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About JFKaiser

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  • Birthday October 21

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  • Location Germany
  • Nationality Anglo-German
  • Hometown Wales
  • Gender Female
  • Year of birth
  • Interests Art, Ceramics, Integration. Gardening. Dining. Politics. Biodiversity.
  1. Lots of advice from others, but I'd just like to add some points you may like to put into the education mix.  As Latvian nationals living and working in the UK, there is no need to tell you how difficult it is to be accepted in another country. Immigrants are unwelcome everywhere, and Germany is no better or worse than other countries, but from my experience it is far better than the UK given the turn of events over the past ten years and shift in civil society, empowered by an ultra-right government, who have made it public policy to make all foreigners second- or third class citizens, if they cannot be persuaded to voluntarily leave or be deported. As Anglo-Latvian citizens, that should not happen in Germany, even in ultra-conservative Bavaria. Your concern about language is well founded, but don't be disheartened by the experiences of others. And if I'm giving advice about moving, then THE SOONER THE BETTER!   I'm talking from personal experience, I came to Germany in 1977 without a word of German. I worked for two years teaching English as a foreign language (EFL). I learned all my German in pubs and bars, so I am a fluent conversationist but hardly qualify for C1 given the pedantic nature of testing and obsession with syntax and grammatical correctness! Two or three years at a German school would have made all the difference in the world, believe me. This is why I feel it necessary to urge you not to dither a moment longer! As you already know, each of the German States (Länder) has its own education system. Bavaria is considered the toughest and most rigorous from Kindergarten to graduate level. I saw a lot of extremely stressed students and parents compared to Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein. When relocating to Germany with school age children, chose which city or area and then stick to that State (Land) for the duration of their education. It may mean communting across an internal state border to work, for example working in Hamburg or Bremen, but living in the adjacent state of Schleswig-Holstein or Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) because property is / can be cheaper / more available. Just remember that this could have a negative impact if a school leaver decides to further their education "in town" which are City States (Hamburg, Bremen, Berlin). There is currently a deficit of almost 400,000 nursery and kindergarten (Kita) places nationwide, so anyone with pre-school children will need to chose where they live with that in mind. Qualifications and diplomas from one state will probably not be acceptable elsewhere within Germany and requalification will/can be demanded/required! This comes as a shock to foreign nationals, who believe they are being victimised... NO! A diploma from Schleswig-Holstein is not adequate metriculation for Bavaria. At least that has been the case up until the present. Maybe the good intentions of the 371st (!) Conference of Federal Culture Ministers in October 2020 will put an end to the madness? Meanwhile, keep it in mind. Also keep in mind that regional dialects are less pronounced in cities, but are very strong in the countryside. Be mindful of learning to speak German with as neutral an accent as possible, neither English, Latvian or regional German, such as Bavarian (bayerisch), schwäbisch (Swabian), Hessisch (Hessian) or Kölsch (Cologne) for example! Pronunciation (rather than grammar) is the main give-away when talking to native speakers. Language fluency is written large throughout Germany, so is not for the faint-hearted, and the whole family will all need to invest seriously in acheiving the required language skill set wherever you relocate. However, English is still the first foreign or second language of choice, so it is more than possible to study in English, especially if studying subjects with good to excellent career prospects in industry, finance and commerce.  Remember all immigrant children of school age who do not meet the required written and/or oral skill level for their age qualify for German as a second language DAZ (Deutsch als Zweitsprache) tuition as part of the integration process. This provision has increased tremendously since 2015 and is a credit to the nation. Language and integration into civil society is taught in specialist classes by trained staff. Children and young adults up to year 10 qualify for this support, so the sooner children of school-age begin the better. Once they have adequate language skills they are moved into an appropriate mainstream school class. They may qualify for further specialist language tuition and extra help depending on location. It all becomes more difficult and costly once past the school-leaving age. All children are subject to nine or ten years of compulsory education from the age of six. A Realschulabschluss (equivalent to US High School graduation diploma) taken in Year 10 and combined with work experience and/or training can lead to further education at University or a Fachhochschule. Unfortunately the Realabschluß is known by other names in different Länder, but it is a solid basis for further school or professional career training and education. It's never too late because the German system allows late-comers to sit for a school-leaving certificate at any time!  It is also possible to repeat any school year if the required academic level is not reached, so one or two years of DAZ is easily accommodated. Colloquially known as "sitzen bleiben" (= left sitting) it can help students catch up with their peers without students being socially or academically disadvantaged or downgraded. They are assessed on achievement and IQ so only the top set sit their Abitur at 18 or 19. Our grandson repeated two years during his Grundschule days, which means he was one of the oldest to be sitting his Arbitur at his school this year at twenty years of age. There is no age limit to taking the Abitur or any other Schulabschluß, but it can only normally be taken if enrolled at a recognised educational institution. Further education / night classes at the Volkshochschule can also qualify.  There is absolutely no need to fixate on the School > Abitur > University route to a degree! It is by no means the only path to take, which is as well given the degree to which Germany insists on accreditation and certification! Recent changes and additions, plus pressure from employers short of around an estimated million qualified staff, mean that it is becoming easier to qualify and once qualified to move around and gain further qualification(s) and job opportunities. The route to success is not necessarily via academia. I know several young adults who have returned to full-time education to take up a place at University following fulltime working lives following an apprenticeship and vocational training following their Schulabschluß. Our neighbour is now studying education, philosophy and sport, following five years as a journeyman carpenter. Coming from the "Nation of Shopkeepers" myself, I feel the German education system has a far better grasp of what is needed by this "Nation of Makers", even if it is far from perfect. At least Germany has continued to offer vocational training and qualifications across technical and applied sciences as well as academic and intellectual subjects, unlike the UK which has followed the American paper chase ideal whilst outsourcing manufacturing to Asia and elsewhere. The strength of the German social economy (Soziale Marktwirtschaft) is reflected in the provision of both academic education and vocational training opportunities, which can only be to the advantage of anyone starting out. But don't take my word for it. See some of the following websites for more information if you have not already: Studying in Germany Eduserver  "German Education Server: Your Gateway to Education", the English language version provides access to documents and background information regarding the German education system and its international context. You can browse and search, subscribe to the English language RSS newsfeed, write to the editor, or check out “What’s new” Higher Education in Germany Study without German language skills   Another couple of sources of information, support and advice: Latvian associations and cultural groups. The great post WWII / cold war Latvian diaspora has lead to many Latvian (Lettish) clubs and associations being started in Germany, for example Hamburg and Munich Namejs e.V. In Münster, there was a Lettish school from 1951 to 1998 which taught in Latvian and the Latvian Center still provides adult education, runs a kindergarten and organizes a summer school.  Latvian Embassies and Consulates both in the UK and Germany may provide more than new passports or other documentation for Latvian citizens. Latvian Consulate in Munich German Embassy and Consulate in the UK likewise. The German foreign office also support "Think German Networks" depending on where you are located BAMF Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (Federal Office for Migration and Refugees) provides information on language courses as well as other aspects of immigrating to live and work in Germany: https://www.bamf.de/EN/Themen/Integration/ZugewanderteTeilnehmende/DeutschBeruf/deutsch-beruf-node.html Arbeitsagentur / Job Center: https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/en German Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/visa-service/02-lernen-und-arbeiten   I'm sure I could add more, but it's late and I'm tired. I hope this helps and you can move on with your lives. Good luck! Jxx
  2. Moving to Flensburg area

    Hi Techgirl   Did you find a place to live and was Flensburg all you imagined it to be? I see you were only planning to be resident a limited time, before moving on to pastures greener. Are you still around or have you left? My partner and I have been here on and off since the naughties, but only just venturing out again following COVID. Did you find a circle of friends and settle well? I guess your daughter has not only passed her Arbitur, but has graduated from College by now..! So time flies.   Meanwhile a lot of networking has moved over to other social media, so I expect you have found like-minded friends via Facebook etc. wherever you now live and work. For latecomers to the thread, they should take heart that there is more to do in Flensburg than first meets the eye. After all, we live where others come on holiday and take their vacation! Water sports are the biggest but not only attraction. Keep an eye on the 51 Stufen Kino as well as the main Cinema for films occasionally shown in the orginal language as well as live performances transmitted from stage productions in the UK and USA. A bowling centre has also opened since your original post.    Either way, there are worse places to live. 
  3. Can I receive Freesat.

    Update 2023.  How has access been since the original post? Have there been improvements, or have matters deteriorated even more? What has been your experience? We are in Flensburg, but have not been able to receive any UK TV since the ASTRA 2 footprint was much reduced around ten years ago. See the image of the ASTRA 2 footprint below. The rings refer to dish diameters but are somewhat optimistic, I feel. Although we should really be well within the realm of possibility, local factors (like trees and buildings) are possibly why we have had no luck. We had a 100 cm satellite dish and top of the range kit, but even with the help of a technician were unable to receive any UK channels. We did not feel inclined to increase the dish to 150 cm or more and we have since moved to a building which is unsuitable for attaching a dish of any size. The only viable alternative appears to be internet-based tv which depends on a good VPN as well as quite a bit of patience, especially at peak viewing times.      
  4. Update from the original thread seven  years ago. There are a number of hairdressers in Flensburg, among the many refugees who often speak better English than German, so it is worth calling in to check. However, they have tended to change back to single sex barbers (for men) and hairdressers (for women) once established, so it is not as helpful as it was before COVID struck. I'm finding it quite difficult to find an affordable hairdresser anywhere and some have stopped taking new customers! Appointments only too, which is really tiresome. I've being cutting my partner's hair for some time, but two years of trying to cut my own has proved that is one skill I will never possess!  
  5. Yes, definately!  I'm not sure anyone living in Germany can become "too German",  although now I come to think about it, yes, one can become "more German than the Germans", like any convert. There are Roman Catholic converts, "more catholic than the Pope" and I know an Englishman who is insufferable. He won't talk to fellow English nationals in English, even when the conversation is being held in English!     As for Punkte in Flensburg, at least everyone understands what is meant by the expression, unlike the mouthful "Fahreignungs-Bewertungssystem"!