Where and for how long have you lived abroad?
I was in Canada from April 2013 to June 2014 and traveled in some parts of the US and basically went around North America. Now I live again in Ochsenhausen, a small town south of Ulm where I have previously lived – but now with my girlfriend who I met in Canada.
Before I went to Canada I was working for 4 months for my German employer (Photovoltaic Industry) in Australia. However, this project was canceled due to bankruptcy of my employer and I had to go back to Germany. Due to his bankruptcy I had the idea to live abroad for a longer period of time and therefore I as looking into going to Canada.
What was different in Australia and Canada?
During my stay in Australia (Brisbane) it was different for me that I was responsible for my own work. Sure, I had a “duty” from my German company but it was my responsibility HOW I do my job.
I have witnessed myself what you hear about the people there. People are more open to strangers but it is first probably more superficial and it takes a while until you really get into a deeper “relationship”. From a work perspective this stay was not very useful to me but it was useful for me personally: (To learn) the language and I became more open. Living abroad made me friendlier and more thankful as I was before.
Since then I use the words “thank you” and “please” more frequently. For example, before I lived there I didn’t know that you thank the bus driver when you get off the bus. I have to admit that I haven’t used public transport very much before. For this I must also say that I have previously rarely used public transport. In Canada I only stayed longer in one place in the winter months from December to April via HelpX at a resort as a janitor and with a family who renovated an old farmhouse. I can’t say how the real world of work looks like in Canada because I haven’t worked for money which was never my plan.
Something I noticed in the United States is that Americans are very easy to impress and outgoing about it. Everything is “incredible” and “wonderful” and I would just say it’s “nice”.
In Canada I didn’t recognize that as much. I recognized helpful and open people everywhere. You go to someone’s house to couchsurf and you get the keys right away. You can’t imagine of something like that in Germany. I myself still have problems with that although I often got keys from other people. It’s probably because I think that there are too many idiots in Germany.
How did you feel when you came back to Germany?
It was a bit different for me to come home because I had been away for 14 months and things had changed back home. To me it was astonishing that I actually adapt pretty well. After 4 quiet months of looking for a job I found a permanent job and the daily routine was back. I have to admit that I’m a very structured person and I like structure. Of course it was a pleasure to see my family and friends after such a long time.
What do you appreciate about Germany?
In my opinion there is especially a big difference between Germany and Canada/USA/Australia/New Zealand when it’s about technical equipment. I think Germany is in some areas more detailed. When it comes to paint work and they don’t mask a door frame and they just paint it too. Or windows that freeze in winter because they’re not constructed very well. And those were not old windows, the windows were pretty modern, they wouldn’t be allowed in Germany.
One thing that I find very strange is a sink with two taps, one for cold water, one for warm water. So you can choose between freezing cold or boiling hot. But you want to have a certain temperature.I don’t think I have ever seen something like that in Germany, a single-handed mixing faucet is standard since a long time although it’s an american invention. What I’m trying to say is that in Germany they pay attention for details. It might work in other countries too but I think it could be even better. That’s something that I appreciate about Germany. But there could be regional differences. I am very picky because of my swabian/schwäbisch origin (Southern Germany).
What do you miss from your time living abroad?
It was my plan to explore Canada and I did that. I miss the freedom to simply do what I want to do and drive from A to B and take a look at the national parks or similar stuff. Also the loneliness in the wilderness and without a village nearby. No question I really enjoyed being abroad for a longer period of time and I always like to remember (together with my girlfriend) my time there but I never wanted to emigrate permanently or travel permanently. I appreciate my home country too much.