Kurzarbeit in Germany: What is it and how does it work

These days the world is facing an unprecedent challenge which is leading to a variety of responses, depending on the country.

Italians and Spaniards, among others, are confined at home working remotely, whenever it is possible, and waiting for the day they can go out, have a long walk and breathe fresh air. Germans, however, are still allowed to go out and enjoy nature, respecting social distancing.

If you are an expat living in Germany, I am quite convinced that this challenging situation had forced you to learn new vocabulary such as Sicherheitsabstand, Ausgangssperre and, in the worst cases, Kurzarbeit.

Yes, due to the current situation many of you have asked me about this last word – Kurzarbeit via social media.

Therefore, I am going to answer all your questions by explaining what is Kurzarbeit, how does it work and what you can do during this time.

What is Kurzarbeit?

The meaning of Kurzarbeit is short-time working, which is a special situation in which employees agree to or are forced to accept a reduction in working time and pay.

Most of the time, this situation appears when employers decide to avoid laying off any of their employees by instead reducing working hours and payment, being the government in charge of making up some of the employee’s lost income.

Are working hours reduced equally for all employees?

Working hours do not need to be reduced by the same percentage for all employees. In fact, Kurzarbeit does not need to be introduced for the entire company. It can be limited to individual departments within it.

The most important thing here is that, for all affected employees, the cut in working hours and pay is effectively agreed on the basis of collective agreements or firm-level agreements.

If your company does not have a work council (Betriebsrat), all employees affected have to agree the short-time work. Otherwise, the Betriebsrat needs to agree for short-time work to be introduced.

Is short-time work also possible for trainees and students?

Yes, trainees and students doing any internship in a company are counted as employees who work for the company when the short-time work applies. This includes also employees who are not in jobs subject to social insurance contributors (ex. Mini-jobs).

What happen with Resturlaub? Do employees need to take any holiday leave carried over from the previous year?

If employees still have Resturlaub, they are in principle required to take this holiday leave to avoid loss of payment of Kurzarbeitergeld, in case it is needed. This does not apply if the employees have other plans for the year when the Kurzarbeit is being planned.

What is Kurzarbeitergeld?

In Germany the Agentur für Arbeit (Employment Agency) pays the short-time allowance (Kurzarbeitergeld) for a loss of earnings caused by a temporary cut in working hours. This reduces costs faced by employers and enables them to continue to employ their employees.

The period for which the short-time allowance can be received is limited to 12 months.

How do I apply for Kurzarbeitergeld?

It is the employer who must apply to the Agentür für Arbeit for the short-time allowance.

Employers must declare the reduction of hours before the application is submitted. Then, the authority have to check whether the social and labor law requirements are met.

Once this process is done, employees will be entitled to receive the Kurzarbeitergeld.

Are all employees entitled to receive Kurzarbeitergeld?

All employees who have a loss of earnings of more than 10 per cent of their pay due to the short-time work and who remain in employment subject to social insurance contributions are entitled to receive Kurzarbeitergeld.

But they are not the only ones. The following employees are also included:

  • Temporary employees
  • Employees who are on holidays
  • Students subject to social insurance contributions
  • Sick employees unable to work and not already entitled to sick leave
  • Trainees with wages of up to €325

Who is not entitled to receive Kurzarbeitergeld?

Following employee groups are not entitled to receive short-time allowance and can’t be included in the calculation of loss of working hours:

  • Employees receiving Krankengeld (sick pay) before the introduction of the short-time work
  • Employees receiving monetary support from Agentur für Arbeit (Employment Agency)
  • Students employed without being subject to social security contributions
  • Employees in Elternzeit (Parental leave) receiving Elterngeld
  • Employees on Bildungsurlaub (Educational leave)

Can a continuing education or training program be continued during Kurzarbeit?

A continuing education or training program must be adapted, in terms of time, to the short-time work.

This situation will end when the employee returns to his/her normal working hours.

Are employees on Kurzarbeit allowed to have other job?

Sure it is allowed to have a side job. However, income coming from a side job will be included in the calculation and will reduce the amount of Kurzarbeitergeld.

 

Your turn

Have you ever experienced Kurzarbeit in Germany? Is there any other information you think I should include in this post?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your experiences!

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

Finding a Doctor in Germany

Living in Germany can lead to daily challenges such going to the hairdresser, finding the nearest supermarket or choosing the right doctor. Back home, this decision is easier since you already know the country and how things are done there, mostly when it comes to medical issues.

However, as an expat finding the right doctor can be tough, not only because of the language difference, but also because of the lack of knowledge about the healthcare system and how does it work.

As I already mentioned in my post about the German Health Care System, this country counts with universal coverage for all the citizens. Therefore, every German resident has at least a public health insurance. Nevertheless, those who’d rather pay to have more coverages are enrolled in a private insurance.

For you as an expat, it is important to know that once you do the Anmeldung (registration as a resident in Germany) you will need to decide whether you enjoy the benefits of the public healthcare system , or whether you privately pay for a private health insurance.

No matter which decision you take, finding a doctor and calling the emergency number must be done in the same way.

But, how can I find the right doctor? Where should I call if I get badly sick at night?

In this post I will answer these questions and more. Are you ready?

Finding the right doctor

Choosing the right doctor can be intimidating because of the language difference. However, many doctors talk in English, so you do not need to be worried.

If your friends or colleagues cannot give you a good recommendation (yes, first option is always to ask people you already know, the best references usually come by word of mouth), then the best way to find a good doctor is to use the website Jameda, where you can find all the different doctors in your area depending on your illness.

Do not forget that in most of the cases you will need to visit first the Allgemeinarzt or Hausartz (general practitioner). This doctor will then decide whether he/she can take care of you, or whether you need to visit a specialist.

My personal recommendation is that you find a practitioner close to your house or your work place, in this way when you are really sick, you don’t need to cross the city to visit him.

Finally, take into account that to visit some doctors such as dentists, gynecologists and ophthalmologists you can make an appointment directly with them without talking first to the general practitioner.

Which are the office hours?

Office hours may differ depending on the doctor. However, most of the times, doctors are open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm and two days per week from 14:00 pm to 18:00 pm.

If you have an emergency (high temperature, influenza symptoms…) you can visit the doctor without making any appointment. Therefore, check the Akutsprechstunden of your general practitioner.

Akutsprechstunden are short consultations intended for acute health complains which are conducted in the doctor’s office during concrete office hours. Usually, Akutsprechstunden take place either early in the morning or in the late afternoon.

How to make an appointment

When making an appointment either per telephone or online.

If you call the doctor’s office, the first person you will speak to is the doctor’s assistant, who will give you an appointment without asking further questions about why you want to see the doctor. Usually, you can shortly explain the reason of your visit, and she will note it down for the doctor.

When making an online appointment, you can do it directly from the doctor’s website or via Doctolib. This page helps you finding doctors near you and making a direct appointment with them based on their availability.

Emergency number

When you have an urgent medical situation at night or during the weekend and doctor offices are closed, where can you go?

In Germany it exists a very important telephone number for people feeling sick and not able to leave their places: 116117. Use this number in case of an emergency that does not require an ambulance rushing to your house.

When calling this number you will first talk to a telephone assistant which will ask you some questions about your symptoms, your address and your social security number (Krankenkassenkarte). This person will then decide whether you need a doctor or an ambulance. In the first case, the nearest doctor will receive an emergency call and he/she will come to your house in less than 10 minutes. In case of an ambulance, the telephone assistant will contact them for you, so that you do not need to take care about anything during this stressful situation.

However, if your situation is critical and you are able to move, go to the nearest hospital with your Krankenkassenkarte and do not care about the costs. In Germany, health insurances take care of them.

Your turn

Have you ever been to the doctor in Germany? Is there any other information you think I should include in this post?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your experiences!

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

The origin and history of Carnival in Germany

Once again we reach this time of the year so important for the NRW region, especially for the cities of Düsseldorf and Cologne.

Carnival has been celebrated since the Middle Ages in Germany, however, few people talks about the historical roots of this (great) tradition.

Ancient times

This pagan tradition comes from the ancient Greek and Roman times. During those times, people along the Rhine celebrated a festival in honor of Dionysus, God of wine and festivity, and Saturn God of seed and sowing. The festival consisted of a feast with wine and dance, during which people had freedom to criticize and satirize authorities without any repercussion.

Christian times

When this area got Christianized, the above mentioned festival was included in the church calendar. However, things changed a bit and the feast started taking place six weeks before Easter, just before the fasting or Lent period began.

Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Eastern in the Christian calendar. This is a quiet, reflective time when Christians remember the sacrifice and suffering of Jesus in his last days. Whereas Easter celebrates his resurrection and it is a festivity time for Christians.

Therefore, Carnival was a time for rowdy behavior, where people could eat and drink in excess as a way to prepare themselves for the fast. And, as surprising as it seems, the Catholic church allowed it.

Therefore, Carnival is nowadays mostly celebrated in the Catholic regions of Germany – along the Rhine.

Prussian times

 It wasn’t until the 19th century, time when the Prussians governed the regions along the Rhine, when carnival was institutionalized.

During Carnival days, people dressed up in the uniform of Prussian soldiers as a satire of them and their rules. The normal order of things was reversed: Party and drunkenness were allowed and soldiers and royals were satirized.

During this festivity a tradition arose. People – craftsmen, farmers, workers… – rose to the position of princes and royals and paraded through the streets delivering food and wine.

Nowadays, we still find this tradition during Carnival time. In the Rhine area it exists different “carnival societies” which have their own regiments, military orders and their own prince. To differentiate one from the others, each of them wear different colors, bands and medals.

Modern times

The carnival season in Germany is known as the “Fifth season of the year” and it officially begins the 11th of November at 11:11 a.m.

Since that moment the “ElferratCouncil of Eleven – together with the different carnival societies start planning the upcoming events.

One of the most popular events, that take place during those days are the “Carnival Sitzung”, private parties – you need to be invited or get a ticket – where people dance, drink and have a great time together with the members of the society which organizes the event.

Relevant events during Carnival

Altweiber

At 11:11 a.m. people stop working and start eating “Berliner” to celebrate the beginning of the most intense Carnival days.

However, Altweiber is women’s day and it is tradition that they gather in the street to have fun and celebrate. This day they are allowed to “attack” men by cutting off their ties.

In the afternoon there are masked balls and parties all around the cities lasting until late night.

Rosenmontag

On Monday the cities along the Rhine celebrate “Rosenmontag”. A parade, organized by the different societies, takes place during that day. Floats depicting caricatures of politicians and famous personalities go through the city with performers tossing out “Kamelle” (sweets) and flowers.

Usually, each float belong to a different carnival society – which work during 7 months to design and build it – and drives dancers, music bands and the “prince guard” all around the city.

Veilchendienstag  

This tradition is mostly celebrated in Cologne area.

It consist in a ceremonial burning of the “Nubbel” – a straw doll – as a symbolical cremation of the misconduct committed during the carnival festivities.

Coming to an end…

Carnival is not a national holiday in Germany, in fact it is mainly celebrated in the region along the Rhine. In cities such as Düsseldorf or Cologne many schools, companies and stores close for the festivities.

If you ever visit NRW region in this period do not forget to greet people as follows:

  • Düsseldorf area: Helau! (instead of “Hallo”)
  • Cologne area: Alaf! (instead of “Hallo”)

Until “Aschermittwoch” and during 5 days, all the cities and towns of this region are full of floats – for children and adults -, music bands, prince guards and costumed people ready to enjoy this festivity. Once the festivities are over – Aschermittwoch or Ash Wednesday – it is time for Lent.

 

Ready to enjoy the festivities? 😉

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

Mini-job in Germany

 

Around 8 million Germans work mini-jobs and, for most of them, they are their only source of income. Although this model – known as “minor employment model” – is heavily criticised, its success from an economic perspective has motivated other European countries to consider it as an option. Mini-jobs are

But, what is a mini-job? What about health insurance? Can a minijobber get fired?

In this post I try to answer all your questions. Let’s go!

What are mini-jobs?

A mini-job is any form of employment with an average monthly payment of no more than €450.

Although mini-jobs are typically related to cleaning jobs, they can also come from agencies, startups, language schools and larger companies looking for part-time help.

Which are the pros?

  • Minijobbers – people who have a mini-job contract – with no alternative source of income pay zero taxes on earnings up to €450
  • The state covers the minijobber’s social and health insurance
  • All minijobbers have the same rights as other employees, meaning that “same rights” apply on holiday and sick pay, as well as on maternity leave
  • Minijobbers can take on another side job

Which are the cons?

  • Minijobbers are usually paid a lower wage than fully employed colleagues
  • To improve emplyoment statistics – you may have heard that the unemployment rate in Germany is around 4% – politicians count minijobbers as regular working people
  • It can be difficult to turn a mini-job into a full-time job.

Who benefits from this kind of job contract?

Both parties.

For minijobbers, a mini-job is always a good opportunity to earn some money – the €450 arrive always to the person’s bank account with tax deducted already –  and get some experience in the German market.

There are my students that work as minijobbers while studying just to get some extra money. At the same time, many expats use this system to try working in a multicultural environment until they feel secure enough to work for a large company.

For employers, a mini-job is a good deal to save some money – they do not have to pay for insurance obligations – and to hire motivated professionals. A good example of this are startups companies. Most of them use this system to hire people until they have enough earnings to pay for higher salaries.

Why are mini-jobs more popular among young people?

Upcoming events – Summer in Düsseldorf

Looking for something to do in Düsseldorf this summer? Whether you’re a local, new in town or just cruising through I have loads of great ideas for you.

Ready to find the upcoming summer events in Düsseldorf?

June

European Fencing Championships

Did you know that fencing was one of the first sports to be played in the Olympic games? In fact, competitive fencing is one of the five activities which have been featured in EVERY modern Olympics.

This month of June Düsseldorf will be the house of all fencing athletes competing for their qualification for the Olympics Games 2020.

To experience fencing on the highest level with all possible emotions just come to Düsseldorf 😉

When: From the 17th to the 22nd of June 2019

Where: Messe Düsseldorf

More information: https://www.madeofsteel2019.de/en/

T3 Triathlon

Once again the awaited T3 Triathlon is coming to Düsseldorf. Around 2,000 participants register each year for this important event, where both professional and non-professional athletes swim, run and cycle around the city. As usual, “Mediahafen” is the starting point of this intense competition.

During two days, the meadow in front of the NRW state parliament will be the meeting point. Around 40,000 people come every year to enjoy the triathlon, support all the athletes and spend some time surrounded by friends and family.

When: The 23rd of June 2019

Where: The meadow in front of the NRW state parliament (registration point).

More information: https://www.t3-duesseldorf.de/

Nacht die Metropole Ruhr

50 venues, 24 cities, 300,000 visitors, one night: Die Nacht die Metropole Ruhr.

Since 2001 the Night of the Industrial Culture or “Nacht die Metropole Ruhr” became a unique cultural event where the industrial part of NRW (Ruhrgebiet) opens its doors, so that visitors can discover its impressive industrial heritage. Therefore, around 500 events, from classical music to stand up comedies and fireworks, take part among the different cities of this area.

Dortmund, Duisburg, Dorsten and Essen, among other cities, welcome around 300,000 visitors who easily switch between locations and cities thanks to a free shuttle bus.

If you are interested in discovering more about the industrial heritage of the NRW, do not miss the chance to take part in this event. For only 17€ you have access to all venues and the already mentioned shuttle bus.

When: The 29th of June 2019

Where: Find here all the cities taking part in this annual event – https://bit.ly/2Kija3Q

More information: https://www.extraschicht.de/home/

July

Düsseldorf Frankreichfest

The event of the year is coming to Düsseldorf.

As every year since 1989, the Frankreichfest is a great opportunity to keep cultivating Franco-German relations.

During three days, visitors can experience delicious French wine, local specialties from places such as Alsace and Bretagne and live french music.

In the year of the 30th anniversary LEJ, one of the most successful music band in France today, will be playing in the courtyard of the town hall. At the same time, another anniversary will be celebrated this year during the Frankreichfest: Citroen celebrates its 100th anniversary!. Ready to enjoy one of the biggest gatherings of Citroen cars in Germany?

When: From the 5th to the 7th of July 2019

Where: Rheinpromenade and Düsseldorf town hall

More information: https://www.duesseldorfer-frankreich-fest.de/

23. Open MIC Comedy-Show Punchline

The 23rd open mic comedy show is a nice opportunity to discover new comedians and to experience a crazy show guaranteed to make you laugh.

When: The 9th of July 2019

Where: Biergarten VierLinden, Düsseldorf

More information: https://bit.ly/2wS1t2a

Lichterfest

The festival of lights or “Lichterfest” is the most popular open-air event in Benrath. Here you will find classical music of the highest standard, breathtaking water features and colourful fireworks.

Every year around 11,000 people experience this unique event. Ready for a unique experience?

When: The 13th of July 2019

Where: Palace of Benrath, Düsseldorf

More information: http://schloss-benrath-lichterfest.de/

Open Source Festival

THE music festival of the summer season in Düsseldorf for the last 15 years.

If you like to discover new artists and new music styles do not miss the chance to experience this unique festival.

When: The 13th of July 2019

Where: Galopprennbahn Düsseldorf

More information: https://www.open-source-festival.de/

Kirmes am Rhein

The Rheinkirmes is the largest temporary amusement park in NRW with around 4,000,000 visitors per year. This event lasts 10 days and it takes place every year between the second and third week of the month of July.

The 19th of July do not forget to enjoy the impressive fireworks performance 😉

When: From the 12th to the 21st of July 2019

Where: Oberkassel, Düsseldorf

More information: http://rheinkirmes.com/

August

Open Air Kino

Are you a cinephile? In this case I suggest you to experience the largest open air movie theater in Germany.

Open Air Kino is the best chance to watch the latest movies during warm summer nights. This yearly event takes place in different spots of Düsseldorf during one month.

Ready to eat pop corns under the stars?

When: From the 25th of July until the 25th of August 2019

Where: Düsseldorf (different spots)

More information: https://alltours-kino.de/

Gourmet Festival

Do you enjoy trying different kinds of food? Are you a foodie? Are you willing to discover new tastes? Then the annual Gourmet Festival is the right place for you!

Here you will find high quality restaurateurs, special producers and wine from all around the world.

When: From the 23rd to the 25th of August 2019

Where: Königsalle, Düsseldorf

More information: https://gourmetfestival-duesseldorf.de/

 

Your turn

Do you know any other interesting summer event in Düsseldorf? Are you planning to attend to any of the above mentioned events?

Since I love to try new things and to discover new places, I would be really happy if you leave a comment below to share any other summer event that you love and you want to recommend to all of us! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English level.

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!

 

 

 

 

Carnival season

carnival cologne germany

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does Carnival take place only in Cologne?

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

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

How can I celebrate Carnival?

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

5 Tips To Celebrate Carnival

Carnival vocabulary you should learn to do not miss anything

Carnival: The fifth season of the year

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!

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