Stephanie (Steffi) Montague blog post titled 4 things I've learned in 4 years in Germany.

4 big lessons from 4 long years in Germany

Four years living in Germany. We made it. I don’t know how but we made it.

An adventure that began with curiosity and impulsive decision-making after one too many glasses of red wine, and ended up as a journey of self-discovery, learning and LOTS of revelations.

“So then Steffi, what have you learned during these last four years?”

Well, dear reader, I’m glad you asked. Buckle up as I dive into the four lessons I have learned during my four years here in the land of Bier and Bureaucracy!

1. It is possible to insure every inch of your life in Germany.

If there’s one thing Germany taught me, it’s that insuring anything and everything is a sport. An art. An obsession.

From dental insurance that practically knows the colour of your toothbrush to insurance policies for your concert tickets, the Germans have taken the ‘safety net’ to a whole new level. Amid chuckles and headshakes, I’ve come to realise that their thoroughness in risk management speaks to a society that values preparation and pragmatism. It’s a reminder that a little bit of planning can go a long way in fostering peace of mind.

And yes. I do have dental insurance, personal liability insurance and all the other add-ons!

2. The true power of a network.

Networking, as we often think of it, involves a lot of forced smiles, business cards changing hands, and small talk over badly made cocktails. But in Germany, I discovered a different dimension to networking – a genuine community built on shared experiences, open hearts, and open minds. The connections I’ve formed here aren’t just for professional gain; they’re friendships rooted in empathy, laughter, and a willingness to grow together. It’s proof that authentic relationships have the power to transform lives in ways we never imagined.

Want proof? I got all three of my job roles in Germany thanks to my network and community. It’s not what you know…

3. Learning German involves a lot of tears.

Learning a new language as an adult humbles even the most confident souls, especially German. We’ve been on a rollercoaster ride of emotions over the last four years together. I’ve cried on multiple occasions, but I persevered and managed to push the boundaries of what I ever believed I was capable of.

What I mean by that is I don’t cry any more.

It doesn’t get easier, kids. But it does get better. And every tiny triumph honestly feels like winning gold at the Olympics! It’s a reminder that growth and change come from embracing fears and challenges head-on, not from crying into your pillow and burrowing yourself into your bed.

Photo of Stephanie (Steffi) Montague learning German in Germany.

4. German efficiency just…doesn’t exist?

It’s the stuff of legends. But I’m afraid I’m going to have to burst your bubble, sweet reader. German efficiency and punctuality are more of a myth than reality.

The concept of being on time is actually rather flexible these days, and while the autobahn might seem like a driver’s dream, overrunning, over budget and constant roadworks will spoil your fun.

You’ll find yourself using a fax machine at least once in your professional or personal life here. Yup, even in 2023. And it was recently announced that they’re slashing their digitalisation budget by over €300 million so don’t expect any improvements…ever.

Don’t even get me started on my beef with Deutsche Bahn.

Listen, I’m sure it existed once. There has to be a reason everyone else in the world thinks of Germany as an efficient place, right? But in 2023, it really just looks to me as if Germany has a wonderfully hard-working PR team that has convinced everyone else they’re smashing it.

These lessons are a little bit of fun. After all, we’re trying not to take life too seriously in this corner of the internet.

But to be serious for a hot second, I am amazed at how much the past four years have altered my perspective on just about everything. Germany has given me more than Bier & Bureaucracy headaches. It’s given me insights into several new cultures. It’s taught me that life’s real treasures are found in the connections we forge, the everyday experiences we have and the lessons we learn, rather than in the monuments we visit or the fridge magnets we collect. Although those are an important part of it all, too!

So, here’s to four years of growth, stress, fun, and a fair share of language-related tears.

Prost to the past and cheers to the future – may it bring more lessons, love, and unexpected adventures.

Until next time,

Steffi x

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