matter how, the only important thing is to be dressed up.
carnival cologne germany
Question: What should I wear during the Weiberfastnacht to go to the office?

The official day of women people should go dressed up to the office!! (in most of the companies). But a good costume is not enough. Men must wear a tie so that women can cut it. I am sure that many of you are wondering; why should women cut ties? Easy. The thursday of carnival is traditionally the women´s day. Women are the leaders of the city during that day. According to a research made by the NRW history institute the tie is a status symbol of masculine power and to cut it represents the equality between both genders. Personal tip: Wear an old one during Weiberfastnacht day 😉

Eating and drinking

I think this part of the celebration is also clear in your minds: Beer and sausages.

Lyrics

I would recommend you to google so you can check what to sign, how, when and where. Here I show you a list of music groups who sing popular carnival songs so you can start checking them ;):

Höhner: http://www.karnevalslieder.de/Hoehner/Hoehner.php

Bläck Föös: http://www.karnevalslieder.de/BlackFoeoess/BlaeckFoeoess.php

Kolibris: http://www.karnevalslieder.de/Kolibris/Kolibris.php

Willy Millowitsch: http://www.karnevalslieder.de/Karnevalskuenstler/WillyMillowitsch.php

Monday

Rosenmontag parade took place for the first time in 1823. Since then, a carnival committee decides  every year which would be the carnival theme, according to that decision each troupe must build up its float and costumes for the whole carnival time.

carnival cologne germany

Question: When and where to enjoy the parade?

I recommend you to go to Köln, because its parade is the most famous in Germany, although each city has its own parade. Here I show you a few links where to find more information about schedules and parades. Do not forget to bring a huge bag to collect lot of candies!!

http://www.koelnerkarneval.de/

http://www.karneval-in-duesseldorf.de/

http://www.karneval-in-bonn.de/start/index.html

http://www.oche-alaaf.com/

 

Alaaf!!! Helau!!!

Brunch in Düsseldorf

Although I thought everybody knew what a Brunch is, it seems I was wrong. So here I show you which I think are the best places to have brunch in Düsseldorf for you to try them ;).

Pempelfort 

Löffelbar

Tußmannstraße 3, 40477 Düsseldorf

Huge variety of brunch!! Among its offer you can choose a classic breakfast with nutella and croissant or a breakfast for two, with eggs, sausages, cold meat… Attention carnivorous!! The burgers are really good here!!! And… Do not forget to try the homemade french fries… really really tasty!!

Schnell Veg

image

Bagelstraße 130, 40479 Düsseldorf

The place to be for vegans and vegetarians. This cozy restaurant is located in Pempelfort and they serve healthy and tasty food. It is a place made for vegetarians but thought for vegans, since they have a assorted offer for them. Its menu is really interesting. Have you ever tried pasta made by vegetable dough? And corn french fries? Both are really delicious! I recommend you to try them!

Breaking News!! After three years delighting us with its tasyt food, Schnell Veg closed its doors one month ago… Althought we are really sad about it we are, at the same time, excited to discover the new restaurant that is coming soon. Stay tuned!! 

Ab der Fisch

Moltkestraße 124, 40479 Düsseldorf

I just discovered this place thanks to a friend of mine. Located between Löffelbar and Schnell Veg, this restaurant can surprise you. At the very beginning you might think you are entering to a traditional german restaurant where to eat german food, but… it is not so!! Its brunch menu is small and international. You can order, for example, an italian brunch or an american one. Its original and tasty teas are the best accompaniment for its meals.

 

Flingern 

 

Bethoveen

Ackerstraße 106, 40233 Düsseldorf

It is always a good idea to have a brunch at Bethoveen, one of the oldest places in the city. Did you know that some years ago in this place were only men allowed to enter? Thanks God now women can also go inside, because the brunch menu is really interesting. I recommend you to go there in summer time, when the german sun join us, to enjoy the meal in its outdoor terrace.

Nooij 

Hoffeldstraße 37, 40235 Düsseldorf

Do you remember it?? Some time ago I talked to you about Nooij, a cute restaurant located close to a small park in Flingern. There is an assorted international brunch menu. They also have salats and good cheese. If you do not drink cow milk, then it is your place! They have a wide variety of milk.

Breaking News!! Noiij restaurant closed some months ago and they opened a neew restaurant instead. I didn´t try its food for the moment, but I will do it soon. I will keep you posted! 

Altstadt

Bazzar

Heinrich-Heine-Allee 53, 40213 Düsseldorf

They have not only good brunch offer but well known coffes and teas. Although the place is not that big here you can find tasty classic brunchs: nutella, cold meat, croissant und cheese are the base of its menu. Do not miss them!!

Bistro Zicke

Bäckerstraße 5a, 40213 Düsseldorf

One of the best brunch places in the Altstadt. It is always full due to its assorted menu and its cute decoration. If you wanna eat enough food (not too much not too less) and spend a nice time while having your meal, I recommend you to have a weekend brunch in this place.

 

Next time will be dessert time!! ;);)

 

* If you want to discover new places in Düsseldorf to have a great brunch just click here and check my new post!