Learning to Hate Deutsche Telekom

Door to Berlin

Door to an unconnected home

I had no strong feelings about German internet providers. Sure, I love TV and the internet, but how it got to me was of no concern. That is, til Deutsche Telekom screwed us over.

First, the good news. We have a new apartment! After months (and months) of searching for a bigger place to accommodate our little Berliner we found a classic Berlin altbau – all tall ceilings, double windows and hardwood floors. We love it.

But we knew we needed to do one thing as soon as possible – get our internet connected. We’ve heard it can take some time to get an appointment (even if it is as simple as flipping a switch) and we didn’t want to miss a day. Ha! Such naiveté. Turns out we still had some faith in German customer service which has now been thoroughly quashed.

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Moving to Germany: The Top 10 Things to Consider

Moving anywhere is a challenge. Even a short move across town can be problematic. An international move presents additional complications, but a little preparation will mean fewer hitches. Even if you are fortunate enough to be using the services of a relocation agent, you should be aware of the following ten factors to consider when moving to Germany.

Berlin apartment parking

Having a car in Germany can be a mixed blessing. Here: apartment parking in Berlin-Friedrichshain. PHOTO: Hyde Flippo

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1. Get Oriented
By “get oriented” I mean get to know the culture, the language, and the place where you’ll be living. This may seem obvious, but I am constantly amazed by how many new expats fail to do this. You’re moving to a new country with a culture and a language very different from what you’re used to. Don’t arrive in German-speaking Europe without at least some basic preparation. This is what our German Way site is all about! You’ll find all sorts of help here, and here are a few tips on what you need to learn: Continue reading

Online Lifelines

Remember that time not long ago when long-distance phone calls were reserved for special occasions? Your uncle on the other side of the country would get a nice three minute phone call on his birthday, and your grandmother across the ocean could expect a quick “Merry Christmas” once a year.  Oh how far we have come.  Now with new cable and internet technologies, long distance communication is no longer the family-gathered-’round-the-phone occasion it once was.

Yesterday, as my mother walked me through how to prepare the perfect Easter ham from her respective kitchen miles and miles away via Skype, I considered what it must have been like for expats living so far from their family and friends, just a couple decades ago, before the internet, email, and social media.

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Watching German TV in the USA and Canada

When it comes to television in the USA and Germany, I’m not sure which is worse. Germany has copied from US TV (judge shows in German, dubbed crime series, late-night talk) and vice versa (some reality and quiz shows). Daytime TV in either country is a big waste of time. Late night TV in Germany, with its more titillating offerings, can be a shock for Americans. The German commercial channels (RTL, ProSieben) can be more ad-riddled than anything you’ll ever see in the US.

But we former Germany expats can get a bit homesick for German Fernsehen, especially in the realm of news. While we may have once used German TV for help with conquering the language, now we’d like to get a taste of it back in North America.

I once thought that satellite reception would be the solution to this problem, but it turns out that Continue reading

Germany vs The Internet

Lots of ruckus has been made over the past few months, including here on this blog, about Europe’s reaction to Facebook, Google Streetview and the like.  It finally took a self-promotional e-mail from a professional acquaintance  to get my ire up enough to actually write about it.

The ire inducing part didn’t have much to do with my acquaintance directly.  It was that the “people who you might know” section along the bottom which is designed to get us connected was eerily accurate.  All but one were, in fact, people I knew.

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