I’m an avid reader (read: word nerd); reading is not just a hobby, but a lifestyle choice. So existing in a new country and new city without being able to, er, read all about it was definitely scary. When I first moved to Germany, it was actually…
Moving to Germany with no job offers and even fewer plans was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I quickly learned how different cultures can be; although many people in Germany speak English, everything from humor to manners can be anything but transparent to outside eyes looking in.
An ex-pat’s real life experiences
Extra! Extra! How can I read all about it?
I’m an avid reader (read: word nerd); reading is not just a hobby, but a lifestyle choice. So existing in a new country and new city without being able to, er, read all about it was definitely scary. When I first moved to Germany, it was actually election time. I felt so out of the loop! Yes, partly because I wondered what the issues were. But mostly because I couldn’t understand all the hilariously ridiculous political posters lining the streets! (Bonus points for honesty!)
Get in the loop
Getting in touch with the local goings-on is absolutely essential for tapping into your new life. Once I could finally engage, I felt empowered; I suddenly had opinions of my own. If you’re not political- it doesn’t matter. Finding info about your community, events for the family, concerts, fun outings and new restaurants is just as important as (if not more than 😉 noble political activism.
But, Cat, you say, “I don’t speak German. How can I read the newspaper?!” Have no fear. Germany (and Switzerland and Austria, too) is so international these days, that almost all major cities have some English language newspaper or magazine that helps you tap into your surroundings– in your own language.* I’m a huge fan of the Exberliner, a magazine and website focused on Berlin, Germany at large, and quality, thought-provoking journalism.
Not in Berlin? Munich, the Rhine, and Baden-Württemberg also have great English language publications (or websites) to help you stay informed and engaged.
Looking for something a bit more national, or international? BBC’s Europe report is a gem. Der Spiegel (The Mirror), one of Germany’s foremost newspapers, offers an international edition written in English—for those of you looking for hard-hitting, NYT style journalism. The Local is also a great source for English-language reporting on Germany (they also offer um… local editions for Austria, Switzerland, and many other European cities)
Get on the bandwagon
When it comes to being an ex-pat, being on “the bandwagon” sheds its negative connotation and instead evokes a feeling of inclusion and comfort. The abovementioned newspapers and magazines really helped me to feel like Germany was also mine. I feel less like a visitor and more like a native the more I read and the more I engaged with the community around me.
Don’t forget! Most all of the local publications offer classifieds, job ads, want ads and ads for restaurants, concerts, night clubs and the works. So, you can now stop hiding in your apartment on the weekend, longing for home. Get outside! Enjoy your time in your new country!
(*The author admits an English-language bias. All major cities in Germany offer news publications in other languages. I’ve seen Turkish, Arabic, several African languages, French, and Japanese to name a few.)