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About Tammodar

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  • Location Stuttgart
  • Nationality british and german
  1. Hi D Rob, your first post is one of the most interesting I've read here! I can relate to many of the things you and the  others have mentioned. When I first came to Germany from the UK 35 years ago, I was rather put off by  some of the cultural differences. It still irritates me sometimes how "up front" (or downright rude) people  can be - by my cultural understanding, but I think Germany has also become a much more relaxed and  open-minded country during my stay here and I have certainly become more German too (not just the  passport).  I still find it odd that there are rules and regulations for almost EVERYTHING - some of which  would probably cause an uprising if they were introduced in the UK. At the end of the day (hmm, is that a  German expression translated into English?), I am very happy here, my wife is German (2nd marriage  works very well, the first failed with unsurmountable cultural "difficulties").  We still have discussions on  many of the things you mentioned, but we somehow find a compromise (that means: she wins). I am certain  my quality of life is better here in Germany and I have no intention of returning to the UK. 
  2. I think the original question here in this thread was intended for native Germans, but after 35 years here I sometimes feel more German than British. There are some little diffences and quirks that can be a bit  annoying on both sides of the fence, but what really does irk me is when I meet Brits / Americans  who have been here for years and never bothered to learn the language!  I wouldn't expect perfection,  just that people make the effort.
  3. Brexit / Applying for German citizenship

    My middle name has always been my first name for me, my friends and family - I have never used my real  first name as it appears on my birth certificate. It's just too long, and especially for Germany, too  complicated. People are always tempted to shorten it to something I really do NOT like. And besides  that, it's just not ME! When I got my first Personalausweis (ID card) after being granted dual citizenship back in 2005, I explained this to the Beamtin and she said it was no problem to have just my middle and last names on the Personalausweis, but all 3 names have to be in the passport, as on my birth certificate.   In 2015 both passport and ID card expired and again, I asked to have just my middle name on the ID   card, but the Beamtin said "No, sorry, we used to do that, but we're not allowed any more, you must have  all legal names the same on all documents." 
  4. Brexit / Applying for German citizenship

    I just renewed my UK passport four weeks ago and was required to provide a colour photocopy of my   German passport. I have had dual citizenship since 2005 and I cannot remember giving details concerning my German citizenship at the previous renewal. 
  5. Brexit / Applying for German citizenship

    When I picked up my Staatsbürgerschaftsurkunde, I still had my "unbefristete Aufenthaltsberechtigung", (a folded piece of paper with my picture and stamp and signatures from the issuing office).  They asked for that and kept it and explained exactly the same - "you don't need that anymore, you are now  a German citizen". 
  6. When I first came to Germany in 1983 I was 23 years old and had practically no knowledge of the language, but I was absolutely determined to learn it - someone here said/wrote "hell bent". I had struggled with French at school, but I never really liked it and did as little as possible just to get through with the least effort - something I regretted later in life. From the onset I decided to do things differently with German and vowed to avoid speaking English until I felt comfortable with German. Hence, I had little contact with other English speakers for the first 5 years I was here.  First of all, I booked an intensive (and expensive) two month course at the Goethe Institut, so 5 days a week, 7 hours a day - all in German. That gave me some of the basics, but I still felt very insecure. After a couple of months of summer work together with Germans to earn some money, which gave me a very good introduction to the spoken language, I started a degree programme at university. The first six months were spent in German language courses for foreign students. The courses were very well structured, but they were absolutely full of English speakers. There were a few odd Chinese or Iranians or South Americans, but 80% of the others were from the UK or the US, and of course having the same problems and making the same mistakes as I was. I felt that was holding me back and stopped going to the classes. I remember how they pounded the rules for indirect speech (Konjunktiv 1) into us, as that was needed for the university entrance exam.  At about a year into the learning process I experienced a phase of frustration when I felt that my German was not progressing at all, or at least not to my satisfaction. In retrospect, I think one of my problems was that I have a soft-spoken and introverted personality - in other words, I didn't speak enough. After about two years something went "click" in my brain and I started to gain the confidence to speak out. Then things developed quickly. After a good three years most people stopped trying to switch to English when they heard my accent, probably because they realised my German was probably better that their English. As always in language learning, passive comprehension and active participation are two very differnt matters! After about four years or so I could understand almost anything - with exception of the dialects - and hold a conversation on almost any topic, still not without errors and some hesitation when I had to think about a word or build a sentence with a relative clause in my head. The university environment helped with the grammar and structure and forced me to read and write in German. Working on the side for a bit of money exposed me to the day to day spoken language. I have always loved literature, and that led me to read Hesse, Kafka, and eventually Thomas Mann and Goethe. Afer 12 years in Germany, I went for the C2 Goethe certificate (Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom) and passed both the written and oral parts with a mark of 1.0 Now, after almost 35 years, German is generally second nature to me. I read "Die Zeit" every week and never have to look up a word, never even think about it. I can read a book in German (or English) and the next day I can tell you all about it, but I might not remember whether it was in German or English. My German is definately fluent and very good, but will never be perfect, learning a language is an ongoing process that never stops. That said, I would still have a problem with a discussion on dendrology or the the physics of electric motors. Being  more or less biliingual has been a tremendously awarding experience for me, indeed it has become part of my personal identity. The only thing that still does truely baffle me sometimes are the dialects and regional accents. Austrian or Swiss German is a big problem, I often don't get what they are on about, although I understand the local Swabian dialect where I live quite well. Northern German is no problem, and I find some of the eastern dialects (or in Berlin) quite amusing! I can write a formal letter in German (Amtsdeutsch), but I find it very difficult to translate one from German into English. Translation seems to be a skill all on its own, one that I still haven't mastered. The cases and their use wasn't much of a problem, but I had plenty of experience with that after learning Latin and Russian, both of which I would consider to be more complicated than German. I often hear about the "der, die, das" thing from fellow English speakers, but that was never really my problem. My (German) wife and my German friends have said that I hardly ever get that wrong. The real challenge for me were complex relative clauses ("mehrfach verschachtelte") and general syntax. The word order in proper German differs radically from English and it did take me years to grasp it. When I try to translate from one language to the other, it seems that almost every sentence needs to be flipped around from back to front or the other way round to make sense and sound good.  My advice to learners would be to pratise as much as possible. I would  have learned more quickly had I dared to open my mouth, so speaks as much as possible. Reading helped me with some of the more complex aspects not often encountered in daily conversation. Cinema and TV were good for hearing and following the spoken langugage.  Avoid dialects and regional accents until you have a good grasp on standard German. Try to learn new words and then use them in the proper context. And then: practise, practise, practise!   
  7. Writing formally in German

    It seems to me that you are doing very well for having just been in Germany for fourteen months! It took  me three or four years to fully grasp the language and I distinctly remember the feeling that I was making  no further progress - that happened about a year after my arrival. Don't worry, you ARE progressing, it's  just not obvious to you. Formal written German is, of course, quite another matter. The terms and phrases  used in legally binding letters and documents are generally not found in day to day speech and even  seldom in literature.  I read "Die Zeit" on a regular basis and almost never have to look up a word in the dictionary, but even after 35 years here I am sometimes still baffled by the language used in a letter received from some "Amt For Important Matters". Don't despair! Read as much as you can, that helped  me - newspapers, literature, and when you feel more comfortable, then legal texts.  Ask people to  correct your spoken German.
  8. Brexit / Applying for German citizenship

    As far as I know, the term EWG (Europäische Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft) is not used any more. My  Aufenthaltserlaubnis was from 1991, before the term "Europäische Union" was in general use. Just  ask for an EU-Aufenthaltserlaubnis - which is what they will probably give you automatically anyway.   I think it's all done electronically these days, no cards or paper now. 
  9. Brexit / Applying for German citizenship

    I still had a folded piece of paper in my passport "Aufenhaltserlaubis für Angehörige eines Mitgliedstaates der EWG"  from 1991 (unbefristet), which I was required to hand in when I picked up my Einbürgerungsurkunde. They asked   for it specifically, so it must have still been documented in my files.
  10. I have had dual citizenship since 2005, long before there was any serious debate about Britain leaving the EU.   If I were pressed to give up one of them, I would keep the German and relinquish the British citizenship. I still  hope that will not happen, but it's not yet quite clear where Brexit will lead us (that must be an understatement).  The reasons are twofold: emotional - because Germany has become my home over the years, and practical -  because I want to retain the option to live and work in another EU country some time in the future without too much bureaucratic hassle. I voted accordingly.  
  11. Brexit / Applying for German citizenship

    I just had a look in my records - I applied for German citizenship back in 2005 on the 17th of March and  the Einbürgerungsurkunde was dated April 8 (also 2005), so it only took 3 weeks then in Tübingen.  Of course I saved  some time because there was no citizenship test back then and I already had a language certificate, but it seems that the whole process takes longer in larger towns where lots of other candidates are applying  at the same time. At the time I applied, Baden Württemberg had only just accepted dual citizenship as an  option ( §87 Abs. 2 Ausländergesetz ). There must have been a run of other EU people (as well as Brits) applying for citizenship, but I can't remember now.  
  12. What do you wish you'd known / done before moving to Germany?!

    It has already been said a number of times - but here goes: I wish I had spent more time and  effort learning the language BEFORE I came here. Now after 35 years my spoken and written German is fluent, but I sometimes still struggle with the dialects / regional accents. The tip about   not committing yourself to a specific religion on the Anmeldeformular is good - you can change that  at any time, if you so wish, and then pay the church tax. I don't miss any foods or other British products  now, perhaps because I've adapted - but I think the selection in German shops has much improved over  the years. Try not to feel frustrated when you think a German is being rude to you. Sometimes he/she is  simply rude, but more often than not they are being very candid.
  13. I can highly recommend Freiburg im Breisgau - with about 240k residents it's not too big and  not too small. It has a lively cultural atmosphere, almost no heavy industry, close proximity to France, is less  than one hour from Switzerland with the train, plenty of cinemas that also show English language   films. AND the Black Forest is within walking distance. You can take the fast train (ICE) directly to  Karlsruhe, Frankfurt, Colgne, etc.  After 35 years in Germany I can say that Freiburg is one of my favourite  towns.  Berlin also has a lot to offer, but it is definitely not small and can be a bit overwhelming at times and  is perhaps not "typical" for a German town - it should be on your list anyway. Access to the internet should be possible everywhere, perhaps with exception of some remote valley in the Black Forest.