After almost two years in Germany, I'm starting to get the hang of things.
Hi, I'm Jasmine, a brave Canadian who ventured to the wonderful country of Germany in search of thrill, adventure and unforgettable experiences.
Perhaps you're somewhat like me, but hopefully a bit more prepared for all the chaos and excitement that you're about to allow to flood your life. More than likely you'll be in need of a few tips to help ease the transition (though you won't want things to go too smoothly because that will just drain the fun out of it).
Here are a few things I learned, that may be common to the typically German, but is by no means common Canadian knowledge.
1. Take passport pictures; not one, not two, but many passport pictures, 10 to be exact.
It may sound silly. After all, how many passport sized pictures can they fit into your neat Canadian passport and still allow enough space for your German stamps and proof that you found your way around the rest of Europe.
So why do you need so many pictures?
- Do you need a passport? If yes, then you'll need two pictures.
- Your trip to the German consulate: Two pictures please.
- Once in Germany: Three pictures for your permanent Visa please.
- Are you a student? Hand over another picture for your ID.
- Do you need a drivers license? Another picture please.
Slowly but surely it adds up and in no time you'll be heading to the next photo booth to snap and print more pictures of yourself. But because you don't want to be running around like a chicken without a head while in Germany, you would have gotten it all done in Canada, and be able to hand over your pictures on command.
2. Pack your documents like your packing your first aid kit.
Know what you'll need to take with you to your appointment at the German consulate in Canada. Don't show up, only to be turned back because you forget something, like passport sized pictures!
This link may be your new best friend:
3. Spread the word
Tell every person you know that you are moving to Germany -- co-workers, friends, family, neighbors. You never know where it will lead. I have met many friends-of-friends here because I let so many people know I was moving here (and it's how I found a completely furnished apartment -- the rarest of rare things -- in Mannheim, a mile from where I worked, before I even arrived here).
4. Find a house to call a home
Get an overview of real estate prices. immoscout24.de is by far the most popular real estate classifieds page. Unfortunately, they do not have an English language interface. But web browsers let you translate pages. Take advantage of that functionality.
5. Sort out shipping furniture from home before it's too late.
Arrange shipping your furniture.
Shipping furniture can cause a lot of headaches. You'll want to make sure that you make arrangements before you leave Canada. If not, be prepared to sleep on the... air mattress for a couple of weeks, or maybe even months.
6. Rental furniture will save your day, month and year.
If in the area consider renting furniture. Here are some rental options, you may want to consider:
7. Know which phone providers to avoid.
Research the best phone providers.
Keep in mind that phone operators are not the most flexible companies in Germany. In some instances, it takes weeks before you get all set up. You'll want to know which companies to smile at and which ones to elegantly turn away from. Your family and friends will be waiting to hear from you, and you won't want to have them worrying because your chosen phone provider decided to delay giving you service for way too long.
8. When in Germany, bank like the Germans.
Do your research and settle on a German bank. With horrendous things like exchange rates, if you're working in Germany, you may want to keep a great portion of your money in Euros. In addition, it's just a great idea to be affiliated with a German bank, as it does make things like paying rent and hopping out to the grocery store a lot easier, plus no one likes those hefty fees charged by foreign ATMs.
9. Enroll in a German language school
Yes, German may seem like the most impossible language to learn, but you should at least try. Soon enough you'll realize that the guy in the grocery store wasn't yelling at you for looking confused, he was just asking if he could help.
10. Know what your company will do for you and what you'll have to do for yourself.
Ask your company if they provide relocation services or contact a relocation company. They may be able to help you with getting everything organized. If not, hire a relocation company yourself and ease some of the burden. Actually, they'll take pretty much all the burden away from you and make your transition more stress free than you could have ever imagined.