Archives

Renting a Flat in Germany: Step by Step

We are aware of the fact that renting a flat in Germany can be a challenge for everyone, especially for expats coming to the country. Documents, bureaucracy procedures, phone calls in a foreign language… It may all sound too much. But don’t worry – Project Expat is here to help you. We have created this article in order to assist you during all the steps that you need to follow if you want to rent a flat in Germany. Let’s dive right into it!

  1. What documents do I need to rent a flat in Germany?

First of all, if you’re coming to Germany as an expat, you should make sure that you have the right to stay in the country (that is, you are in possession of a residence permit, if applicable). If you want to rent a flat in the country, the first thing the landlord will ask for is your ID or passport. Afterwards, you must be able to prove that you can financially support yourself in the country and you can therefore pay your rent. Normally, you will have to provide your landlord with a salary slip or your bank statement to prove that you have enough income.

If you have already lived and rented a property in Germany before, you will need to provide the credit record documentation, also known as Schufa Record. This document tracks the debt that you may have, which is why landlords might ask for it.

Lastly, if you are unable to submit the aforementioned documentation, the landlord will ask you for the name of a guarantor. If you are unable to pay your rent for any reason, this person must formally agree to do so. However, this is not very common and possessing all the needed documents is usually a piece of cake!

  1. How do I look for a flat in Germany?

There are many options for expats who want to rent an apartment in Germany. Most people just use online renting webpages where you can search for individual or shared flats, talk to the landlords and arrange everything from the comfort of your home. Some of the most popular ones are Immobilien Scout 24, Immowelt and WG-Gesucht, but there are many others.

In addition, you can also choose to rent a flat through a real estate agency, which can make things much easier, but you also have to pay a fee for this service.

After you have found your place, all that you must do is pretty simple: you just have to arrange an appointment with your landlord, submit all the documents and simply get the keys for your apartment!

  1. What’s the usual cost of renting a flat in Germany?

This totally depends on the German city where you’re planning to stay. However, average prices are normally set per square meter. The most expensive cities to live in Germany are Munich, Hamburg and Cologne, where apartments right in the city can range from 1.500 to 2.500 euros a month. However, the further you move away from the city, the less you will pay. In the rest of cities, a one-bedroom apartment costs around 700 euros, which is very reasonable.

When you rent an apartment, you have to pay a deposit equal to three months’ worth of rent. Additionally, utilities are typically not included in the rent. Make sure that the rental agreement specifies this. Kaltmiete or “cold rent” refers to a property that does not include heating nor utilities in the rent. On the other hand, a Warmmiete includes heating costs and all the other expenses.

Moreover, most apartments are unfurnished and you are in charge of providing the furniture. We know that this can get quite expensive, which is why we suggest renting furniture. Renting your furniture can be an easy way to save a lot of money, and the best part is that if you decide to change your apartment or leave the city, you won’t have to worry about re-selling everything.

All things being said, we have gone through the whole list of what you have to do to rent a place in Germany. Yes, we know – it’s easier than it seems! We hope that this article made you feel less stressed about renting a flat in the country. If you’re patient enough, you will find the best home for you. Good luck on your search!

Most Common German Stereotypes when on Holiday thumbnail

Most Common German Stereotypes when on Holidays

With the rise of travel lovers around the globe, it is very easy to confirm that every country has its own stereotypes when it comes to behaviour during the holiday season. Now that COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted worldwide and we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we thought that it’d be nice to refresh the most common German stereotypes on vacation while you get ready for the upcoming holidays. Have you chosen your destination yet? Let’s see how the locals will perceive you over there!

Sandals and socks – an eyesore?

If you find yourself in a Mediterranean or exotic country with temperatures ranging from 25 to 35 degrees, spotting a German will be an easy task. Being one of the most well-known German stereotypes, brown leather sandals and white socks are the holiday essentials that most tourists pack in their hand luggage. Leaving this terrible attack on the fashion world aside, what most locals wonder is the following point: if it’s warm enough to wear sandals, why would you want to wear socks with them? Many Germans would defend themselves against this cliché by arguing that socks are useful to prevent blisters on their feet!

The early bird catches the sun lounger

It’s 10 o’clock in the morning and you wake up to the peaceful sound of the chirping of birds. You’re enjoying your summer vacation in a wonderful 4-star hotel. After your breakfast buffet, you decide to go down to the swimming pool and sunbathe while you read your favourite book. All of a sudden, your relaxing dream turns into a nightmare: there’s not even one spot left! Does this ring a bell? Germans have an obsession with throwing their towels into the sun lounger at 7 a.m. to reserve them for later, so it’s no surprise that this has become one of the funniest German stereotypes. The reason behind waking up this early on their days off remains a mystery, but it’s worth saying that this accurate stereotype infuriates tourists worldwide!

Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera – the German Paradise 

It is no surprise that the most popular destination for German tourists is the Mediterranean. According to tourism statistics, over 4.5 million German citizens have visited the Balearic Islands every year since 2016. This figure pops up a question: have you ever met a German who hasn’t been to Mallorca – or better said, the 17th Bundesland, like Germans call it?

In addition to tourists, the German community on the island continues to stand out from the rest of foreigners with more than 36,000 people registered in their local municipalities.

But what stereotypical conceptions do locals have about them? Well, as rough as it may sound, we could say that especially young tourists don’t have the best of reputations over there. In fact, they are well known for partying until sunrise and drinking beer and sangria in abundance.

However, it is not only the nice weather and cheap prices that make the Germans want to return to this top summer destination, but rather the endless wonders that can be found in this charming island.

Farmer’s tan

Have you ever taken your T-shirt off and realised the lower part of your arms was tanned or sunburnt but your torso was completely pale? Then you know what we’re talking about! During their holidays, some Germans forget to put on sunscreen whilst the sun is at its peak, resulting in a natural good-looking body painting they wish they had avoided!

Sparkling water: hate it or love it

Even though sparkling water is quite common among many European countries, if we take into consideration that the biggest holiday destination for Germans is Spain, ordering a bottle of mineral water might end up in disappointment. Carbonated water is not everybody’s cup of tea outside of Germany. We can assure you that waiters prefer not to be yelled at if they bring still water to their customers. Moral of the story: you’d better wait to have your Sprudelwasser at home.

To end this article on a good note and avoid potential offenses, keep in mind that these are just funny and sometimes exaggerated stereotypes – we know that not all Germans are the same!

If you wish to find out more curiosities about Germany, check out our blog article on German superstitions! 

Vorschaubild_5 Step Relocation_DONATH_feature

Moving to Germany: 5-Step-Relocation-Plan

If you’re moving to Germany, we are aware of how extensive the whole relocation process can be. Don’t worry! Our partners from DONATH Moving & Relocation count on specialists that will assist you by providing their best moving and relocation services. They will support you and ensure that the entire move goes smoothly while you can focus fully on your job and your new workplace.

Step 1: Finding a good moving company

As an expat, it might be difficult to decide which moving company is the most appropriate for you. It is important that you don’t only compare prices, but you also make sure that it offers all the high-quality services that you will need during the move. DONATH Moving & Relocation created a super useful checklist for expats to help you find the best moving company. Download it here to find out the 5 steps that you should follow in your search!

Step 2: Being well prepared

When moving to a new residence, there is a wide range of time-consuming tasks that you must take care of: home search, rental agreement, school and kindergarten search (if you have children), preparation of visa application, formalities and administrative paperwork, integration of the family, all questions relating to pets, etc.. The DONATH relocation experts would gladly assist you with these tasks for the perfect preparation of your stay while you can concentrate on your new professional challenge.

Step 3: Packing your household goods

We recommend to only use a professional moving company for your move to Germany. They have the knowhow how to pack and load an overseas container and give you advice on how to ensure your household goods.

Your personal belongings you should pack up yourself and set them aside. Valuables, keys, documents and passports are best packed in a separate bag that you keep with you at all times and transport yourself. This way, you won’t have to spend hours looking for the things that you desperately need for the first night in your new home (charger, towels, bed linen, fresh clothes, etc.).

Step 4: Moving day

Don´t forget taking a day off work on your moving day. If you’re going to bring your children to Germany with you, it might be better that your relatives or friends take care of them during the moving day. Moreover, do not forget to put aside your personal belongings and to bring all the necessary drinks and snacks to keep your energy up during the day. The moving crew would also be happy to have a cup of coffee or a refreshing non-alcoholic drink.

Step 5: Arriving in Germany

Congratulations, you’ve made it to your new residence!

It’s a good feeling when you know your way around your new place of residence straight away and can also be confident that everything has been taken care of. But don’t forget: When you move to a new house, you need to inform a lot of institutions about your new address (the registration office, your bank, your insurance company, etc.).

Any questions left? Do not hesitate to get in touch with our partners at DONATH Moving & Relocation. You will not regret it!

donath moving and relocation logo

Pregnancy and Giving Birth in Germany

Are you pregnant and new to Germany? Congratulations – what an amazing time in your life! Pregnancy and birth are among the biggest transitions in life that you can experience. It’s exciting, and maybe a bit scary, but even more so in a new and different country. Giving birth in Germany is likely to be very different from being pregnant in your own country since Germany offers a unique service to expectant mothers.

Preparing yourself and your partner for parenthood is an important task. Babies can only be born once, and it helps to have an understanding of the process and what your options are, giving you more confidence to face the big day.

Let me take you on a journey through all the different stages of your pregnancy, exploring how things work here when giving birth in Germany.

The gynaecologist

When you think you’re pregnant, your first stop is usually your gynaecologist. Unlike in other countries, it is the gynaecologist (who will also be trained in obstetrics) rather than your general practitioner (GP) who confirms your pregnancy, and takes you into their care. This doctor will set up the various appointments you need to attend during pregnancy, do the antenatal check-ups, including taking blood, conducting ultrasound scans and prescribing any medication needed, but they won’t actually deliver your baby.

The midwife

One of the questions you are most likely to hear is whether you have found a Hebamme (midwife). Alongside seeing a gynaecologist, as described above, you can – and should – find a midwife to guide and educate you throughout your pregnancy, and to support you during and after the birth.

At its core, the midwifery model of care, which the German system is based on, sees pregnancy and birth as normal physiological events rather than as medical emergencies.

In Germany, midwives are specialists, professionally trained in caring for women during pregnancy and birth, and in the period immediately after. They train directly in midwifery at a hospital rather than starting out in general nursing and then specialising. They must pass an exam to get a state diploma, and from 2022 they will have to undertake further study.

Midwives can practise both inside and outside hospitals, and offer a range of services. Germany has always had a strong midwifery profession, and legally it is only midwives who can attend when someone is giving birth in Germany, not nurses. Doctors can deliver a baby, but only in the presence of a midwife, whereas midwives can attend a normal birth without the presence of a doctor. This is why labour wards are staffed exclusively by midwives.

Let’s look at all the services midwives offer in Germany.

Prenatal care in Germany

While many women choose to go to their gynaecologist (Frauenarzt/Frauenärztin) for prenatal care, midwives also provide prenatal, or antenatal care, sometimes on their own or in partnership with a gynaecologist. Midwives can do everything that the gynaecologist does, except for conducting ultrasound scans. If you choose shared care, you will have alternating visits with your gynaecologist and your midwife.

Even if you are seeing a gynaecologist for all your antenatal care, it’s still worth consulting a midwife. She will offer you advice about nutrition and exercise in pregnancy. Some midwives offer alternative therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal remedies. All of this is can be helpful right from the early stages of pregnancy, when you may be suffering from nausea, right through to the end.

Alongside the prenatal care, many midwives offer a range of courses on pregnancy, birth and the period immediately after birth. These could include pregnancy yoga, exercise classes, antenatal/birth preparation classes, hypnobirthing courses, breastfeeding workshops, postnatal recovery classes, baby massage and many more. The cost of some of these courses, like the antenatal classes, is completely covered by health insurance (but only partly covered for the partner). Some courses have to be paid for privately, but being well prepared physically, emotionally and mentally can bring great benefits at this important milestone in your life.

Care during giving birth in Germany

Whether you’re in a hospital, a birth centre, or at home, midwives are the principal caregivers during labour and giving birth in Germany. Whether you have met the midwife who will look after you during labour will depend on the setting:

  • In hospital it is likely that you will not have met the midwife who attends you during the birth, but in general it will be midwives rather than other health professionals who look after you during the birth.
  • Midwives who work in a birth centre (an independent centre run by midwives) or offer a home-birth service usually provide care throughout the pregnancy. They are keen to get to know you and establish a relationship of trust.
  • Midwives with visiting rights (Beleghebamme) offer a private one-to-one service within a hospital. They have a contract with a hospital that enables them to take their clients to that hospital for the delivery. The advantage of this option is that you receive one-to-one care, and you know who will be attending the birth of your baby.

Postnatal care in Germany

You can also find a midwife to cover your postnatal care (Nachsorge). She will visit you at home in the period after birth, to support you with breastfeeding and your recovery, and to offer advice about looking after your baby.

Benefits of midwife care

Being in the care of a midwife gives you the opportunity to ask all your questions and get them answered by someone with a wealth of experience. Seeing her regularly means you can be better informed during this crucial stage of your life. Studies show that women who have been under the care of midwives are more likely to have a better outcome at the birth than those who haven’t.

Finding a midwife

Unfortunately Germany, like many countries, has experienced a shortage of midwives. However, during the coronavirus pandemic, Germany allowed midwives to offer online support, and this has opened up new opportunities. It means you can consult a midwife anywhere in Germany, no matter where you live, and get answers and support.

Your first step on discovering you are pregnant should be to find a midwife, and a place for the birth. Finding a midwife can be tricky, so it’s best to start looking as soon as possible.

Here are some options for finding a midwife in your area:

  • Simply Google ‘Hebamme’ and the name of the area you live in
  • Ask your doctor – they will be able to provide you with a ‘Hebbamennliste’: a booklet with the contact details of all the midwives in your area
  • Ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations
  • Have a look on Facebook: you will often find groups called ‘Hebammenvermittlung’ plus the name of your city
  • International groups on Facebook can also be a useful source of information
  • Take a look at these sites:
  • hebammensuche.de
  • gkv-spitzenverband.de/service/versicherten_service/hebammenliste/hebammenliste.jsp
  • ammely.de

Although it would be great to have all your services in one place, it’s often not possible. It’s probably better to see a midwife during your pregnancy, even if she is not one who can take care of you in the postnatal period. You can always be looking for a postnatal midwife as your pregnancy progresses.

Birth is the start of life, and everyone deserves the best start in life.

Useful terms

  • Antenatal care: Vorsorge
  • Antenatal course: Geburtzvorbereitung
  • Birth centre: Geburtshaus
  • Gynaecologist/OB-GYN: Frauenartzt, Frauenärztin
  • Home birth: Hausgeburt
  • Labour ward: Kreisssal
  • Midwife: Hebamme
  • Midwife with visiting rights: Beleghebamme
  • Postnatal care: Nachsorge/Wochenbett

Jutta Wohlrab has been an international midwife for 38 years and a hypnotherapist for 15 years. She has dedicated her career to guiding expecting parents to a joyful, safe and happy birth.  In her book “Happy Birthing Mind”, she shares all her tips and secrets about reducing pain, releasing fears and feeling calm and confident about giving birth. She is also an international speaker and teaches her methods to birth professionals all over the world.

Brainhacking & Brainjogging with Dr. Caroline Böttiger

The Human Brain: from Brainhacking to Brainjogging

In this article, our partner Dr. Caroline Böttiger, neuroscientist and psychotherapist, will give us an overview of some scientific methods that help us improve the health of the human brain!

We know that the human brain is one of the most complex organs that exist and we are far from really understanding its functions. However, science has developed various techniques to measure, analyze and dissect it. We now know in which area of our brain we speak, feel, hear or see. In addition, we also found out what keeps us concentrated and how the brain puts us to sleep. In parallel, we started to use these insights to cure multiple brain diseases, but we can also use them to preventively train our brain to concentrate better (by literally taking our brain to the gym).

How does the fitness studio for the human brain look like?

The activation states of our brain are defined by wavelengths. There is a pacemaker deep within our brain that defines how awake and concentrated we are. This pacemaker stimulates different types of neurons, each of them being responsible for different frequencies. Slow frequencies put the brain asleep and high frequencies cause alertness.

Therefore, if you want to increase your focus and concentration, you need to stimulate the neurons in the corresponding frequency range. The brain fitness studio does, of course, look a little bit different than a gym where you train your muscles: it uses amplifiers, electrodes and a computer. However, there is a big similarity: what you stimulate over a certain amount of time will start to grow. This brainjogging method is called “Neurofeedback”.

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a scientifically recognized method used worldwide to measure and improve human brain activity. During the neurofeedback training, measuring electrodes are attached to the outside of the head. By measuring human brain activity, an EEG (electroencephalogram) is generated. Patients themselves do not feel anything from the EEG recording. The EEG measures all relevant brain waves and forwards them to a computer. A special computer program divides the brain waves into frequency ranges. All important data is measured in real time and made visible to the patient in the form of a video as a feedback on his brain activity.

Optimal human brain waves can be differentiated from stressful ones. As soon the patient reacts with stressful brain activity, the video stops until the brain activity goes back to the more efficient frequencies. This stimulates the growth of neurons specialized in the optimal brain waves. With ongoing training, you will increase your ability to concentrate and pay attention.

How much do we need to train our brains?

In order to have a long lasting effect, you need to train your brain 20-40 times, at a frequency of about 1-2 times a week. This is not too much when you think about the fact that the effect on better concentration will improve your brain for the rest of your life!

We hope that you found this article useful and it helped you better understand how to train your brain’s abilities. If you want to find out more information about Dr. Caroline Böttiger’s services, do not hesitate to check out her contact details here. And remember: mens sana, in corpore sano!

Bringing your Family to Germany

Bringing your Family to Germany: Step by Step

We are aware of the fact that moving to a new country can be very challenging, especially if you find yourself alone through all the changes that you have to face. Therefore, being able to bring your family to Germany with you can make the whole experience so much easier. This is why we would like to offer you all the information that you need to know in order to reunite your family in Germany – keep reading!

EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens

If you and your relatives are citizens from the European Union, European Economic Area or Switzerland, there are no kind of restrictions for them to enter Germany. They do not need a visa nor a residence permit to move to the country and they can stay there for as long as they want to.

Rest of citizens

For the rest of nationals, there are some requirements to meet in order to bring your family to the country. First of all, you must be in possession of a valid residence permit. There are four kinds of residence permits that allow expats to bring their family members to Germany: the EU Blue Card, the long-term residence permit, the settlement permit and the residence permit for highly-qualified individuals. If you want to find out more information about what kind of visa you and your relatives will need, you should check the website of the German Federal Foreign Office.

Official requirements

Once you make sure that you have a valid residence permit that allows you to bring your family to Germany, you must be able to prove the German government that you are financially stable. This means that you can support yourself and your family members with regards to funds, accommodation and health insurance. The German government claims that every family needs to have “sufficient living space” and all the household facilities must be included in the property.

If you wish to bring your wife or husband to Germany, you must be able to prove that they are officially your partner. Therefore, you will need to provide a marriage certificate or a civil partnership record.

With regards to family reunification, you must prove that you have the custody of your children. However, if both parents share custody of the child and one of them is not moving to Germany, the other parent must provide their consent before the child can move to the country.

Identity

The last step is related to the verification of the identity and nationality of your family members. For this purpose, they must be in possession of a valid passport. Since the German government needs evidence that this person will enter Germany legally and not pose any kind of threat to the country, their criminal record might be required in some cases.

There are many benefits to sharing a family life in Germany due to its safety, its high-quality school system and many others advantages. We hope that this guideline helped you understand all the steps that you need to follow if you want to bring your family to Germany!

Join the Community!

The most important to a make new country home, is building friendships and networking. We highly recommend you to join our Facebook Group “Project Expat Community” to connect with other Expats in your city and to stay tuned about Project Expat Events and new Partners.

Public Transportation Germany

Public Transport in Germany: The Ultimate Guideline

As an expat living in Germany, we know that the functioning of public transport can be quite confusing. However, once you get used to it, you will realise that Germany has one of the most efficient transportation systems in Europe and most people use public transport to get around, especially in big cities.

There are five different types of transport that are often used: S-Bahn, U-Bahn, regional trains, trams and bus. Let’s find out more about them!

S-Bahn

S-Bahn is the name given to hybrid urban-suburban rail lines that serve a metropolitan region. It connects the suburbs and commuter regions to the city centre and the main railway station.  The acronym S-Bahn stands for Schnellbahn or Stadtschnellbahn (city rapid rail), and therefore it is the fastest mode of public transport that we can find in Germany. These trains usually provide second class only and seats are taken without reservation. If you find yourself in a Hauptbahnhof and must take the S-Bahn, just follow the signs with a white “S” on a green background and you will easily reach it.

U-Bahn

In Germany, there are only 4 U-Bahn systems that we can find in larger cities: Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Nuremberg. The U-Bahn (or Untergrundbahn) is the German term for the metro, subway, underground or “Tube”, as it is called in English. In most stations, you can transfer from the S-Bahn to the U-Bahn (or vice versa) using the same ticket, and a blue sign with a white U on it will help you identify a U-Bahn station. Regarding timetables, both S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains usually run all night over the weekend, which makes them extremely practical after a night out!

Regional trains

No matter how long you have been in Germany for, we are sure that you are familiar with the famous Deutsche Bahn (DB) already. Despite its common delays, regional trains in Germany offer you the possibility to travel around the country easily for reasonable prices. There are two different types of trains offered by the DB: RegionalBahn (RB) trains, which offer several stops, and RegionalExpress (RE) trains, which are faster but have fewer stops.

If you travel by train quite often, we recommend you to download the Deutsche Bahn app on your phone. This way, you can have access to your tickets and up-to-date departure information at all times. In addition, it is possible to purchase the so-called BahnCard that will get you a discount of 25% or 50% of the total price depending on your choice, so travelling around Germany can be very affordable.

Buses and trams

Unlike in other cities, the bus and tram system in Germany works as well as the rail lines. They have multiple stops within the city centre and many German cities rely on buses and trams to connect distant locations and operate late into the night when the rest of forms of public transport are unavailable. In general, tram stops are combined with bus stops and the symbol for both is a green H in a yellow circle.

Buying tickets for public transport

The most common way to get your tickets is to buy them from a ticket machine at any of the stations. Before you board the train, you must validate your ticket using the ticket validator machine (Entwerter) at the platform, which stamps the ticket with a date and a time code. In the case of buses and trams, you can get your tickets directly from the bus driver or from the ticket machine on trams. Likewise, you need to validate it as soon as you get on them. Don’t forget to do this, otherwise, it will be the same as if you didn’t pay for your tickets.

Since you do not need to pass any kind of barrier or ticket check to enter the different means of public transport in Germany, some people may feel tempted not to buy tickets. Nevertheless, you never know when a controller might swing by to check that everyone has a valid ticket. If you get caught without one, you will have to pay a 60 € fine, so it is definitely not worth risking it!

Tickets prices

Concerning the price of your tickets, there is a zone system in most German cities that will determine the amount of money that you have to pay. For instance, Berlin is divided into three zones: A, B and C. The further out of the city that you go to (zone C), the more you have to pay. The different zones can be found on the S-Bahn or U-Bahn maps, which are available online and at the stations.

We are aware of how tricky it can be to become familiar with the way that public transport works in Germany. We really hope that you found this article useful and that you won’t get lost trying to find your way around the cities!

 

 

Best day trip ideas in Germany

A Day Trip in Germany: 5 Top Ideas

As we transition from the cold and moody weather to the sunny and lovely summer, we all start to get excited about the upcoming holiday season. If you’re tired of always hanging out with your friends in the same old boring places and are looking for alternative plans, we’re here to help. There are a lot of beautiful hidden jewels worth visiting on a day trip in Germany, so let’s dive right into them!

Zugspitze – a nature’s gem

Being the highest mountain in Germany, it goes without saying that this beautiful location will blow your mind away. The Zugspitze is situated on the Austrian border –in the southern part of a town called Garmisch-Partenkirchen– and is fairly easy to reach by public transport, especially by train.

For those of us who wish to escape the everyday stress of vibrant cities, this spot in the Bavarian Alps is the definition of paradise. Whether you’re a hiking enthusiast or a nature lover, a breath-taking view of more than 400 summits in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy awaits you on the top of the mountain. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a professional athlete to climb the Zugspitze – there are easier routes that lead to its peak and it is also possible to hop on a cable car!

The best time of the year to visit this magnificent scenery is the month of August, since the risk of avalanche is lower during the summer. Biking, hiking, strolling around with your friends or simply tasting some traditional Bavarian dishes – we are sure that this day trip in Germany won’t disappoint you!

Starnberger See – the best getaway

If you want to take a break from the crowd in Munich and enjoy some quality time while you breath fresh air, Starnberger See is the place to go. Less than one hour and a half away from the capital by S-Bahn train, the second largest lake of the Bavarian state offers an endless range of options to choose from.

From a cultural point of view, Starnberger See holds a significant historical value, since the king Ludwig II drowned there in 1886. However, despite being a popular touristic destination, you may as well find the peaceful moments you’re searching for.

Several paths along the shore will allow you to have relaxing walks and find nice cafes, restaurants and even Biergartens with an impressive view of the Alps in the background. Besides having picnics and going for a swim with your friends, it is also possible to take a boat tour from spring to autumn and explore the villages and properties around the lake. Trust us, it will be worth it!

Heidelberg – a picturesque old town

Located in the state of Baden-Württemberg, Heidelberg is one of those cities that you cannot miss as a day trip in Germany. Once you set foot in this town, you will feel like you stepped into the pages of a fairytale. If you don’t trust us, a quick Google search will be more than enough to get a glimpse of what we’re talking about.

This quaint city surrounded by forests becomes even more captivating in the spring, when flowers start blooming and the sun shines bright. With a medieval castle and a charming market square, there is almost nothing that this town cannot offer. Its main streets are bustling with visitors who enjoy wandering around the city and dining in good restaurants, while a stroll around the Neckar River will help you connect with nature. What’s more, we forgot to mention that Heidelberg is a famous university town, and therefore its nightlife will not disappoint you!

Bodensee – an exciting adventure

Bodensee, also known as Lake Constance, is a wonderful summer retreat during the hottest months of the year. Many cities have direct connections to the lake by train, including Karlsruhe, Munich, and Stuttgart, which makes it the perfect day trip in Germany to plan with your friends!

Not only will you be able to go on a boat ride and visit the idyllic Mainau Island, but also you will have the chance to test your adventurous skills. Action and water sports are the most popular activities at Bodensee. If you are ready for an adrenaline shot, there are several options for you: you can try windsurfing, stand up paddling, canoe trips, diving, sailing and so much more.

In case you prefer to have a calm sunbathing day, you can always choose to stay on the shore. However, you should keep in mind that the water temperature below the surface is really cold (since it is fed by the Alps), so be ready to soak the full experience in!

Neuschwanstein – the Disney fantasy

The German castle that inspired Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle is a must-see for all the Disney fans out there. This 19th century Romanesque palace is one of the most popular touristic attractions in Germany, but this shouldn’t stop you from visiting it. Trekking up to the castle of the King Ludwig II is a magical experience from start to finish. Its magnificent architecture along with the marvellous landscape that surrounds it make it the perfect choice to spend a day with family and friends.

For Instagram lovers, taking the best pictures will be the highlight of the trip. We highly recommend you to walk up to the recently restored Marienbrücke, which bridges the Pollät Gorge waterfall and provides a spectacular panoramic view of Neuschwanstein and the nature around it.

Even though it is possible to reach the castle by public transport, there are no direct connections and it can take quite some time, which is why it might be better to book a one day trip from Munich that will take you directly to the castle and includes a guided tour to visit its interior.

 

If you’re still a bit skeptical about these trips due to their expenses, we have good news for you: as fuel prices continue to rise, the German government will offer a 9-euro ticket for unlimited trains, buses and trams from the 1st of June with the aim of encouraging citizens to take public transport. If you want to get more information about this ticket, check out their webpage. This means that you can spend a weekend in Berlin with your friends and head back home for only nine euros! How does it sound?

ENT doctor

Everything You Need to Know about an ENT doctor (HNO)

We know that deciding whether we need to pay a visit to a general practitioner or another specialist can be quite difficult, especially if you are an expat who recently moved to Germany and is still not used to the national healthcare system. If this is the case, don’t worry – we are here to help you. Do you know what an ENT is responsible for and when we should see this doctor? Let’s find out more about it on this article!

What is an ENT doctor?

Our partner Prof. Dr. med. Markus Hambek, ENT in Frankfurt, explains that the acronym ENT stands for “ear, nose and throat”. Therefore, an ENT doctor specializes in every disease that is related to those parts of the body and are also referred to as otolaryngologists. Yes, we know that this term can sound quite difficult, but it actually comes from Ancient Greek and it makes total sense: ὠτός otos, meaning “ear”; ῥίς rhis, meaning “nose”; λάρυγξ larynx, meaning “larynx” and λογία logia, meaning “study”. In German, ENT doctor is translated into HNO-Arzt, which stands for “Hals, Nasen and Ohrenheilkunde”.

When should you visit an ENT doctor?

In general, if you have problems with your ears, nose, throat or neck, you should look for an appointment with an ENT doctor. It is true that a general practitioner could provide a general examination of moderate diseases. Nevertheless, there are many occasions in which you should seek a specialist. Since the ear is a very complex organ and its connection to the throat, nose and neck is very delicate, an ENT doctor can always give more thorough advice than a GP could.

What are the most common conditions?

Severe ear pain, sudden hearing loss, swallowing and speech problems, sinusitis or swollen lymph nodes are some of the most common reasons to visit an ENT doctor. We are very familiar with some of these problems: for instance, ear infection or nose bleeding are very common among children. However, not everyone is conscious of the importance to visit an ENT doctor and there is a considerable lack of information about how we should treat these organs.

Have you ever wondered how often we should clean our ears? There is a widespread myth that we should be doing it every day. However, ENT doctors recommend not to clean them daily with cotton swabs, since the ear canal has a self-cleaning mechanism. The cerumen prevents the dehydration of the ear canal, so removing it with our own fingers should be enough.

Additionally, some HNO doctors are also allergologists. If you have symptoms like recurrent sneezing or long-lasting cough, they will be able to help you with a treatment for your allergy.

How should an ENT doctor help you?

The doctor and the patient always make the decision for a medical procedure together. The good indication given by the doctor represents his real and intellectual achievement. It is also the doctor’s responsibility to enable thepatient to be participle in the decision making doctor by providing comprehensive advice and information.

In other cases, ache or discomfort in the ear-nose-throat-neck area can also be caused by diseases sprouting fromother disciplines. It is important to bear this in mind in order to take the necessary steps accordingly. In suchcircumstances, the ENT doctor will get in touch with renowned colleagues in the respective departments of specialization. The competence in the particular case is decisive.

We hope that you found this article useful and that it helped you better understand when you should visit an ENT doctor. If you wish to find out more information about Prof. Dr. med. Hambek, check out his contact details here. And remember: an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

German Superstitions

German Superstitions – Common “Aberglaube” in Germany

No matter where you come from, we are sure you are familiar with some strange superstitions. As irrational as they might be, we all have an overly superstitious friend – sometimes, we are even that friend! Every country has its own odd beliefs and Germany is not an exception to the rule. Whether you consider yourself to be a superstitious person or not, if you recently moved to Germany and want to avoid some awkward situations, it might be useful to get to know some of the most common beliefs across the country. Here’s a guide to the top must-know German superstitions!

Friday 13th

Every time the 13th day of the month happens to fall on a Friday, it is traditionally considered to bring bad luck in many countries around the world, especially in Western cultures. In Germany, this day is also thought to be an unlucky day. For instance, some Germans prefer not to take a plane on Friday 13th just in case something bad happens.

Knock on wood

We all know that knocking on wood three times is an international sign of superstition. In Germany, it is common to touch a piece of wood right after you mention something that you might find scary or that you don’t want to happen. As a curious fact, the material Italians touch is iron.

Prost

If you go out for drinks with your German friends and they suggest making a toast, be careful about where you are looking at. While raising their glasses and saying Prost, they will always make eye contact. Not looking into the eyes of your friends is not only considered to be rude, but it can also bring you seven years of bad luck in your sex life, so make sure you remember this rule!

Toi toi toi

Coming from abroad, the meaning behind this one might surprise you most out of all German superstitions. The phrase “toi, toi, toi” traces its origins back to the old tradition of spitting over your shoulder three times in order to keep the devil or other bad spirits away. Of course, spitting on someone is not the nicest thing to do! That’s why Germans thought that imitating this sound would be a kinder way to wish someone good luck – dankeschön for the consideration, I guess!

Never an early birthday

Even though in other parts of the world we might think it is nice to wish our friends a happy birthday in advance if we throw a surprise birthday party for them, this is something most Germans will freak about. However, there is a reasonable explanation to this belief. In German, there are two ways to send well-wishes for someone’s birthday: Zum Geburtstag viel Glück and Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, meaning “good luck on your birthday” and “all the best for your birthday”, respectively. Therefore, they think that this good luck should only come on their day of birth; receiving it before will only have the opposite effect and bring them bad luck!

Forbidden gifts

When looking for a gift for your loved ones, make sure you never make the mistake of buying the two cursed gifts in Germany: knives and shoes.

If your friend recently moved to a new apartment, you could come up with the idea of getting him or her a present for their home. Keep this in mind: never a knife! According to old German beliefs, knives are likely to cut the ties of a relationship or cause serious injuries when gifted. On the other hand, you should know that the best housewarming presents in Germany are bread (Brot) and salt (Salz), since the belief is that bread provides your household with enough food and salt represents wealth and prosperity.
Last but not least, cross shoes off your gifts list unless you want your partner to run away in them – it would be your own fault!

Creepy ladders

Walking under a ladder supposedly brings bad luck worldwide, including Germany, but have you ever wondered why? This superstition goes back to ancient Egypt times. When a ladder leans against a wall, it forms a triangle shape, which Egyptians considered to be sacred. In their culture, triangles symbolised the trinity of gods and passing through them would mean dishonouring the deities.

Better broken than apart

Breaking a plate as a child would make your parents upset for the rest of the week. However, there is a special occasion in Germany in which you can make someone very happy with it. Yes, as weird as it may sound, breaking a plate or any kind of old ceramic pottery the evening before a wedding is another one of those old German superstitions and a tradition known as Polterabend. It is believed to bring good luck (especially if the bride and groom-to-be work together to pick up the broken dishes) since the thunderous sound of ceramic breaking is thought to ward off the evil. So, if you want your marriage to last, get ready to invest some money on new crockery!

Regardless of whether you believe in these German superstitions or not, we hope that this article helped you understand some local beliefs better and bring you the best of lucks. After all, we all prefer not to risk it for the biscuit!