When I came to Germany in 1981, after I married my German husband in the Philippines, I did not think of how I would survive living in a country very far and foreign to me. Neither did I think that it was a hard life for me in terms of acclimatizing myself to their climate, food, culture and tradition.
I have never heard of the word “homesick“ before. Never heard of the German language or how it is spoken. I trusted myself to God, my fate and my husband. It was like following the way God showed to me.
Back then, it was easy for me to get a visa at the German Embassy in Manila, as a wife of a German national. We just went to the office of the Ambassador with my passport and we came out with a visa. We did not even have to wait. It is much stricter now.
When I think about those years when I was new to my adopted country, it would certainly be easy if there was a manual for me to read on how to survive living in Germany. Sad to say there wasn’t any.
Here are my tips on how to survive living in Germany, hoping that it will help the new Filipino expats here:
1. Get a residence permit card
When you arrive in Germany, go to the Rathaus (Municipal Hall) Ausländeramt (Foreign National Office) in the town you are living and apply for a residence permit. Bring your Filipino passport which is stamped with a German visa and other required and relevant documents like birth certificate, student permit or marriage license. Then register yourself at Einwohnermeldeamt (Local Registration Office) and (Polizeilich Anmelden). You will receive a registration paper stating your address. Every time you transfer to another town or city, you have to register again. You need to bring your valid passport, registration form and a copy of contract in renting a house or an apartment where you live everytime you register in your local Einwohnermeldeamt.
2. Learn the German language
Learning German language is a must. English language is not widely spoken in Germany although it´s one of the required subjects at schools. Young German generations know how to speak English but they are hesitant to do so while the older ones don´t really want to. There are of course some who are more than willing to speak English with you but integration would be much easier if you speak and understand the local tongue.
Aside from the fact that everything is written in German, isn’t it nice to know another language? Learning German can be very hard especially how to apply those “der, die, das“ articles in a sentence. But with courage, patience and perseverance you will speak fluently after a few years.
You can learn German classes at the Volkhochschule (VHS) in your city or town. It is an adult education center where you can take a day or an evening classes. You have to pay for the course. For more information ask the VHS in your place or in Wesel if you live nearby.
Krankenversicherung is a German health card. A Filipina living in Germany has to pay for her own Krankenversicherung unless s/he is included in the health insurance of her/his partner.
More information about the German health system can be found here, written in English:
4. Filipino Food
Due to the growing number of Filipino expats living in Europe, the demand for the import of Pinoy products, particularly food has also increased. Three decades ago I can hardly find any Asian store selling Filipino food in Germany and I have to go all the way to Arnhem which is an hour’s drive to buy Asian food in an Indian shop. Nowadays I can buy Pinoy products like pancit, bihon, mango, dried fish and of course rice in Oberhausen Asian supermarket. Besides that, Chinese restaurants are everywhere. As a newbie in Germany, ask your fellow countrymen you meet where they buy their food.
5. Visiting A Mass
Germans are mostly Catholics so there´s no problem finding a place to worship though the mass is celebratd only in German language. With your know-how in speaking German you will be able to participate the prayers. Sometimes there´s a Filipino Mass scheduled during Filipino events like Santa Cruzan or Philippines Independence Day in big cities like Berlin and Hamburg where there are many Filipinos.
6. Socializing With The Germans
Don´t build a ghetto around you. Socialize with the Germans. It´s one way of practicing your new language. Get to know their food, culture, tradition, their values in lives and let them know about yours, too.
Germany has very organized transportation schedules. You can ride with a train, a bus or a tram to the places you want to travel. The prices depends on where you go, what day or if you buy a travel card for certain days.
For more informations, visit these sites:
Having a German citizenship is good as you can travel everywhere in Europe without any hassle. You can go from country to country without needing a visa. In order to acquire this citizenship, you have to have lived in Germany for 8 years regularly and uninterrupted. You have to give up your Filipino citizenship, pass the Einbürgerungstest (Citizenship test), speak understandable German, not convicted of any crime and declare your belief of the German Constitution by taking an oath.
You can find a wealth of information, particularly on immigration and integration, on the Federal government’s website: