30 Things To Know Before Moving To Germany

30 things to know before moving to germany

Oh Germany, the great land of famous sausages and dirndls (the stereotypical, old-fashioned german dresses). I have now lived here for over a year and it’s funny how so many things I found odd or surprising when I first moved here have now become second nature. In honour of my love for my home away from home, here’s a post that will help future expats on what to know before moving to Germany.

1. Oktoberfest is not in October. It’s in September, ends the first weekend of October and it’s also not only celebrated in Munich (however, the Munich one is the largest).

2. In spring time, you will find white asparagus (Spargel) everywhere, including on the side of residential streets. Think of it as a lemonade stand for asparagus.

3. Recycling is big here. Expect to have 4 different types of rubbish bin in your home at all times and learn how to use them correctly.

4. You can’t shop on Sundays because everything is closed.

5. Particularly if you move to a city, riding your bike from A to B will become your fasted and preferred method of transport.

6. A Frankfurter (hot dog) is not the same as a Bratwürst. Assuming otherwise can lead to some heated conversations.

7. In the larger, international cities you will be amazed at how many people speak English.

8. However, if you want to practice German, sometimes in these areas it can be hard to find the opportunity.

9. Outdoor pools are THE place to be in summer.

10. Beer. You will drink lots and lots of beer.

11. Accommodation searches can be incredibly challenging and you should start looking in advance to get a good deal.

12. Unlike almost all other languages, the word ‘hospital’ doesn’t sound anything like hospital in German. It’s actually called ‘krankenhaus’ which translates to ‘sick house’. Makes sense, right?

13. If you walk in the cycle lane or cycle in the walking lane, expect several angry Germans to be cursing the day you were born.

14. Not saying hello/goodbye in places like shops will result in a death stare sent your way. Saying ‘hello’ on entry and ‘tschüss’ (pronounced like ‘juice’ but replace the ‘j’ with soft ‘t’ followed by ‘ch’. ‘t-chuss’) on departure makes the world of difference.

15. Germans love their rules and it’s best to follow them, as for every rule broken you will be tested with a new rule.

16. Nobody jaywalks. Ever.

17. Being on time in Germany means to be early, so chances are you are always going to be late unless you nail this. Personally, I choose to be late.

18. They have no idea how to form an orderly queue here. Everyone just stands in a cluster and pushes in front of each other.

19. Germans are stereotyped as rude because their language is very direct. It leave little margin for error, whereas with English we have many ways to say things and ‘polite’ ways to say them. Respect and understand the difference.

20. Dogs are allowed in shops, restaurants and pretty much everywhere else.

21. People here don’t seem to have a concept of personal space. Expect people to get way too close on escalators.

22. If you upset, offend or irritate a German, they will not hesitate to tell you. It’s actually better this way once you get used to it.

23. So. Many. Public. Holidays. They also vary depending on which state you live in.

24. Winters can be horrendously cold and summers surprisingly hot. You should prepare for that, especially if you are from the UK!

25. When visiting the naked spa, don’t wear your swimsuit in the naked area! Go naked or go home.

26. You need to have your shit together before the cashier serves you at the supermarket because they will have scanned all your items and asked if you want a receipt before you’ve even had a chance to open your bag.

27. Germans complain about their public transport system but it’s actually one of the best in the world.

28. The German language tells the time completely different to English. Triple check your appointments to ensure you aren’t an hour late!

29. The weather can be really hard to predict here. For example, it’s in the middle of summer right now and we are having some of the worst storms I have seen this year.

30. If you ask for water, people will automatically serve you sparkling unless you request otherwise. Yucky.

So, do you think you could live in Germany? If you live in Germany, what have I missed?! Finally, if there is anything else I can help clear up or explain in regards to life in Germany, ask away in the comments!


Should you switch from Blogger to WordPress?

Should you switch from Blogger to WordPress?
I don’t mean to be a WordPress wanker over here (The Inbetweeners, anyone?), but after many emails and comments from my post on how to rebrand your blog, it’s time we sat down and have a talk about if you should switch from Blogger to WordPress.

Spoiler: The answer isn’t always yes. I really don’t mean to be a WordPress wanker.

I am going to assume you are a Blogger user, as aside from a small percentage of Squarespace and Tumblr blogs, most bloggers are using Blogger when they start out. Please understand that I started out on Blogger too, so I understand exactly how nervous you feel for your blog to switch from Blogger to WordPress and why you could be avoiding doing it. So first, let’s look at reasons why you should make the switch.

This is WordPress.org (self-hosted), not WordPress.com

Google owns your blog content

I touched on this previously and it caused quite a few readers to enter meltdown mode, understandably. If your blog is free of charge to run, you do not own your blog. You do not own the content, you control a minor part of the content and you have no control if anything happens to it.

Google can delete your blog whenever they decide it has gone against one of their ridiculous and sensitive policies. They are also really smart at covering their arses via search engine results (through Google) and even if you can find an article related to them deleting someone’s blog, the proof of their incompetence has been removed from Google’s archives. Shady.

Not only can Google delete your blog if they feel it is “spammy” (by the way, quite a few personal blogs have been seen as “spam” by Google – for no known reason – and deleted), but I have found Blogger users whose blogs were deleted by Google by accident. Now, I don’t know about you, but I know that I don’t want anyone accidentally deleting my blog apart from me. And even that is a less than ideal situation.

However, on WordPress you own your own content because you pay a small fee per month for a space on the internet to host your blog. Nobody can delete your blog as nobody other than you (and Host Gator if you allow tech support temporary permission) has access to it’s main files. I pay $4 per month for my blog to be hosted via Host Gator and for the price, I am happy with their service. For anyone interested, you can get 25% off a hosting package with Host Gator by using ‘thelotuscreative’ at the checkout. Bonus ;).

Design options are limited

It is not possible to have a responsive design with Blogger unless you use their own mobile friendly themes. If you have created your own theme on Blogger or had a designer come in to do the work, you either have to accept that your mobile users will never see that hard work, (possibly) money and graft you put in, or they have to zoom in to view your blog. As for the latter, they won’t zoom in, they will just close your blog down and move on to the next one that doesn’t require that much effort.

Unless you are particularly skilled with designing or can afford to hire a designer, you will find Blogger to be very limiting when it comes to your design. Most of their templates are very dated and as someone who works with HTML & CSS on a daily basis, I can tell you that some of the edits you have to make are completely unnecessary and long winded.

On WordPress, you have thousands of themes to choose from, whether they are free or premium, not to mention a wide array of designers to choose from who can work wonders with the blank canvas WordPress allows them to have. WordPress is great for you to practice some new HTML, CSS & PHP skills (if you want) or you can download plugins that allow you to customise your look with drag and drop features, colour pickers, etc. The options are pretty endless. Not to mention the fact that WordPress has a vast collection of responsive design options at their disposal, your blog can look the absolute bees knees (Did I really just…?) with a little time learning some code or sourcing a designer.

Blogger is blocked in certain areas

Any institution that has blockers on it’s computers can potentially have blocked it’s users from accessing any Blogger site, as the URL (even if you attach your own .com to your blog) still connects back to Blogger.

With WordPress, this doesn’t happen because each WordPress blog is it’s own website and not affiliated with WordPress directly.

Lack of customer service or assistance

I’ve touched on this a little bit in regards to Google owning your blog content, but this is a point all on it’s own. If your blog temporarily goes down, something appears to have screwed up on your homepage or your Blogger dashboard starts producing errors, what would you do? If you contact Google, the chances are you will not be receiving a response from them for several days. If you use the Google support forums, other users may be able to help but ultimately, you can wait weeks for a response from the Google team on there.

I’m not even going to slate Google for this because Blogger is a free service. You get what you pay for… which is nothing.

If I have a problem with WordPress, I can contact Host Gator directly and have them look into the problem for me, use the WordPress support forums which has several moderators who assist with solving client problems and I can temporarily “switch off” my blog or blog’s theme (if that’s causing the problem). This allows my readers to see my content whilst I tinker under the hood and fix the problem and is something I have found to be handy many, many times.

Now, let’s take a look at the other side of things…

As promised, I said at the beginning of this post that the answer wasn’t always yes for whether you should switch from Blogger to WordPress. Here’s a couple of things you should be aware of, that aren’t so great, if you are considering the switch.

Loss of traffic

If you had your own .com whilst on Blogger and plan to keep it, this won’t effect you.
When you switch from yourblog.blogspot.com to yourblog.com (on WordPress), all of your old traffic will still be heading to yourblog.blogspot.com if you have referral links from Pinterest, Google, Twitter, Facebook, other blogs, etc. There are workarounds for this, some mentioned here, but I am not going to lie and make out like this is easy. Even with redirects set up, you have to accept you may lose a little traffic in the first weeks after the switch.

If you correctly set up your redirects, I would anticipate a 5-10% traffic loss in the first 2 weeks. Hopefully after that, you will have fixed any broken links and any feeds (such as Bloglovin’, Feedly, etc.) will have been updated but it doesn’t change the fact that traffic loss sucks.

It costs money

I started paying for my blog before I started earning any money from it’s content because it felt right for me. As a web designer, I had just set up my web design business and it was an investment I made in order to better understand code, design and what options I had. I fell in love with WordPress the second I laid eyes on it. This is a little more unique than the situation most bloggers are in where they simply want a place to write, network and reflect their lives. To a lot of bloggers, this is still worth the money because as I said above, it’s not a huge amount. However, it is still a sum of money you are paying every month for your blog. If you choose to pay yearly for a hosting plan, you need to be pretty committed to your blog and believe in it, or a year upfront can feel like too much.

Blogger is free, so you don’t have to worry about this at all if you don’t want to and I can definitely understand the appeal there.

You may lose your current blog design

I offer Blogger to WordPress transfers at Kate Jordan Design that include the transfer of your Blogger design, or for a little bit extra I create you a new design if you decide you fancy a change. However, if you want to keep your current Blogger design, some designers will not transfer your design over. So in that case, it leaves you to have a new design that you may not want, or have the designer transfer your content and you try your hand at the design yourself.

WordPress uses a very different style when it comes to building the theme for your blog. It is more complicated and can be daunting at first, which is why I wouldn’t recommend trying to transfer your current design unless a designer is doing it for you. However, if you are happy to go with a new design, then you do have plenty of themes available for you to work from.

——————————————————————————

Ultimately, the decision to switch from Blogger to WordPress is something you need to make for yourself, as what might be right for you might not be right for some (Diff’rent Strokes, anyone? I am on fire today). In my personal opinion, bloggers should be making the switch as soon as they decide blogging is something they want to dedicate themselves to on a daily/weekly basis. The main reason for this being your content quickly builds up and it’s easier to transfer a blog with 100 posts than a blog with 1000. Not to mention less of a risk whilst you are still on Google that you might lose that content.

What do you think? Are you thinking of making the switch from Blogger to wordpress? Have you switched from Blogger to WordPress and if so, what pushed you to make the decision?