Relocating to Munich from San Francisco; looking for advice

204 posts in this topic

OK. I stand corrected.

 

I do believe that children are different, though, with each generation. It's called the generation gap. Not always a negative thing, though.

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28 minutes ago, katheliz said:

Children aren't any different today than they were 50, 100, 500 years ago. School systems change, teaching methods change, and children still learn. My two granddaughters currently in German schools, Gymnasium and Grundschule, are doing just fine.

 

I agree that in the most fundamental ways, children are similar to how they’ve always been.  But that’s not what I was talking about.  I was specifically talking about quality of education.

 

We all love the stories about the ghetto kid who went to a sub-standard inner-city school, and rose above it all to get a scholarship to Harvard.  The fact is, though, that a child like that would likely do well regardless of the school.  OTOH, for every heart-warming success story, there are thousands of kids whose only chance to get ahead is to receive a good education, and they don’t.

 

And that is what I have seen happening here.

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Yes, what you hear about vs. what you see.  We have heard about kids who made the move and did fine.  At the same time I see one of my friends here struggling with his kid in the school system.  A kid who is born here, attended German kita since age 2 and whose parents have always spoken German with.  Because his German is not perfect however, he was delayed to start school for one year and has been sent to some kind of special school instead.

 

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23 hours ago, kiplette said:

Your 10 year old is over the edge of comfort for joining this system - like Katheliz I would recommend repeating a year, getting Nachhilfe and joining clubs to get the language fixed as quickly as possible and to get a sense of belonging in the community

 

Anyone knows where I can find the budget for a Nachhilfe who can understand English as well (so I understand whats going on too!)?

 

23 hours ago, kiplette said:

There are as you would expect a vast number of committed and trained teachers who are keen to get the best out of their pupils, but you will come across both.

 

Good teachers can help a child blossom, but its not always that bad teachers destroy a child. I remember one year of my childhood, our government school up in the Himalayas had the Math teacher transferred and noone came to replace him (noone wanted to move in winter). Even our exam was waived off :D. Guess what, I still did great by studying on my own!

 

23 hours ago, kiplette said:

There are loads of people who have had it all work out - several TTers have kids who have recently completed their Abitur absolutely successfully, and others who have been very happy with their kids having the opportunity to go through an apprenticeship system and learn a useful trade/go into business, so don't feel as though it is impossible, just that you will need to keep your eye on the ball and be more involved than you might hope for, but pick your battles very carefully - some stuff is merely alien and unrecognisable, and not necessarily bad

 

That gives me a lot of hope. And yes, everything alien is not bad. That's why we make these decisions, right? For the experience and hope it makes us richer in the process.

 

Thanks @kiplette very kind of you to share from the teacher's lens.

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4 hours ago, Space Cowboy said:

 

ErgoFlex.

Thanks! 262€ for a backpack! And my son going to private school with a 17€ backpack! Sometimes prios are swapped.

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37 minutes ago, GoldenLizard said:

Anyone knows where I can find the budget for a Nachhilfe who can understand English as well (so I understand whats going on too!)?

 

I think we need @emkay to answer that question, she came to Germany when her daughter was 11.

 

In the meanwhile, you can start reading these threads: https://www.google.com/search?q=emkay+nachhilfe+site%3Atoytowngermany.com

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On 30/08/2020, 20:35:40, GoldenLizard said:

 

Thanks @engelchen for your concern. In the last few days, I am even wondering if I should switch the kids at some point to private/international school if any of the things being discussed start happening.

 

The most important thing is that you are aware of the problem and are able to budget for private school if necessary. When @emkay came to Germany with her daughter who was also around 10 at the time (about 8 or 9 years ago) she said she spent about 500€/month in the first year for Nachhilfe.  Please note that Emkay is also German, but grew up in the UK. 

 

Since no one has mentioned it, I feel it is important to warn you about the insidious racism in Germany. Everyone always brings up the the right wing nutcases, but rarely mention the other more prevalent form of racism where certain foreigners are treated better than others. It is not just the official differences, but also the "progressive German helicopter parents" who want to ensure the best for their kids and try to make strategic playdates with the "right group of friends". Based on your posts here your written English is better than some of the Americans on here who claim to teach English, but I'm not sure whether many Germans will be able to see past your passport and skin colour.

 

For the record I find it incredibly disturbing that your child's success in the German system will in part depend on the prejudices of the locals, however, your son needs to learn German well and quickly and interacting with his peers is the best way to do this. However, one lasting consequence of the mass migration of foreigners to Germany 5 years ago is that certain school districts have a very low percentage of native German speakers making it even more difficult for foreign children to learn proper German. Last year there was a huge discussion about whether or not children should be given German tests before starting the first grade because many foreign children who were born here do not learn sufficient German before they start school to follow the first grade.

 

4 hours ago, Space Cowboy said:

 

The first part of this sentence is, I think, unduly harsh and unnecessary, but I do tend to agree with the last part.  I would not take advice from someone who does not have current knowledge of the state of German public schools.

 

It may seem harsh, but it is also the truth. Unfortunately, certain people are Beratungsresistent and can't see beyond their own white privilege. I've given up trying to explain to this stubborn old white women the modern problems facing children coming from abroad with neither German nor German parents and now just try to put her ignorant uninformed comments into context.

 

On 30/08/2020, 23:56:20, kiplette said:

we all belong to a subset of the population with which Germany generally has poor results, regardless of parental achievement, and planning and preparation are required so that it doesn't all go horribly wrong.

 

We are all equal, however, some of us are more equal than others.

 

Although I agree with most of what you wrote in theory, I think you are failing to consider an important factor. 

 

How many of your children are not white? 

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5 hours ago, Space Cowboy said:

After looking very carefully at the local Grundschulen, we were appalled.  Completely disorganized, huge class sizes (some with 50 kids!), classes with no teachers because the teachers were on permanent paid leave and could not be replaced

 

Sounds familiar. Oh, that was me growing up :D

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6 hours ago, katheliz said:

your son isn't starting from zero. He already speaks more than just his mother tongue and he's also enthusiastic about learning another language.

 

Well, my son speaks only English as his mother tongue. But yes, he is enthusiastic about German. His grandparents (my parents) speak German fluently, so he has even been learning grammar from them!!!

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2 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

Thanks! 262€ for a backpack! And my son going to private school with a 17€ backpack! Sometimes prios are swapped.

 

Ok, I draw the line here. No amount of need for "acclimatizing" will make me spend 262 * 2. No way!

 

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1 hour ago, engelchen said:

Since no one has mentioned it, I feel it is important to warn you about the insidious racism in Germany. Everyone always brings up the the right wing nutcases, but rarely mention the other more prevalent form of racism where certain foreigners are treated better than others. It is not just the official differences, but also the "progressive German helicopter parents" who want to ensure the best for their kids and try to make strategic playdates with the "right group of friends". Based on your posts here your written English is better than some of the Americans on here who claim to teach English, but I'm not sure whether many Germans will be able to see past your passport and skin colour.

 

@engelchen Good point. I am aware of these undercurrents in the society all over the world. Even in my home country. The USA is currently in the news for the wrong reasons around race relations, but I have friends in Oklahoma who say they feel they have always been treated there with soft gloves long before the current environment in the US. However, here in the Bay Area, we have been blessed with broad minded neighbors, friends, and people willing to broaden their horizon greatly. Probably this is a result of so many people coming in here from various countries for the last 70+ years.

 

Of course, this is hard to replicate in any other place in the world since no other place is an economic powerhouse like the SF Bay Area. I have heard that Munich is quite cosmopolitan so I hope its slightly better than other smaller cities in Germany. If not, I guess my kids will just have to learn through experience. I have not faced racism myself, but I sure have faced my share of discrimination based on ethnicity back in my home country.

 

The problem is when racism is institutionalized. And when I saw the comment saying that teachers may not recommend a student to Gymnasium because of not having blond hair and blue eyes and not being able to blend in with other kids, that had alarm bells ringing!

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@GoldenLizard, I must have conflated your first post with another which mentioned a boy who already spoke two languages.

Well, your boy will be that child soon. How helpful to have the grandparents joining in preparing your son for this big move!

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16 hours ago, jill_ said:

Everyone's advice on weather has been right - temps last year went down to 0 or -2 and there really were only a few days of light snow that melted quickly.

 

There goes my dream of reliving a vacation we had in Colorado a few years ago :D

 

16 hours ago, jill_ said:

My first purchase in October last year was a pair of Gore-Tex high top sneakers with fleece inside. Gore-Tex boots would work well too. As others mentioned, they have good soles are are both rain/snow proof. 

 

Was this for you or for kids? Based on the feedback so far, I have ordered the following.

For my son:

https://www.columbia.com/big-kids-ice-maiden-lace-ii-boot-1663601.html

 

https://www.columbia.com/youth-minx-shorty-boot-1709751.html?dwvar_1709751_variationColor=010#q=Minx%C3%A2%C2%84%C2%A2%2BShorty%2BOmni-Heat%C3%A2%C2%84%C2%A2&start=2

 

For my daughter:

https://www.columbia.com/big-kids-minx-mid-iii-waterproof-omni-heat-boot-1790111.html?dwvar_1790111_variationColor=008#q=Columbia%2BKids'%2BYouth%2BMinx%2BMid%2BIii%2BWaterproof%2BOmni-Heat%2BSnow%2BBoot&start=0

 

https://www.columbia.com/youth-minx-shorty-boot-1709751.html?dwvar_1709751_variationColor=010

 

Do you think this is similar to the Gore-tex sneakers you bought? Or do you suggest I should return the Columbia shoes and just buy in Munich? I do want to be reasonably prepared, so maybe return the high boots and keep the short boots?

 

17 hours ago, jill_ said:

I also ended up buying a couple sweaters including a thick winter wool sweater. I was thinking that I could get away with layering a couple long-sleeve shirts until our container arrived, but found I needed the heavier sweaters sooner.

 

For me and the Mrs. we plan to buy clothes and footwear if needed after we arrive. I say "if needed" because I used to travel to Germany and Switzerland (never Munich) quite often in winter, and my wife traveled often on work to Chicago in the dead of winters - so we have some stuff. What might be out of place is the style and fashion, which in all honesty might be a factor for her, not for me ;)

 

I may reach out to you for tips; you have gone through exactly what we will go through - except that we have a pandemic recovery to deal with in addition. The relocation agency already told us that not many landlords will be thrilled to hear they have a prospective renter from the USA. With great difficulty, they have got us a place in Moosach as temporary accommodation; do you know how this area is?

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There appears to be a COVID-influenced movement in the US to move from big cities out to the suburbs. If this is also true in Europe, finding a place to live in Munich itself might be easier.

 

EDIT - Sorry, I forgot that not every country has been as careless as the US. I'll drop out of this thread now. :) 

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8 hours ago, engelchen said:

How many of your children are not white?

 

Crikey, you are right - we are all absolutely porcelain-featured.

 

I see us as being the same as all the other non-Germans who use this Gymnasium the last 2 kids are at, and am more comfortable with it than the revered historic one kid#1 attended which is full of upwardly striving Germans and was very difficult for us to navigate.

 

Quite possibly other people do not lump us non-Germans together at all - which is not a comfortable thought - we get treated like idiots fairly often and that's bad enough.

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6 hours ago, GoldenLizard said:

 I have heard that Munich is quite cosmopolitan so I hope its slightly better than other smaller cities in Germany. If not, I guess my kids will just have to learn through experience. I have not faced racism myself, but I sure have faced my share of discrimination based on ethnicity back in my home country.

Humm, cosmopolitan... well, yes, compared with the surrounding towns that until recently still had Hitler as honorary citizen...

 

But in my opinion it is not very cosmopolitan. There is a large percentage of foreign people, but they are mainly from a few countries and don´t add much to the vibe.

Restaurant scene is a disaster. Not cosmopolitan and definitely not good quality. Bar scene I don´t know much, but does not seem good from what I´ve heard.

 

What it is is a family friendly city, low crime, low density, lots of green, close to the mountains.

 

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10 hours ago, PandaMunich said:

 

I think we need @emkay to answer that question, she came to Germany when her daughter was 11.

 

In the meanwhile, you can start reading these threads: https://www.google.com/search?q=emkay+nachhilfe+site%3Atoytowngermany.com


When we moved here 9 years ago with my 11 year old daughter, it was surprisingly difficult to find German tuition for a native English speaker.  Since then, there are more Nachhilfe companies that are generally good I believe. 
 

We used Schülerhilfe in our town for one-to-one teaching.  They tend to recruit students rather than qualified teachers. Here is the price link for one of the branches of Munich Schülerhilfe. https://www.schuelerhilfe.de/fileadmin/Bilder_Zentrale/Preislisten_GmbH/471_München-Bogenhausen.pdf. The ‘Einzelunterricht’ (if available) cost for 45 minutes is 35€. We opted for 4 lessons per week, usually 90 minutes at once rather than split. Additionally, my daughter’s school organised for an older British student to provide 4-5 hours of German tuition per week at school at a cost of 10€ per 45 minutes. 
 

Private tutors (often students) may cost around 20-30€ per hour.  Many advertise on eBay Kleinanzeigen. Your child’s school may also be able to advise. At your eldest child’s age, teachers are likely to recommend going back a year and various social activities.
 

I helped a Canadian family two years ago with their search for suitable schools for their children in Hessen.  Private schools were an option though after they visited those in the area, they opted for a public school.  I spoke to various school authorities on their behalf to assess the suitability of various school’s German learning classes for foreign children. At that time, there were special classes of around 20-30 migrant children of varying ages, from different countries with no common language. Some had never attended school in their home country. One school authority manager stated that this level of German teaching is unlikely to assist a child achieve a medium to high level of German education.  

My daughter’s former maths Nachhilfe tutor has recently qualified as a teacher and is responsible for such classes at a school in our area.  She too confirms that so far, she cannot envisage that any of the pupils will be able to enter main stream classes.  
 

All the best.
 

 

 

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13 hours ago, GoldenLizard said:

Anyone knows where I can find the budget for a Nachhilfe

When we returned from abroad in 2012 I was paying € 30 /45 min for a fully qualified Gymnasium teacher and IIRC € 15/60 min for an older student recommended by one of my kid´s teachers. Prices might be higher now.

 

10 hours ago, GoldenLizard said:

And when I saw the comment saying that teachers may not recommend a student to Gymnasium because of not having blond hair and blue eyes and not being able to blend in with other kids,

Recommendations will depend on marks, not on hair colour. There are strict guidelines for that (at least there were when my kids went to school). IIRC kids need to have an average grade of 2.5 in math, German and maybe one other subject I can´t remember. As German is one of the relevant subjects that might explain why foreigners are having more problems jumping over that hurdle. However, not making it into Gymnasium after grade 4 doesn´t mean you can never go there. My daughter went to Mittelschule (the lowest tier in Bavaria) and after that there was a grade 10 "Einführungsklasse" at Gymnasium which gave her and others from lower tier schools a chance to catch up on what they had missed and from there to go into grade 11 of the Gymnasium. So it took her an additional year but she could still graduate with Abitur (the certificate needed for University). You need to have decent marks though in order to be accepted into "Einführungsklasse". Which makes sense as Gymnasium is only meant for those academically inclined.

When she was going to MIttelschule I started to understand why kids from lower socioeconomic levels are underrepresented at higher tier schools/University. Their parents mostly didn´t even bother to show up for parent-teacher meetings. Not even when the option to go to Gymnasium was explained. There were only a handful while there were 25 kids in her class.

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8 hours ago, GoldenLizard said:

 

I have heard that Munich is quite cosmopolitan so I hope its slightly better than other smaller cities in Germany.

 

LOL

 

Munich is a nice city, and a bit more "worldly" than most smaller cities in Germany, but "cosmopolitan?"  Not even a little bit :)

 

Just as an example - if you were hoping to find a nice restaurant in Munich that serves cuisine from your native country, just give up on that idea right now.  There are Indian restaurants, but they are pretty bad across the board (and it's the same across the country - I only ever have found one place in Berlin that I thought was decent).

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6 hours ago, GoldenLizard said:

Was this for you or for kids? Based on the feedback so far, I have ordered the following

 

The sneakers were for me.  For example, here is a link to the brand:

https://www.legero.com/de/schuhe/themen/gore-tex/

 

I do not have kids, and so others may want to give you some feedback on the boots you've ordered for yours. I would think that until your container arrives in December, the short boots would suffice if you want to make sure you bring something with you. They'll also take up less space in your luggage.

 

6 hours ago, GoldenLizard said:

What might be out of place is the style and fashion, which in all honesty might be a factor for her, not for me

 

Yes, your wife may indeed want to pick up some new things when she gets here. I find that my wardrobe is more casual than others, a downside to the jeans & hoodie style of SF. But it's a great excuse to go out and pick up some new pieces! 

 

6 hours ago, GoldenLizard said:

The relocation agency already told us that not many landlords will be thrilled to hear they have a prospective renter from the USA. With great difficulty, they have got us a place in Moosach as temporary accommodation; do you know how this area is?

 

I guess that hearing this doesn't surprise me. In February, I was in a German class with a classmate from China who got stranded here when all flights to/from China were canceled. She had issues with her temporary accommodation which canceled on her when they learned she was from China. She had a difficult time finding a new accommodation but was ultimately able to. 

 

I'm not familiar with the housing in Moosach, but from a location perspective it's fine. It's central enough to the center of Munich that it won't take you long on the U-Bahn. It's near Olympiapark, Nymphemburg, both of which are nice for outdoor activities. I imagine that it may also be quieter than other areas of Munich too. 

 

Also, I don't find the restaurant scene here in Munich quite as terrible as others have stated. However, I do have a struggle finding fresh, quality produce and nuts that actually are ripe and taste good. I miss this from California very much.  Along with Mexican food and Zachary's deep dish pizza!

 

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