Review: Germany for Beginners

The German Way Expat Guide Book

In 2013, Germany reported the highest rate of immigration of all member states in the European Union. Numbers rose again from 690,000 to just under 2 million by the end of 2015.

It’s not only people seeking asylum who flock in droves to Munich, Cologne and Frankfurt. Germany, Berlin especially, has seen an influx of immigrants of various backgrounds in recent years.

No matter where they end up going, they all have one thing in common: uncertainty of what their new life is going to look like.

Will you experience a culture shock in Germany? How do you get a flat to house your family? Have you tried to get a bank account and what is this Meastro card? “I want to drive on the autobahn!”, I’ve heard a lot as well.

As a German teacher, I hear many questions about what you really need to know when moving to Germany, even if only for a few months.

That’s why I was glad to get a chance to have an early look at the
Germany for Beginners: The German Way Expat Guidebook (US)  / GB D / other countries

The book is a collection of the most popular and helpful articles from the well-known website The German way. There, you’ll find many useful articles about the problems the authors faced before, during and after they made the move to Germany and Switzerland.

So excited that the answer to all questions might be just a couple of hundred pages away, I binge-read it from cover to cover and here is what I think about it.


Topics covered in Germany for Beginners

First of all I must say that I really loved reading Germany for Beginners. It is organised by topics that are again organised in the same order that the questions will most likely pop up on your big journey.


Angst and coping

The book starts out with how to best deal with jet lag and how to take the horror out of flights with a toddler. It also discusses something we will all touch base with when moving to a different country: “Angst and coping”.


Work in Germany

After learning about banking and money in Germany, you’ll go down to business and read about how to find a job and how to freelance. If you’re looking for an English-speaking job or were thinking of teaching English to Germans, you should bookmark this chapter.


Opening hours of shops

You will also familiarise yourself with a scary word: der Ladenschluss. It translates to closing time for shops and will make all the difference between having a nice dinner at home or starving until the next morning.

Yes, you won’t be the first foreigner rattling at closed shop doors in disbelief. But apparently some might even “enjoy the silence” on a Sunday, the trade-in for dreadful opening hours.  


German childcare system

Moving with kids adds still more excitement to an already stressful time. If you know how the German childcare system works, you can start organising it from abroad before you move to Germany.  

All these concrete and helpful tips wrapped up in stories really make you want to read more. I found the guidance given in the Germany for Beginners guidebook most valuable and to the point.


Life in Germany and German culture

Apart from the topics I mentioned above, you’ll find more anecdotes full of beneficial advice on the following topics:

  • Food and Drink (4)
  • Football (Fußball) German Style (2)
  • Geography and History (4)
  • Getting Along with the Natives (5)
  • Health and Healing (3)
  • Holidays and Celebrations (6)
  • House and Home (6)
  • Language (4)
  • Legal Matters and Red Tape (3)
  • Leisure Time (4)
  • Pets (3)
  • Schools and Education (5)
  • Social Issues and Attitudes (4)


Not only for beginners

Even though the book’s title is Germany for Beginners, it does cover complex topics like “The German healthcare system jungle”.

It also goes beyond the basics when it comes to explaining the German culture. You will learn all you need to know about “Dealing with the Germans” (e.g. watch Tatort and join a Verein).

In addition to that, there are already plans for a second volume for an intermediate level.


Would I recommend the book?  

Since I hear a lot of questions about how to move to Germany (and Berlin) and what there is to know about life in Germany, I can definitely say that the book Germany for Beginners answers the most common and pressuring questions expats to be usually have to deal with.


About life in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany

The book draws some comparisons between Germany and the US, but some authors grew up in the UK and Canada or have lived in either. It adds to the general feeling of being shown the real and down-to-earth Germany from various angles and backgrounds.

What I also love about the book are the different stories about the life in different parts of Germany. Of course, we all want to move to Berlin, and you’ll find tips on moving there too, but also observations from Essen, Stuttgart and Heidelberg to name just a few.


Awesome tips for moving to Germany

Germany for Beginners is a great guide for everyone who thinks about making the big and scary move to Germany. It does provide answers to the questions that have come up in my German classes many times.

The book will also be a good read for those who have already made their way to Germany and just need some reassurance that it’s not them who’s going the wrong way on the Autobahn.

On the contrary, you’re probably travelling in the right direction.

I’m sure the book will help you put your mind at rest (and get some sneaky insights into the German culture). 


Available on Amazon

Germany for Beginners is available as an ebook or in paperback from Amazon:

Germany for Beginners: The German Way Expat Guidebook (US)  / GB D / other countries

2 replies on “Review: Germany for Beginners

  • Trista Karp

    The book sounds like a handy resource, will have to check it out! I’ve been in Berlin a few months now and it can def be a struggle, especially with the language. Although you can get by in English as well, I’m doing some intensive courses at Speakeasy (for Berlin peeps: to look them up) and it’s been great so far. A challenge for sure, worth it though, I really love it here!


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