Anja

Germans in the UK – Anja‘s answers

Germans in the UK is a series in which a number of my German friends and contacts tell us about their experience of living and working in the UK.

I decided to start the series because a number of my customers want to know about life in the UK. Some of them want to live here. Whilst I can talk about some differences that I’ve noticed, I’m English, I’ve always lived here and I can’t comment on what it’s like to move to another country.
Therefore I decided to ask some people who can give a first-hand report on moving to the UK from Germany.

Anja

1.How long have you been living in the UK?

19 years.

2. What are two important things that you did in terms of preparation before you left Germany?

I came here to do my final year project and as I did this without being part of the organised program, I organised a project myself. Also I had to organise giving up my room in Germany and moving my belongings.

3. How did you go about finding somewhere to live?

I stayed with friends to start with and then looked for something through the university and then through newspapers.

4. How did you go about making new friends and meeting new people when you got here?

As I was at Uni, this was my main place of making friends. I have also made friends through sports though.

5. What would you say is different here in terms of applying for jobs. Is there anything that surprised you?

I found it quite refreshing that the structures are not as rigorous and you can apply with good experience in the field and not just based on qualifications. What I mean is e.g. that I got information about a job in Germany a few years back and even though I have a PhD, I did not formally qualify as I had no masters, thus would not have been able to apply – I don’t think this would happen in the UK – not sure.
Also I like the fact that there are application forms and no photos. I think there might be less bias and better comparability.

6. Do you know any good websites, books or other resources for people who want to improve their English?:

I like dict.leo.org as a dictionary

7. What or who has helped you most in terms of developing your language skills?

One of my flatmates is very well spoken and has fantastic language skills. He helped me a lot. Also my supervisors for my final project and PhD helped.

8. Have you noticed any big differences in terms of how people do business, what happens in business meetings or how colleagues relate to one another here?

People are a lot more polite on the surface and less straightforward, which I think can be a struggle to start with; Not just in business.

9. Is there anything that you wish someone had told you about life in the UK or anything that took time to get used to?

See no8. I found there is a different culture in how people communicate and at the start I really struggled with people being polite but actually not meaning what they said in the same way I was used to from German friends. E.g. I asked my friend if I could stay until I had found a nice room rather than any room and their response was “make yourself feel at home/take as long as you need” only to then throw me out with a very short deadline as I had unintentionally had overstayed my welcome.
Also I found the going out/dating culture was different from what I was used to in Germany – trying to make friends at Uni I went out with people of either sex for drinks etc but for the guys it seemed much more of a dating scenario, whereas I just wanted to make friends and did not think more of it.

10. What food or drinks do you miss most? What are the first things that you buy when you go back to Germany?

Not sure really, possibly bread and my mum’s home-made jams etc In London you can get so many different foods now, that I don’t feel I miss too much.

Further articles in this series

If you would like to answer these questions as well or to view the other articles in this series, go to the main Germans in the UK page.

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