How living in Germany for so long has changed me for life

Feeling joy

Your country is beautiful

You have summer all year!

You are lucky to be born with that tan.

Sharain, sharing her experience living in Germany for 9 years

Better never than late

This has to be on top of the list. I get nervous when I am 60 seconds late even when I’m attending a funeral. Time waits for no one, not even for a dead person. If you are to be buried at 10 a.m., it has to be at 10 a.m. sharp!

I didn’t see the point of owning a driving license because public transport seems to be more time efficient and convenient, well at least in Munich. Getting stuck in a traffic jam and finding a parking spot will not only make you late for appointments, but will also leave you feeling guilty for keeping someone waiting. Plus, coming up with excuses such as traffic jam sounds lame.

I can’t multitask

I was raised in Subang Jaya where we are known for holding a cup of Starbucks coffee in one hand while the other is on the steering wheel, and at the same time, having a bluetooth conversation on the phone as if no one’s watching. While I can still multitask these simple tasks, I’ve come to realize that it will only slow me down. It takes more time to complete these tasks simultaneously than separately.

The Germans, well, most of them, get things done systematically. They have appointments for almost everything. That includes making an appointment to visit the clinic or getting the hair done at the saloon.

Promoters at the stores attend to customers one at a time. If customer A interrupts the promoter who is attending to customer B, than A will be told to wait until customer B is done. In my case, I deal with three kids at home instead of customers but I apply the same thing, one child at a time.

Rise and shine! It’s 5 a.m.

I love the smell of fresh pretzels and freshly brewed coffee. Bakeries in Germany open their doors at 6 am. My neighbour has a typical 8 to 5 office job but he loves going to work at 6 and gets home by 3, even when it’s winter! I have seen people get their hair done at the saloon before 8 a.m. and head straight to work.

I myself love 8 a.m. appointments too, be it dental or even meeting a friend. And my favourite morning activity? – 7 a.m. groceries shopping at the supermarket.

Goodbye ethnic slurs

Germany is geographically an ideal gateway to Europe. It’s a lifetime opportunity for my husband and I to teach our kids ‘cultural awareness’. Our kids have no idea what a ‘Mat Salleh’ is. Instead, they call them Polish, British, Irish, Swedish, etc. You get what I mean.

While writing this, I went to Mr. Google to ask him why Malaysians use the word ‘Mat Salleh’? Try googling it yourself.

I have stopped using the other ‘Mats’ too, including ‘Mat Bangla’ and ‘Mat Indon’. I simply think that it’s not right to label them. I know how it feels like to be an immigrant.

Credit or debit?

I brought my Malaysian credit card with me to Germany and later realized that it was underutilized. When I returned home for good, I was told that my card was terminated because I have not been using it for years!

The Germans have taught me that carrying cash or debit card (they call it EC-Karte) is much more convenient and practical than credit cards.

Lazy Sunday

Almost all businesses are closed on Sundays and I can’t come up with excuses why I can’t hang out with friends and family. Sunday has to be the day where my family and I wanderlust (that’s a German word by the way) in the woods, feed the ducks, jaywalk in the city like no one cares, window shop despite the ‘Close’ signs or simply relax at home.

Hug the trees!

I have subconsciously become more environmentally friendly. I would rather take the public transport, walk and cycle than taking the car.

I appreciate greeneries and seeing my kids dance around the cherry blossom trees is a moment I’ll cherish my whole life. I don’t celebrate Easter but I love seeing rabbits, birds and daffodils come to life when spring comes!

I finally understood what pollution means and that includes noise pollution. Having a quiet dinner at a Wirtshaus (the German’s version of Mamak) with kids behaving at the table (well, of course not all the time) is something that I missed.

It’s also fun to watch other parents trying to get their kids to sit still and not disturb other patrons in the restaurant. Such a relief that I’m not the only struggling parent.

Proud to be Malaysian

When someone asks me where I come from, my face would light up and I will proudly say “Malaysia!”. I would like to consider myself as exotic. The typical reactions are: “Your country is beautiful”, “What are you doing here in Germany?”, “You have summer all year!” and my favourite is, “You are lucky to be born with that tan”.

Their jaws drop when I speak Malay to my kids and are amazed by the fact that we speak good English. I’ll proudly tell them that all Malaysians can speak at least two languages.

My favourite Malaysian dishes to share with my German friends are beef rendang, spring rolls and curry puffs. They will then brag about how good Malaysian food is and they would make you wonder why you’re even there in Germany. Way before
that, I was complaining how bad my country is, but after meeting the Germans, you will feel thankful and lucky that you are a Malaysian.