February 27, 2014

The Expat Blogger's Journey through Expatriation: thank you InterNations

Source: InterNations.org

February 12, 2014

Things I miss about Munich (and Germany in general) when abroad


If four years ago someone had told that today I will be writing about missing Munich when abroad... I would have laughed in his/her face very hard.

Germany and the Germans have very bad press worldwide. And this is why it's so difficult to believe/understand how you can miss Germany when you are somewhere else ... somewhere else that has better press.

Well my friends, the press is not always right. 

First of all, let me tell you that I used to believe the bad press. I have always thought that people moved to Germany because the job market was good, but the moment they could scape the cold and the grey Germany, they didn't hesitate.

And then... in June 2011... I moved to Munich.

I knew Berlin, I knew Frankfurt and I knew Hamburg... but Munich was something new, something fresh and it just clicked. Then the German lifestyle started growing on me and three years later when I am not in Munich, I miss it, the city, the people and the German lifestyle. 

Who could have thought that a Spaniard would be missing anything German when abroad? Well my friends, I am and I am not the only one. 

So let's dedicate today to talk about the things I miss about Munich (and Germany in general) when I am abroad. I relocated to San Francisco in November 2013 after three years in Munich, so I know what I'm talking about...


1/ HOW LOUD IS TOO LOUD?
Americans are loud, very loud... at least in comparison with Germans. 

While I'm writing this, I can hear two of my US friends (loudly) counter-attacking me: "yes... like Spaniards are not loud at all..."

Yes, we are and I am very sure that we (the Spaniards) operate in the same decibel level as the Americans, but this level is much louder than any level that the Germans are used to. And for some reason, quiet is better than loud. 

I miss the quiet Germans. 

2/ THE RED TAPE IS PAINFUL
The German public servants won't never ever smile at you, but they will meet you at 2pm, if your appointment is at 2pm and they will get your paperwork done by 2.15pm.

American public servants will smile at you and they will be friendly. However, they will meet you when they can, even if you have an appointment. In my experience if your appointment is at 2pm, allow a 35 minutes window to be served. 
I miss the punctuality and efficiency of the German authorities.

3/ BOMBARDMENT OF ADVERTISING
When I moved to the US, something happened... I started to get bombarded:
  • My mailbox got spammed;
  • I received calls from telemarketers twice a week and
  • I got email spam every two days until ...
I managed to unsubscribe my email and mobile number and to block most of the commercials/advertising companies that were spamming me. It's impressive how fast marketing companies get your number and email in the US. This is unthinkable in Germany. 

I miss the very limited exposure to spam and unwanted advertisement that I had in Munich.

4/ GERMAN FOOD
Last week my German husband was in the Munich airport waiting for his flight to San Francisco and he told me: "I have to leave you now, they've just brought me my Leberkäse"... 

I laughed because he almost never eats Leberkäse nor any other traditional German dish. But after two months in the US, he felt the urge to order Leberkäse and moreover to capture the moment and share it with friends.

This happened to him and what about me? I found a few online stores that specialize in German food, I located the German restaurants in the area and I joined the Facebook groups of Germans in the Bay. 

I miss the Viktualienmarkt and the Wirtshaus in der Au.

5/ HOME SWEET HOME

We all see movies and tv shows from the US. And in all these movies and shows the main characters live in beautiful apartments or in townhouses with a green yard and they made it seem like this is the standard in the US real state market.


And I wish this was true were, but it's not. Apartment/House hunting in San Francisco and in Silicon Valley is far more challenging than anything you can think of. Far more than in Munich, yes, you heard me, more challenging than in Munich!

Let me tell you why:


THE RENT: whatever you pay in Munich or in any other European city, no matter how expensive the city is, you will pay twice as much here for the equivalent number of bedrooms. 



Are tech hubs driving up the price of real state?

MOST RENTAL PROPERTIES are in "Scheisse"condition. 
San Francisco and Silicon Valley have such a dynamic job market that most rental properties are in very bad shape: new tenants come and go every 6-12 months but the landlords do not get fresh paintings/carpet/renovations every time. And I wonder, how is it feasible that to lease anything in this area, you pay a price like you were renting a castle in the Alps but they won't even paint the walls?

THE HOUSE ITSELF: Houses in the US are made of wood. This is fact, deal with it. What does it mean that my house is made of wood? 
  • it requires me to have and regularly test my smoke detectors; 
  • it allows my husband to drill a screw in the wall to hang a painting with his bare hands;
  • it forbids me to have my charcoal barbecue grill in my patio because it's too dangerous;
  • it makes me afraid of using candles and the fireplace when I want to plan a Saturday dinner and
  • it allows me to hear the American squirrels running over my roof..
I miss my Altbau in Munich...

6.- DRIVING THE GERMAN WAY
In California (as a tourist) you can use your EU driver license to rent a car and drive around. But if you move and become a resident, then the State of California requires you to pass a written and a behind-the-wheel test.

Driving in California is pretty much the same as in Munich, aside from the fact that in California you are more likely to drive an automatic car than a manual one. 

Then there are a few differences when it comes to right and left turns and speed limits. Nothing that an experienced Münchner driver could not handle. But one thing is new: THE SIZE OF THE CARS.

My two worse nighmares when driving a car in Munich are always: to get stuck in traffic in Frauenstrasse and to desperate when looking for a parking spot im Altstadt.

But in Silicon Valley I learnt that there is something worse than my nightmares: to drive behind an American SUVs. If you get one SUV before you, then game is over... you won't see anything anymore and your only hope is... to change lanes.

I miss the rich people in Munich driving Porches and Lamborghinis :-) 

My Adventures in Munich blog will continue even if I'm not in Munich, thanks to the Blog's fans and collaborators.

If you like the blog, are an expat or an international student and would like to collaborate, please drop us a line at myadventuresinmunich@gmail.com