Moving to Germany:
Why Would You Ever Do Such a Thing?
Salutation (Mr / Ms / Mdm / Mrs):
‘Mr,’ I guess, but ‘Mr. OGM’ is my father’s name. Just call me OGM.
I’m pushing 40. Wait, is that right? Oh god, let this all be a dream and I’m actually still 23 — no worries at all — just working for the weekend, crushing ass until late Sunday night and then crying in the shower come Monday morning…
American. Red, white and blue American. Bald-Eagle-Soup and flaming assault rifle American. (Just kidding. I prefer Tomato Bisque.)
I’m a graphic designer, bitch. (See, I just… I just can’t make that sound badass at all.)
Here’s the part where I rip you a new asshole for not even bothering to read the title of my blog. Just kidding. It’s all good. I know this is just a standard interview question, you silly little prostitute.
Fuck, man: it’s pretty clear I’m a dude, right? I mean, I’m pretty sure I’ve got a functioning pair of testicles…
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Portland, Oregon: City of Roses, Rain and Microbrewed Brains
What made you move away from the United States?
Love. Straight up, love.
How did you come to choose Germany, and where exactly are you living now?
I live in Hannover, Germany. (And I didn’t exactly choose it; my wife landed a great teaching job here, and I dutifully followed at her heels like the great big pussy I am.)
How long have you been living in Germany?
Since late 2012. I’ll never forget the day I arrived: I was so jetlagged I felt like I was either stuck inside a dream or just straight-up tripping balls.
Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?
Dude. We’ve been over this. Also, there is no ‘yes or no’ question stated here. Anyway, aside from my wife and my in-laws, I have no other family members here. (Unless you count our horrible little dog, Yeti the Evil Beagle.)
Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?
Honestly, no; I’ve never felt any kind of homesickness at all. I moved to Germany and never looked back. I do, however, tend to miss my parents and a couple of our closest friends for like 48 hours after we return from a visit to the States. That always sucks.
What do you think about the locals?
Well, this is a sweeping generalization, but I think Germans are like coconuts; cold and hard on the outside — soft and sweet on the inside. Americans are more like peaches; soft and sweet on the outside, but inside we’re cold, hard and full of cyanide.
Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialize with other expats in your host country? How did you manage to find a social circle there?
I’m a shy, introverted, hypersensitive, anxiety-prone hermit. I don’t really do, ‘friends.’ But what friends I do have came via my wife — either fellow students from her time in college, or co-workers from her job. (I am surrounded by teachers, like an elementary kid sitting in the principal’s office, waiting to receive my punishment for pissing in the aquarium.)
How does the cost of living in Germany compare to your home?
In general, food is waaaaaay the hell cheaper in Germany than in the States, but they make up for it by charging you a pint of blood for one liter of gasoline.
How much is a cup of coffee?
My wife tells me coffee can be outrageously expensive here. I really wouldn’t know; I drink that instant bullshit which is so strong it pretty much dares your heart to stop.
How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?
You could get away with a €15-€20 euro lunch in Hannover pretty easily. Street Kitchen in Linden absolutely rules, for example. If you want to go dirt-cheap, however, hit up an Imbiss or any one of the thousands of Back-Factory locations throughout the city.
How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?
Oh, if you want to throw some cash around, you could easily drop €100+ for two people. IchiBan Sushi at the Aegidientorplatz or Pier 51 at the Maschsee are both awesome, and will be happy to request you grab your ankles and try to relax.
How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?
No idea about cigarettes; I intend to die in a spectacular car crash on the Autobahn, not wasting away in some hospital bed with a hole in my throat.
As for wine, my wife and I go for the German equivalent of Two-Buck Chuck, but of course you can always put on your monocle and spats and church it up real good with a €25+ bottle of I’m-Better-Than-You Pinot Noir.
Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Germany?
Sure: ‘Hold on tight, cuz this is gonna suck.’
How would you describe your experience with government paperwork, such as applications for visas and work permits? Why is that so?
I find German bureaucracy to be a socially accepted form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with an overall “Fuck you, that’s not my job” type mentality.
Would you say that healthcare in Germany is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?
I think both the social and private healthcare systems Germany offers are wonderful. Obviously experiences will differ, but like I said, I’ve been living here since 2012, and I have no complaints at all except for the fact that weed — while legal for medical use — isn’t legal for recreational use just yet. (I mean, COME ON, ANGIE; it’s not gonna destroy your people’s famously industrious work ethic or anything — it’ll just make all these Germans chill the fuck out for a second.)
Did you secure health insurance in America first, or in Germany? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?
Before I left the States, I read somewhere I would need my own health insurance coverage before I would be allowed to attain my German residence permit. Out of fear of being kicked out of the country and forever separated from my wife, I registered for travel insurance through IMG. I had no idea what I was doing and I didn’t even read exactly what was covered and what wasn’t. (I think I signed up for the “Scared-Shitless and Totally Panicking Health Insurance Option for Extreme Cowards.”)
What was the most memorable thing about the packing and moving process to Germany? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?
I didn’t use a mover: I lost my job, sold my car, rented out my house, donated 33 years worth of accumulated bullshit to Goodwill and got on an airplane with my entire life crammed inside 2 suitcases.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when you were a new expat?
The biggest challenge I faced as a new expat was the language barrier. I was utterly helpless to do anything on my own, and relied upon my wife like a toddler on the teet.
What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Germany?
Germany feels safer to me. Slower, somehow. Maybe I’m just a worrier (and my ‘maybe,’ I mean ‘definitely’), but I used to own a handgun in the States simply because everyone else did; I didn’t want to be the only idiot on the block not packing heat.
On the negative side? I absolutely hate flying. Obviously, as an expat — or just a world traveler in general — this presents a problem. (One I have learned to solve with alcohol and near-lethal amounts of Xanax.)
What are the best things to do in your local area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?
There are meetup groups everywhere, if you want to actually talk to people (*shudder*). But in Hannover — and really anywhere in Germany — there’s literally always something going on. I swear, Germans can’t go more than 6 weeks without some major beer-and-bratwurst-type festival.
Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home to the States in the future?
No and no; I love living in Germany. I know it sounds cheesy, but my wife and I feel so grateful for our life here together we actually talk about how we must be about due for some really bad shit to happen to us. I mean, how long can life stay so good? Not long, says the absolute pessimist in me.
What tips would you give to other expats living in Germany?
Learn as much of the German language as possible before you get here. It will pay dividends in every way imaginable. I promise.
Do you have a favorite website or blog about Germany?
I hit up The Local (Germany’s news in English) all the time. It’s an excellent resource for expats.
And specific to Hannover, ya gotta check out Hannover4EnglishSpeakers on Facebook. Another awesome resource.
But if you’re still thirsty for more, well, stick around and read some more from this here blog, Oh God, My Wife Is German. (Where my goal is to make you laugh so hard you blow coffee out your pee hole.)
Okay, that’s it! A very special thanks to ExpatFinder.com for the interview. It was an honor. (And thank you as well for your sense of humor as I ran this mother right off the rails.) If any of you potential expats are considering a move abroad, you gotta check out their site:
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Thank you all for reading and have a wonderful day!