Belacan Club




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

Seven 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.

Another thing 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.

Like other 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 allowed.

Aside from 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

Amy- March 15th, 2004 - My Experience when applying the German Driving Licence

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

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