The thought of traveling out of your country for the first time can be very daunting and exhilarating at the same time because you never know how will the stay going to be.
I came to Germany in January 2017, and this was the first time I was traveling out of my home country, India. Even though I was aware of the fact that life is going to be very different from India, but after coming to Germany, I realized how difficult even it was to imagine what fortune has kept for me here. Let me tell you, life is indeed very different from India (As I am from India I would be comparing fundamentally from that perspective, but there are many things which would be useful to people from other parts of the world). Below are various mentioned points where one can notice the difference:
1.Food: “There is no love sincerer than the love of food,” said George Bernard Shaw.
If there is one thing which is certain after coming to Germany, that is no matter what you do, but you will be eating for sure 😉
But guess what? You will not be getting the same food as you get in your home country, and this alone has the potential to make your transition terrible.
Even though it is common for students or adults to cook by themselves in western countries but many countries, people use maid service for cooking, or they eat in mess/canteens.
But the scenario is dramatically different in Germany because even if you have mess either you won’t find food of your choice, or it would be expensive. You may discover Subway, McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbuck’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc. but that would burn a hole in your pocket.
So, does this mean one would die out of hunger? No, absolutely not. For example, what most Indian students do is they bring spices from India or buy from the Indian store (generally found in the major cities) and cook by themselves because even though you may have “Mensa (Mess)” in your university but as I said it would not satisfy your taste buds.
Tips: Learn cooking before coming to Germany because that would be your best skill to survive.
2.Laundry: You will have a washing machine in your flat or public washing machine in some cases. Charges for washing the clothes vary depending on whether you are using the public washing machine or you have one in the flat.
3.Cleaning: It is essential to keep your room and common area clean. If your room is found to be dirty after you move out the owner is allowed to deduct some/full amount of your deposit.
If you are not used to garbage segregation be prepared to for it. In Germany, glass, plastic, organic waste has different thrash bin.
4.Commutation: Germany is very well connected. Public transport is a way of life, and therefore you don’t have to worry much about it. One important thing to note is the frequency of buses and trains vary on the weekends.
Tips: Know about the apps which can tell you about the timing of the buses and trains like DB navigator, RMV, etc. Also, you can read a book or listen to an audio dictionary while commuting. The good part is you will not have much noise around, so, you can do your job peacefully.
5.Weather: It is the scariest part. If you come in winter, you will experience the freezing coldness. Less number of sunshine hours. Summer is relatively safe as you do not need to load yourself with loads of clothes but many a time temperature reaches to 35-36 degree Celsius which may be a problem without fans or air conditioners (it is rare to have fan or AC in Germany).
Tips: Bring sufficient winter clothes if you don’t want to fall ill as soon as you come. Get the right winter clothes from a good brand (as they have temperature tested clothes). I bought from Decathlon, but you can choose any name you like.
6.SIM cards: It is challenging to decide which one to buy because you will get different SIM cards on their own merits and demerits. But, generally if you want to have it for an official purpose (i.e., for internship/interview calls) O2 or Vodafone is recommendable, but for international calls, Lebara is a good choice. Apart from the mentioned brands, you can find Rewe, Aldi, etc.
Tips: Mostly you should prefer WhatsApp call or skype but should have any one of the mentioned cards for urgent calls.
7.Groceries: There are a good number of supermarkets which you might not have heard back in India like REWE, ALDI, EDEKA, NETTO, PENNY, etc. You can buy your day to day stuff from these supermarkets.
Tips: First visit these stores and compare the prices of the items before buying because there is a considerable difference in the prices of the products in different supermarkets as there is no concept of maximum retail price (MRP) in Germany. Aldi and Penny are considered to be the most cost-effective.
8. Language: so far the most crucial point, I guess. Yes, I am saying this because even though, if your course is in English but to get into the job market without German fluency, is indomitable. Knowledge of the German language not only helps you to get a job but also it increases your chances drastically to gel up with the people here. Germans know that German is a tough language to learn therefore they appreciate if some take the pain to learn the language.
Tips: Try to learn at least basics of German before you arrive here. And keep on learning as much as possible in due course of time.
9. Economical Clothing Store: It is not hard to find big fashion brands in any of the city center in Germany, but as a student, many of us try to find that one economic store where we can get clothes, shoes, etc. for different seasons. And if you are in search of one, it is Primark. Primark is a fashion chain where you can find clothes and accessories for people of different ages.
Based on my personal experience I think its products are economical as well as good in quality.
These are some of the things which I noticed based on my personal experiences so far, I will keep updating the list as and when I find something new. Do share your views in the comment section if you feel something is missing on the list.
Thank you for taking out your time to read!