Relocating to Munich from San Francisco; looking for advice

204 posts in this topic

4 minutes ago, LukeSkywalker said:

@MikeMelga: what cultural shock? Weisswurst on Fridays in the school canteen ūüėÄ?

Or that they¬īre supposed to wear slippers when indoors, to sit down for peeing, the view of naked people in the English garden and the "German stare"?

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Haha, naked people in Englischer Garten. I can remember walking there with some Dutch friends for the first time and then we walked apparently into the nudist area of which I didn't know its existence. Suddenly, one of my friends said quite flummoxed:"Is that a naked guy sitting bent over showing off his ass?" I felt a bit embarrassed being their host.

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39 minutes ago, LukeSkywalker said:

@MikeMelga: what cultural shock? Weisswurst on Fridays in the school canteen ūüėÄ?

  • Very few feedback from teachers to parents
  • Little support from teachers to students who fall back
  • No support between students. Portugal has a strong culture of helping others. In contrast, I¬īve had several Germans telling me that they learned from school that "in real life no one will help you". That¬īs true... but not in Portugal...
  • Students group themselves in "Germans", "Turks" and so on
  • Too much emphasis on the German language during Grundsch√ľle. IMO it¬īs just a way to move aside foreign
  • Too much pressure too early. Deciding between Gymnasium, Real or Haupt schule so early is plain stupid, especially if most comes from language mastering
  • Pushing Ausl√§nder out of Gymnasium. It¬īs for the "master race" only. My boss¬īs daughter once told us during a lunch that her new gymnasium was disappointing, "too many Ausl√§nder"... then she realized she was speaking to Ausl√§nder and stopped, but we appreciated the brief honesty
  • Not really a cultural shock, but German system focuses too much on hard skills

 

In summary, the German educational system is great if:

  • you are German
  • you think hard skills will dominate the XXI century (they will not)
  • you can withstand the pressure and selection process

 

BTW, I¬īm not saying the Portuguese system is "better". Just that the German one does not fit our culture and expectations for this century.

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30 minutes ago, jeba said:

 to sit down for peeing,

 

What, is that enforced in the schools for males? News to me!

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Having had experience of both Portuguese and Germanic culture I have to agree that the two are diametrically opposed in terms of the norms of personal charm, kindness and gentleness.

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45 minutes ago, keith2011 said:
1 hour ago, jeba said:

 to sit down for peeing,

What, is that enforced in the schools for males? News to me!

 

 

Not necessary, like at home they have cleaning women.

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13 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

I also heard many horror stories where it did not work. And others where they were good students but could not handle the cultural shock.

I have several friends that moved back to Portugal due to school problems. Half managed to become proficient, but could not stand the cultural shock.

And the only reason I staid in Germany was because I realized what was happening with them and decided to put my kid in international school before 6.

Otherwise, I am 100% I would not be here any more.

To the OP: be aware on your kid¬īs progress at school. If things are going bad, either due to language but especially due to cultural shock, act on it.

 

Maybe school in Germany is great for US culture, I don¬īt know. But for Portuguese it is clearly not.

 

@MikeMelga Thank you very much for your kind well-intentioned heads-up. Not knowing German myself, I am a bit worried of how to keep track of the studies that my kids would be doing in German. But culture shock is something altogether different. My assumption is that the kids get over the culture shock much faster than adults. Maybe I am being naive?

 

In my job I get to work with a lot of kids that are just out of school/college. I found the kids from German schools very attentive, eager to learn but at times a little hesitant to assert. Maybe those are the products of the Gymnasium and you are referring to a culture shock early on in elementary and mid school? I recognize this might be a difficult topic to discuss on a forum (culture shock can be deeply subjective) but are you aware of any links that talk about the cultural aspects of school life in Germany?

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11 hours ago, MikeMelga said:
  • Very few feedback from teachers to parents
  • Little support from teachers to students who fall back
  • No support between students. Portugal has a strong culture of helping others. In contrast, I¬īve had several Germans telling me that they learned from school that "in real life no one will help you". That¬īs true... but not in Portugal...
  • Students group themselves in "Germans", "Turks" and so on
  • Too much emphasis on the German language during Grundsch√ľle. IMO it¬īs just a way to move aside foreign
  • Too much pressure too early. Deciding between Gymnasium, Real or Haupt schule so early is plain stupid, especially if most comes from language mastering
  • Pushing Ausl√§nder out of Gymnasium. It¬īs for the "master race" only. My boss¬īs daughter once told us during a lunch that her new gymnasium was disappointing, "too many Ausl√§nder"... then she realized she was speaking to Ausl√§nder and stopped, but we appreciated the brief honesty
  • Not really a cultural shock, but German system focuses too much on hard skills

 

In summary, the German educational system is great if:

  • you are German
  • you think hard skills will dominate the XXI century (they will not)
  • you can withstand the pressure and selection process

 

BTW, I¬īm not saying the Portuguese system is "better". Just that the German one does not fit our culture and expectations for this century.

 

Ouch! This doesn't look good at all. But I know a few folks who were also non-German (Auslander?) and said their teachers took a lot of effort to help them acclimatize to the German way of study. Maybe it depends on the school. But I think I now know what you meant by "keep an eye on on the kids". Thanks again for presenting the not-so-rosy side!

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1 hour ago, GoldenLizard said:

 

@MikeMelga Thank you very much for your kind well-intentioned heads-up. Not knowing German myself, I am a bit worried of how to keep track of the studies that my kids would be doing in German. But culture shock is something altogether different. My assumption is that the kids get over the culture shock much faster than adults. Maybe I am being naive?

In my job I get to work with a lot of kids that are just out of school/college. I found the kids from German schools very attentive, eager to learn but at times a little hesitant to assert. Maybe those are the products of the Gymnasium and you are referring to a culture shock early on in elementary and mid school? I recognize this might be a difficult topic to discuss on a forum (culture shock can be deeply subjective) but are you aware of any links that talk about the cultural aspects of school life in Germany?

Maybe US culture is more compatible. Maybe US children are better accepted in Germany than from other countries (could also be the opposite, keep your Obama t-shirts at hand!).

Maybe your kids have no big problem adapting and learning the language. Maybe they don't get caught between the ethnic groups.

 

But don't ignore signs. I had good friends who were very well integrated, good job, new friends, both kids spoke perfect German with Bavarian accent. They could not understand why we were spending so much money on an international school, as they thought the public system was great.

The older girl had great grades. But she was miserable and eventually the parents realized. The last drop was the teacher telling the parents that although she had good grades, she¬†would be better off in Realsch√ľle because she was not German and the German kids would make her life harsh in the Gymnasium. Make notice: she is blond, blue eyes, but no German surname. Within a few months they were back to Portugal. Too much for them.

 

There are a lot of people on this forum that will tell you that this is not that bad, and it will be easy. Some of them went through the German system decades ago and think everything is the same as when they were young. I spent a few hours with a retired German English teacher. She explained me that younger teachers don't give a shit about students. BTW, her daughter (German) moved with her children to Portugal as they found life there easier.

 

Regarding links, I don't know any. But I also talk with a lot of parents at the international school and several took their kids from the German system because of cultural shock or in some cases due to extreme bullying/sexual harassment from certain (new) ethnic groups.

 

Don't want to scare you, just a warning to keep an eye on things and act if required! Demand feedback, get to know the teachers, see how your kids integrate beyond the language.

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1 hour ago, MikeMelga said:

Maybe US children are better accepted in Germany than from other countries (could also be the opposite, keep your Obama t-shirts at hand!)

 

How about an Obama shirt with a MAGA hat: :D

 

1 hour ago, MikeMelga said:

The last drop was the teacher telling the parents that although she had good grades, she¬†would be better off in Realsch√ľle because she was not German and the German kids would make her life harsh in the Gymnasium. Make notice: she is blond, blue eyes, but no German surname.

 

Thats brutal! My kids don't have blond hair, blue eyes, white skin or a German surname. That was never a factor here, but I recognize that the SF Bay Area is a world apart - a melting pot.

 

1 hour ago, MikeMelga said:

Some of them went through the German system decades ago and think everything is the same as when they were young. I spent a few hours with a retired German English teacher. She explained me that younger teachers don't give a shit about students.

 

You are right, the feedback I got was from some colleagues who came to Germany some 35+ years ago.

 

1 hour ago, MikeMelga said:

Demand feedback, get to know the teachers, see how your kids integrate beyond the language

 

Am so glad to have run into you @MikeMelga on this forum. Honestly, I never kept track of my kids in school here. Will make sure not to repeat the mistake in Germany. And hopefully all turns out fine.

 

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One thing that's very different about German schooling is that the parents are expected to help with homework, far different from the US. And since you/FrauGoldenLizard aren't going to be up to that, budget for Nachhilfe, or tutoring. Explain to the tutor that at least one of you will be participating in the sessions, because the two of you need to know this stuff as well.
And expect to have your son placed in the same grade he would have completed this year; i.e., go back a grade. It will likely make him a little older than most of his classmates, which actually works well: the frustrations of adjustment will be handled better with a little extra maturity.
There are numerous TTers who have been quite happy with German public schools. Remember, children accept change easier with parents' encouragement. So the system is different: you knew you were coming to a different environment when you took the new job.

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6 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

She explained me that younger teachers don't give a shit about students


And you believe that sweeping claim?

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6 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

The older girl had great grades. But she was miserable and eventually the parents realized. The last drop was the teacher telling the parents that although she had good grades, she¬†would be better off in Realsch√ľle because she was not German and the German kids would make her life harsh in the Gymnasium. Make notice: she is blond, blue eyes, but no German surname. Within a few months they were back to Portugal. Too much for them.

 

My boss' daughter has black hair and brown eyes and nobody ever told them that she couldn't or shouldn't go to gymnasium, she was however being bullied there and the teachers were not doing anything about it.  They moved her to a private school where she was happy.  I have no idea if her being bullied had anything to do with her looks though.

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2 hours ago, LeonG said:

 

My boss' daughter has black hair and brown eyes and nobody ever told them that she couldn't or shouldn't go to gymnasium, she was however being bullied there and the teachers were not doing anything about it.  They moved her to a private school where she was happy.  I have no idea if her being bullied had anything to do with her looks though.

Depends. I have a German colleague married with a Taiwanese wife. Both kids look asian. But as the surname is German, no problem, at least on his school. Why? It's the "german macho that got the foreign women". Then it's all up to each school ethnic groups and being male or female makes big difference. In the case of males, it's territorial. Sometimes in the case of females, there are cases of sexual harassment from some ethnic groups, which starts very early. It really depends on which school you go to.

 

In your case, I assume the parent is German, so of course the teacher said nothing.

 

I'm not saying that in comparison Portuguese schools are great in all, bullying exists everywhere, but at least ethnic gangs are very rare and kids defend each other. I have a broken tooth root from defending a friend and other have defended me.

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2 hours ago, jeba said:


And you believe that sweeping claim?

Matches what I hear from Portuguese parents and many other parents at the international school. 

Matches what I saw in 2 different kindergartens.

 

BTW, in one of the kindergartens there was an american teacher (for bilingual teaching) and he was by far the best in teaching. The second was a Romanian teacher. All others were a complete disaster.

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3 minutes ago, MikeMelga said:

In your case, I assume the parent is German, so of course the teacher said nothing.

 

Boss is French, his wife is Brazilian.  They speak Portuguese at home.  Kids grew up in Germany, both started gymnasium here. They moved to Portugal a couple of years ago though and now the kids go to a German school there.  Apparently they are not very happy with it.  I did notice in Germany that all their friends seemed to be non German but I am not sure you can say that is because German kids bullied them, it might just be because they feel more comfortable with other kids who also have a different culture background.

 

21 minutes ago, MikeMelga said:

Why? It's the "german macho that got the foreign women".

 

In Iceland they have a very different much more negative stereotype for local man / foreign woman marriage.  They would likely say oh poor sod, couldn't get a local woman, something wrong with him, had to get a mail-order bride.  Not sure if the kids would actually get bullied for it necessarily but they might get to hear something like that a couple of times at school.

 

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Do you know where you’re going to live? Gymnasiums are not the same throughout Munich or Bayern. The reputation of the local school paid a big role in our decision to move from east Munich to where we live now. I don’t see a reason nowadays for a family to live in Munich city, as far as I’m concerned several of surrounding towns offer a better quality of living. Specially with children.

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7 hours ago, GoldenLizard said:

 

How about an Obama shirt with a MAGA hat: :D

 

 

Thats brutal! My kids don't have blond hair, blue eyes, white skin or a German surname. That was never a factor here, but I recognize that the SF Bay Area is a world apart - a melting pot.

 

 

You are right, the feedback I got was from some colleagues who came to Germany some 35+ years ago.

 

 

Am so glad to have run into you @MikeMelga on this forum. Honestly, I never kept track of my kids in school here. Will make sure not to repeat the mistake in Germany. And hopefully all turns out fine.

 

@GoldenLizard - I will concur with most of what @MikeMelga says. I would also suggest that you keep a positive mental attitude to the whole experience - your children will rely on you for this, and it will help them!! 

 

 I will share some of my story(and some opinions) in the hope that it helps you.

 

By way of background, I am an Australian and we moved to Germany 3 years ago - to Dortmund. We have now lived just south of Munich for a bit over a year. We have 2 daughters. We have no German ancestry, and my daughters spoke zero German when we arrived. They were 6 and 8 yrs old. Both went to Grundschule (primary school). Both were fluent in German before the end of the first year. Kids between 4 and 10 (generally) are "soaks" for languages, so this will be much easier for them than you. Plus, they speak German every minute at school, unlike me for example, hired partly on the basis of my english language skills; so my working day is 98% english (and for a German company).

 

During the 1st year of school we experienced local children with little social skills (like WOW !!) and a lot of bullying. This was so bad that I came home from work early one day and went straight to the school to speak to the Principal. Needless to say, we had some stern words about rights to personal safety in the EU, responsibility to protect children in the modern world etc etc. He was genuinely shocked that his PE teacher had lost control of her class so badly. But we got past this and by the time we moved to Bavaria, there were many heartfelt cards and gifts and "speeches" by teachers, parents and children alike. 

Here in Bavaria, similar experience: children tend to have very little experience with socialising outside a small group, have almost zero direction from parents about how to welcome new people; and they generally behave in a brutish fashion. And the idea of "engagement" with students - as part of the teaching repertoire - is non-existent. So, in all, it is quite the opposite of more progressive systems in other countries... :)

So, this is pretty much was Mike Melga said, right....? yep.

 

But, with support for your kids, and a clear message to the teachers that you are watching the progress of your kids, you will have a very good chance of succeeding brilliantly. Mine have, so yours can too.

 

My eldest is starting her first year in gymnasium in a few weeks - and she achieved an outstanding "entrance" score..in the top percentage of her class (yet she is an auslander). And from now on, the fact that she is fluent in 2 languages already makes learning the 3rd at gymnasium (French) so much easier. All her German friends have quite limited English skills - so now she is in a better position than most of her peers. This is particularly the case in light of the fact that her friends have only ever been to one school in their whole lives and now they are nervous about high school. My daughter is thinking " I've already been to one school in Australia and 3 schools here - so going to high school with people I already know is sooo easy". and she now knows a LOT more about how to make new friends.  :) 

 

Another "trick" is to continue to encourage your kids to hook up with other foreigners too. For us Australians, it is second nature - mostly cos all of us aussies are foreigners basically. :)  But we have seen that our daughters' friends have shown increasing interest in meeting our other non-German friends - works well! There are other australians, Indians and Brazilians, for example that we "hang with", and our German friends always want to know more about them.

 

...so, you will be performing a valuable public service for Germany in bringing your kids here and adapting to, but also changing in a small way, the way things happen here. :lol::lol:

 

overall, i am so, so, very, very happy that we moved here. It has been the brilliant growth and learning experience for my daughters and for my wife and I that we hoped for - and for the usual reasons: constant surprises, differences, and "left-field experiences"...

 

...so I am very happy to connect and help in any way I can...i suggest we start with a beer or two. (double thumbs up on that)

 

...anyway, hope this far-too-long-post helps :P

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30 minutes ago, mtbiking said:

mnasiums are not the same throughout Munich or Bayern.

They even have different focuses. If your kids are into music I¬īd consider a "musisches Gymnasium". There all kids have to play an instrument and chances are that their socioeconomic backgrounds aren¬īt conducive to bullying behaviour. Those bullies usually don¬īt have a piano at home. In my experience bullying is also non-existent in Montessori schools (granted, my experience is limited to two of them).

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