What’s your name?
What brought you to Germany and is your first time in the country?
My mother lives in Germany with her husband. I was in DC and hating my job. I decided to be wild, quit my job, and move to Europe to travel.
What kind of industries or occupations would an American most likely land a job if they were looking to work in Germany?
The simplest job will be to teach English although it may not be consistent enough work to fully support yourself right away. Germany is looking for people in research science and IT. If you’re studying in those fields you’ll have much better opportunities landing a great job.
How would you compare the workplace in Germany versus what you’ve experienced as an employee in America?
I believe that Germans tend to follow tradition and hierarchy in the office. Germans also prioritize their time away from the office. Vacations and weekends are spent relaxing and there is isn’t a mentality to exhaust yourself with work like I’ve experienced in America.
Have you had any difficulty getting access to basic necessities such as finding healthcare, opening a bank account, finding a good hair stylist etc.?
No absolutely not. Germany is different in many ways compared to America however there is no lack of trendy hair stylists, tech savvy banks, or other modern luxuries someone may be accustomed to back in America. The only challenge you may run into is trying to explain how you’d like your hair cut or reading through bank contracts if you’re not fluent in the language.
Is finding adequate housing a challenge?
Finding adequate housing is not the difficult part. Finding someone that will rent to an expat/non-German will be the challenge. Tenant and landlord laws are very different in Germany and landlords are very particular with whom they will lease an apartment. Be prepared for a lot of “no” without explanation and to also have supporting documents prepared. Things like bank statements or letters of recommendation from previous landlords are helpful. This process is even challenging for Germans. There’s a lot of competition when finding an apartment. Just mentally prepare yourself for the search.
What do you miss most about being in the States?
Honestly not very much aside from the late night munchies run. Most restaurants and shops close quit early especially in smaller cities. There’s nowhere open to fill a late night craving. Another thing I did miss was “next day service.” Things like setting up your internet takes weeks in Germany!
How have you been received by Germans when they find out that you’re American?
Very positively. Many are curious as to what brought me to Germany and even more love to speak English with me to practice their skills.
What would you say is the best way for a newcomer to meet the locals?
Go to the local events. Farmers markets, city fairs, plays, musicals. Frequent the same bakery, coffee shops, and stores. Soon you’ll become a regular and get to know the locals. I also strongly recommend volunteering. You’ll improve your language skills and quickly become integrated in a supportive social circle.
If you had a friend planning to spend only 24 hours in Germany, what would you suggest that they see or do?
There are so many places in Germany that vastly differ so I’ll opt for general suggestions. Take a bike ride along the river (nearly every large city is centered around one) take a blanket and get some beers and sit outside enjoying the weather in a park. Try a Döner because they are amazing! On the topic of eating be sure to have coffee, gelato, and cakes! It sounds silly, but I consider these staples to a happy European diet. 🙂
To see more of Aileen’s beautiful photos, visit her Instagram page at @aileenfarshi