Four reasons to live in a WG in Germany

A WG in Lövenich (Köln) Photo: Jay Malone

I’ve spent approximately four years of my life in Germany all told, and (almost) everywhere I’ve lived has been incredible. In Berlin, I lived in a massive Kreuzberg loft, with 5 meter tall ceilings and a common room big enough to stage operas, which a few friends of mine actually did once. In Heidelberg, I found myself living in a vacation home, sleeping on one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever been fortunate to lay down upon. In Lueneburg, I lived with a family who had their own sauna, which I partook of more than twice.

All of these experiences predated the start of my life as a full-time student here in Germany and my first Wohngemeinschaft (shared flat or “WG” for short). And even though I loved my experiences in Berlin, Lueneburg and Heidelberg, I’ve found since that WG living beats them all.

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Nude bathing and traffic signs: 10 things that didn’t fall with the Wall

Lichtgrenze - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Temporary Lichtgrenze in Berlin to celebrate 25 years since the fall of the Wall
PHOTO: Andrea Goldmann

Last Sunday (9th November) Berliners celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A momentous occasion movingly marked by temporarily dividing the city again with a 9-mile “Lichtgrenze” made up of illuminated white balloons along the old division, which were then let off into the misty night sky at the same time the first people crossed the border all those years ago. Though the few remaining stretches of the Wall in Berlin are only there for the sake of history and tourism, not all aspects of GDR-life have been so thoroughly dismantled. From politics to bathing habits, what has survived these past 25 years? 

1. Die Linke

The first minister president for Germany’s far left Die Linke party – the post re-unification successor of the SED, East Germany’s ruling party – is about to be elected in the former East German state of Thuringia. It’s a strongly contested result, not least by Chancellor Merkel and President Guack, who join many people in feeling uncomfortable at having a party so strongly associated with the East German regime in a position of such power. 

2. Rotkäppchen 

On a more light-hearted note, the GDR’s brand of sparkling wine is now hugely popular throughout Germany – it’s certainly what we buy whenever we get together with friends to celebrate.  Read more »

8 Things I Learned About Giving Birth in Germany

give birth in Germany

Newest Berliner BY: Erin Porter

I am 4 hours out of the hospital and already posting about giving birth in Germany. When anyone gets on the internet to write about an experience this quickly it could be because it was outrageously bad or overwhelming positive. Lucky for me (and other soon-to-be expat moms in Germany), I feel compelled to share 8 things I learned about giving birth in Germany because it was simply awesome.

I also feel a certain amount of duty as I am the recipient of some seriously good karma. No sooner had I announced I was pregnant in Germany without a clue then I started receiving advice on what to expect. People shared their experiences – the real nitty gritty – and general messages of support. When I felt truly freaked out I would go back and refer to their stories and feel stronger, knowing that people (like our German-Way team) had been here and done that. In an effort to pass it along, I am sharing a picture of my brand-new Berliner and a little bit of what I’ve learned . Read more »

Expat Tip: Want to Find Work in Germany? Have a Job.

There are some major cultural differences between German work culture and U.S. work culture, and many of them have been covered here on The German Way already (follow the link for the complete list!) From attitudes toward working mothers, or attitudes toward working women in general, to vacation time (ahh, 6 weeks is so civilized) and the Betriebsrat, newcomers to Germany have much to which they must adjust. One little secret I’d like to share with you today, however, isn’t one that gets mentioned in any expat guidebook: Germans like to hire employees who already have jobs. Read more »

So you want to work in Germany: Do you have to learn German?

In short, the answer is: Jein. Last week Jane wrote about the latest news on the abolition of university fees in Germany. I’m not sure how quickly non-German wannabe students will be flocking over here, but it is certainly a good deal! In recent months, I have encountered a number of expats living in Germany, some of whom speak German and some of whom don’t. So the question is, do you absolutely HAVE to speak German fluently in order to live and work here?

marktwain

Source: amazon.de

Of course you don’t have to do anything. I know a number of people who have been living here for more than five years who really don’t speak much German. They are doing just fine. However, I think there are a number of factors to consider and questions to ask yourself before you take the plunge and move to Germany without speaking German.

  • How comfortable are you going through your daily life not understanding what is being said around you?
  • Are you okay with not being understood by everyone?
  • Do you have the confidence to get the information you need, and are you ready to have to fight for it?
  • If you are looking for work, do you have skills that no one else has? Skills that will get you hired even without German?

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Free College Degrees in Germany

Get ‘em while they’re hot. If you are a German-related news junkie like we all are at the German Way, you might have seen your Facebook or Twitter feeds filled with headlines like these, “Free Tuition in Germany for All American Students” earlier this month.

While it is true, Americans along with all other non-Germans, can study in Germany tuition free, this isn’t actually new news. A sudden lifting of tuition for American students has not just occurred; it’s just that Lower Saxony, the last German federal state to have charged tuition, dropped their fees to create this attention-grabbing headline.

So if you are now wondering what the catch is, since there’s no free lunch, especially in a land that isn’t known for giving out smiles for free, you might be disappointed. There isn’t any real catch or hidden deal of indentured servitude, but an American considering taking up Germany on its offer for a free Bachelor’s should weigh the differences in outcome and expectations before making a decision. Read more »