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Read on for for our Blog on 5 Step Relocation Plan: Moving to Germany
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. Overall, 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. Therefore, 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
The DONATH relocation experts can assist with a wide range of time-consuming tasks when moving to a new residence:
school and kindergarten search (if applicable)
preparation of visa application
formalities and administrative paperwork
integration of the family
all questions relating to pets, etc.
This allows you to focus on your new professional challenge while the experts take care of everything else.
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.
Pack up your personal belongings and set them aside. Valuables, keys, documents and passports should be packed in a separate bag that you keep with you at all times. 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.
Step 4: Moving day
Don´t forget taking a day off work on your moving day. To ensure a smooth transition to Germany for the whole family, why not arrange for some trusted relatives or friends to look after your children during moving day?
Don’t forget to pack all of your most precious possessions and make sure you include plenty of snacks and refreshments – keeping everyone’s spirits up! 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!
Moving to a new home can be an exciting and empowering experience. However, it’s important not to forget one key step: reaching out to various organizations such as banks, registration offices and insurance companies so they are aware of your updated address!
Any questions left? Do not hesitate to get in touch with our partners at DONATH Moving & Relocation. You will not regret it!
In this article, from Brainhacking to Brainjogging, 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, analyse and dissect it. Particularly 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. Of course, the brain fitness studio does, 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 revolutionary technique that uses EEG recordings to assess and bolster human brain activity – empowering individuals with improved mental performance. By placing electrodes on the scalp, specialists are able to capture electrical signals from various parts of the brain and translate them into an electroencephalogram (EEG) – a unique assessment providing valuable insight. 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. Video feedback on brain activity is shown to the patient.
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. Therefore, 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:
1-2 times a week.
Moreover, 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!
Driving in Glorious Germany! Germany is known for its highways. On many routes, there is no speed limit. The highway network stretches all over Germany and you can quickly get from one city to the next (if there are no traffic jams).
Whether you have your own car, rent a car, or use car-sharing, having a valid driver’s license as an expat in Germany is definitely a big advantage.
Driving in Germany with a foreign license
If you come from an EU or EEA country (European economic area) country, your driver’s license is valid until the expiry of its term of validity.
If you come from a third country, your foreign driver’s license is valid for 6 months. The start of the period is the registration of a residence in Germany. A translation must be included if the license is not in English.
To continue driving in Germany after 6 months, the foreign driver’s license must be exchanged for a German one. The process depends on the country in which the license was issued.
In some cases, there is no need for a theoretical or practical exam. For example, when the minimum EU standards for driving tests are given.
If you are from a country where an exam is required, you need to pass the driving theory and practical test. The good thing is, you don’t have to take theory and driving lessons. You can decide on your own if and when you want to absolve the test.
Steps to get a German driver’s license
1. Choose the driver’s license class
In Germany, we have different driver’s license classes depending on what kind of license you want to achieve. Here is a rough overview of the different classes:
A / A1 / A2 / AM / Mofa / B197: Motorcycle driver’s license
B / B96 / BE / B197: passenger car driver’s license
C / C1 / C1E / CE: Truck driver’s license
2. Prerequisite for the driving test in Germany
When registering for a driver’s license you have to fulfil some requirements.
ID or passport
Biometrical passport photo
3. Choose the right driving school in Germany
In Germany, there exists a variety of driving schools. It might be difficult to choose one if you don’t have any references. Project Expat can help you to find the right driving school for you. Check out our driving school service partners here.
Once you have chosen a driving school, you will receive a training plan and training materials. You may need to attend a certain number of theory lessons before you can take the exam.
The practical training consists of several driving lessons with a driving instructor. Night and highway driving are also included. Depending on your driving behaviour and experience, you may have more or fewer driving hours.
4. Getting your driver’s license
The practical driving test takes place with your driving instructor and an examiner. If you pass the test, the examiner will issue you with a temporary driver’s license. Then you can get your permanent license at the traffic authority.
Tips for driving in Germany
When renting a car, most of the time you still get manual models. So, remember when booking to choose an automatic one if you feel more comfortable with it.
Germany is famous for its Autobahnen or motorways. There is generally no speed limit on highways. However, restrictions often apply when the roads pass cities. Therefore, always keep your eyes open and observe the speed limits.
Furthermore, always drive in the right lane. You can pass other cars by using the left lane.
No drinking and driving
For novice drivers in the probationary period and drivers under 21, the limit of 0.0 per mille (0 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood) applies.
The general blood-alcohol limit for driving is 0.5 per mille (= 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, or 0,05%). Drivers who endanger traffic must expect to be punished from a blood-alcohol level of 0.3 per mille.
Watch out for pedestrians
In German cities, the speed limit is reduced to 50km/h. Often only 30 km/h is allowed to take pedestrians into account. If there is a pedestrian zone you are often not allowed to drive at all or only at walking speed. Here pedestrians have the right of way.
Driving a car in Germany has many advantages. On the one hand, you can explore the country very well by car and can reach even smaller villages and remote sights.
If you live in Germany for a longer period of time, a German driver’s license is indispensable. With a car, you can make your everyday life easier in many ways.
Often the move to another country is very stressful. You have many things to organize and want to find a nice new home. With the stress of moving, there is often no time to focus on learning German. But studying the local language is vital for a successful integration.
In this blog article we will show you why it is important to learn German and how you can easily get started.
Why is learning German useful?
Studying German for a good work experience
If you are an expat living in Germany, having a good command of English is often sufficient in your professional life. But besides professional discussions, private conversations and small talks among work colleagues are often spoken in German. In order to connect and get to know your colleagues better, it is vital to have a basic knowledge of German.
Some employers support their foreign employees with internal language courses or subsidize courses at German language schools.
Discover extensive professional German language courses here.
Some foreigners do not have a permanent job in Germany yet and are just in the application phase. Here it is even more important to learn German. It is a great advantage if you have a basic knowledge of German for job interviews. This way you can stand out from other applicants and show your interest in the country and the language.
Learning German to get along well in everyday life
Even if German is not necessarily required in a professional context, you can benefit from German skills in everyday life. For example, at the checkout in the supermarket, for bureaucracy matters, parent teacher conferences, and other events. Many Germans have little knowledge of English or feel uncomfortable speaking in another language. If you learn German, you can accomplish many things more easily.
Furthermore, if you want to volunteer or work in a club, learning German is important. You can make new friends and attend in sports activities more easily.
The sooner you start learning German, the easier it will be for you to participate in society and lead a self-determined life in Germany. Besides the German language, values and culture are also important to know. Almost all German language schools teach both – language and values.
How to start learning German?
You can learn German in different ways. If you already have a full-time job, you will probably only have free time to learn in the evenings or on weekends. There are evening and weekend courses, intensive courses and now a wide range of online courses. Have a look at our language partner Goethe Institut.
Furthermore, you have the opportunity to complete various German exams. According to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), we distinguish between the following levels:
A1 and A2: This level is aimed at language beginners with no or very little previous knowledge.
B1 and B2: As an advanced language student, you will expand and deepen your knowledge and will be able to communicate independently in your job and everyday life after graduation.
C1 and C2: After completing the highest level, you will have German skills comparable to a native speaker.
Learning German is not easy for many foreigners. This can be due to various reasons. Learning a foreign language alongside a full-time job can be very tiring. You often must take care of your family on the side, leaving little time for learning.
But the effort is worth it. You will quickly notice that with time and practice, you will get better and better and will be able to establish social contacts in a way that would have been difficult without German language skills.
Berlin the German Capital! Everybody knows Berlin or at least has heard of it, which is why many expats in Germany prefer moving to Berlin when starting their stay in the nation. This city has become increasingly popular worldwide in recent decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall, both as a tourist destination and a place to settle down.
This is true not only for Germans but for people from all over the world. These facts have led to Berlin’s international cosmopolitan flair and charm. When you are strolling through the streets of Berlin, you can see the internationality not only in the people but also in the restaurants.
Even the art scene presents to its audience artists from all over the world. The Berlin International Film Festival has been one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world for decades. One could continue this list endlessly, but everyone who comes to Berlin has his/her own preferences that are important to him/her. Berliners themselves have become accustomed to living in a multicultural society. For example, Berlin is home to the largest Turkish community outside of Turkey.
In addition to this modernity, you can always find small retreats that offer you peace and relaxation. The residents of each district and neighbourhood have a strong influence on that area, so they all differ from one another. For instance, you will find variety in what the pubs and cafés have to offer and their designs. Something you will find in every district in Berlin is Spätis. Spätis are small shops that sell goods to customers until late at night.
Living in Berlin
Moving to Berlin means learning the special vocabulary for Germans as well as for foreigners. As mentioned above, Späti is one of them. Another one would be Schrippe, which is a word for bun. Fisimatenten describes the word excuses, and meschugge is another word for crazy, for instance. Familiarity with them is something that everyone has to acquire. One must also know that Kiez is the word the district one lives in. What everyone should take into account is that rents in Berlin have gone up quite a bit. This means you should have enough on your hands time to search and find a suitable apartment.
It is also helpful to concentrate on one or two neighbourhoods to get insider tips to make an informed choice. For instance, an insider tip could be about regular viewings, which usually involve a massive crowd of people that reduces your chances of seeing the property correctly and evaluating its condition. These facts await someone in everyday life of Berlin.
There are many sights to see in Berlin, and it can be difficult to know where to start. However, after a while, everyone will find the sights they are interested in. Therefore, we will mention only the really famous ones everybody should visit. Remember that this list is not a rating of the sights but is just a list.
Der deutsche Reichtstag
The German Reichstag is an impressive building and the seat of the German parliament. Its architecture, history, and awe-inspiring view from the roof or the dome are already something exceptional that everyone should have seen.
Die Berliner Mauer
A gigantic wall ran right through Berlin until reunification, dividing the city into East and West Berlin. Even today, you can see parts of it along the 7-kilometer-long Wall Trail. The path starts at Potsdamer Platz and ends at WarschauerStraße. On your way, you’ll pass the permanent exhibition “Topography of Horror,” which combines the original form of the wall with stories from people who were affected by its cruelty.
Das Brandenburger Tor
The Brandenburg Gate was a component of the Berlin Customs Wall. Construction of the Berlin Cathedral began during the reign of Frederick William II and was completed in 1791. On it, there is the Quadriga. In the chariot pulled by four horses is Victoria, the Roman Goddess of victory.
The TV tower is the highest tower in Germany that stands tall at 368 metres. It is located at the Alex and, of course, offers an incredible 360-degree view over the entire city. The most beautiful view is during sunset, when the city is bathed in a beautiful light.
Gendarmenmarkt is Berlin’s most beautiful square. It is located between three large buildings. In the centre is the Concert Hall of Berlin. On the sides, you can look at the German and French cathedrals. The market is a place to linger with exciting and interesting restaurants and cafés.
The Museum Island is part of the Unesco World Heritage Site, where you will find several museums such as the Bode Museum, the Old Museum, the New Museum, the Pergamon Museum, and the Old National Gallery. The best way to learn about the exhibitions hosted here is to search online.
Last but not least is the Spree. To experience Berlin from the water is something very special as a boat trip is totally worth it. Berlin’s many sights can be seen from the banks of the Spree. In addition, there are several landing stages where you can leave the boat or get back on. It’s a very relaxing way to visit the sights after moving to Berlin.
The topic of food in Berlin is a difficult one to discuss. Not because there is not enough excellence related to it, but you do not know where to start with your recommendations.
When you think of Berlin and traditional food as a German, you automatically have to think of currywurst and kebab. The city is full of currywurst stands and kebab stalls. the traditional dishes don’t correspond to the German mainstream, but are still worth a try. But of course there are also delicious, old dishes cooked according to grandma’s recipes. Berliners love boulettes with potato salad, false rabbit, a meatloaf stuffed with egg,. But there is also a false Heinrich, which is nothing more than bratwurst with false sauce and mashed potatoes!
Who of course wants something special must try quite clearly Königsberger Klopse, They are an East German specialty. It consists of Frikadellen in a Bechamel sauce with capers. Despite having the reputation of being poor but sexy, Berliners still prefer simple dishes. Potato soup with sausages is just as popular as liver with apple, onion and mashed potatoes. For those who like it meaty, it must be Kassler with sauerkraut, fierce and crude. However, it is a dish that corresponds to the basic idea of our capital, keep it simple.
Cured pork knuckle with pea puree, is another Berlin specialty worth trying.
Brined eggs are a traditional dish that is often served in Berlin pubs. They are hard-boiled eggs that have been pickled in a strong saline solution and thus preserved. Rollmops is herring fillet with a filling of onions and gherkins rolled into it. The rollmops is held together by two small wooden sticks. It is not eaten with cutlery, but put into the mouth as a whole and is a traditional part of the hangover breakfast.
In Brandenburg, the special Teltower Rübchen can be consumed both raw and steamed. To finish off the meal, Berliner Luft is suggested – a cream dish accompanied by raspberry sauce or Berliner pancakes. As for drinks, it is recommended to try a Berliner Weisse with shot; this type of wheat beer comes with either raspberry syrup or woodruff. It is probably common worldwide, one could still list numerous dishes that are typical of Berlin, if you move there, you will in the course of time, certainly get to know one or the other curiosity of the local cuisine. Have fun tasting!
If you’re looking for traditional Berlin fare, you should definitely try currywurst and kebab. There’s no shortage of great places to get these dishes, but one restaurant that really stands out is Borchardt. Borchardt has been serving up delicious food for over 150 years and is a favourite among celebrities and politicians. Whether you’re in the mood for something sweet, savoury, or spicy, Borchardt has something to suit your taste.
Another interesting place is ClärchensBallhaus. Established in 1913, the restaurant offers fresh food, which is a combination of traditional dishes with modern influences. Another interesting fact is that they offer dance classes and concerts as well.
Spindler is also a restaurant you should try after moving to Berlin. The cuisine at Spindler is modern, French-inspired, and cosmopolitan. The restaurant overlooks the Spree River and provides an amazing view while serving delicious food.
Cafe Botanico grows all the vegetables they use themselves. Moreover, the pasta is homemade. The farm-to-table restaurant with its own 1,000 square meter permaculture garden in the middle of Berlin works sustainably and with a consistent low-waste approach. The target group here is guests of all kinds who come by not only because the food is organic or fair but because it tastes good and makes them feel good.
Tisk is an old German word for table. The two chefs come from East and West Berlin. They want to combine and present traditional Berlin cuisine with flavours and spices from around the world. At the Tisk, diners can observe their meals being cooked in the open kitchen. Berlin also offers several food markets where one can eat throughout the whole day. You will just have to keep your eyes open though when you visit these food markets after moving to Berlin.
Due to the large size of Berlin, public transportation has been very well established. Public transport in Berlin consists of a rapid transit system with S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains as well as RE and RB trains. Politically limited mainly to the eastern half of the city, there is also a large streetcar network. In addition, there is a citywide bus network, so that citizens can cope with everyday life well and quickly. The only drawback is the BER. The grand opening of Willy Brand Airport, originally slated for 2011, was ultimately delayed until 2020 due to faulty planning and rising construction costs. Today, 46 million passengers a year can use the national and international flight routes. It is precisely these special exceptions that make Berlin endearing and special.
The Berlin dialect is something very special. An important tip for new Berliners is not to try to speak it yourself. It will always sound funny and disturb Berliners. The people of the capital are known for their “Berlin snout,” a saying that is often used in various situations. Although it can be taken as a slight, it’s usually said casually and should not be taken too seriously; it’s just their way of speaking freely. That means they don’t mince words and get straight to the point.
In time, you will become accustomed to it and be able to correctly categorize it.
Here, the most significant proverbs and terms will be enumerated:
Icke stands for I, for example, that you should know as a tourist or expat.
Dit is mir schnurz piepe! means that the matter is not important to the person. Nu aba ran an de Buletten! stands for the fact that one really has to tackle something now.
Dit find ich Knorke means I think that’s great!
Pass ma uff Keule! In Berlin, Keule stands for brother or buddy – “Pass ma uff Keule” means something like “Watch out” or “Listen up, friend”. Note that the warning is not intended to be overly friendly; make sure you take heed.
Keene Haare uff’m Kopp, aba ‘n Kamm inner Tasche! No hair on your head, but a comb in your pocket! This phrase from Berlin jargon is perfect to describe a fake person, an imposter or someone who likes to boast.
Regarding the dialect, one can also only say that it is a real challenge for everyone. This is true not only for expats, but also for Germans who decide to move to Berlin. One can only say that everyone who comes here needs a lot of patience to learn and understand this unique dialect. Good luck!
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