Lynda Marie Millares-Sylvester moved to Germany in 2004. She’s been living in Berlin since 2005. She’s a mom to two girls aged 6 and 2 and works as a primary school teacher at a State school in Berlin.
What made you decide to move to Berlin?
My German husband and I used to live and work (we are both teachers) in Bangkok, Thailand. He needed to go back to Germany to take the State Examination for teachers (similar to our LET) to be fully qualified to teach in Germany. Since we saw ourselves living in Germany in the future, we decided that it is prudent that he goes back to do this test. This was in 2004.
What do you love about living there? The things you are still not used to or you dislike?
Many things have been said about German efficiency but what I really love about being here is that the buses and trains are ON TIME! If the train is scheduled to leave at 12:03, it is there on the platform at 12:03. You can really depend on the schedule advice of the transportation webpage to set meetings.
Coming from the Philippines (and even in Thailand) where everybody is friendly and warm, I do find the Germans cold and abrupt. I do think it still shocks them to have a stranger smiling at them. They would not smile back, mind you.
What were the difficulties, challenges in moving to and living in Berlin?
The primary difficulty that I encountered was the language. Many Germans do speak English but the level is very basic. You can expect better service if you spoke German.
What are the realizations/ learnings in living in Europe?
Filipinos CAN compete with Europeans even with a degree from the Philippines. I got my education degree from UP Diliman and it is highly recognised here in Germany. Filipinos DO follow traffic rules if they know that the consequences are effectively implemented. And I always say this after living for so long abroad and meeting people from different cultures and nationalities: Filipinos are really one of the most hard- working, intelligent and loyal people that you can employ.
What’s everyday like for Filipino expats in Berlin?
The day starts with preparing for work and ends with time for family and the occasional down time with friends. Sundays are still reserved for church and Filipino gatherings.
Tips for Filipinos who want to move to Berlin?
First is to come here with a basic knowledge of the language. Second is to have original copies of your qualifications in the event that you would want to work. The Germans are big on certificates and diplomas. Third is to never forget to continue to be warm and hospitable even if most of those around you are not.
Expat Interview is a regular feature in The Filipino Expat Magazine. Email us at email@example.com to be featured.