Alison Chino - Expat in Tübingen, Germany
We’ve had the chance to talk to Alison Chino, 43, an American expat who has moved to Germany with her family. Mrs. Chino who has been living there for four months, now works as a freelance writer.
Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.
Q: Where are you from originally?
A: North Little Rock Arkansas.
Q: What made you move out of USA?
A: We left for my husband’s work.
Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?
A: Tübingen, Germany.
Q: How long have you been living in Germany?
A: Four months.
Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?
A: My family. Everyone is adjusting slowing, especially to learning a new language.
Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?
A: We do miss home. We FaceTime/Skype weekly with our extended family and we have visits from different family members planned throughout the year.
Q: What do you think about the locals?
A: We are finding everyone to be really friendly and helpful, and though it is perhaps impeding our language progress, most everyone speaks English.
Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Germany? How did you manage to find a social circle there?
A: We are still slowly making friends. We’ve met some lovely families through our kids at school and others at the church we are attending. Also, my husband socializes with the other academics at the university.
Q: How does the cost of living in Germany compare to your home?
A: It is comparable, maybe a little more expensive.
- Q: How much is a cup of coffee?
A: 2-3 euros.
- Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?
A: 8-12 euros.
- Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?
A: 30-40 euros per person.
- Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?
A: 3-4 euros for an inexpensive bottle. I think cigarettes are around 6 euros?
Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?
A: In Germany, it’s nice that you don’t have to apply for residence until after you arrive, so you do it in person. You need a letter from your job to say that someone wants you to work there and then the residence permit will allow you to begin working. There were several phases, and when all the documents returned, we had to also all go in person and be photographed and fingerprinted. It was a lot of paperwork but it was much easier than we had to do it previously for the UK because it all had to be completed ahead of going.
Q: Did you secure a health insurance in the US or Germany? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?
A: We have secured health insurance here in our host country per the advice of my husband’s employer here.
Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to Germany? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?
A: We have chosen to only bring what we could take on the plane in our suitcases as our flat is furnished (even with kitchen items). So our packing was quite simple and what we did not get rid of or bring, we stored back in Arkansas.
Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?
A: Learning a new language.
Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Germany?
A: There are many positives. Friendly people, a beautiful town, bakeries on every corner and local food. Recycling is done well in Germany. The schools are really great. Our town is bike friendly and there are excellent walking paths nearby. For me, the negative is struggling with the language, but I am hoping to be up for the challenge. And the winter weather in Northern Europe is harsher than I would like, but of course, that’s just a personal preference.
Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?
A: There are lots of good walks and many castles to visit in the area. Just north of Tübingen is a beautiful monastery (Bebenhausen) to visit. And the old town (Aldstadt) in our town is gorgeous for wandering and just sitting in coffee shops or at the outdoor tables when the weather is nice. There are also boat rides (punts) on the river in the summer months.
Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?
A: We are still unsure about our plans at the moment.
Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Germany?
A: I use the Germany Tourism website a lot for planning.