Dixie Peach: Those few last minute things

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Those few last minute things

James is fixing to move to Germany in a couple days. Ahhh, I know that feeling. Those last minute things to consider and wondering what your life will be on the other side of the ocean.

His partner is German so it's not like James will be thrown to the wolves but maybe a few last minute tips can be helpful. Expats, add your own!
  1. Don't dick around with getting your driver's license changed to a German one. You have a limited amount of time to get it changed. Unfortunately, a California one can't be exchanged outright (one advantage of me being from Mississippi is that all I did was trade mine in) so you'll need to take the written and practical driving tests. Fortunately you can find driving schools for English speakers.
  2. Most common restaurants are self-seating so you're on your own to find a table. When a restaurant is full it's common for strangers to share a table. Often times the people sharing a table politely ignore each other but I've met some rather interesting folks by sharing a table in a full cafe.
  3. Nothing is free in a German restaurant. If you want an extra packets of ketchup at McDonald's you have to pay for it.
  4. Get used to greeting people when you enter a place like a doctor's waiting room or the hairdresser. A general "Guten Tag" will do.
  5. Get used to greeting everyone pretty much everywhere. Say you've been invited by your neighbor for a grill party. When you arrive it's expected that you'll greet/shake hands with everyone there. The exception to this would be if there are people seated at a table and you can't get to them to shake their hands. Rapping on the table and saying hello is sufficient.
  6. Take this tip to heart. When learning German nouns, for God's sake, learn the correct article that goes with it. If you don't know if a noun is der, die or das then the rest your grammar will never be correct.
  7. Want books in English? Check on Ebay under Englische Bücher or use the English books section of
  8. People you are merely friendly with in Germany are not your friends. They are your neighbors, your co-workers, your acquaintences but only rarely do they get the honored title of friends.
James, you'll love it here - once you get past the fact that it's much colder here than in San Francisco.


Blogger Erin said...

Saw you on Holidalies. I'm always interested in hearing people's tips on being in a foreign country. You had some really great tips!

2:00 AM  
Blogger christina said...

More great tips, Dixie! Whenever I try to think of something my mind goes blank. I guess I've been living here so long that I've assimilated (oh no!) most of it.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Maven said...

You've intrigued me with the bit about "rarely do they get the honored title of friends."

Perhaps there might be a longer post dying to get out, regarding that topic?

6:08 PM  
Blogger Marshamlow said...

I lived in Italy and not Germany, but I found that traveling by train from one city to another was sometimes a better option than driving. So I recommend learning how the trains work. Reading the schedules, finding out how to buy tickets, and figuring out which track your train is on are all important skills.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Dixie said...

Yes, yes, yes! Learning how to get somewhere by train is a must.

1:09 AM  
Blogger James said...

I have gotten some great advice here. Thank you! I am looking forward to my new life in Germany. I appreciate all the support. It makes it seem less daunting knowing there are fellow English-speaking people out there that have gone through what I have. Thanks for the support!!!!!!!!!!!!

1:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tell you WHAT that's some good advice. Nothing an American would EVER think of and yet so important. Good show, Dix. Your friends James will really benefit! And if I ever go to Germany I'll be referring back to your advice!

4:53 AM  

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