Cultural experiences and funny musings by two twenty-somethings living abroad
(And no, Oktoberfest isn’t one of them!)
Ok, so we know it’s Oktoberfest season, and Jasper has been enjoying his fair share of the beer and Pretzels, but we thought this would be a great time to write about other reasons why we both love Germany and what makes it a great country to live in! Yes, there really is more to Germany than sausages, beer and FKK zones (those naked people you see in parks). Ok, let’s go!
Now, most European countries can claim this title, as they do mostly have a high standard of living, however Germany claims it quite strongly as its own, year after year. Why is this the case? Well, compared to many countries such as France, Scandinavian countries, UK etc., the cost of living is far lower, and your paycheck is usually somewhat higher, which means you can afford a good quality of life. Munich, being “the most expensive” German city, is still far-off from places like London, Paris or Amsterdam so you get to still indulge a little without being consistently broke or overcharged. One downside is that you are taxed quite highly but you’re still generally left with enough to do the things you want to do so we say it’s a win!
Ok, although only in Germany can you find students doing their Bachelor at the ripe old age of 28 and their Masters in their 30’s, the benefits of studying at any age are made possible thanks to Germany’s allowance of scholarships and opportunities for student/part-time work. In fact, it is the only country (as far as we’re aware) that makes it that much easier for students to support themselves whilst studying. It is also famous for its traineeships, which students complete during their studies and so graduate already with employment already on the cards. The rest of us meanwhile cough up even more money towards various degrees, BA, MA, maybe even PhD and then still find it difficult to get ourselves on the job market.
The Germans are a great nation of people to live amongst. They all have a high level of English and really enjoy speaking it (unlike the Dutchies or the Frenchies). In fact, it can be quite hard to practice your German with them, as they all natter away in English back at you! With that said, it absolutely helps if you’re able to speak German, as it makes settling in a load easier! They’re also very willing to help out, Jasper has been very lucky having great German neighbours. Olesya also found the Germans to be very hospitable when she was living chez Jasper’s. Having worked in a Biergarden, she met hundreds of different German customers, all of whom were incredibly friendly, (even when she once accidentally spilled a jar of Sauerkraut on a lady’s dress! Those slippery buggers!)
Germany is just so underrated when it comes to the beautiful nature and sights it has, especially in South Germany. The mountains and lakes are just a stone’s throw away from Munich and it’s a great pleasure to go there, whether in the winter or the summer. Maybe, that’s why the Bavarians are quite a relaxed bunch – if you’re ever having a stressful time, you have a place to chill out not far from you. And as ecotherapy (or ‘nature therapy’) is getting more and more popular these days, it’s incredibly beneficial to have such places of respite nearby.
Of course, everyone has heard of Oktoberfest (which is still currently on! So go grab a Mass if you can). But Germany has plenty other great festivals throughout the year, which are a definite must-see!
Fasching / Karneval
This winter festival is so much fun! You get to dress up as whatever your imagination can come up with, and you get see some absolutely bizarre but amazing costumes and scare away those winter demons! A must-see for everyone! Dates and info can be found here.
For those who not only love the costumes but also the fun percussion and drum music accompanying it- well there’s a festival for that!In a small town called Schwaebisch Gmund. A lot of Germans, Swiss and Austrians come and meet together (with giant heads) and get pretty drunk and play super fun music. What’s not to like? And it’s somewhere that both of us want to go to! Maybe next year?
It goes a little like this,
And who can forget the famous German Christmas markets? Possibly, our favourite thing ever! Brace the cold, and get yourself a Gluhwein (or 3) and have fun at the fair! It’s the cosiest, and most warming time, and the best ones are in Berlin, Munich, Nuremberg, Cologne, Munster, Stuttgart and Heidelberg.
As we write this, we realised that these are all in winter! Even more reason to be in Germany as you have plenty to do during this dark and sometimes depressing season. More festivals throughout the year in Germany can be found here.
And, ok, we’re cheating a little with the top 5 list, but we do have one more reason to add. Expats who live in Germany, really are loving it! According to a recent survey done by Internations where 14.000 participants representing 174 nationalities participated, it was found that Germany ranked 3rd out of 67 countries in terms of Working Abroad, 9th in terms of Quality of Life, and 7th in terms of Health & Well-being. So, top 10 all round! For the full report, you can find out more here. And the Expat community in Germany is growing ever more, so you never have to feel alone! The group can be found here.
For our readers living in Germany now – what’s your favourite thing about living here?
Until next time,
Jasper and Olesya