Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mai Woche

Good morning!

How are you doing this Sunday morning? I just woke up and don't feel so well :(
I was at a street party last night where I ate too much plus it was windy and my stomach hurts a little. I am happy to sleep in a little though since I've had people coming in very early to work on my pipes all week.

So the party we've had in my city is called Mai Woche and it's basically the same things like the famous Christmas markets minus the Glühwine and with slightly better weather (even though we are like in mid spring it's usually cold and rainy). There are a lot of music stages and food everywhere which is very fun and every city has something similar to that here in Germany. Germans love street parties and that is also in my opinion one of the most fun things here! Also, it's one of the times you can see Germans relax/smile and they even dance! So basically it's great! It will be going on all week and hopefully I'll come back this week and take some photos for you guys!

Have a wonderful Sunday today and enjoy Mother's Day if you're in Germany or somewhere else where they celebrate it today! A huge kiss for my own mom!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The supermarket

Hello :)

How is the week treating you guys? It's almost Friday!
This week I had to be home almost all week because there are people fixing water pipes in our building, which means I had broken tiles in my bathroom all week and a dusty home :(
Besides that, everything is alright I kinda had a week "off" because of that so I was able to get some things done!

Today I'll try to explain to you "Ausländer" what it means to go to the supermarket in Germany, because yes, it is an experience!

First of all there are two types of supermarkets you can go to: the regular ones or the discount supermarkets (like Aldi and Lidl). Of course the second one is a cheaper option but what shocked me is that even though it's cheaper the products are still high quality. Fresh fruits and vegetables and very good selections of cheese and chocolate...What I would say is different is the variation of products not only there are more products available in the regular supermarket but also more refined ones and a more extended line of bio products (what they call the organic products here).

After you're at your supermarket of choice, you can use one of the best things in Germany, the "pfand machine". It's a big machine where you will bring your empty glass or plastic bottles to and then get money back for them (usually aroung 8 cents for a glass beer bottle and 15-25 cents for the plastic ones). After you throw your bottles there, you get a little receipt which you can exchange for food or cash at the cashier. Not all bottles can be returned, usually you have to look for the recycling sign on them. The glass bottles and containers you can't return have to be taken to a big communal glass trash which you will find on many streets (you just have to find the nearest to your house). Usually there will be 3 big containers that are brown white or green and you throw your bottles in each of them according to the color.

To get a stroller at the supermarket you will need to put a coin in it first (50 cents to 2 euro coins are accepted) and that insures they will be returned to their place. Once in the supermarket people are objective and don't make any small talk! But what shocked me the most is: they are fisty about their place in the cashier line and if you and someone else are coming to a place in line at the same time they will run for it and not offer you the place so run faster!

Once your turn comes, get ready, the German cashiers are like trained robots and work as fast as you can think so my boyfriend taught me the German technique: put the heavy things first in line because you will bag them first (YES, YOU, no one will do it for you here!) and make sure you bring your own shopping bag, otherwise you will have to pay for them (usually 10 cents for each plastic bag). Right after she scans your item throw it rapidly in the bag like a true German and when she tells you the amount be ready to pay right away and get out of there otherwise be ready for death stares from the other people in line (I know it sounds extreme but it's true!).

So if you have had an experience at the German supermarket or have more to add to this post, let us know in your comments below!

See you guys next time! xoxoxo

Sunday, May 4, 2014

German Sundays

Good morning!

I hope your Sunday has been good so far! I woke up and had breakfast and then I visited a German Lutheran church (interesting experience for those who like history and theology!) Now I am just chilling at home thinking of how to spend the rest of my Sunday....

A big struggle for me in the beginning and I believe for many that come to Germany, is the fact that absolutely everything except for some restaurants is closed in Germany on Sundays! So basically you have to plan ahead for your food shopping and if you get sick, otherwise you'll end up buying overpriced milk at a gas station...

If you have an emergency and desperately need medication, there will be ONE drugstore with an emergency staff there. The drugstores take turns every Sunday so you have to first find out which one is "open" and then you need to call them or ring the bell there because the doors are closed, and they are only there for emergencies (so unless you really need it don't bother them!). Otherwise, you'll need to go to a hospital.

The shops are ALL closed and there is no way to buy anything not even food in the supermarket! The reason for that is that Sunday is a holy day and people are supposed to relax and enjoy the quietness. Many apartments have rules such as "not washing clothes on Sunday" because it would be loud and bother the neighbors. You can also get a fine from the police for being loud on Sundays and it can be as high as 2,000 euros!

So some ways to enjoy your Sunday here are really relaxing and doing nothing, going for a nice walk, eating out and of course there's always the movie theater!

I hope you have a wonderful Sunday in or oustide of Germany!


Saturday, May 3, 2014

How to get a German student visa

Hi guys!

Are you enjoying the weekend? I hope so! Today there was a night flea market in my city and I love those! The streets are flooded with people and many interesting things to see even though I usually don't buy things there...

So the post today is about one of the most frequent questions I get asked by friends and other students: How do I get my German student visa?

I guess the answer varies from country to country and some countries require more documents than others but I will explain what I needed which I think are the basic documents for all students outside the E.U. (as I said, some countries will need more documents than that). 
So first of all you have to find out if you can get in Germany and then proceed to do the student visa here or if you need to do it in your country before you come to Germany. 

In my case (coming from Brazil) it was possible to get in as a tourist and then do the student visa here (within 3 months) but I know the students from places such as Mexico and most eastern european countries outside the E.U. are not allowed to come in without having the visa in their home countries.

So, if you are in Germany already you have to go to a place called "Ausländerbehörde" (big name I know, but get used to those) and there they will advise you specifically on all the things you need. But no matter where you're from you'll need to have these documents:

-A proof of health insurance in Germany for the time of your studies, which means an insurance contract (a cheap one for students is DAK)
-Your address proof (as soon as you have a place to live you need to register in the city "Standesamt" and you will get a paper which will be your address proof
-A school contract (college, school, language course) saying you are signed up and accepted there to start studying
- Enough funds to support yourself for the year (they calculate about 600 euros per month for a student) or a sponsor letter from someone with a stable income saying they are responsable for you and for providing you with money when you need it.

So there is everything I needed as a student coming from Brazil and as I said, other countries may require more, but you can get informed online or on the Ausländerbehörde website.
Hope this was helpful! Have a great Sunday and until next post!!!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Some more humor....

My friend posted this blog article on FB and I thought it was soooo funny (and somewhat very truthful!)
It's a guide for us "Ausländer" to become Germans in a few steps!

Hope you enjoy and tschüüüüüüüüüüuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuusssssssss!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Traveling Throughout Germany

Hi guys!

As Germans wait anxiously for summer, many tourists plan their summer trips in and through Germany and here are some tips for those who are planning a visit:

There are many good options to travel around such as trains, bus, planes and taking rides.
If you choose to travel by train, there are a few options: you can travel with the faster train (ICE) which is more expensive but much faster than the normal train and has less stops. If you're not worried about the long trip and want to save some money, the regular train is also a great option.

The bus is also a nice idea and usually also cheaper than the ICE trains. The cheapest option of all is probably hitchhiking with people already driving where you're planning to go. You can find them in many websites and apps here in Germany. Apps such as "bla bla car" or "mitfahrgelegenheit" (the second one charges a percentage of the people giving rides) are a great and safe option. You can read reviews and look for many aspects such as which car they drive, the fastest speed they drive, if they smoke, etc….

If you're looking for a flight great and cheap options are German Wings and Ryan air. Even though they have strict luggage policy and offer no trip luxuries the prices are many times very attractive (sometimes as cheap as 10 euros!).

I hope you enjoy the tips and have a great summer trip!
If you guys have any other tips you can leave them in the comments below! Looking forward to hear from you!!


Friday, April 4, 2014

Some German Facts

Some curious German facts for you today:

-In Germany people go to sauna butt naked!!!!! 
And they don't care if it's a mixed sauna or a separated sauna they will go naked either way. Some cover up with a towel but basically most of them don't care if you see their intimate parts(!!!!).

-Beer is cheaper than water in most bars and restaurants

-Germans ALWAYS follow the rules
It's like they're meant for rules and it's not a bad thing just a very curious thing about Germans...there's no way around anything you either follow the rules or follow the rules.

-You have to pay to use the gas station toilets but you also get credit from it if you want to buy something at the convenience store.
For example: It costs 75cents to use the restroom and then you ger 50 cent credit (not that you can buy much with it but still...)

-Recycling is a reality
You have to recycle here. And everyone does it too! They separate the trash into: paper, plastic, compost and some places metal. There are also big containers to throw your glass bottles and jars in almost every street here. If you don't separate your trash correctly you can get a big fine from the government! 

-You have to hurry up at the supermarket line!!!
The cashiers are mega fast and efficient and people behind you will be upset while you might receive dirty looks if you don't pack right away so basically throw everything into the cart and run out of people's way! 

So now you guys know a little bit more about Germany :)
See you next time!


Some German Humor....

Meanwhile in Germany....someone is drinking beer and/or wearing lederhosen...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Apartment Hunting


So, as promised, here are some tips on apt hunting for those who are about to arrive or have just arrived:

As I said, the easiest way is speaking German! Unfortunately, many foreigners have a bad reputation in Germany and not all pay rent on time (or at all!), which results in a lot of stress for the apt owner since there are laws that prohibit them to take someone who doesn't pay rent out of the apt.

So renting an apartment is one of the hardest tasks here. If you are coming to study, I would suggest a WG (student apt) because they are cheaper and much easier to rent then a normal apt since you will not have the whole contract under your name. You can find WG offers in most uni announcement boards on and offline. They are usually called "Schwarzes Brett" and are not hard to find.

If you decide you do want to rent your own apt. you probably either need a working German spouse or a good job contract from a known, serious company. If you are looking for an apt and you are not a student nor working at the moment, and intends to live just on savings for the first few months, it is extremely hard to sign a contract under your name, I would say chances are minimal.

I have a friend from India who recently lost his wife and wanted to move to a smaller apt. Even though he has a job contract and his boss was willing to write him a letter stating things like his paycheck amount and etc., he still hasn't been able to find a new place and he has been searching for the past 9 months! Usually, if you're interested in a place, you are probably one of many! So specially in bigger cities, you need to fill out an application with information about yourself and then the apt owner decides who would be the "safest" fill for the apt.

So I guess that's it, however, don't be discouraged! If you're new here have a German friend help you in the hunting, they will also provide you with great insight!

See you next time and I'd love to read your comments!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

First Post!!!!

Hi guys!

So through this blog, I'd like to connect and help people who live in Germany or would like to move/visit here for some reason! I'll post tips, experiences, practical day-to-day things, adaptation struggles and what to expect for those who are planning to come. This is basically a sharing of my experiences as student, professional and most of all a person trying to adapt to a culture that's completely different from mine!

So here's some background information about me:

I am originally from Brazil but have lived and studied in America for 6 years previously to moving here. I moved in here as soon as I finished my Bachelors degree in International Relations and came speaking 0 German (which I definetely don't recommend!!!!). Had I known I would move in here, I would have started learning the language at least 6 months before!

So I guess here is my first tip for those who would like to come: LEARN GERMAN FIRST! The language is exremely hard and for most people it takes years to learn! I've been here for a little longer than 2 years and can still assure that my German is nowhere near perfect! I had the expectation that learning German would be like learning English: easy and fast, and must say I was really wrong! I also thought that using English everywhere would be no problem - many Germans do speak English but you will be at another level and much more respected when you are able to speak German. Plus, only speaking English shrinks your job opportunities very very much!

I've studied German at a language course (VHS- probably the most popular in all Germany) for about 2 years from Monday through Friday and finished at level B2. I can communicate but still make  grammatic mistakes and lack on formal vocabulary.

Next time I post I'll share some tips about renting apts here! Hope to have your feedback!

Bis dann!