How to survive as an expat partner in Germany - Anja Angeli

How to survive as an expat partner in Germany

If you have recently moved to Germany as an expat partner, you may well be wondering how exactly you do this. How do you survive as an expat partner in a new country? You can't speak the language well, you haven't got any friends or a job – how are you supposed to enjoy this experience? Being an expat partner is challenging, but there are some things that you can do to make things easier. Here’s a quick guide to how to survive, then thrive, as an expat partner. 

Take a trip outside

Getting out and about every day will require some effort, but you need to do it. Some days it might just be for a run or a coffee, on others you might want to do something more exciting, like taking in a few sites whilst the children at school. Germany has lots of wonderful things to see and do.

It doesn't need to cost anything either, lots of attractions like museums are free on certain days during the week. Make it into a little challenge for yourself, see how many discounts you can find and use for visits, food, coffee shops and local events. Bike shops have lots of useful maps with activities like beer gardens marked on them – perfect for a sunny day! 

Hop on a different train or bus – and see where it takes you. If you are going for a run or a walk, try out a new route each time and discover more about your local area. Not only will you entertain yourself and learn more about your new home town, you will also have some great ways to occupy the family during the weekends and school holidays. Look out for local voluntary groups where you can offer your services on a regular basis. Or ask if they need any help at your children's school.

Allow yourself little treats on your jaunts, a delicious-looking cake, a movie or a local concert. Don't feel that you shouldn't have anything special because you are not yet working. Getting active outside is also great for your wellbeing, the exercise and fresh air will keep your mind and body healthy and rejuvenated. 

Build connections 

Although it is now harder to connect with people, you will be really glad that you made the extra effort once you find other people nearby that you can relate to. There are many new ways to meet others as an expat partner in Germany. 

InterNations.org and Meetup are two of the best websites for online expat partners. Facebook also has some brilliant groups for trailing spouses.

Keep in touch with friends and family back home too, it might be a little tough to say goodbye at first, but it will get easier. Be honest with them – they don't expect you to be superhuman and have it all together! 

As you begin to build new friendships, don't be shy about asking people if they want to arrange to meet and be courageous in taking up offers from others in return. Allow for little nuances as you converse with others, there may be gestures or words that sound odd, or even rude, due to language differences.

Open to opportunities

It may take a little research, but there are opportunities open to you. You may find that your partner's organization offers financial assistance for you to get coaching specially created for expat partners, or to enroll on professional development courses. 

This moment in time is also a great point to reflect on your own personal growth. To consider what you want next out of life and how you are going to get there. You may find it particularly powerful to get support from a specialist coach for accompanying partners.

Get physical 

Join a gym or a sports club – take up hiking or biking which are particularly popular in Germany. The physical activity will help to keep your mind and body rejuvenated and refreshed. It is also a wonderful way to meet new people and add some shape to your day.

Switch things up and add an extra layer of interest, by trying out a new sport or class at the gym. Of course, you can always release some of that frustration whilst you are working out too.

Talk

Talking during this time will really help you. Do talk to your partner honestly about how you feel, allow them space to talk too. Let each other know about challenges and worries, as well as the funny moments that only the both of you will understand.

Make, regular dedicated times when you can spend quality time together, maybe during the weekend, when things are less busy.

Keep up to date with developments in your partner's career, then you can have something fresh to talk about too.

For yourself, you may find it helps to keep a journal where you can openly express yourself each day. Record your thoughts, feelings, habit and mood. You may even notice things that trigger strong feelings that you can use to improve your experience.  

Keep it fresh

To keep things interesting, make it your mission to embrace the new. Try a class, cook a German meal, take a course, start a group of your own, learn some German, find a new hobby – do something different. Make it into a series of daily challenges, such as today I will cycle four miles or today I will learn the German for ten items on my shopping list.

Whatever you do – get up, out and exploring all that Germany has to offer. 

Find out more about my expat coaching and learn how I can help you to rediscover your identity and find a new purpose in your relocation. Make your move to Germany a success today.

Do you agree? Have you got any great tips for moving as an expat wife? Share your comments with us, we would love to hear from you. Leave your tips and stories below.

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