I would like to look up for your advices. I married a German citizen, just passed my A1. Now going for applying my family reunion visa (hopefully by next week). A bit afraid of the long process around 2-3 months. How long was your visa take? I am living and working abroad, a lot of depression cause I have to lose my job and this country where I am now, I love this place a lot! And I might will be reaching there in the middle of winter (which I don’t know how to survive, never been in the winter before in my life). Please help me…. ~ Caroline
Hi Caroline! I could definitely relate to your worries, I was in a similar situation before I moved to Germany. Although a filipina, I was living and working in Bangkok, Thailand, for six years. I loved the city and the financial independence that my job had to offer. I had great friends around and made a family out of them. Sadly, I had to leave everything and everyone behind in order to be with the man who I love.
For practical information necessary for a relatively trouble-free life in Germany, read Dan Finlay´s Living and Working in Germany: A Survival Handbook. It´s packed with vital information and insider tips to help minimize culture shock and reduce the newcomers’ rookie period to a minimum.
I hate winter
There were four challenges that I initially faced as I moved to Germany. And first in my list is “winter”. I´m skinny and unable to resist cold temperature. As if to test my endurance however, shortly after I came here the government persistently required me to start learning Deutsch B1 immediately. I started attending the language school in the beginning of winter, 1st December 2011.
Because it would be very expensive for us if hubby would bring me to school by car, plus he would be late to work, I had to commute. We live in a city but weird enough, the public busses here come only every thirty minutes. The school is two rides from home, I had to leave early at 6:45 am, interchange bus at the main station at 7:20, then I´ll arrive to school at 8:10. Classes start at half past eight.
The problem was that the bus from our house always arrives late during school days because it picks up students along the way. If the bus comes late, that means I would miss the second bus. If I miss the second bus, I have to wait for the next bus for thirty excruciating minutes. I shook and felt numbed all over every time the winter wind blows mercilessly. I couldn´t seek shelter in stores around because during this time, they´re still close. This is one reason why I hated going to school so much that I strived hard to pass the B1 test with only 300 hours lessons completed instead of the required 600 hours. You can read the rest of the story, Why I Needed to Learn the German Language Quick.
I became jobless
My qualifications and eight years teaching experience served me nothing when I came here. Germany´s educational system is unique and my teaching background does not apply. Although i was aware of it, nothing prepared me from the loneliness and insecurities of being unemployed. I became insecure and over-sensitive towards my husband. I was always independent since I was twenty and then suddenly, I became entirely dependent to my husband. It made me feel helpless. Read how my insecurities negatively affected my marriage.
The long winter made me depress
Although I the weather in Germany is a lot better than in England, the winter is still VERY long. Last year, we basically had only two weeks real summer. The rest of the year, it was always cold. Long cold seasons and long nights, dark skies and very short daytime in late fall and in winter, made me depress. I was never a depressive person but to my surprise, I suffered a severe depression last winter. I felt very lonely and cried on pity little things.
I think the reason of my depression was a mix, no friends around, no income, and no sunshine. I became emotionally wreck. Meeting new people in school didn´t help because when I come home, my husband still at work, my loneliness came back.
How I survived
Immediately after the sun started smiling brightly, my feelings improved and my depression eased. My husband also did his best to entertain me and bring me around the city when the weather is reasonable. His understanding and support definitely helped a lot.
During the speaking test for Deutsch B1, I accidentally landed a part-time job. One of the examiners was an English teacher in the same language school and upon learning that I´m a teacher, she offered me a part-time job teaching English to adults and retired German people. Although I´m a major in Maths, English is my minor so I had no problem taking the job.
My online business also started to take off after a year of hard work and I regained financial-confidence.
As my second winter was about to come, I asked my husband to get me a pet, dog or cat. I know that having a pet will help me forget the loneliness of winter, but my hubby was initially adamant to have a pet at this point of time. But I prayed and God definitely heard my prayer. Read about my new cat, My New Cat Named “Orange” is Heaven Sent.
What you can do?
Although leaving behind the many beautiful things and people who you have now in the place that you learned to cherish is difficult, focussing on what is the most important to you will help you feel better. Isn´t your husband and the family that you will build together the most important thing to you? You are going to make this move because of it.
Also, prepare yourself for the transition that you will face. Because you are already working and living abroad, it the transition is a lot easier than if this is your first immigration.
If you can go to school to learn Deutsch immediately after you arrive, the better. It will allow you to interact with people and will help you improve your speaking ability quick. Your A1 level is so not enough to interact with the locals, you´ve got to learn a lot more. Learning to speak the language will help to go around the place alone, whether it´s to shop or just to buy some Brötchen. You will make friends in school and it will help you ease the initial loneliness.
You will need your husband´s help in many ways so make sure that your communication is transparent. His support and understanding will help you integrate smoothly in German´s society.
I wish you all the best. If you have further questions, feel free to send me an email or leave here as a comment.
P.S. My visa arrived in just two weeks as oppose to the two months processing and waiting that the German embassy in Bangkok have told me.
Have a wonderful and blessed 2013, everyone! Happy New Year!!!