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?
First time three years (from 2000) and I came back in March 2015 to live in Brighton. I also lived in Cornwall about 1,000 years ago but I’m fuzzy on the details.
2. What are two important things that you did in terms of preparation before you left Germany?
Starting to plan a year before I left and saving money. There are so many more things to consider, so if anybody has a question, get in touch via my website below. I’d be happy to help.
3. How did you go about finding somewhere to live?
To beat the crowds, I wrote a short advert and hand-delivered it to houses in areas I liked. As England is fairly expensive, be prepared to live in shared accommodation for some time.
4. How did you go about making new friends and meeting new people when you got here?
There are great international networks I joined even before I came over: Couchsurfing, Internations and Meetup are very good for socialising and improving your language skills.
Attend all kinds of events you come across and if people invite you, go along instead of saying no. Be as open-minded as you can, and then some more!
5. What would you say is different here in terms of applying for jobs. Is there anything that surprised you?
I have a background in recruiting, so based on my experience, I would say it is easier in the UK to get a job which you haven’t done before, than it is in Germany.
In the UK, your personality and the skills you have acquired are valued more than qualifications. You will still need some work experience, depending on how specialised the job is, but it is more likely that you will be given a chance to do something new.
6. Do you know any good websites, books or other resources for people who want to improve their English?:
Learn British English by Chris Workman
Check YouTube and Udemy for free video courses, they have plenty of choice to suit your learning style.
7. What or who has helped you most in terms of developing your language skills?
Training myself to think in English and when I talk to myself (does that make me slightly mad?), also do it in English. Reading copious amounts of English books and watching original films, not the dubbed versions. Last bit: Writing my diary in English instead of German, which had the added advantage that my Mum couldn’t read it…
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?
Even though the level of professionalism is similar, the people are teasing each other a lot more over here, and they are much less confrontational than the Germans. You have to be diplomatic when presenting solutions or suggesting any changes, or you risk offending somebody.
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?
Being diplomatic instead of just blurting things out! It is especially important to remember for us Germans to make statements in a more neutral tone and language. Even if we think that something is obvious, it doesn’t mean that it has to be rammed down people’s throats. If there is one piece of advice that you want to take away from my story, it’s this: You can never be too polite in the UK.
10. What food or drinks do you miss most? What are the first things that you buy when you go back to Germany?
The only thing I miss is Haribo Salzheringe, the salted liquorice herring-shaped candy. Other than that, there is plenty of stuff here to enjoy. The variety of crisps alone makes my mouth water. And you haven’t eaten a chocolate bar until you’ve tried a Star Bar.
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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