Germans in the UK – Angelika‘s answers
Germans in the UK is a series in which some 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 asked some people who can give a first-hand report on moving to the UK from Germany.
1.How long have you been living in the UK?
Almost 34 years.
2. What are two important things that you did in terms of preparation before you left Germany?
I bought a raincoat because so many people told me it always rains in England:)
3. How did you go about finding somewhere to live?
I came to England because I married a soldier, so we didn’t have to worry about finding a place, as we were given an army quarter.
4. How did you go about making new friends and meeting new people when you got here?
We lived in a tiny village without a car, so there wasn’t much to do. But I joined the church choir.
Later, when we moved to Devizes, where I still live, I was involved with my children’s playgroup and their schools.
Nowadays it is a lot easier. Over the years a lot of my adult students have become friends and thanks to online networking groups I have met many new people who I also know offline.
5. What would you say is different here in terms of applying for jobs. Is there anything that surprised you?
It is a lot easier to apply for jobs even without the correct qualifications. It’s also a lot easier to work self-employed which I have been doing for nearly 10 years now.
6. Do you know any good websites, books or other resources for people who want to improve their English?:
Not really. When I came to England the internet wasn’t around yet, so I had to rely on a paper dictionary.
For translation purposes, whether to find a German or English word, I do use leo.org or linguee and also dict.cc. All three are also smartphone apps and dict.cc I can use even without internet – very useful when you’re in an area without a signal.
7. What or who has helped you most in terms of developing your language skills?
Although there were some German army wives in the area, I didn’t want to meet up with any Germans at the time because I wanted to make sure that I spoke English. I forced myself to go out and speak English.
Only a few years later I started making friends with Germans and now I do enjoy meeting up with some of them for an afternoon of ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’.
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?
Yes, British people seem to beat around the bush a lot before they go down to business instead getting straight to the point. It frustrates me sometimes as I just want to get on with it.
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?
Yes, it took me a long time to realise that if I literally translated polite requests into English they sounded rude if I didn’t add the word ‘please’. For example I wanted to ask ‘Kannst du mal das Fenster zumachen?’ and would say ‘Can you close the window?’ and got some funny looks because I didn’t add ‘please’!
10. What food or drinks do you miss most? What are the first things that you buy when you go back to Germany?
In the beginning a lot. There was so much I missed from Germany and whenever we went back, I would stock up on a whole car load of food. Nowadays I don’t really miss anything, especially, as I can get so much in Aldi or Lidl.
Do you have a blog or a personal web page?
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.
More like this
If you don’t want to miss any updates to this series or you are generally interested in information about learning English, you can sign up for the English with Kirsty newsletter.
English with Kirsty News is sent out once a month and it contains articles and other information for learners of English as well as the latest news from English with Kirsty.