"Growing up" in Germany
August 17, 2017
Bernard Reeves talks about his impulsive and life-changing post-university relocation to Munich.
Bernard Reeves, Content Marketing Intern at Crown Worldwide Group, relocated from London to Munich to start his first job in 2011. Having spent a year in Germany as part of his degree, Bernard couldn’t wait to go back, so he headed off just days after graduating.
It was something of an impulsive move: “I packed a suitcase, packed my laptop and booked a flight.” Although he had an internship waiting for him at a football-focused translation agency, he knew next to nothing about it. “I had researched the company but they had a very rudimentary website and there wasn’t much I could glean from it. When I spoke to them, they were very casual, they just said: ‘We’ll sort it all when you get here’.”
Joining clubs, making friends
Even when it came to his accommodation he was a bit relaxed with the planning; he only organized accomodation for one month and a surprise was waiting for him at the apartment when he arrived. “The first night I got there, the guy whose room I was taking wasn’t leaving until two days later, so I had to sleep on the couch. He was really nice, though; we all went out to the pub and on to a club. For a first night, it was great!”
This laid-back approach to relocating won’t work for everyone, but it did work out for Bernard because of his familiarity with German culture. When it came to finding a room to rent and people with similar interests, he’d heard about the expat forum ToyTown Germany and the accommodation website www.wg-gesucht.de. “I didn’t really know anyone but I was confident that I would meet people because I had found that quite easy on my year abroad and I was sure that I would join a football team or some sort of club to make friends.”
Bernard at Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena with German footballer Lewis Holtby.
He explains, “The culture of being in a club or society is massive. Even Sunday League football teams or the smallest clubs will be run really, really efficiently. It’s all very bureaucratic but it’s just the way they enjoy doing things over there.”
For Bernard, the culture shock came when he got to the office. Fresh out of university, he wasn’t sure how the nine-to-five world worked. “I just didn’t know how things were done. Is this the right way to send someone an email? Is this the right way to deal with something? I hadn’t had a full time job before.” It was only when he had returned to office life in London that he realized the cultural differences he had experienced.
“There’s just a bigger push on efficiency in Germany and, as a result, more gets done. There’s less tea-making and less time taken for lunch. There’s more of a culture of being more productive while you’re at the office because they really value their work/life balance.”
Bernard certainly took advantage of this balance. “There’s loads of stuff to do in Munich. There are rock-climbing places, outdoor volleyball courts and beach bars and tennis courts, parks and lakes, and it’s very clean and safe. It’s like the perfect city; an urban utopia.” One of the things he enjoyed most was the city’s focus on physical activity. He cycled everywhere and even learned to ski, although he was a bit behind the locals on that score. “Everyone skis. If you grow up in Bavaria, it’s basically a rule that you can ski brilliantly by the age of about six!”
Alpine skiing at Kitzbühel, Austria.
Becoming independent, improving his work ethic and building an active lifestyle aside, relocating for work was life-changing for Bernard because it was in Munich that he met his wife. “The move to Munich was a great success,” he laughs. Following his years there, he’d definitely live abroad again and the next stop is likely to be the U.S. to be close to his wife’s family. “It’s because Germany was such a great experience and because of how much I grew as a person that makes me want to do it again. The world’s a big place too; I’d like to see different parts of it and not just visit it but experience it.”
If there’s one other thing he has learned from the experience, it’s the importance of planning. “If I went again, I would research it and plan more. I did a lot of things without really considering the implications. The decision to move was made quickly but now I’m married, I can’t be impulsive in the same way.”
More like this: Elvira Martin on being in love with living in Germany.