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Living in Amsterdam as an expat

What it’s like to live in Amsterdam as an expat?
In this Expat Interview, Bruna will share her expat life in Amsterdam, from the cost of living in Amsterdam, overcoming difficulties and culture shock, to how to prepare for moving to this beautiful city.

 

1. About Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam is the famous city in the Netherlands and one of the most open-minded in the world, if not the most. The city has the highest number of national heritage buildings, thriving cultural attractions and gorgeous canals that enchant both tourists and locals.

living in amsterdam

The famous narrow and crooked houses of Amsterdam.


Furthermore, Amsterdam is famous for good museums and interesting areas, such as the Red-Light District. Also, Amsterdam is also close to many stunning cities in the Netherlands, offering many day-trips possibilities.
Needless to say that it is an expat-friendly city, right? The local language is Dutch, but 99% of the people speak English very well.

2. How did you move to the Netherlands?

I moved from Brazil to the Netherlands in 2014 to be an au pair in Amsterdam. That was a great and cheap way to travel around Europe and I’ll forever be grateful that I took that decision! I would go somewhere new every single weekend (in the country or in Europe) and one of those trips was to Maastricht, a city in the south of the country.
On that occasion, I had a Tinder match with my (today) fiancé. Crazy, right? Yes, I know! But we’re not the only couple I know who met via Tinder. Anyway, one year after, we moved in together. Then I started to learn Dutch and eventually found a job in my study area.

3. Why did you choose to live in Amsterdam?

Well, before I decided to which country I’d go to, I’d look for posts on other travel bloggers’ websites and I found this post about the best things to do in Amsterdam. I was instantly in love with this place!
The houses have such a sweet Dutch Renaissance style and the canals were amazing in the photos, but when I saw them with my own eyes…I say that I didn’t choose Amsterdam, but I was chosen. Amsterdam is an open-minded city full of foreigners. It has a great atmosphere!

visiting Amsterdam canal

Amsterdam’s canals are the best attraction in summer months.

4. How to prepare for moving to Amsterdam?

The process was actually pretty simple. I had to gather all my documents and translate them to Dutch to apply for the visa. Then I bought some winter clothes because the ones I had were supposed to handle an 18 Celsius/ 64 Fahrenheit winter… In addition, I started studying Dutch on my own to make my life a little bit easier there.

 

5. Did you experience any difficulties when moving to Amsterdam?

Yes, mainly because of the weather. In Brazil, most of the days have a clear sky and are warm, but in the Netherlands…it was so cold and gray! It still is cold and gray but I’m more used to the cold now. Only the gray and dull days bother me. It feels like I need the sun to keep my energy up, that’s my fuel. To deal with that we travel to southern Europe to find the sun and get a little break of the winter here.

6. What is the cost of living in Amsterdam?

a) Accommodation in Amsterdam

Like I said above, the Netherlands is pricey in general, so this isn’t different with accommodation in the most popular cities. The rent average is around 1.350 euro for a 70m2 apartment.

b) Groceries

We spend around 200/250 euro/month on groceries. I don’t think this is a lot for two people, but we shop different items in different supermarkets, just because it’s cheaper.

c) Transportation

The public transport system in the Netherlands is very good, but it’s pricey too. A return train ticket to Rotterdam would cost me 30 euro. Ouch! Luckily, many stores offer day-tickets for the train for 15-20 euro every month.
Buses and trams are charged per kilometer, so it can be advantageous, but it’s still expensive if you use it on daily basis. That is one of the reasons why plenty of people ride a bike instead of taking a bus because it’s much cheaper.

7. Did you experience any discrimination in Amsterdam?

A little bit. It’s luckily not a common thing, but it takes only one person to ruin your day, right? In the beginning, I had someone asking me if I was in a relationship with my fiancé to be “able” to live in Europe. I mean, seriously? That sounds so repulsive that I chose to ignore that person from that day on. It’s so sad that many people judge you based on the country’s name on your passport. Many of those have never even been to Brazil…but that’s okay. My fiancé says “if they think like that, it’s not worth to explain it”, and I totally agree with him.
But today, I no longer experience any discriminations, maybe because I’ve been in the country for quite a while and speak their language pretty well.

8. How did you overcome culture shock in Amsterdam?

I only realized it after a month or so that we have very different cultures. For example, most Dutch people plan appointments (to drink a coffee, etc) a week in advance at least, Brazilians plan something for tonight or tomorrow night. Also, if you knock on their door at dinner time, they will ask you to come back later, when they’re done eating. If you would do the same in Brazil, you’d probably be invited to have dinner with them.
These are just a few examples of a long list! Those things seemed weird to me when I moved here, but not anymore. I come from a much warmer culture where people like to be together and make new friends. But now I see it as simple differences in both countries’ history and culture. It’s a process that takes time to get used to.
That’s what I love about traveling. It opens your mind to see the differences as they are. Rather than creating discriminatory opinions.

 

9. What do you like about Amsterdam?

I adore the old architecture and charming canals the city has. Amsterdam is so enchanting all yearlong and, thankfully, has a lot to offer in all seasons. Also, the cafes are just fantastic! Hipster crowd and cool atmosphere make the cafes in the city very cozy.

biking in Amsterdam

View from one of the many bridges of Amsterdam.


For travel-lovers like me, it’s a perfect location because you can easily reach other cities in the country or take a train to Paris, Brussels, Berlin, and London.

10. Are there any bad things about Amsterdam?

Hmm, I don’t like…that it is expensive and full of tourists. The Netherlands is a pretty expensive country, but Amsterdam is the cherry’s cake. Rent costs way too much in my opinion. And yeah, thousands of tourists come here every day, so when you want to reach somewhere on foot or bike, it can take a while because the streets are full. Besides that, Amsterdam is a stunning place. I don’t have anything to complain about.

11. What are your favorite things to do in Amsterdam?

I love wandering around the city center, visiting museums, having a beer in some cozy bars or taking pictures of the streets. The city center is very photogenic, especially the Seven Bridges – a place from where you can see 7 bridges one after the other along a canal. It’s so beautiful!

living in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is full of flowers during spring.


Also, the city park, Vondelpark, is usually my favorite place to enjoy summer days drinking a beer while laying on the grass.

12. How can you make new friends in Amsterdam?

I met many foreigners in my Dutch courses. People from all continents and ages! I didn’t have the same luck with locals though. Nevertheless, Dutch people are always very friendly, so it’s pretty easy to engage with them.

13. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?

After the last question, this is an easy one. I hang out mostly with foreigners. The only locals I hang out with are my fiancé’s group of friends. I also interact with expat communities in Amsterdam, mostly with students and travelers.

14. Where is your favorite place in Amsterdam to meet friends?

We don’t have a standard place to hang out, but it’s usually a bar or a café (coffee shop in the Netherlands is the place where people use soft drugs). There are plenty of good options for bars/ cafes in the Jordaan neighborhood. Oh, we also go often to a very cozy and hipster bar/ restaurant next to NDSM in North Amsterdam.

 

15. A memorable experience in Amsterdam

When I had just arrived in Amsterdam, a friend invited me to go ice skating in front of the Rijksmuseum and I said yes right away. However, I had no idea of what I could expect from the winter…
And since Dutch people ride a bike to go everywhere, we wanted to go there by bike as well. Just so we could feel a little more like locals, you know. But I was totally unprepared for the striking cold wind and the only bike I had was a kids-size one. So I was riding a tiny bike on an icy evening for around 10km. When we arrived there, I couldn’t feel my face and hands for a long, long time! On the next day, I had back pain and my cheeks were burned! It wasn’t nice back then, but today I laugh when I think about it.

16. Did you change your perspective about Amsterdam after living here?

Yes, it’s almost impossible not to do it. When you move to a city, you have no idea how that place really is. I had a totally different perspective of the whole country actually, but it’s a slow process to learn how life goes in another culture and wonderful to fully experience it.

17. What are your advice and tips for moving/ living in Amsterdam?

First of all, learn the local language! Most parts of the locals speak English very well, but that’s not their native language. It’s not the government language, or television, etc. No, it’s all in Dutch. So, in order to make you feel a part of society and also to make more local friends, I highly recommend studying it. There are many excellent websites that I used to learn it. So, it’s possible to do it online and for free.
Secondly, forget a car, buy a bike! The city center is full of bikes, people, everything. I don’t find it car-friendly, what I think that it is amazing, actually. Plenty of people go to the bar, to the school, to work, and supermarket by bike. So, get used to doing it too.

18. Would you recommend others to live in Amsterdam?

Certainly! The city has everything to offer to its population. Really everything that you think! It has a gorgeous city center full of nice stores and cozy bars/ cafes. A central station easily reached by bike, bus or tram. Pleasant parks and good markets to stroll around. Amsterdam also has a jovial and open-minded atmosphere. I’m totally in love with it, you noticed it, right? Lol.

19. What have you learned from living abroad?

I’m much more independent. I have to do way more things on my own because my family isn’t here to help me like they used to do, so I’ve grown up a lot.
I have also learned that I love museums and other cultures! I’ve been to more museums in Amsterdam than I’ve been in my whole life until I moved there.
I just want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this interview! I hope it will inspire many people to come visit the charming Amsterdam and, who knows, to move here as well.

20. More about Bruna

Bruna-maps-n-bags

Bruna is the voice behind the travel blog Maps ‘N Bags. Her blog focus on providing travel tips to help other travelers to travel the world as well. She has been to many countries and city across the globe and has plenty travel hacks to share! Apart from her blog, she is also passionate about beer, coffee, laughing, animals, photography…the list is long! If you want to know more about her, check out Maps ‘N Bags.

Don’t forget to follow her adventures on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Milk Bars: A cultural experience in Poland

A visit to “Milk bars” is a compulsory activity if you have a chance visit Poland. Milk bars, or Bar Mleczny, were opened during Communist era to provide cheap but nourishing food. Initially, Milk bars were opened to provide all people with cheap meals which were subsidized by the state. Now, milk bars have become one of the cultural experiences for any visitors to Poland. Having a meal at milk bars, you can enjoy a taste of Communist-era Polish cookery, and experience the warm feeling with the cafeteria style. In this article, I will introduce 2 famous milk bars in Warsaw and Kraków:  Prasowy and Milkbar Tomasza.

Note: I have no affiliation to these place, just my reviews after eating here 🙂

 

1.Prasowy in Warsaw

Arrived at Warsaw Chopin Airport in the early morning of February, I was welcomed by a heavy rain. I decided to start my journey in the capital of Poland by stopping at a milk bar because it rained heavily outside. After checking carefully on the Internet, I decided to pay a visit to Prasowy.

Prasowy was one of the top milk bars appeared in my search, along with lots of good reviews. It was also near my hostel, and easy to reach by bus from the airport. The location is good as it is near the center. Also, there is a park next to it, you can just come by after eating.

Before entering the milk bar, I tried to learn some basic Polish words such as saying “Yes” and how to point at the food. However, the waitress could understand English so it was easy to order food.

 

Design and atmosphere

I found the design of Prasowy very cute and friendly. It has some cool words and decoration on the wall. Entering the door, I found some pink tables on the right and blue chairs with white table on the left. The place was clean with cafeteria style, and of course with the irresistible food aroma.

 

Menu

The menu is in Polish, but you can ask the waitress to help you to translate. There is an A4 paper menu, and a menu on the wall as well. Prasowy serves a breakfast menu with scrambled eggs and bun. However, I chose to try a meat dish with rice and vegetable instead.

 

Food

After paying at the cashier, I received a receipt and waited in the middle of the restaurant to receive my food. The portion came bigger than I expected for the cheap price (17 Zolty for all). It also tasted delicious and gave me “home-made” feeling.

Although feeling full already after the main dish, I wanted to try the dessert and drink there because they were incredibly cheap! I just simply came to the cashier, pointed at the dessert because I did not know the name. And yes, here they are!

 

Review

With good location and cheap but delicious food, Prasowy should be on your checklist during your visit in Warsaw.

 

Location

Address: Marszałkowska 10/16, 00-590 Warszawa, Poland

Open time: 9am – 8pm

 

2. Milkbar Tomasza in Kraków

As a budget traveler, I think it’s the best way to experience the culture and enjoy good but cheap food is to eat at milk bars. Milkbar Tomasza was on my list after reading a good review and also the location. It is located in Old Town, so you can just stop by if you are around there.

Design and atmosphere

Milkbar Tomasza has a modern design, with a compact size of a small restaurant. I feel that it’s newer and more modern compared to Prasowy Milk bar in Warsaw.

 

Menu

Milkbar Tomasza has an English menu, and the staffs can speak English fluently, so there will be no problem in choosing and ordering the food. I chose the dish of the day on the menu because it seems more economic than choosing separately.

 

Food

Different from Prasowy, in Milkbar Tomasza you will be served at the table after ordering food. The food came with a good portion, and delicious as well. I received my soup first and then the main dish. I was really full after having those dishes.

Review

Modern style restaurant, good location, affordable and delicious food, Milkbar Tomasza is a perfect choice to get a good meal in Kraków. I visited there in the evening, but I heard that it served excellent breakfast menu as well. So let’s give it a try!

 

Location

Address: Świętego Tomasza 24, 33-332 Kraków, Poland.

Open time: 8 am – 8 pm daily except Monday

 

Conclusion

Eating at milk bars, I could enjoy the cultural experience by eating like locals and exploring dishes from Communist-era time. Although the dishes are mainly simple, they are delicious and worth trying. Prasowy has a different style compared to Milkbar Tomasza. In Prasowy, I could feel the “old-time” and cafeteria way by self-service, while Milkbar Tomasza brings me more modern style and well-advanced. Each place has different atmospheres as well as different dishes, so pay a visit to each will fulfill your trip to Poland.

milk bars

* The article was updated in March 2018.

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Living in London as an expat

Are you thinking of living in London, or just wonder what it’s like to live in London as an expat? In this Expat Interview, Claire will answer all the questions regarding expat life in London. You can understand the city better from an expat’s viewpoint, and get to know important information such as the cost of living in London, how to prepare for moving to London, overcoming difficulties, best things to do in London, etc.

 

About London

London is the capital of the United Kingdom. With more than 8 million people, it is the biggest city in Europe and its surface area is twice as big as New York. From the romantic neighborhood of Notting Hill to the super trendy Shoreditch, London offers something for every taste and everyone. It is also home to some of the most famous museums (and most are free to visit!), theatre shows, and touristic sights. Each corner of the city transports you to a very different world where different cultures and languages mix to create one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Is London a great place to live as an expat? Read this interview and Claire will let you know!

living in London

 

1. A bit about Claire – Our Interviewee today

My name is Claire, I was born and raised in the North East of France. I moved to the UK in 2011 after spending 18 months in the US, so this wasn’t the first time I moved abroad. I am a Communications Manager for a healthcare technology company.

After studying and working in the US for 18 months, I knew I wanted to live closer to my family. I had enjoyed my time in the US and developed a strong taste for the expat life, so I decided to look for a job in London. I knew I loved the city as I had visited several times before, and it was much closer to France. It took me a while to find a job. I was temporarily based in France while looking for a job in the UK. After a few months, I finally got a graduate position in London and moved!

 

2. Why did you choose to live in London?

I had always loved London and I was already speaking fluently English so it was an obvious destination for me. London is huge, very cosmopolitan and there are so many things to do, you can never get bored of it. What is there not to like? The weather, I guess you definitely don’t move to London for the weather!

expat living in London

Rainy day in West London

3. How to prepare for moving to London?

Being European it was pretty straightforward as I didn’t need a visa. I just packed and moved. The only thing I would recommend planning for if you don’t need a visa, is a deposit for a rental accommodation. London is expensive so deposits can be fairly high. Also, don’t bother with summer clothes, winter last 10 months here.

 

4. Cost of living in London

Living in London is VERY expensive!

  • Rental accommodation can go anywhere from £700 for a small double bedroom in a shared flat, to £1800 for a spacious 2-bedroom apartment in Zone 2.
  • Groceries are average and similar to places like Paris. London also offers a great variety of eateries so you can eat out on pretty much any budget.
  • Transport is VERY expensive with a monthly Oyster Card Zone 1-2 costing a whopping £131.
  • Your salary is taxed directly at the source so there is not much to worry after that other than the council tax and your electricity, gas and water bills.

If you decide to move to London just expect to have no money by the end of the month is the short of it. You can and probably will spend it all.

 

5. How to overcome difficulties while living in London?

I have some difficulties with people’s accents! Everybody speaks differently in the UK which at first was overwhelming even if I was already speaking fluently. I eventually got used to it, but it still takes a fair amount of ‘Pardon?’ every now and then.
Making new friends can be a challenge too, mostly with British people as most already have their network of friends. It took me a long time, and even now I don’t have a million friends but the ones I have are very dear to me! Quality over quantity!

 

6. Did you experience any discrimination in London?

No, being French, when I meet someone new, I usually just get compliments about French food or some mention of a vacation they took in France. Sometimes I get a funny look when I first talk because people do not expect me to have an accent, but that is pretty much it. French bashing is a thing though and the constant jokes about French people can be tiring.

 

7. Did you have culture shock in London?

Not really, being European and having lived abroad before, I knew how to deal with cultural shock, plus I had visited London before and I was aware of the main differences with France. Most differences made for funny stories and I talked a lot about it on my blog. I am also very lucky to have never been homesick!

 

8. What do you like about London?

It is so big that there is always something new to discover! Museum, eateries, bars, neighborhoods, I think it would take a lifetime to visit every corner of London. There are also so many parks, which is amazing to have access to in such a big city. I have never lived more than 5 minutes’ walk away from a green space in my seven years in London.

living in London going picnick

Londoners picnicking in Blackheath

9. Is there anything that you don’t like about London?

The trains! They are always delayed, slow and so dated.

 

10. What are your favorite things to do in London?

On weekends, I love to take a walk in a new neighborhood with my husband. I can easily get claustrophobic in small cities so I embrace the fact that there is always a new street to discover in London. I am also on a constant quest for the best food and I love to try a new restaurant or cafe.

things to do in London

Having a cup of coffee at Café of Good Hope in South East London

11. Where would you recommend to visit in London?

It is a tough question! If it is your first time in London and you have limited time, visit all the touristic sights because they are actually worth it! The South Bank, Buckingham Palace, St Paul, etc., many places to go!
If it is your second or third time, start to walk further away and visit Notting Hill, Shoreditch, Columbia Road, Greenwich. Visit a couple of museums too, my favorites are the Natural History Museum (because of dinosaurs!)  and the Victoria & Albert Museum (just beautiful). During any visit after that, take the time to watch a show in the West End, have lunch or dinner in one of the many food markets (Mercato Metropolitano is fantastic) and go explore neighborhoods further away like Hampstead, Brixton, and Richmond.

things to do in London

St James Park with Buckingham Palace in the background

12. Is it easy to make friends in London?

As I mentioned above, it can be challenging to make friends in London. Foreigners are usually easier to reach out to as, like any expatriate, they are away from home. British people can be a bit coyer and more reserved so it can be difficult to connect with them at the beginning. In both cases, it takes time.

 

13. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?

I mainly hang out with locals, but this is mainly because my husband is British and his friends became mine (at least that’s what I think ☺). I also made a lot of friends through work which helped a lot!

 

14. Where is your favorite place in London to hang out with friends?

This is a difficult question to answer as I have so many: Chiswick, East Dulwich, and Marylebone, to name a few. What is important to know is that ‘real’ Londoners do not live in the central neighborhoods, so if you want to meet some you will have to go at least in Zone 2 or 3. If you decide to move to London and live in the very central and/or popular area chances are all your neighbors will be foreigners.

 

15. A memorable experience in London

living in London

People camping in the street for Kate Middleton and Prince William wedding

I have been in London for seven years so it is hard to choose one! I got my first grown-up job here, I met my husband here, I got a cat, I bought a house, Will and Kate got married, I went to the London Olympic Games, I went to numerous shows and concerts, I ate all the food the world has to offer… So far, I would say that the London life is my favorite memory! But ask me again in five years!

16. Did you change your perspective about London after living here?

living in London

Street art in the streets of London

Yes, London is not a giant Notting Hill! It has rough bits, ugly bits, and non-terraced houses bits.

17. What are your advice and tips for moving/ living in London?

Just do it! I have moved abroad twice now and the main lesson I have is that moving abroad just requires planning and organization, but it is really not rocket science. You can make it as complicated or simple as you want it to be. In regards to London, only move there if you like to live in big cities if you are a countryside person you may find it too overwhelming.

 

18. Would you recommend to live in London?

If you can afford it? Absolutely! If it is too expensive for you, but you still want to move to the UK, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Bath, and Brighton can be fantastic alternatives. There is so much more to the UK than London!

 

19. What have you learned from living abroad?

living in London

Cherry Blossom in Notting Hill

To be more attentive and respectful of different cultures. Things can very easily get lost in translation so don’t jump to conclusions straight away. Be patient, listen and be observant, body language can mean everything!
I find that living abroad is so much more interesting than living at home. If you are curious about it, just do it! Trust me, you will have ZERO regrets!

20. More about Claire

Claire is a French living in London. Communications professional by day and blogger at Claire Imaginarium by night, she loves food, traveling, London, her husband – Andrew and her cat Buffer. She can spend a ridiculous amount of time in a furniture shop and love to get lost in the aisles of drugstores looking for the best face cream. Don’t forget to follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.

thank you for reading living in london

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Living in Glasgow, Scotland as an expat

Do you know what it’s like to live in Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland, as an expat? In this interview, Katie will share expat life in Glasgow. She will discuss the cost of living in Glasgow, things to do in Glasgow, how to overcome culture shock and more.

 

About Glasgow, Scotland

Despite not being the capital of Scotland, Glasgow is the country’s largest city. Situated on the River Clyde, Glasgow is an old port city, with shipbuilding being the main industry historically. Glasgow went through a significant period of industrial decline post-war before this began gradually improving in the 1980’s. In recent years, Glasgow’s modern and progressive arts and music scene juxtaposed against its old world architecture and heritage have seen the city grow into a vibrant and alluring place.

living in glasgow scotland

The River Clyde

About Katie

My name is Katie and I’m a physiotherapist from Perth, Australia. Coming from the most isolated capital city in the world I’ve always had a sense of wanting to travel and see different parts of the world, whether it be my own country or somewhere much further away. My first taste of overseas was not until I was 20 years old when a high-school friend and I set off to explore Europe on a working holiday. During this six month visit, I spent a tiny three days in Scotland and decided I loved this place and would one day come back to live here. Fast forward 10 years and I found myself living in the suburbs of Perth with a 9-5 job and a dog wondering what had happened to those lustful travel dreams….
expat living in glasgow

I moved to Glasgow in March 2016. I had been living in Inverness the year prior when I’d made the big move from Australia to Scotland. Inverness was lovely but too small and I craved life in a bigger city.

1. Why did you choose to live in Glasgow?

During my year in Inverness, I’d had a couple of weekend city breaks in both Glasgow and Edinburgh. Edinburgh remained pretty and charming but Glasgow to me just felt extremely comfortable and liveable. Visits to Glasgow had included seeing bands, eating at interesting restaurants, visits to quirky bars and lots of fun. I knew with all of this on offer that I’d never get bored in Glasgow.

 

2. Procedure for moving to Glasgow

Moving to Glasgow for me was actually super easy, mainly because I had already made the big overseas move and was now just making a smaller inter-city move. I applied for jobs and searched for flats online so when it came time to make the move, I had the luxury of having a job and a place to live already lined up.

3. Overcoming difficulties and culture shock in Scotland

Whilst there are certainly cultural differences between Scotland and Australia, both are western, English speaking countries, which makes amalgamation into a new city that little bit easier than moving to a country whose language is not your first.

A lot of the cultural differences are minor things like food (the Scottish love their haggis, black pudding and anything deep fried). There are also some words and sayings that are unique to Scotland and it can take a bit of time to understand what people are saying, particularly with the thick Glaswegian accent. A friend from work bought me a mug with Scottish words and the English translations for my first Christmas here, I think partly as a joke but it has come in very handy!

 

4. Is there any discrimination while living in Scotland?

I personally have not experienced any discrimination as a foreigner in my whole time here in Glasgow. I am however a Caucasian female and without speaking to me and hearing my Australian accent, you wouldn’t necessarily know that I was a foreigner. In general, though I have found Scottish people very friendly and accepting of people from all different places and I would expect anyone who came here would be made to feel welcome.  Overall attitudes to immigration in Scotland are less negative than in the rest of Britain, backed up by the fact Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU during the Brexit vote.

 

5. Cost of living in Glasgow Scotland

The cost of living in Glasgow is certainly cheaper than some of the other large cities in the UK like Edinburgh and London. This applies to all the main essentials such as accommodation, food, transport, and spending.

a) Accommodation in Glasgow

Accommodation prices vary depending on what you are looking for. The most desirable areas to live would be either the West End or the Southside. West end is the pricier of the two. You could get a decent sized room to rent in a shared flat in either location for around £350-£500 including bills. The price for a one bedroom flat in the area ranges from around £400-£700 and you would then need to pay council tax (around £100pcm) and bills on top of that. There are cheaper places but you tend to get what you pay for in terms of location and quality of the flat. It is common for flats here to be rented out fully furnished which is great and means you don’t need to worry about buying a ton of stuff.

 

b) Public transportation in Glasgow

Glasgow also has excellent public transport links, meaning it is by no means essential to have a car in this city. Wherever you choose to live I would recommend within a 5-10 minute walk of a train station or the subway would make getting around easy. Both go into the city center at regular intervals. The subway ticket is £3.10 for a return and the train price varies depending on location but is usually around £2.80/£2.00 return peak vs off-peak if you are within about 3 miles of the city center. Both travel options offer slight discounts if you travel regularly and buy a season pass.

 

c) Car club in Glasgow

We are also a member of a car club here in Glasgow which means if we do fancy a drive out in the country, we can walk down the street and jump in a car, hiring it for as little as 30 minutes at a time. The car club we are a member of, Co-Wheels, operates as a social enterprise and works to develop more sustainable car use across the UK.

 

d) Groceries

Groceries are fairly reasonable to buy, particularly if you shop at the lower-cost supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi instead of the bigger stores like Tesco. You could get away with spending around £25 a week on groceries if you shopped wisely.

 

e) Eating out in Glasgow

Eating out in Glasgow is also fairly affordable compared to other cities in the UK like Edinburgh and London. There are quite a few restaurants where you can eat out with a main for around £8-12. A pint of beer is anything from around £3-5 and a glass of wine around £4-7. There are websites such as 5pm.co.uk that offer daily deals for lots of restaurants around Glasgow and can be helpful if you want to enjoy a dinner out without breaking the bank. You can often get dinner for two with wine for around £25-30 using these websites.

 

6. What do you like about Glasgow?

There is so much to like about Glasgow! There’s a saying that you’ll see in colorful graffiti paint in a few locations around the city that says People Make Glasgow. And I have to agree. I think much of what I like about Glasgow is best described by that saying. Glaswegians are friendly people. I know that gets said about a lot of cities but to be honest I’ve not experienced the kind of genuine friendliness that you get in Glasgow anywhere else in the world that I’ve been. Hospitality staffs are friendly, not because they want to get your post-brunch tip, but because they are just generally good people who enjoy their work much more by having a little banter with their customers. Having a city where the general population is like this certainly helped to put me at ease and make me feel comfortable and at home straight away.
Apart from my favorite thing about Glasgow, the people, there is much else to love about this city. Glasgow is full of art and culture accessible to everyone. I also love that within not much more than an hour’s drive of the city you can be on one of the beautiful west coast beaches, the misty, enchanting Glencoe Mountains or the bonnie shores of Loch Lomond.

 

7. Is there anything that you don’t like about Glasgow?

The rain! Glasgow is ranked the third wettest city in the UK behind Cardiff and St Davids based on the volume of rainfall, but it actually has the highest number of days with rain with an average of 170 days per year. I had to look that statistic up and am actually mildly surprised. If I’d had to guess how many days of rain Glasgow receives I think I would have put the figure much higher at around 250-300! It does mean however when we get a day of lovely sunshine here we embrace it like nowhere else. You’ll find people going ‘taps aff’ in all sorts of weird and wonderful places when it happens.

8. What are your favorite things to do in Glasgow?

One of my favorite things to do in Glasgow is visiting one of the many lovely parks. Glasgow is known as the Dear Green Place due to it having the highest percentage area of green spaces in a city in the UK. Whilst I love living in the city and being around things that are happening, I also have a real need to experience the outdoors and nature. Two of my favorite parks within a short walk of where I live in the Southside of Glasgow: Pollok Country Park and Queens Park. Queens Park is smaller and perfect for getting my outdoor fix, whether through a gentle stroll or a game of tennis (there are courts free to hire Glasgow residents). You can also wander through the Glass House at the top of the hill, admiring weird and wonderful animals in the reptile park if you need to escape the weather for a while.  My favorite thing to do in Queens Park though is to be spent on one of those rare sunny Glasgow days: a picnic on the grassy hills looking out at the views over Glasgow city and onto the Campsie hills in the distance. Perfection!

Queens Park living in glasgow

View from the top of the hill in Queens Park

 

9. Where do you recommend to visit in Glasgow?

Glasgow has lots of lovely cafes, some of the best are in the Southside near me and they’re so good I rarely find myself venturing away from here for brunch or coffee. Café Strangebrew and The Glad Café are my main go-to’s. Café Strange brew serves up inventive sweet and savory brunch delights alongside coffee from local roasters Dear Green Coffee. The Glad café is open for brunch or coffee and cake throughout the day and stays open as a bar in the evening, playing host to a variety of events in the side room including bands, comedy, and films. Favorite café’s in the West End include Papercup, a tiny but bustling place where students serve up Papercup’s own coffee beans and a selection of tasty and affordable brunch delights. For Fika Sake, also in the West End, is a lovely spot to pop in for coffee and cake. This artisan café serves coffee downstairs an opens their upstairs space for various workshops and social events in the evenings. There are also some great vegan café in Glasgow. Stereo and Mono in the city center are both interesting places to try some tasty vegan food, grab a drink and catch some live music.

 

10. Nightlife in Glasgow, Scotland

Drinking culture is big in Scotland and there’s a plethora of interesting and cozy bar’s in this city to visit. For a night out with friends, I’ll usually head to Finnieston, just west of the city center where both sides of the street are lined with desirable venues. One bar in this area worth special mention is The Ben Nevis, a tiny whiskey bar where dogs are welcome and on Sunday and Monday evenings a group of musicians takes up residence at one end of the bar, performing traditional Scottish music that serves a the perfect drinking accompaniment.

expat living in scotland

Local Musicians Creating Lovely Music at The Ben Nevis

11. Is it easy to make new friends in Glasgow?

Making friends anywhere new can be challenging, particularly as you get older. When you’re at school or university you’re forced to spend time with people day after day and naturally will tend to form friendships with like-minded people. When you no longer attend these institutions, making friends requires a little more effort.
You don’t make friends sitting at home watching Netflix, so to make new friends in Glasgow you need to get out there and do things. Luckily, Glasgow has a host of extra-curricular activities no matter what your tastes and the friendliness of people make it easy to try new things.
A lot of the friends I have made in Glasgow have been through work, but I have also met people by getting involved in other activities, such as attending All The Young Nudes, a drop in life drawing class run at a couple of locations in the city. The class is very informal and you don’t need to be an artist to go but I found drawing in this type of environment a lovely way to unwind and meet new and interesting people.
I also joined a basketball team not long after moving to Glasgow. That instantly gave me a new group of girlfriends. I no longer play due to other commitments but for anyone new to the city looking for friends I’d definitely recommend getting involved in a team sport as a way to get an instant group of pals.

 

12. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?

I mainly hang out with locals, which is something I really like about living in Glasgow. Whilst I appreciate that when moving to a new city it can be easier to make friends with other expats as they face the same difficulties as you, part of me feels that to really absorb the grits of the city you need to hang out with the locals, at least some of the time. When I first moved here I did sign up for a meetup group for expats but I never ended going to any events and within a short while I didn’t feel I needed to. Whilst it wasn’t for me, I do think its good that these groups do exist in the city as I think it can be really intimidating moving somewhere new and having a pal in a similar situation may be just what you need.

 

13. Where is your favorite place in Glasgow to meet friends?

I mentioned some of my favorite cafes and bars above, but other great places to hang out with friends in Glasgow would be at one of the many live concert venues dotted around the city. Glasgow is a top touring destination for many local and international bands and has a thriving music scene. You could see a band any night of the week at one of the more intimate venues such as The Art School, The Hug, and Pint or King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. Bigger bands play at the iconic The Barrowlands, an old ballroom in the east end of the city center, whilst the SEC Hydro attracts large international acts with a capacity of up to 13000 people.
Another fun thing to do on one of those dreich Glasgow days is to visit some of the cities galleries. I like The Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) in the city center and Kelvingrove Gallery in the West End for a taste of art, The Riverside Museum in the West End which houses Glasgow’s Transport Museum and Tramway in the Southside for contemporary art including music, film, and theatre.

Kelvingrove Gallery visting Scotland

The beautiful old Kelvingrove Gallery

 

14. Memorable experience in Glasgow Scotland

One of my favorite memories of Glasgow is attending the Strathbungo Window Wanderland in February 2017. Strathbungo is a tiny area in the Southside of Glasgow and last year for the first time, this event was created to transform the area into an outdoor gallery. Residents were invited to participate by creating their own window display, which ranged from decorative artwork to live music and all sorts of weird and wonderful things in-between. We were living in the area at the time and on a cold wintery night in Glasgow, residents from around the area took to the streets to wander around and enjoy the display. I felt the night just really captured all of the things I love about this city, the artistic culture and the friendliness and community spirit of the people.

 

15. Did you change your perspective about Glasgow after living here?

I don’t think my perception of Glasgow changed hugely in the two years that I have been here. I think with Glasgow you get what you see. What I liked about the city before I moved here – the friendliness of the people, the artistic vibe and the general feel of the city – have remained the same and the reason I continue to enjoy this place. I wasn’t expecting anything other than what I have got from this place.

 

16. What are your advice and tips for moving/ living in Glasgow?

I’d advise anyone moving to Glasgow to embrace the city for what it is and get involved in activities that you enjoy as a way to meet new people. From a practical point of you in terms of sorting yourself out when you first get here, I would suggest using Airbnb or cheap hostels for accommodation when you first arrive and then use sights like spareroom.co.uk or gumtree.co.uk to find yourself a furnished room in an existing flat quite easily. If you are traveling on your own, moving into a share house would be a good way to make some new pals when you are fresh in the city.
As for finding a job, it depends a lot on the industry that you work in. One thing that I found with my own industry of healthcare and I think extends to a lot of professional industries is that the time between applying for work and starting can be somewhat lengthy – up to three months. This would apply to my experience of both public and private work. For this reason, I would suggest that if you are looking for a professional job that you do quite a bit of homework before moving and maybe even start applying for jobs before you move to minimize the time you are sat waiting around to start work.

 

17. Would you recommend others to live in Glasgow?

Yes! I’m sure Glasgow is not for everyone but it is a vibrant and fun place and if you can get past the grey skies and rain you will learn to love the city.

 

18. What have you learned from living abroad?

Living abroad has taught me how important it is to take chances and step out of your comfort zone. There are many challenges that come with leaving the place you know as home and trying to set up a new life in a foreign place. Overcoming these challenges is what helps you to grow as a person. Things won’t always work out exactly the way you had imagined but as long as you learn from each experience it’s all still valuable. There is a saying here in Scotland that goes ‘what is for you won’t go by you’. I find comfort in this saying when I think things aren’t going the way I had planned.

 

More about Katie

Since moving to Glasgow, Katie met her partner – Ian, who also has a love of travel, having completed a world trip in 2010. They are now in the process of planning their our own adventure together where they hope to travel to places neither of them has yet encountered, including much of Eastern Europe, Russia, and parts of Asia. Follow their adventures on their blog Resfebertravelblog, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Read more interviews in this Expat Interview series:

living in scotland

Public Transport in Germany

Whether you are a tourist or an expat, you may feel confused at the first the time you encounter the public transport system in Germany. “Complication” may be the first word you come up with when describing the system, but as long as you get used to it, you will reckon how systematic and convenient it is compared to other countries. In this article, I will provide some information about German public transport and offer some tips on how to make the best of public transport in Germany.

 

1. Basic information about public transport system in Germany

Below is the list of keywords or concepts you may find it useful when reading about public transport in Germany.

  • Means of public transport in Germany: bus, tram, S-Bahn, U-Bahn, regional trains (RE/RB/IRE), ICE/ICs. Except for ICE/ICs which is a German high-speed train for long-distance travel, the rest is used for regional transport.
  • Deutsche Bahn (DB): the German national railway company that operates all of the railway systems across Germany. The abbreviation for it is DB, whenever you see the DB sign in red, it literally infers the main train station (German: Hauptbahnhof or Hbf).
  • Local transport association (German: Verkehrsverbund): these are local companies that operate local transport such as bus, tram, or U-Bahn. Each region will have a different association and the fare is therefore subject to change between regions.
  • Zone: Big cities in Germany will have different zones whose fares are slightly different from one another. Usually, there are 3 zones in a city and most tourist attractions located in the first two zones whereas the airport is sometimes in the outermost zone. Pay attention to the zone when buying the ticket so that you can save the money and do not get fined when you go into an invalid zone.
public train in germany - german rail

Berlin train

Tips to check ticket price in Germany

You can check the ticket price for local transport in a region at the association’s website or app. Also, you may google the keyword “Name of city/region” + “Verkehrsverbund” and see its site with the English language. You can download the map of all the lines or get it for free at the DB Info counter at the main train station.

 

2. Where to buy the public transportation tickets in Germany?

There are many options for you to buy a ticket in Germany:

  • At the station: the main station and some other big stations will have the ticket machine for you to buy. The DB ticket machine can allow you to buy both local transportation ticket and long distance ticket but some other ticket machines operated by the local transport associations only sell bus or tram tickets.
  • At the DB Info counter at the station: you will receive assistance to buy the tickets and of course you have to pay for the service.
  • Bus or tram: you can buy directly from the driver or at the ticket machine on the bus or tram.
  • DB website or app: you can buy tickets operated by DB (regional trains, S-Bahn, ICE/ICs).
  • The website or app of local transport association: you can buy local tickets (tram/bus/U-Bahn) here.
train ticket germany - german rail

S-Bahn train in Stuttgart

Tips

Don’t be scared by the German ticket machine, just hit the button to change the language to English and start looking at the options. The way the German display on the machine is really straightforward so you will not be confused in any way. In case you still find it hard then ask anyone for help or reach the DB Info counter.

 

3. Ticket for local transport in Germany

There are many types of tickets depending on the region but in general, you should know only three common types of them:

a) Single Ticket (EinzelTicket)

This ticket allows you to travel anywhere you like and by any means in the city usually within 1.5 hours, regardless of how many stops you make, by any means of the chosen zone in the city.

Price: 2 – 2.8 euros per person

 

b) Day Ticket (TagesTicket)

You can travel by any means and to anywhere in the zone you choose for one day. One day here does not necessarily mean 24 hours from the time you buy the ticket so you have to pay attention to the validity of the ticket. In some cities, it literally means 24-hour ticket whereas some cities allow you to travel only to 3 A.M on the following day.

Price: 6 – 8 euros per person

 

c) Group Ticket (GruppenTicket/GruppenTagesTicket)

Group ticket is in major cases the day ticket for a group of maximum 5 people with some restriction in age. Note that in some regions the price for group ticket is fixed no matter how many people there are in your group as long as it does not exceed 5 people. In some other regions, the price is fixed for the first ticket and for each additional person you will have to pay extra.

Price: 12 – 20 euros per group of maximum 5 people

 

Tips: When you are in the city and do not know where to go, it is highly recommended to buy day ticket so that you save a lot when exploring the city. Sometimes buying a group ticket is cheaper even when you travel with just 2 or 3 people compared to buying several single tickets.

 

4. Ticket for long-distance transport in Germany

You can travel long-distance in Germany via ICE/ICs with connecting S-Bahn or Regional Trains in between. My best advice for you is to buy tickets in advance as early as you can because the price system works exactly like flight booking, which means the later you book the higher price you get. You can book the ticket on the Deutsche Bahn website at www.bahn.com for the English language and pay with Paypal or credit card. There are two types of ticket price you need to be aware: Flexpreis and Saving fares. The only difference between them is that for Flexpreis you pay a lot higher than Saving fares but you are more flexible in the time and place, which means you can travel any time or any route you like between your specified point of departure and destination within 1-2 days from the day your ticket is valid.

public transport in germany frankfurt

Frankfurt Central Station

Tips for long-distance transport in Germany

Buying tickets with Saving fares can save you a lot because the price can be as little as 19 euros compared to the usual 30-50 euros. However, please keep in mind that you cannot change or return this ticket but if there are delays in your current route you can request for a new one at the Deutsche Bahn counter. Seat reservation is allowed on the ICE and it is around 2 euros for one seat.

 

5. Promotion tickets

Promotion tickets are usually group tickets for long distance travel in Germany. There are actually many types of them but I will name here only the most common ones.

  • Regional day ticket (Länder-Ticket): a group ticket for 4-5 people to travel across one of 16 federal states in Germany for one day.The average price is around 25 euros for the first person and 4 euros for each additional person. Some states like Baden-Wuertemberg will have a different type of regional day ticket for young people (mostly younger than 23) with a more reasonable price. Note that the validity of this ticket is from 9 A.M to 3 A.M of the next day and you can use all of the public transport except for ICE/ICs.
  • Weekend ticket (Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket): a group ticket for traveling anywhere in Germany on either Saturday or Sunday. The price is 44 euros for the first person and 6 euros for each additional person (maximum 4 fellows). The ticket is valid from 0 A.M to 3 A.M of the next day and you can use all of the German public transport except for ICE/ICs.
  • Day ticket (Quer-Durchs-Land-Ticket): this one is a perfect combination of the 2 previous tickets such that you can travel across Germany in any day you like. The price is 44 euros for the first person and 8 euros for each additional person (maximum 4). The only difference here is that you can only travel by regional trains and S-Bahn operated by DB and other railway cooperating undertakings. The valid time is from 9 A.M to 3 A.M of the next day during the weekdays and entire day at the weekend.

Apart from all of these, you can have promotion tickets on different time of the year. DB has many promotion programs along the year, especially in the summer and you can cheap tickets to travel individually.

public transport in germany - german train

Tips

The only disadvantage of this ticket is that you can only travel by German local trains and therefore it usually takes longer and many connecting trains in between. Given this, you should plan your journey, especially time and destination very carefully by searching for the route at the DB website or at the ticket machine. Make sure you select “Local transport only” in the extended search options to remove all the routes with ICE/ICs. The very last thing you should know is buying at the DB info counter costs you 2 more euros for service so you should buy it online or from the DB app and save the ticket for ticket controlling along the way.

You can buy and find more information here

 

About the author

Tuan is currently a senior in the major of biomedical engineering in Vietnam. He lived in Reutlingen, Germany as an expat. Besides his study, he loves reading books, hanging out with his friends and traveling.

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Click here to read advice and tips on using public transport in Germany. You can find how to use train in Germany, how to buy train ticket,bus ticket, how to use bus in Germany and make use of promotion tickets and long-distance-travel tickets. You will definitely want to save it to your German Travel Board so you can apply these tips when you travel!

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The Best Cheap Eats in Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is one of the most expensive cities in the world, so living or traveling to Copenhagen may cost a lot of money. However, don’t let it stop you from visiting this beautiful Scandinavian city. Copenhagen can be a budget-friendly destination for foodies as well if you know where to eat in Copenhagen on a budget. In this article, I will show you the best cheap eats in Copenhagen.

 

1. Sunset Boulevard

If you want to find a cheap place to eat in Copenhagen, visit Sunset Boulevard. It’s my favorite place to have a nice fresh-made burger. You can find these shops near Round Tower (Købmagergade 43) or Fish Market (Københavns Hovedbanegård).
If you enter the shop, you will see the price for one burger starts from 43 DKK, but you can ask for the cheapest option which is Snack Burger, and it’s only 15 DKK. I find Snack Burger and other burgers are not much different, so I usually go with Snack Burger! Not only so cheap, Snack burger is really tasty. The sauce of Snack Beef Burger reminds me the taste Vietnamese Banh Mi.

2. Takeaway Pizza

Takeaway pizza is also a good choice for cheap eats in Copenhagen. There are many pizza shops around Copenhagen, and the price usually starts from 60 DKK.

Cheap places to eat in copenhagen on a budget

Where to eat the best pizza in Copenhagen?  Pizzeria La Fiorita

I knew this delicious pizza restaurant from my friend, and this place has become my favorite pizza stop. It’s located just nearby the Lake, and not far from Central Copenhagen. The restaurant is small and cozy, so you can experience relaxing atmosphere while enjoying delicious slices of pizza.

With fresh topping and crispy dough, Pizzeria La Fiorita is a great place to eat authentic pizza at an affordable price. There are vegan pizza choices as well, along with other Italian dishes such as Bruschetta, Lasagna, Parmigiana  Spaghetti bolognese, Fettuccine, Tortellini.

Location: Charlotte Ammundsens Plads 2, kld. Hjørnet af Nansensgade, 1359 Kbh. K.

Menu: You can click here to find the menu of  Pizzeria La Fiorita

 

3. Hot dog stand

There are various hot dog stands around Copenhagen, so don’t hesitate to try one! With an affordable price and amazing tastes, you can just pick one up for lunch. So, where to try hot dog in Copenhagen?

cheap restaurants to eat in Copenhagen on a budget

a) DØP

Location: Købmagergade 52, 1150 København K, Denmark

If you find yourself around Norreport Station area, just stop by and try delicious hot dogs from DØP. This hot dog stand is just nearby the Round Tower (Rundetaarn). The price starts at 35 DKK, and you can pay extra 5 DKK to upgrade your choice of sausage.

Here are some reviews of this hot dog stands from other customers:

 

b) John’s Hotdog Deli

Location: Bernstorffsgade 5, 1704 København V, Denmark

John’s Hotdog Deli is another option for people who are around Central Copenhagen. It’s located just outside Central Station and across Tivoli. The price is a bit cheaper than DØP, starting from 28 DKK. Some people say the hotdog here is better than DØP, but I will let you try it yourself 🙂

 

4. Too Good To Go App

This app is totally a life-saver!!! Instead of wasting the food, the restaurants cooperate with this app to let the user buy at a cheaper price in the evening. While using the app, you can see the distance from your location to the restaurants, and the what food they offer. My favorite choices are bakery shops and “All you can eat” restaurants. There are vegan restaurants for you as well! However, you can only go and pick your food at a specific time of the day, so make sure that you don’t miss it.

How to use the application Too Good to Go?

Firstly, you need to register as a user and choose the restaurant based on your interest. After purchasing the ticket, you must be at the restaurant at a proper time to receive your food. The restaurant will check your ticket, press a button, and then give you a small box to take whatever you want.

toogoodtogo

Therefore, if the picking-up time is 10 pm, I suggest to be there 9:55 in order not to be in a long queue or miss all the food. Your phone should have internet data as well in order to check your ticket.

 

5. Supermarket take-away food

There are few cheap supermarket chains in Copenhagen such as Netto, Fakta, Lidl, and Aldi. However, you will see Netto is the most popular one. It’s everywhere in Copenhagen and opens until late at night (10 pm or 11 pm, some even open 24 hours). I usually buy already-made salad boxes from Netto, and it is tasty. There are burgers, sandwiches, spaghetti and other takeaway dishes that you can choose from as well.

 

6. Famous fast food chains: Burger King, McDonald’s

cheap eats in Copenhagen

Even though I’m not a fan of fast-food, it’s one of the cheapest options if you need a quick-and-cheap meal. There are some fast food chains in Copenhagen such as Burger King, McDonald’s, and the price starts from 20 DKK. I usually eat there after a late night, as they open 24 hours.


Read related posts about Denmark:

Cheap places to eat in Copenhagen on a budget

Top 10 Most Surprising Facts about Denmark

I decided to write this post when one of my friends asked me “What surprised you the most when you first came to Denmark?” As a Vietnamese girl who lived in Japan, Denmark is a whole new world for me. I did not know much about this country until I got there. In this article, I share the 10 most surprising facts about Denmark. It’s not only useful for those who would like to know more about this lovely country, but it’s also a good preparation if you have a chance to visit Denmark.

 

1.Toilet for both genders

There are many toilets for both genders in Denmark, so don’t get surprised or shocked if a guy or girl comes to the same toilet with you.

Facts about Denmark - Toilet for both genders

I was so surprised at the first time when I was in this situation. I still remember the feeling when I heard a random guy’ voice outside when I was in the toilet, and I was like

“No way! How did I go to a wrong one? I remember I enter correctly?”

I was shy and embarrassed at the moment, so I actually stayed in the toilet for a while. Waiting, waiting and waiting, but they didn’t go!

“Oh No! What should I do then?”

I had no idea and just went out as fast as I could. After talking to my friends, I realized that some toilets in Copenhagen are for both genders.

 

2. Hygge

“What is the most special thing about Denmark that you will show a foreigner?”, I asked my Danish friend.

“Hygge”, he answered.

I heard that Hygge is the way that helps the Danes survive in the cold winter, and I can confirm that it’s true! (After staying here in the winter)

So what is Hygge? Hygge is a very special activity in Denmark. It can be defined as having a good time with good people. If you walk around Copenhagen in the evening, you can see lots of people sitting together, having a cup of coffee or having a meal, with a small candle in between. As I heard,  too many candles for Hygge caused health problems in Denmark 🙁 

Facts about Denmark - Hygge and Coffee

What is better than a cup of coffee during the winter?

Also, I was shocked when I knew it was common for Danes to leave their babies to nap in a stroller outside when moms “Hygge” inside. OMG! How is it possible ?? How can they leave the babies outside, even when it’s really cold and windy ??

facts about Denmark - put strollers outside

I once asked my Danish friend about it, and he said “It’s really safe to do that because they calculate the wind direction, and the baby will cry if bad things happen. Also, no one kidnaps children here. It costs a lot to raise a child”. It’s totally different from other countries that I’ve been to.

Read related article: Julefrokost: A Danish Christmas Celebration

 

3. VAT

Denmark is one of the countries has the highest tax in the world. The standard VAT in Denmark, or called Danish VAT “MOMS” is 25%. Therefore, everything in Denmark is expensive compared to other countries. In my first day in Copenhagen, I was shocked when buying a small bottle of Coca-Cola with 20 DKK. It is more expensive if you buy it in Seven Eleven or Fotex, compared to Netto and Fakta. You can read free and cheap things to do in Copenhagen here.

facts about Denmark - high tax

VAT in Denmark is 25%, so the price is really high compared to other countries.

 

4. Super windy

The thing that I don’t like most in Denmark is the weather. It is way too windy. Sometimes, I cannot even ride my bicycle because of the strong wind.

Facts about Denmark - Really windy in Denmark

 

5. Flat country

Denmark is a flat country. As I read, its average height is above the sea of 31 meters. The article also said that the highest natural point is Møllehøj, at 170.86 meters. You cannot see any mountain in Denmark, only small hills. So, it is the best place for cycling, isn’t it?

 

6. Bicycles, bicycles, and bicycles

Because of the geography, Denmark is a perfect place for cycling. If you come to Copenhagen, you can see people bike everywhere. Danes love biking in every type of weather, even it’s rainy, windy or snowy. In Copenhagen, there are lines for bicycle only, and also traffic lights for bicycles. Bicycle thefts are very common in Copenhagen as well. So, watch out!

Facts about Denmark - Bicycles in Denmark

Bicycles are everywhere!

 

7. Drinking culture

It’s very normal to see people walking with a beer or many beers on the street in Denmark. You can see people drinking on the street, public transportation, and public places. It is legal to buy alcohol everywhere too. There are many drunk people in the weekend in Copenhagen.

Facts about Denmark - Drinking beer

Danish or Scandinavian people in general love beers!

You can read about Danish drinking culture at Julefrokost here

Facts about Denmark Julefrokost

 

8. Smoking

Another surprising thing to me is that many Danes smoke. You can see a lot of people smoking in the parties, bars, and clubs. They will go out for sometimes and then come back inside. I was once the only one left inside the house because other people were smoking outside.

 

9. Apartments in the inner city

a) Same floors

The apartments inner the city of Copenhagen have the same number of floors which are 3 or 4. The designs are also a bit similar as well. It seems to me that those apartments just have different colors and different window styles. I was lost at first days when I just came because I couldn’t find my way to similar apartments. 

Beautiful Nyhavn in Denmark - Facts about Denmark

If you visit Nyhavn, you can see it clearly!

b) No curtain

I was surprised to know that some apartments do not have curtains on the windows :o! “How can they keep privacy then?” – I still wonder this until now… luckily my place has curtains already 😀

c) Only stairs

Also, most of the apartments only have stairs. 2 places that I lived, none of them has an elevator. I visit some of my friends’ houses and there are only stairs too. However, it’s a good chance to practice and improve your health, isn’t it?

 

10. Health care system

You can get an assigned doctor when you have a CPR number in Denmark. When you change your place, you have a choice to choose your own doctor. Also, health check-up is free. Feeling unwell? Just call your doctor and book an appointment. Unfortunately, the medicine price is pretty expensive, and the health care system does not cover your dental cost.

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Discover 10 Interesting facts about Denmark that you should know! Read here fore Danish culture, Scandinavian culture, Danish lifestyle, Biking and Drinking in Denmark and more! You'll definitely want to save this to your Denmark board so you can read later! #denmark #denmarklife #danmark #dane #bicycle #Scandinavia #copenhagen #copenhagenlife #ExpatLife #livingabroad

The article was originally written on Apr 24, 2017, and updated on Dec 22, 2017.

 

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Living in Paris as an expat

Have you ever dreamed of living in Paris and wonder how it would be? In this Expat Interview, Gabriela will show you what it’s like to live in Paris as an expat. You can understand Paris from an expat’s viewpoint, and get to know important information such as the cost of living in Paris, good and bad things about Paris, and how to prepare to move to Paris, etc..

 

Paris – The city of love

Paris is the capital of France, and it’s mainly known as the city of love or even better as the city of lights. Its location is amazing as you can travel within Europe in less than 2 hours anywhere, but what is more important to know about Paris is the fact that its surface offers you great options for museums, parks and also the opportunity to have amazing walks. It’s a great place to study, especially if you are interested in fashion or finance and of course, this will come with the perks of finding easily a job while enjoying a glass of wine.

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Let’s get to know a bit about Gabriela – our interviewee today 🙂

Gabriela’s Background

My name is Gabriela, and I work in an asset management company in the Netherlands as data business analyst. Also, I have started blogging at the beginning of 2017 because I wanted to share my stories worldwide.

I moved to Paris in August 2014 and planned immediately to stuff myself with as much cheese and wine as possible. This is how I find myself living in Paris, but I couldn’t live there for more than a year, even though there are things that I liked about the city and I came back a few times after moving out, just for weekend visits, Paris is not really meant to host me.

 

1. How did you start moving to Paris?

My Parisian story started when I decided to try my luck for a scholarship at one of the most prestige Business School in Paris. I always dreamt of studying abroad but never thought that will be possible in my case. But in June 2014, I received the answer that I will finally be able to fulfill my dream. I have to say that my transition to move to Paris it was very smooth and this is for sure thanks to the administration from my school, which arranged everything.

 

2. Why did you choose to live in Paris?

Honestly, there were a lot of factors that made me take the decision. I have applied to multiple schools, but for me, Paris resonates with high education. I was easily impressed how the financial hub, La Defence looks like and the school was located in the Grande Arche, which really took the decision for me.

Later on, after leaving the city, I noticed how easy I get someone’s attention when I mention that I used to live and study for a year in Paris.

Live in Paris as an expat

Paris – The city of love

 

3. How to prepare for moving to Paris?

The worse part of moving to Paris, or any city in France for the matter, is to find a place to live. The landlords have so much power that basically you will feel like having an interview. In my case it was very easy, I didn’t experience the process as hard as it can actually be since the school offers to be the “Guarantor” for any student as long as you pay your fees in due time. Also, they help with opening the bank account, settling in the city and getting your Pass Navigo, the transportation card.

 

4. Did you experience any discrimination in Paris?

I am a Romanian, which means a lot in Paris, from being called a gypsy to listening to a French school colleague telling me how “our government paid your people 500 EUR in the past and a plane ticket to go back to Romania”!

This was very demotivating for me to learn the language and honestly, I think that even though French people don’t like to be called names, they tend to do it to others. The word expat doesn’t exist for them, but rather immigrant, to make a very big distinction and to create a gap between you and them.

 

5. How to deal with culture shock in Paris?

Before relocating to Paris, I lived in Miami and London, so this wasn’t my first time as an expat, but I have to admit my shock was more related to seeing how dirty the city is. I was shocked when I was in the metro and everyone was smelling like yesterday’s clothes at 8 am. I was shocked when I said to a salesman that I am a Romanian and he just turned his back on me and never paid attention to me.

How did I overcome all these? I moved out of the country as soon as I finished my studies.

bad things about living in Paris

 

6. How to overcome difficulties during living in Paris?

The hard part is not speaking French. I used to take classes when I was little, but since then I never practiced, so I only remember the grammar rules and my vocabulary just vanished. The school offered free French classes, and if you go to Paris for any other reason, the government also offers free classes in the evening, so that is also an option.

Nobody will speak to you in English and if by any chance they do understand “a little bit” they will most likely speak still in French, just because they do not feel comfortable and “you should just learn our language”

 

About Paris, France

7. What do you like about Paris?

Paris is an amazing place to be in, especially if you are young without too many life problems.

The architecture is impressive, you can walk for weeks and you will not be bored and of course, you can still avoid the touristic traps and enjoy every second of your day. The bike lanes are pretty well organized, it is no Copenhagen, but still, if you want to use this mean of transportation, for sure it will be great, just watch out for crazy drivers.

The cheese, baguette and of course the wine, put them all into a bag and just go to a park and have a picnic on the grass. The last, but not least, there is always an event somewhere someday in Paris, you just need to look for it.

Wine and food in Paris

 

8. Is there anything that you don’t like about Paris?

Of course, besides of what I mentioned above, the city is also crowded and dangerous. What actually bothers me personally is the constant attacks on the city, which created a constant fear that you can just see walking around the city. It’s a bit sad and depressing and seeing the policemen with big guns, this feeling doesn’t really go away, but rather becomes even stronger.

 

9. What are your favorite things to do in Paris?

Definitely the picnics and walks around the famous Jardins. My favorite spot is Buttes-Chaumont park, with the beautiful cascade and great hills for a run (if you are up to it). Another great place is the Pere Lachaise cemetery, where among others Jim Morrison is buried, it’s really an architectural masterpiece.

 

10. Where would you recommend to visit in Paris?

Where to visit in Paris

For great views over the city, the balloon ride in Andre Citron park is a must, especially that it’s not very well known so not that crowded. There are a lot of other spots with a great view, like Printemps and Galleries Lafayette terraces, Sacre Coeur and Arc Triumph, but since these are so crowded I advise you to be patient.

 

11. Cost of living in Paris

  • Rent is, of course, the priciest expense, it’s almost impossible to find a nice place below 800EUR, so be prepared since Paris is the definition of an expensive city. In general, I managed to keep my budget under 1000 EUR per month,
  • Transportation (Navigo card around 80 EUR per month and with a 50% discount as a student)
  • Food (most of my groceries were from cheap supermarket Lidl, where you could get fruits, veggies and dairy products for a week with around 50 EUR)
  • Going out, this depends on each one of us, but I definitively took into consideration that most museums have a free day on first Sunday of the month.

 

Building Relationships

12. Is it easy to make new friends in Paris?

For a student, making friends it’s always easy since you have a group to hang out with. As a worker, the first step is to go out with your colleagues or to enroll for different activities like improving French, or there are always events for wine tasting, gather together in the park for picnics and there you can definitely meet new people.

 

13. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?

In my case, it was actually with both, since most of the expat colleagues from school already knew Parisians, which made my transition in the city very smoother.

If you don’t have this opportunity, just go out to a bar and start a random conversation with expats or tourists.

Locals are not as friendly as you would expect, especially if you approach them in English, so “parlez vous anglais? should be the first line of introduction.

 

14. Where is your favorite place in Paris to hang out with friends?

My favorite brunch place is PaperBoy near Republique metro station. Definitely, for a warm sunny day, I will give up going there and just take a bottle of white wine, with some cheese, fruits, and a baguette and hang out in any park.

 

Reflection

15. A memorable experience that you have in Paris

This is a memorable experience but also an advice for the people looking to live or travel to Paris.

A day trip to the Loire Valley to see the chateaux by bus in the spring was a wonderful experience similar to some Wes Anderson’s movies. I had a small picnic in the woods right next to Chateau Chenonceau under the warm spring sun and went up the iconic staircase in Chateau Chambord. I would encourage people to stay more and maybe book a night in Tours, a beautiful city nearby.

 

16. Did you change your perspective about Paris after living here?

I have visited Paris 2 years before moving there, and my initial thoughts were that I would never like to live there, but then again, you don’t get a French scholarship easily. Every single good or bad thought I had about Paris, while visiting, proved to be right while living there for a year, hence I could say that my perspective about the city didn’t change, but about the Parisian dream and the bohemian way of life, yes, definitely it’s a different thing.

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17. What are your advice and tips for moving and living in Paris?

Learn basic French before moving to Paris it’s my first advice, otherwise your life it will be much harder. If this step is complete, go out every day and enjoy the “Je ne said quoi” lifestyle Parisians have, because this is a unique way of living, which you will never find in other cities in the world.

 

18. Would you recommend others to live in Paris?

I am still conflicted about what opinion to share about Paris in general. I loved my life there, with the great food and amazing places to see, but what I liked the most is that if someone would cancel on me within 5 minutes of a meeting, I would find some activities immediately. Parisians like to have a good time, hence, I never had a boring day.

On the other hand, the bureaucracy and the dirt are few of the things that will make me say a definitive NO to Paris.

In the end, it’s up to each one of us to decide what are the pros and cons we can handle.

19. What have you learned from living abroad?

Paris wasn’t my first foreign city, so I was prepared to fight any racism or language barrier. What I can say for sure is that Paris changed the perspective I have about food, rather than just eat because I am hungry, I learned how to enjoy the food, to get the most out of each taste.

 

20. More thoughts on Paris

Do you know in which city in the world you can have a glass of wine for lunch? Do you know where you can go and have a picnic in the park any time of the year with great wine, amazing cheese, and warm baguette? Au Petit Bonheur la chance, you guessed correctly – this is Paris! This magical city is known as the city of love, but love for whom? Probably for the city itself!

There is something so magical in the air that every spot is special.  The city with je ne sais quoi, is not always a good idea, but most of the time it is, therefore, if anyone has the opportunity to live the Parisian dream for a few weeks/months, just do it.

Living in Paris and eating in Paris

People will never bring this up publicly unless you do it first and even so, they will never ever agree 100% that Paris is not always a good idea. The city is great, don’t get me wrong, but it has also some downsides, but in the end, if you are craving for great wine, amazing cheese, and perfect pastries, Paris is your city.

 

More about Gabriela

Gabriela is a longtime expat and traveler, food lover and a constant day-dreamer who is very keen to share her stories about traveling and exploring our beautiful planet. She is the voice behind “I am Foodie Traveler”, a collection of stories and impressions from her wanderings around the world.

Relatively new the blogosphere, but very passionate about traveling and storytelling, she wants to inspire others to travel and to see the world with their own eyes. You can get to read her work at I am Foodie Traveler or get in touch with her on Facebook or Instagram and watch her adventures on YouTube.

living in Paris tips

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Discover what it's like to live in Paris as an expat. Read cost of living in Paris, good and bad things about Paris, things to do in Paris and more here! You'll definitely want to save this in your Paris Board to read later! #paris #france #expat #visitparis #parismonamour #parisjetaime #expatlife #livingabroad #expatliving #expatblog #expatblogger #parisian #francemylove #france_focus_on Discover what it's like to live in Paris as an expat. Read cost of living in Paris, good and bad things about Paris, things to do in Paris and more here! You'll definitely want to save this in your Paris Board to read later! #paris #france #expat #visitparis #parismonamour #parisjetaime #expatlife #livingabroad #expatliving #expatblog #expatblogger #parisian #francemylove #france_focus_on Discover what it's like to live in Paris as an expat. Read cost of living in Paris, good and bad things about Paris, things to do in Paris and more here! You'll definitely want to save this in your Paris Board to read later! #paris #france #expat #visitparis #parismonamour #parisjetaime #expatlife #livingabroad #expatliving #expatblog #expatblogger #parisian #francemylove #france_focus_on

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Expat Interview: Living in Madrid, Spain as an expat

Welcome to Expat Interview Series. In this article, Kerry will show you what it’s like to live in Madrid, Spain as an expat. You can understand the city better from an expat’s viewpoint, and get to know important information such as living cost, good and bad things about Madrid, and how to prepare to move to Madrid, etc.. All tips and advice about Expat life in Madrid are here for you 🙂

 

Where is Madrid?

Madrid is the capital city of Spain and is located right in the center of the country. The city is known for having an abundance of art and culture. Some of the most famous sites include its art museums, Royal Palace, and Plaza Mayor. Madrid is certainly a gorgeous city, and extremely expat-friendly.

living in Madrid

Photo courtesy of Kerry

 

Firstly, let’s get to know a bit about Kerry 🙂

Kerry’s Background

My name is Kerry Ireland, and I am the blogger behind “The Petite Wanderer”! I absolutely fell in love with traveling after studying abroad in Madrid. I am a communications PR/advertising major at Loyola University Maryland, with a minor in studio art. I am an artist, and paint landscapes and portraits with oils and acrylics. I also love to sing, and I play the flute! I guess you could say I have a lot of passions.

I lived in Madrid for six months, starting in early January 2017.  Prior to moving here, I had only been out of the country once, to the Turks and Caicos with my mom after I graduated high school.

 

1.Why did you choose to live in Madrid?

Primarily, I chose to study abroad in Madrid because I wanted to focus on studying the Spanish language. My mom is fluent, and I grew up listening to her speak it. It has always fascinated me, and since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to learn to speak Spanish one day. I thought living in Spain would be a great opportunity to become immersed in the language and really get a strong base for it.

 

2. How did you prepare for moving to Madrid?

Since I studied abroad through my school, my abroad advisor pretty much babied us before departure, going over all of the essential things we needed to do. So through my university, everything was taken care of. Knowing that I would only be living in Madrid short term, I just brought one large suitcase filled with my basic and essential belongings. Of course, I did some major shopping when I got there!

suitcase

Difficulties & Challenges

3. How did you overcome difficulties?

The second I got off the plane, an overwhelming feeling of sadness rolled over me. I had never been away from home and my family for more than a month or so, and knowing that I would be gone for half a year kind of hit me all at once. I had spent the previous year preparing for the move, but the reality of it did not hit me until after I actually arrived at the Madrid Bajaras airport.

I remember holding in tears as I got into the taxi, on the way to the hotel I stayed at for the first few nights. Luckily my amazing boyfriend traveled over with me and helped me get settled in the first week I was there. Once we arrived at the hotel, I immediately broke down and started sobbing. It was definitely one of the most overwhelming experiences I faced while living abroad! After a few days, I started to settle in, and things got a lot better.

 

4. Did you experience any discrimination in Madrid?

Nope! Spaniards are generally lovely, kind, and accepting people. One thing that I found funny was their fascination with American politics. Once a Spaniard noticed I was American, they would ask “What do you think of Trump?!” I found it pretty funny that that is what Spaniards think of now when they think of America.

 

5. How to deal with culture shock in Madrid?

The first week I was there, I experienced pretty major culture shock. Like I said earlier, I had only been out of the country once prior, and I stayed in a touristy resort town. I was surrounded by a new language, new culture, and new people. It probably took around two weeks to a month to really become accustomed to my new surroundings. Then it just felt like home.

 

About the city

6. What do you like about Madrid?

I adore Madrid! It is such a lively city and there are so many things to do. Every day is an adventure in this city. Being so huge, there was always something new to try, new places to explore, and more people to meet. I loved that you can just hop on a metro, and end up somewhere awesome within minutes.

Live in Madrid

Beautiful Madrid at night – Photo courtesy of Kerry

 

7. Is there anything that you don’t like about Madrid?

This is a difficult question. I’d say the one thing I really didn’t like was that a majority of Madrid’s population seemed to be cigarette smokers. The city air often reeked of cigarette smoke, especially in crowded areas. The smoke bothers me, and if I am around it too long, I start to feel sick. So that’s what I didn’t really like about Madrid. The air quality of the city is also pretty bad and is known for being polluted and smoggy.

 

8. What are your favorite things to do in Madrid?

I loved exploring the city! Madrid is huge, and there was always a new place to check out. I really liked visiting the “hipster” neighborhood, Malasana, which had amazing cafes, bars, and vintage stores. It’s a really cool area. I also loved getting “lost” and exploring the city’s central neighborhoods! I found some awesome restaurants and side stores by doing this.

 

9. Where do you recommend to visit in the Madrid?

The Royal Palace is simply gorgeous! It is filled with period décor and original paintings. It is so elegant- one of the most beautiful palaces I have been to. I also would recommend visiting the Egyptian temple that was gifted to Madrid, Templo de Debod, at sunset. It is so magical. I would also go to all of Madrid’s famous art museums, such as El Prado, Reina Sofia, and the Sorolla museum. These museums are home to some of the most famous paintings in the world!

Expat life in Madrid live in Madrid

The Royal Palace in Madrid – Photo courtesy of Kerry

10. Cost of living in Madrid, Spain

Madrid is affordable to live in.

Grocery

Groceries are especially cheap. To put into perspective, I bought handmade bread for 50 cents, and a wine bottle was around 2 or 3 euros!

Transportation

Madrid has AMAZING public transportation. The most popular being the metro, which will take you all over the city. You can also take commuter trains and busses. I had a student public transportation card, which cost me 20 euros/month for unlimited transportation. The adult pass is 50 euros/month.

Apartments

Apartments In Madrid are affordable, and most of my friends were paying around 500 euro rent. Apartments usually come furnished, so you don’t have to worry about buying a bed.

 

Building relationships

11. Is it easy to make new friends in Madrid?

I made so many friends in Madrid! I’ve noticed that Spaniards tend to be very social and accepting, so it is very easy to meet people and make friends. I recommend attending Intercambio sessions, as this is a great way to meet people.

Many bars and cafes in Madrid host Intercambio nights weekly, where you will partner up with a Spaniard and speak in English for a half hour, and then in Spanish for a half hour. There are also a lot of paid and free courses you can take (Spanish cooking, dancing, art, and more!) Again, this is another fantastic way to meet people.

 

12. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?

I hung out with a combination of both. I made some amazing Spanish friends, who I now call my “Familia Española”. Because I was part of an Erasmus program, I also made friends with a lot of other abroad students. So I had friends from literally all over the world!

 

13. Where is your favorite place in Madrid to meet friends?

I loved going out to the bars, grabbing a coffee at some of the local cafes, and just hanging around the Sol/Gran Via/Plaza Mayor areas with friends! My Spanish friends would show me some local favorite places for food/drinks, so it was really nice getting to know the city through the eyes of a local.

live in Madrid

Plaza Mayor in Madrid – Photo courtesy of Kerry

 

14. Expat Community in Madrid

By “expat”, I did interact with other exchange students and travelers from outside the country.

 

Reflection

15. Can you tell us a memory that you have in Madrid?

One of the memories that stands out to me was watching the sunset at Templo de Debod with my boyfriend. It was during my first week in Madrid, and one of the last days he was there with me, the city was still so new, and seeing all the sites and culture for the first time was so exhilarating. We loved watching the sun set behind the Royal Palace. It was very romantic!

 

16. Did you change your perspective about the city after living here for a while?

I guess the initial excitement of being in a new place diminished after a while. But after living in Madrid for about a month, the city totally felt like home to me.

 

17. What are your advice and tips for moving/ living in Madrid?

I would say brush up on your Spanish a little before going. While a lot of Madrileños do speak English, many (especially from older generations) don’t know a lick of English. You will also be surrounded by Spanish, so it is a really good idea to practice some of the basics before moving.

 

18. Would you recommend others to live in Madrid?

Absolutely! Madrid is a super safe city and filled with so much culture and activities. There is always something to do, and it is super easy to travel around Europe from there. Prices are decent, so it caters to people on a budget. The people are lovely, and you will make great, lifelong friends!

 

19. What have you learned from living abroad?

I learned that I have a huge passion for culture, and connecting with people from all over the world. While I lived in Madrid, I was able to travel all over Europe, so I met tons of people from literally all over the world. I learned that I love to travel, and I want to continue doing it for the rest of my life.

Furthermore, I learned to become independent. I was essentially living on my own, in a foreign country, so it basically forced me to become super independent, quickly.

Also, I learned to not to get anxious about little things. In fact, I like to say that living abroad “cured” my anxiety. It gave me more of a “big picture” point of view, and I realized what really mattered to me, and stopped focusing on small, unimportant stuff that would previously give me anxiety.

 

20. Do you want to add anything?

Thank you for interviewing me! I really do recommend living in Madrid for foreigners. It is an ultra-safe city, filled with life. Just do your research before making the move, and most importantly, focus on enjoying your time there, rather than being homesick!

 

More about Kerry

Kerry Ireland is the voice behind the travel blog, The Petite Wanderer. After studying abroad in Madrid for a semester, she fell in love with traveling. Through her blog, she hopes to inspire anyone out there who wants to peruse a life of wanderlust! Aside from blogging and traveling, Kerry loves creating music, cuddling with her cat, and painting. She hopes to educate and inspire her readers to get out there and see how incredible this world is.

Kerry

Don’t forget to follow her on all social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Read more interviews in this Expat Interview series:

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Discover what it's like to live in Madrid, Spain as an expat. Cost of living in Madrid, things to do in Madrid, how to prepare to move to Madrid, good and bad things about Madrid, expat tips and more! You'll definitely want to save this to your Board to read later! #expat #expatlife #madrid #spain #livingabroad #travel #expatriate #expatblog #expatliving #ExpatTips

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Expat Interview: Living in Reutlingen, Germany as an expat

Welcome to Expat Interview Series. In this interview, you will get to know what’s it like to live in Reutlingen, Germany as an expat. You can see Reutlingen from an expat’s viewpoint. Also, this interview covers the cost of living, wanderlust inspiration, tips, and advice for living in Reutlingen, Germany as an expat.

 

Where is Reutlingen?

Reutlingen is a city in the southwest of Germany and about 45-minutes by train to the state capital Stuttgart. This is a small city in Germany with the number of the population around 100,000 people. The city is traditionally famous for its textile industry and today is a home for Bosch, who is the biggest recruiter in the region. The biggest university in the city, Reutlingen University (in German: Hochschule Reutlingen) offers many programs for international students so each semester there will hundreds of international students coming to the city.

Reutlingen city

Tuan’s background

I am currently a senior in the major of biomedical engineering in Vietnam. Besides my study, I love reading books, hanging out with my friends and traveling. Last spring I spent a semester in Reutlingen, Germany as an exchange student. My exchange semester in Germany has brought me to another 4 countries, namely Netherland, France, Switzerland, and Italy. I love meeting people in everywhere I go and getting to know about the culture as well its people.

 

1. Why did you choose to live in Reutlingen?

In my third year, I decided to have some abroad experiences, so I applied for the exchange program at my university. After the admission and scholarship selection, I started my summer semester at Reutlingen University, Germany. I love Germany so I want to experience the life and study in this country. My university has only one partner in Germany, so I applied for it without any hesitation.

Reutlingen in the morning

2. How did you prepare to move to Reutlingen?

This was the first time I lived in a foreign country so there were many kinds of stuff I had to prepare beforehand. I had to do research about the city I live, some cultural aspects and of course learn the local language (i.e. German). Finding a place to live was my most concern as the dormitory is not owned by the university and the rooms are extremely limited. Hence, I had to apply early to make sure I can have a room in a dormitory, otherwise finding houses in the neighborhood is really difficult and also much expensive.

 

Difficulties & Challenges

3. How to overcome difficulties in Reutlingen?

I think the most difficult thing is the language because I live in a small city and not many people can speak English well. There are things like banking and residence registration which you can better go through procedure if you know basic German. As I learn some German beforehand, I find it somehow not difficult but I strongly suggest to know German to avoid misunderstanding and at least you know what you are reading before signing any documents.

Street in Reutlingen

4. Did you experience any discrimination in Reutlingen?

Not at all. The people are really friendly and helpful. There was a time when I had a problem with online banking and the lady who worked with me at the bank, though speaks little English, tried her best to explain me the procedure and helped me get through that as fast as possible, which I really appreciated.

 

About Reutlingen

5. What do you like about Reutlingen?

This is a peaceful city with beautiful landscapes and architectures.

 

6. Is there anything that you don’t like about Reutlingen?

The city is a bit boring in the evening, especially after 8 pm when all the businesses close. Also, there are not many options for entertainment.

 

7. What are your favorite things to do in Reutlingen?

Jogging and climbing the mountains, also shopping in the city center.

 

8. Where do you recommend to visit in Reutlingen?

One can come to the city center (German: Stadtmitte) for shopping and see houses with middle-aged architecture or explore the narrowest street in the world, for which the city is famous.

Reutlingen city centerThis is the city center (Stadtmitte) with different shops and restaurants around.

9. Cost of living in Reutlingen

If you rent a house, the cost will be around 300 euros a month or cheaper if you live in a dormitory. For other expenses, I believe 200 euros a month will be sufficient. In total, having at least 500 euros a month will secure your stay in Reutlingen.

 

Building relationships

10. Is it easy to make new friends in Reutlingen?

Yes, of course. As I have said earlier, the people are super nice but you have to be the one who breaks the ice. If you keep waiting for them to talk to you, there’s no chance you can make friends with people there. Moreover, as the German love beer, so having a beer together in a beer garden, for example, can bring people easily together.

 

11. Where are your favorite spots in Reutlingen to hang out with friends?

As we are students, the bars are super cool places to chit and chat. There’s a student bar on the school campus, which is quite cheap compared to the others and it often holds many parties throughout the semester.

 

12. What are your advice and tips for moving/ living in Reutlingen?

Be well prepared by researching carefully about the city. There can be practices like no plastic bags used in stores and trash separation that does not exist in your country or different types of renting houses you have to understand before looking for places to live. Another tip would be to learn basic German beforehand as there will be people who cannot speak English and you will have trouble working with them.

Trash separation in Reutlingen

Trash separation in Reutlingen, usually there will be bins for bioproducts (Bio), paper (Papier) and the rest (Restmuell).

13. Would you recommend others to live in Reutlingen?

The city is an excellent choice for students but if you are job-seeker, I suggest moving to a bigger city.

 

14. What have you learned from living abroad?

Being more independent and always showing up on time. The German is strict about punctuality.

Thank you for being a part of this interview 🙂


Read more interviews here:

I love everywhere but not Prague: Expat life in Prague

Expat life in Beppu, Oita

Living abroad in San Diego, CA

Living on the Marshall Islands

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