This article is dedicated to our daredevils who are planning their move to Germany. Maybe even Munich.
Off to a great start. When abroad, many expats take pride in the painful bureaucratic process in their own country, somehow, it’s a manifestation of national pride. Being based in Germany, we admit, there is a certain appeal in the German one as well. Otherwise we wouldn’t be in this business.
Do you remember when one of Asterix and Obelix’s twelve tasks was to do a “simple formality” and obtain a copy of permit 838? Luckily in Germany it’s much simpler. Most times the forms are available in hardcopy in the public institutions and sometimes even downloadable-no worries, there will be no fine here for downloading.
But do you know why you, as viewer, could understand the process in that movie? Because the characters in the movie spoke your language. In Germany, unfortunately even if the clerks understand English, being in public service they must use the official language (amtliche Sprache).
- Learn German
You may read on various forums, groups or hear that many expats claim you can manage just fine by using English.
True. And how do we quantify the universe in which you live by this belief and the parallel one in which you are can express yourself freely, beyond any language barrier, defend your rights, manifest your ideas, feel part of the community?
Learning German maybe difficult, but we are sure it’s not impossible. For some individuals, it is the only foreign language they learned, in order to get a job, a better future or for love.
Resisting learning is not wise especially if you have plans for a job transfer longer than 2-3 years. You have nothing to prove by learning, but you are denying yourself the right to your personal progress if you don’t try.
3. Coin is queen
Germany is undergoing a strong digital transformation in many organisations. Paying for goods or services in shops or salons is still used in a traditional way: cash. Or the unbreakable and ubiquitous coins.
Mark our words: play it safe and always have a €20 or €50 bill in your wallet. It can happen that you go in an ethnic shop or a barber or beauty salon. Many times they either don’t accept debit cards except the German Girocard and for purchases over €10. Or they don’t accept any card at all.The coin is quite heavy here. Literally. You can buy yourself a McDonald’s hamburger with one €2 coin.
We don’t have a validated explanation for this, but we have some hypotheses. From a sociological standpoint, the largest age groups in Germany are between 40-59 (24 M), then followed by 65 and older (17.7 M). These are age groups that use traditional payment methods which passed the test of time. In this case, paper and coin.
Technologically, using cards is still a risk nowadays, in the face of a shop’s data breach and theft of personal data. Let’s also remember that one of the strongest pioneers of the GDPR is Germany. Aditionally, using cards for shopping distracts the user from a good overview of their finances.
Culturally speaking, Germans are actually passionate about savings. The golden password to start a conversation with a German fellow is “Sparen”.
A career for foreign nationals is a complex subject receiving well-deserved attention in our online courses, client interactions with individuals and companies, coaching sessions.
It is self-understood that working in a country where you don’t know the language, don’t know anybody, don’t understand the unwritten social and cultural rules, it may feel like a few steps back. And it is. A perfect chance to look around you, understand the elements ahead of you, grasp the bigger picture of this opportunity to reinvent yourself.
Change of environment brings a new vision of your professional fulfillment, new resources, strategies.
Our practical tips:
- Learn German and you can step at your own will in a new universe of learning.
- Say “yes” to networking opportunities. Don’t get trapped by social anxiety and overanalyze the benefits. Do hiking trips, courses focused on skills, seminars, professional or expat meetups after work, join groups online.
- Attend career fairs to stay in touch with the market needs, practice interviewing skills with other employees, get inspired and focused.
- Join an association representing your culture. They are usually bringing you and fellow countrymen and women together, keep you close to various career development opportunities, cultural integration and very importantly, they help you get in touch with your roots.