Why did you move abroad?
To experience a new culture and better quality of life.
How have you been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis?
I feel very humbled and grateful that my life has not been impacted too negatively by Covid-19. I still have a job, I have a beautiful home, and I can go outside for walks in nature. Sometimes I miss not being able to travel freely; however, that is a tiny complaint.
What sort of measures are in place in the country where you live?
Currently, there is no hard lockdown in Dusseldorf. Some bars and restaurants have closed down for fall and winter. We are all required to wear a mask in public places. Germans love to follow the rules, so it's no surprise that most people have been following them closely :-).
How do you make a living?
I am a software engineer. My job allows me to work from anywhere, as long as I have an internet connection. Before Covid-19, I was working 50% from home. Now, my job is 100% remote. So the one thing I had to do was upgrade my home office setup to make it more comfortable for me to work from it 100% of the time, which I mostly enjoy.
How do you manage the relationship with your family in your home-country?
We facetime with my family more often. During the hard lockdown weeks, we even organized some remote meetups. We would all connect on a Saturday evening and play our favorite games.
Without thinking about the current pandemic, what's your favorite thing about being an expat in Germany?
I love a lot of things about Germany. Settling on one specific favorite is hard. I like that people follow the rules, are honest, and things just work. Most Germans prioritize having a life/work balance. If you go out on a sunny afternoon, you will see tons of Germans enjoying the sun with a drink and just relaxing after a day of hard work.
And what's the worst thing about being an expat in Germany?
Bureaucracy: Everything has a process, and it usually involves a lot of steps and paperwork. The procedures are not necessarily hard; they just take a lot of time and patience.
Cash is still king: A lot of places only accept cash. I am not a cash person, so even after so many years, it's quite hard to remember to have some cash in my wallet. I dream of the day when I will be able to use my card everywhere in Germany.
What do you miss most?
Sometimes I miss the friendliness and warmth of Guatemalan people.
Before the social distancing measures, what did you do to meet people in get familiar with you country? How has it changed now?
I have met my best friends in Germany through sports clubs, work, and friends' parties. With social distancing, my focus has been hanging out with the friends that I already have, since meeting new people is a bit more challenging now.
What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Germans tend to take their kitchen with them when they move. So it is very normal to find a beautiful apartment, sometimes even furnished, but without a kitchen. I find that so weird.
What is a myth about your adopted country?
Germans never smile. I would strongly disagree with this. I have met very friendly Germans with a sense of humor. In my experience, the more I have spoken and understood German, the more I understand how Germans behave. They can be a funny bunch sometimes.
What advice would you give other expats?
Learn German! I know it is a tough language to pick up. I have been living in Germany since 2012, and I still don't speak it 100% fluently. However, the more you understand the language, the easier it will be to understand the culture and feel a part of it.
When and why did you start your blog?
My wife and I started Simple Germany in July of 2020. International colleagues at work would come to me to ask for help in navigating German bureaucracy. So we decided to create Simple Germany to simplify things in Germany for them. We provide information on how things work in Germany in English and point out the best service providers for expats.
How is having a blog been beneficial?
I have learned so much about Germany. I have also discovered so many cool companies that are out there, making life easier for expats. It is very inspiring and motivating to be able to help other fellow expats. I hope that our resources at Simple Germany will prevent them from making the mistakes I did when I first got here.
The blog details: Simple Germany
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