Okay so we’re still in Europe and moving to Germany can’t be that different to England, right? And anyway – EVERYONE speaks English in Munich… don’t they?
My daughter loves asking people what teddy bear is in German. She finds it hilarious, but actually I think it gives her some comfort that not her whole world is being turned upside down – some things are just the same as home(England). However, she’s also embraced the differences like I never expected. She absolutely loves explaining to English people what her new German words are – blue: blau, pink: rosa, counting to 10 – and especially correcting them if they get it wrong (I think maybe there’s some teacher in her!) , while she still remains fussy about some foods she’s had in England such as carrots and tomatoes, she shows much enthusiasm for trying new foods here, sampling sauerkraut, weisswurst, all kids of smoked meats and fish and even has eaten duck. My theory on her general love for food is that she sees her father loving trying new foods and doesn’t want to miss out. Watching her enjoy her new life here so much has really made the move much easier for us all.
However, there are many differences here to England that we had not anticipated, and being a technologist I think the biggest surprise for me was the banking here. Firstly I never realised that free banking was almost unique to the UK. In most places, including Germany, you have to pay for your banking so the days of having multiple accounts and being able to manage money across them are numbered for us. Secondly, your debit cards have no long number across the front and therefore cannot be used for online banking, and if you want a credit card obviously you have to pay extra to have one. So my current understanding (although it’s early days for me here) is that a lot of the time if you do online shopping you pay when it arrives or do a bank transfer. Of course, some online stores do accept paypal. I’ve not yet seen any contactless payment systems in shops here, nor heard of mobile SMS banking such as recently launched in the UK (like Barclays Ping-it). Reading a post regarding tech companies in Germany it seems that those doing innovative e-commerce maybe German but operating in other territories such as Asia or Holland. I’m unsure yet as to whether this unsophisticated approach to banking is because of tighter fraud and security or strict legislation around the finance industry. I do know that I really miss my Ocado deliveries I was used to in the UK. As I begin my language lessons next month and therefore can start to read more German, I hope to discover more about the technology world here and how and why it differs from London when it’s less than 1000KM away. Legislation, innovation or a resistance to change? And is it Bavaria that’s behind or the whole of Germany? Certainly there have been a number of grants aimed at tech companies in Berlin.