This is a site
for members who are interested to write and would like to contribute.
You may like to share your experiences and tell a piece of your history
of how and why you came to live in Germany. All tips on adjusting to a
new country and opinions about living in Europe or Germany are welcomed.
Any topics that you think would help our newcomers to learn a bit about
this new country and start a new life here.
Shaw Fen Frohsz
Years and Finally Making Sense
By: MJM- Koch - 10.03.2006
It was an
ugly November day when I arrived in Germany seven years ago. My
boyfriend, (now my husband), met me at the airport with flowers
and a bunch of thick clothes my then future-mother-in-law bought
for me. I was thrilled with the thought that I was about to walk
into a huge freezer and see snow for the first time. There was
no snow that time but cold enough to make me shiver. I went to
the comfort room to change my clothes and realized it was the
cleanest place I've ever been so far. Back home, I had to live
with my mother's chaotic household and grew up in an environment
where cleanliness is obviously not a priority. I needed to adjust
my eyes to the sudden change of surroundings. Not only the comfort
rooms looked pleasing to me but also the people. Well-groomed,
white individuals who do not seem to have to sweat for a living.
Once on the
road, I could not avoid noticing the German drivers who stay in
their lanes and only overtake you on the left side without necessarily
blowing the horn. Back in the Philippines, driving a car means
overtaking in all possible ways and getting your head blew-off
in a bad traffic day. It was definitely my first time to be in
the streets without hearing the endless ``toot-toot创 of vehicles.
Traffic signs, I noticed are clear and strictly followed. Four
years later however, while applying for a driver's license, I
wished Germans are a bit loose like Filipinos. As I struggled
to pass the driver's test, I thought of the much easier ``under
table创 system at home.
I noticed was the absence of sky-scrapers. I remember imagining
my husband on our long-distance conversations, sitting in his
office somewhere on the 30th floor of a building or even higher.
With my Americanised Filipino mind, it was a little disappointment.
Later though I was embarrassed to admit that I was just too less
informed to appreciate other culture. My husband finds it amusing
until now that I slept while watching Phantom of the Opera in
Hamburg few days after I arrived. Fortunately, I could blame the
jetlag for that and excuse myself for missing one of Europe's
masterpieces. I wonder what he'd think if I tell him now that
I was bored the first time I saw the Dome in Cologne. All that
I cared about was taking pictures of myself in front of a church.
Well, big church. And while in Paris on our honeymoon, I asked
my husband to take me to Disneyland and visit Mac Donalds instead
of museums. Talk about making up childhood events. Not really
relevant when you're in the city of art and romance.
Filipino wives in Germany, I had to go through a lot of new things.
One of them in my case, was the washing machine. There are of
course washing machines in Philippines but I wonder if they would
also shrink your clothes if you happen to take the wrong program.
I remember transforming one of my shirts into a baby dress. And
reading the electric iron instructions only after it exploded.
Since then, I noticed the laundry disappearing every time my mother-in-law
was in the house. She'd deliver them back ready-to-wear on her
next visit. Not knowing much about emancipation that time, I really
didn't mind. Not of course after seven years. Now she needs an
invitation before entering the house and absolutely no interventions
familiarizing with the washing machine and other household chores,
I had to learn to`` speak clearly.创 That means saying ``maybe创
only when I'm not sure and 创yes or no创 for definite answers.
A German who visited Philippines as tourist, described Filipinos
as kind-hearted, harmonious people who would not want to disappoint
you when you ask questions. They will gather around you and discuss
in chorus about the needed information. Everybody has something
to say but nobody would admit he doesn't know the answer. So expect
to be navigated here and there when you ask for a certain address.
And while this German collected impressions in my country, my
husband married a concrete example. Seven years and I'm still
trying to get the German exactness.
All of the
above is not so dramatic as introducing Filipino customs and traditions
to my husband. I remember his confused face the first time I prepared
for a Philippine trip. Not yet aware of the Filipino ``bring-home创
tradition, he could not understand the point of carrying heavy
tons of chocolates and perfumes for people you would, once at
home, probably also have to invite for lunch or dinner while you
distribute gifts. It's like carrying the Red Cross with you while
on vacation. Now my husband is finally used to the Filipino illusion
that money abroad lie in the streets and it's a moral obligation
for the ``rich foreigner-husband创 to share his blessings. And
to avoid culture-clashing with his wife, my husband chooses to
compromise. I, on the other hand, chose not to be forever grateful
and decided a total culture-shift. Seven years And Germany is
still far a dwelling place... but the good news is: I'm finally
making sense! MJM- Koch
March 15th, 2004 - My Experience when applying the German Driving
I have my
Singapore driving licence since 1985 and have been driving daily
to work. So in my opinion, I have enough driving experience.
We came home to Germany in July 1994 and I was allowed to drive
for a period of one year with my Singapore driving licence.
My husband and I got married in August 1995 and at that time,
I would like to apply for a German driving licence in order
to be able to drive here. Guess what happen ............ I went
to the Ordnungsamt to apply and of course, I had to go through
the normal German bureaucracy. The lady-in-charge refused to
recognise my Singapore driving licence and thought that Singapore
is somewhere in China. Furthermore, she added that I might have
bought the driving licence somewhere without going through driving
tests. At that time, my command of the german language was not
yet perfect and I was not able to counter-fire her. So, I said
politely that she should send my driving licence to Berlin for
verification. She told me that I am not allowed to drive with
immediate effect because the allowance to drive with my Singapore
driving licence had expired. I did not know that I can apply
for a German driving licence during the first year I was here.
So, you can just imagine my dilemma ..... without a driving
licence, I could not get my shopping done and had to wait for
my husband's return from work which was quite troublesome. I
immediately arranged for driving lessons at a driving school.
I had five driving lessons (3 during the day, 1 at night and
1 on the highway). I had to sit for the theory test which I
passed without problems. For information, the theory test is
also available in English but first, you have to do a simple
English Test (aiyah .... primary 6 level .... not more) in order
to get the allowance to sit for the theory test in English.
Then, I took my practical driving test and passed easily. On
the same day, I went to the Ordnungsamt again to get my German
driving licence. The lady was surprised that I managed to pass
the test and said that she had to verify the pass slip. At that
time, I was almost ready to strangle her. Normally, you would
be able to get your driving licence immediately. I guessed that
she was trying to be funny with me. I was told to come back
again tomorrow morning to collect my German driving licence
provided that everything was in order. Sorry to say, I was rather
pissed off with her. But what to do lah, I had to come back
again. You must know know how to behave yourself in a foreign
land. Finally, I was given my long awaited German driving licence,
of course, after paying the fees. All in all, I spent about
DM 1,500 just to get this damn german licence. I am sorry to
say that the kampong german people are still conservative. At
that time, we were staying in Saarland before we came to live
in Munich. I find that the Beamt-in/er in Munich are more open-minded
and so far, I have never encountered any problems here. I hope
my above experience does not deter anyone to apply for the German
driving licence. It meant to be just a guideline on how to deal
with such people. Amy