A Surreal Yet Reality Check on Germans, Germany and Its Living.

Germany – The land of ideas and opportunities as they market it to be!

A lot in your life will change after you come to this developed country. It has its own ways of living and governing, sometimes irritating and sometimes the best.

German society has seen a slow and gradual change towards the stereotypical notion of being punctual .There are times and in everyday life where punctuality goes missing. I speak from experience. Trains getting late, buses not arriving, office buses, meetings not happening at the right time and nowadays I see frequent delays with flights too. As compared to rest of the world the German society is hands down the punctual lot, but things are changing.

It is not only the public transport and system but even the people, my bank appointments are scheduled at a certain time, and 10 min delay can happen. Also during parties and dinner invitations we are supposed to adhere to time, but people stretch a lot and youngsters arrive late at times. 10 years before the situation was different, but today I see many examples of not orderly behaviour too. Being polite and direct is kind of a norm, but sometimes, at public offices, people might not be cooperative. These are not regular situations, but the frequency is increasing.

I have been associated with Germany for quite a long time now and currently living here.

Germans are very independent and risk oriented. They are very good decision makers when it comes to education and jobs because they ponder a lot over doing what they love and not just choose a career for the sake of it. Because they are independent, they tend to become more self-oriented and focus on developing their own life, before they plunge into the vicious circle of marriage and family.

Women have the needed freedom here to work and thrive in a corporate or industry environment because that type of upbringing and education is provided. Work environments are very gender friendly and open towards women, therefore more women tend to concentrate on their career and personal growth before giving birth, since to a certain extent that may change their life.

Responsibility is a big thing for Germans, they will meticulously follow and abide by them, and therefore they make themselves ready before plunging into one, bearing a child is a big responsibility after all.Germans generally marry late, after they are settled in their careers, have the required education, have enjoyed their lives, partied with friends, travelled the world etc, they also dedicate a considerable amount of time to dating before plunging into marriage, mostly after 30, therefore the child rate is automatically low.

Housing and settling down is costly in Germany, therefore you need to earn enough to save for yourself, your child and your family´s future. Insurance and social security are stable here but that is being cut from your own hard earned salary.The fear of joining back the industry after bearing a child and getting the kind of job which you love is a thing that troubles most of the women here. As mentioned earlier independence and self-development is the most important thing here.

Divorce rates in Germany are high, therefore the trend that is already set, gives the present couples no motivation to rush into marriage and start a family, in fact I know people who are staying in a live in relationship for more than 15 years because of the fear of divorce. Alimony money is enormous, mostly the burden falls on the man, and in such cases, having a child puts more pressure on you.

To an extent it is very organized, then you find it slow and there are weird habits, too!

Segregating your waste is the hardest thing to do: almost five types of segregation. It is certainly very good for the environment and atmosphere but truly speaking a pain in the ass in your initial days. You have to remember the colour, the type of waste; and segregate it with so many plastic bags, that you need to dump.It is very difficult and, yes, expensive to find domestic help in Germany. I would say it is a luxury in India. You have to do your household activities on your own, even cleaning and mending things. It is also very expensive to call a plumber, carpenter or electrician for repairing any kind of stuff or even a technician because these are regarded as skilled professionals and get paid a lot.

In the end you learn to do stuff on your own. I found home delivery systems to be less here except the pizza delivery and post. I would not say they do not exist but it is less.

This one for the ladies. Beauty parlours are so damn costly. I can never shell out 60 euros per month for personal grooming, so you end up waxing and threading at home.You pay for water everywhere in all the restaurants. And yes, tap water is potable. I have seen people go and fill water bottles in toilet wash basins, but certainly the water is potable and costlier than beer, you will take a while to get adjusted to this scenario.

Get used to lots and lots of planning. Planning the appointment with the doctor, your bank, your tax agent, your insurance guy, delivering important post, at the electricity board, the list will go on and on, even your friends, spontaneous plans are less. Everything needs to be decided and accounted for on time.

This country makes you a little over-organized, at least it did me.

Please learn basic German till A2 level and come here, your life will be much easier.

Tipping your taxi guy and restaurant guy if you are fine-dining is a given.

Get adapted to anyone drinking beer around you. Water is costlier than beer, beer is like a staple drink; even during lunch breaks many of them will hold beer mugs.

Coffee at any and every time of the day in most of the offices.

Driving rules are crazy and well thought of to avoid accidents. Getting a license is difficult here, not impossible, it is regarded as a serious exam.

Get used to staying alone on Sundays, many shops, stores and outlets will be closed, except eateries. People want one day to be free for all in this country therefore nothing official or important can be planned except travel.

Also services are costlier on the weekends!

I would not say that Germany is the most peaceful country, but yes it is one of the peaceful countries in the world hands down. I have never felt so safe while travelling at night, I have never come across fights unnecessarily, everyone is aware and behaves to the point with every single person, when in need people do help you, helpline numbers are available everywhere, criminal rates are low, not very low but it is stable, after a recent terror attack, Germany continues to help the whole world in form of foreign aid, foreign funds, technological assistance and research and development.

In Europe it has peaceful relations with all the nations, and yes a helping nature too. It has helped the Syrian refugees in the best way it can in terms of education, jobs and social security. They are even teaching young kids German so that they can integrate into society.

As an Indian my experiences compared to India were as follows :

  1. I felt a better sense of freedom, independence and responsibility living in Germany.
  2. I learnt what it was to be alone and punctual.
  3. Public transport is better and organized.
  4. Punctuality and timely planning for your day to day activities matters a lot.
  5. I learnt cooking because you cannot eat out everyday and delicious food is needed so because of which the restaurant like khana became a reality, since there are lesser Indian restaurants.
  6. The rent is sky rocketing day by day, eats up 30% of my salary.
  7. The travel bug bit me hard and fast, I travelled every month, Germany and then Stuttgart is situated in the heart of Europe, so all the locations are more or less at an equal distance or have greater connectivity as compared to rest of the Europe.
  8. I started celebrating and missing Indian festivals like a mad horse.
  9. I got closer to my family by staying away.
  10. I learnt the importance of paying regular taxes, how it benefits the country and how insurance matters at every stage.
  11. Medical emergencies were treated in a better way.
  12. Loved the direct talk and no small talk, no gossip and total frankness.
  13. Missed India for the climate and the emotional touch it brings.
  14. I feel secure as an individual but I feel warmer in India.
  15. The weekends became livelier only if people were around, otherwise no activity on Sunday.
  16. Work place was much cooler and stress free.
  17. Work life balance became a reality.
  18. Planning became an exaggeration and spontaneity was derived rarely, because everyone plans everything.
  19. Private and Public space got a different meaning.
  20. Knowing German is necessary to integrate!

That is Germany for me, I love this country because I am associated with it for 7 years. I speak German better than Hindi anytime. And travel got a new definition after I came here. The feeling of wilderness and carefree nature found new shores and work culture got a better definition. A life changing experience indeed. This was my first professional visit and third official visit the to the land of ideas and opportunities. All the best to each and every one who takes this experience.

Written for a creative writing competition about Germany at Bosch. My winning entry.

Rucha Sudhir Khot(RBEI/BSM1)

Project Management and Language Operations

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