Author: Ana Alibegova
Though we always keep on talking about the privileges when living abroad, there are some kind of so-called irritating things, that should be mentioned. The most important thing is not to forget to be open minded and ready to “accept the differences” when living in a foreign country. When we say “differences” we do not think about people’s mentality, but the way the daily life functions in the country. Let’s take Germany for example.
The public transport is quite seldom on time
One thing you should be aware of is that the transport in Germany is not always on time. I would rather say it is quite often late, and the worst is that to reach one place, which is not near to yours, you have to change at least 2 means of transport. That makes the system more complicated, because, for example, if the first train is late, it is quite logical that you will miss the second train. The good news is that the connections are quite often, in the big cities each U-bahn comes every 10 minutes. It is good to know to plan your trip in advance, and do not always stick to the timetables. The night buses are very useful, you can use them instead of taxi, which allows you to save some money and still reach your destination.
The taxi is too expensive
There are many people who came for the first time in Germany and were shocked by the price of the public transport tickets. Around 2.50 for a single ride is too much compared with the Macedonian standard, but on the contrary, if you just take a look of the taxi tariffs, you would be blessing Deutsche Bahn. Starting from 5 euros till nobody knows, to use taxi is a luxury in Germany. Even the businesspeople prefer to travel with First class in Deutsche Bahn rather than to travel by taxi for longer destinations. Another problem is that you can not find a taxi wherever you want by just raising your hand, but you have to go to the specific locations where the taxies are. Of course, exceptions are possible, but anyhow, if you have chosen taxi as a mean of transport, be prepared to give more money out of your wallet.
No supermarkets available on foot
Ok, it is quite an exaggeration to claim that, but the whole idea is that most of the supermarkets are not located in the city centre, and the ones that are, are more expensive than the chain markets such as Lidl, Aldi, Penny and Plus. Another big problem in Germany is that there are no small supermarkets in the neighborhoods, as the ones in Macedonia, so it often happens to go back to the supermarket, which includes taking a public transport, or walking more than 20 minutes, just to buy simple bread. Here is a chance to use the knowledge you gathered about the German way of organized living and start organizing yourself. Make a list what you need to buy and even better plan a weekly “shopping”. Otherwise it might happen to you to buy all the ingredients for a salad and forget to buy salt.
No shops open 24 hours
This is a really important fact for the small cities. In cities such as Berlin or Cologne, you can always find some small tobacco shops or somewhere to eat Döner, but it might have been a problem if you are in a city with no more than 300.000 inhabitants. Another “irritating” fact is that the shops are closing around 7 or 8 pm and if your working time ends around 7 pm you might be not so lucky to go shopping during the week. If you choose to check what is new in the stores during a Saturday noon, be aware that there might be many people that have made the same decision as you: to go shopping during the weekend. And of course, forget Sunday if you want to buy anything from the city centre or the supermarkets because the Germans do really want to rest on that day.
Following the timetable
If you are going to study in Germany, you have to plan the whole stay to the smallest details. Start with the day of your arrival: if you are accommodated in a student dormitory, first check how you can get the key of your room. The procedure can be as following: you come at the airport in the city, then you buy a city map and you take the tram or the bus, you go to the Students body organization or the Students centre where you will have to sign the contract for renting the room and than you go to the dorm where your “Hausmeister” will give you the keys. Sounds not so complicated, but the real problem comes out when you will see that the institutions are opened for the students only few hours per day. That is how you can easily be forced to spend a night in a hostel or in the nearest park, just if you arrive later than the opening hours of the students centre. And you should also have luck with finding the “Hausmeister” because he is not working 24/7. And of course, Germany is not a town near your home town, so that you will have a connection each hour. The advice would be to make a good plan, and better arrive a day earlier and be ready for the adventure called “Facing with the German bureaucracy”.