MaDaI - Interkulturelles Training

Canadian experience : Germany


My wife, Cindy, and I moved to Germany from Canada almost 4 years ago as an assignment within the international company I work for. When we arrived weren’t sure what to expect. Fortunately, the support from my colleagues was excellent; we forged some new friendships and cemented many of those we had already. We did have a few experiences which are perhaps worth telling since we see them as being “uniquely German”.
Take for instance our preliminary trip as a couple to Germany to find a house. I had to go into work in the morning meet with my future supervisor. Since I would be tied up in meetings most of the day my wife decided it would be a good chance to see downtown Cologne. After some initial introductions at work, I mentioned to my new supervisor that my wife was going into Cologne today to do some sightseeing … his face went white. He said it’s Carnival (November 11), and the city will be crazy. No problem I said, we are used to larger cities… he interrupted, call her now, it’s carnival. [Carnival in Germany runs from the 11th Nov to Ash Wednesday. There are different customs depending on the area but the 11th Nov., the Thursday before Ash Wednesday (Weiberfastnacht) and the following Monday are days when it is perhaps best to be with friends who know what is happening!] I called. She answered … giggling… I informed her that the Carnival was on today and that maybe downtown might be very crowded and loud. She said to me that she had figured that something was up since she was sitting across from a group of young people drinking (more) beer …at 10.00h in the morning! This is something my wife and I will always remember about Germany.
Another experience which sticks out in my memory was my first experience at our Family Doctor. Now for those of you that do not know me, you should be aware that I am a typical Canadian…I enjoy fatty foods and I do like to drink beer and as such my waste-line is a little larger than some. My wife and I had found a doctor near our apartment and decided that I should schedule a yearly check-up. So the doctor listened to my chest, asked me about some of my medical history, took some blood and said come back in 1 week. So when I returned with my wife he sat us down in his office and looked me in the eye and gave me some home truths! In summary he said:
“You weigh too much, you need to exercise, and you should no longer sit down and watch TV after dinner. ‘I want you to lose 2.5 kg by next week. My nurse will weigh you now, and then you will come back in 1 week to verify that you have done what I have instructed.’
OK, I do carry a little extra weight, and I suppose that this is not a problem back in Canada due to the extra layers of clothing that we wear since it is cold outside in the winter. In Canada, unless there are obvious health concerns, the doctor would probably have said something like:
"The result of our analysis suggests that you may want to evaluate your eating habits in order to improve your healthy condition"
The lecture from my new German doctor was certainly a shock, and frankly speaking I was a little scared of what would happen if I did not lose the 2.5 kg…. but fortunately I did, and I never did find out what would have happened if I hadn’t!.

Since December 2012 are we back in Canada. We will retain many fond memories including the birth of our son Alexander. Our short time in Germany changed our understanding of what it is to live abroad. Rest assured we will take our experiences home with us and share it with our family and friends, thanks Deutschland !

 Marchese Daniela - Ma.Da.I

     Intercultural Management