Moving to GERMANY! Help from our German members.

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Matt Morgan, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. Matt Morgan

    Matt Morgan Fellow Conspirator Supporting Member

    My wife (who has always been the brains in this outfit) has received a HUGE promotion and has been given a three year assignment in Stuttgart, Germany. We are absolutely thrilled at this very unique opportunity but, as you would expect, we are a little overwhelmed with the thought of relocating overseas.

    We have one year to prepare and will be moving our 9 and 4 year old boys and all our household goods from Dallas, Texas to Stuttgart.

    Any recommendations, suggestions, thoughts on things that may be helpful for a long term stay in Stuttgart would be greatly appreciated, particularly from those that do live in the area or have lived there previously.

    Thanks very much!
  2. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Best of luck with the move.
    Looking at my modest map of TB folks (link in my sig), it seems like there's nobody in Stuttgart, but maybe you could ask some of the other folks in Germany for advice.
    onestone and Staccato like this.
  3. All I can say is to expect to not expect what you're about to go through. Culture shock can hit you in all kinds of ways. I guess a good way to think about it is that a fish doesn't see the water.

    It should be pretty great for you guys though, I'm glad for you :)
    Bob Lee (QSC) and Staccato like this.
  4. TheBass


    Jul 2, 2004
    I am living north of Cologne, which is approx. 400km north from Stuttgart - btw you should to get used to metric measures like km, kg, litre, °C :laugh: - but due to my business (automotive) I've been in Stuttgart many times. You'll get away with english for your business pretty well, but talking to your neighbors learning german, at least some common phrases will be a door opener. Like in any country it makes a huge difference whether you live in a bigger city like Stuttgart or outside in a small village. The academic urban folks are much more used to socialize with immigrants than the country people. And btw although Stuttgart and Baden-Würtenberg is very strong in the automotive industry it's ruled by the green party ! And it works !
  5. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Learning some German would be useful.

    German business office etiquette was very different from US.

    Three decades ago, if your kids misbehaved in a store, they might get told off or slapped by a stranger.
    Staccato and Killed_by_Death like this.
  6. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Make sure your paperwork is 100% in order. I presume you will have sponsor to help you transition smoothly.
  7. TheBass


    Jul 2, 2004
    You will get caught by the police today. Slapping your's or anyone elses children is illegal in Germany. And we also stopped eating children for breakfast some time ago :laugh:
  8. Biffa

    Biffa Inactive

    Apr 16, 2019
    County Durham, UK
    I lived and worked in and around Minden, Germany is a beautiful place and the people are very friendly. One thing you will need which you won't have in Dallas is a nice warm coat and gloves.
    But, me and the wife sold up and left the industrial north east, ( no, not Pittsburgh) and moved the 350 miles to Devon, we were back home after four months
  9. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    So true. My wife and I just completed a year living in Montreal, and while it's not Germany, we definitely experienced culture shock. Living in a different country than your own is full of surprises on a daily basis.
  10. You definitely should have hit me up, lived just outside there for a few months, and even now I drive through all the time. As much as it's Quebec on easy mode it is a whole different thing in Quebec.
  11. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    It happened in Vienna, Austria in a Metzgerei. Not Germany, but....
  12. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Yes, it is definitely a whole different thing there! I never lived anywhere else in Canada, but coming from the States, it was still a very different lifestyle than we were used to.
  13. There are differences in the great White north, but Quebec very much has its own thing going from the rest of us. You'd probably find the rest of the country pretty similar by comparison. At least that's what I've personally found.
  14. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    I read Max und Moriitz story books. I hope they dont bake the naughty ones or grind them up for duck feed.

    TheBass likes this.
  15. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    I lived in Germany for a year about 15 years ago. Some things may have changed, and people living there currently can update or correct this, but for what it's worth...

    First of all, we loved it, it's a wonderful country and the people are great.

    One thing that struck me is that communities are all built closer together, more nucleated, not spread out like in America. That makes it easier to walk or bike places and public transportation is way more efficient and practical. We lived in a suburb of Munich with about 14,000 people and could get anywhere in town in maybe 20-30 minutes on foot. I don't know many American towns like that. The entire year we were there, I only drove a car twice - actually a rental van. Once to pick up a couch some friends lent us, and again to return it. The rest of the time we rode trains.

    Luften und Heizen! German homes are built with much higher efficiency than American building codes... which means you have to deliberately circulate air through them. An American contractor would call them "over-insulated." Even in the depths of winter, once a day you were supposed to open all your windows and air everything out for fifteen minutes. Otherwise you'd get moisture building up into mildew and mold. No one told us this when we moved and it ticked our landlord off big time...

    Shopping for groceries and such is different in Germany. Rather than what we often do here, which is make a weekly grocery store run and stock up, the practice there was much more to stop through the store three or four times a week for what we were going to use the next couple of days. Germans shop at butcher shops and bakeries more than Americans, rather than doing everything at a grocery store. They also generally bring their own basket or bags rather than using disposable plastic bags from the store (America is finally catching up on that point).

    Take advantage of the local Volkshochsschule - literally means "people's high school," but it's basically a community college/night school. Seems like every community has one (our little suburb of 14,000 did). German for foreigners is a staple offering, and other useful classes.

    Conversational etiquette is a little different. Germans often feel it's rude to ask a stranger you just met what they do for a living - they feel it implies you're trying to figure out how much money they make. However, topics like politics, that Americans avoid, Germans will happily plunge into with new acquaintances - what political party do you belong to, what do you think of the president, etc. Politics is public business to them and they have no qualms about discussing it publicly. They are generally terribly polite and won't get into a fight over it. On some matters, though, I would say there was a running unspoken assumption that there were always two ways to do something, the German way and the wrong way.

    For your kids, the thing to be aware of is that the German educational system is tiered from an early stage. From 5th grade on kids get separated out into tracks depending on high-stakes tests in the 4th grade. The gymnasium tier is for the university-bound: students on that track go to 13th grade and then apply directly into their major programs for college. Then there's a Hauptschule tier, the "main school," that just goes to 10th grade and then they get jobs, and a vocational track that also goes to 10th grade.

    It's easy for a foreigner to get a distorted impression of Germans because the ones that deal most with foreigners (in academia, tourism, government, corporations, etc.) are generally the gymnasium/university-educated ones, who will usually speak excellent English etc. But when you deal with the guy in the retail store or someone who comes over to clean your apartment or a mechanic fixing your car you've often got someone from one of the other tracks and they'll have a different background. They often speak a local dialect and the "hochdeutsch" (High German) that one learns in school is almost a second language to them.

    Related to that, in some ways, is that Germany has its own immigrant communities, and a fair amount of discussion and controversy over their role in German society, often doing the blue-collar jobs. You get a fair number of Turks, other Middle Eastern persons, and Africans.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
    crguti, JGbassman, Jazzdogg and 10 others like this.
  16. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    This. Dead on.
  17. TheBass


    Jul 2, 2004
    Some things changed in the last 15 years but it's still pretty much as you described.
    Staccato, IamGroot and hrodbert696 like this.
  18. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    It's funny that High German is considered a second language to Germans because it's true.

    However, that varies highly from region to region. Generally, the further south you go, the thicker the dialect may be. Bavaria or Saxony are stereotypical examples for dialects that no one understands except the locals. As said, educational background has a lot of influence on this.

    Btw, one thing I would mention: Germans like their cash transactions. Compared to Scandinavian countries, cashless transactions are mostly reserved for high-value purchases. Credit cards are pretty much unknown over here too, unless you need it for specific purposes (buying a car, etc).
    RodRy, IamGroot and hrodbert696 like this.
  19. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah, I was in Bavaria. The Bairisch was nearly unintelligible to me, and when I dealt with blue-collar Bavarians, you could see they were making an effort to speak Hochdeutsch - like they were trying to talk like people on TV.

    I remember the first time I visited Germany, I was 12 or 13 years old and wanted some German music, so I picked up a cassette tape (it was the 80s) by BAP. My host brother was terribly upset, and when my host mother said she thought it was a great idea for me to listen to German music, he objected, "Das ist kein Deutsch; es ist Koelsch!" (That's the dialect from Cologne, for those who haven't heard of it).

    English has its dialects like that too - American ones are not generally so hugely variant from each other, but a real thick London Cockney or a Scottish brogue can likewise be nigh-impossible for outsiders to follow.
    RodRy and IamGroot like this.
  20. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Since you have young children, a plan for educating them well is important. The American School in Vienna was very good and I expect similar in Germany. But I dont have any recent info. Germany is a desirable location so less problem attracting skilled staff.

    I would keep an open mind about German and Swiss society. Despite the ridicule they get in American an UK media, they do many things in a very sensible manner.
    hrodbert696 likes this.
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