Healthcare In Germany

In Britain, we all complain about the National Health Service (NHS), but having myself lived in several countries that do not have one, I think it is pretty darn good.

Of course, Germany is also highly regarded for its health care, but I must admit I do find it considerably more complicated to navigate than the British system. For example, when you start working in Germany, you must actually choose a provider as the government effectively contracts it out. And if you earn above a certain salary, you can opt to go private and your and your employer’s contributions get fed into that. Things get even more complicated if you are unemployed, self employed or a student.

Therefore, I was pleased to find a page on the “How To Germany” website which gives a good overview of how it is all structured and some of the rules and regulations which govern it all. Click here to go directly to that page.

A Sad Time For Cheese Lovers

It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform you that the British Cheese Emporium has recently closed down for good. It is a tremendous and sad loss as they used to sell incredible cheeses and other goodies which are impossible to find elsewhere in Germany.

I want to thank the owner, Sally, for the great service she provided in the past and I wish her well in her future endeavours.

English Speaking Doctors, Dentists And Opticians

All of us who choose to live in Germany find one of the most daunting aspects is what to do when medical problems occur. Indeed, one of the most common questions I am asked is how to go about finding an English-speaking doctor, dentist or optician. Whilst I plan on doing a full article on this subject in the near future, I just want to share my experiences gained over the couple of years or so that I have spent here. Continue reading

Germany And Vegetarianism?

One thing that struck me when I first came to Germany was that it is not exactly a safe haven for vegetarians. Pork features in so many dishes including the humble fried potato, and non-meat eaters are not exactly spoiled for choice as menus rarely offer anything which does not comprise a huge slab of animal fried in fat from another. So I had to laugh when I read this article in The Local – given what is illustrated in that, I am now really grateful I am a meat eater!

German Public Holidays

Most of us really enjoy May in Germany, not just because there is some chance of sunshine but also because the month is rich with public holidays, many of which have a religious significance.

You can find a good website containing details of the holidays celebrated in the various states across the country by clicking here. However, for the sake of convenience I have extracted the ones for Rhineland Palatinate (or Rheinland Pfalz as it is in German) as follows:

  • Ascension – Thursday 5th May 2016
  • Whit Monday – Monday 16th May 2016
  • Corpus Christi – Thursday 26th May 2016
  • Day of German Unity – Monday 3rd October 2016
  • All Saints’ Day -Tuesday 1st November 2016
  • Christmas Day – Sunday 25th December 2016
  • St. Stephen’s Day – Monday 26th December 2016
  • New Year – Sunday 1st January 2017

It should be noted unlike some other countries, in Germany where a public holiday falls on a weekend no other day off is given lieu.


Party Time!

Good news for those of us lucky enough to live in the Mosel region or are coming for a holiday – the wine festival season never seems to end and you never far from a celebration of some kind or another.

Virtually every town has at least one event over the summer months in celebration of the local plonk particular to each town. Of course, no festival would be complete without some sort of entertainment so expect to find a varied programme of events ranging from fireworks, concerts, dancing, food and much more at each.

The festivals are a great way to sample the local wine and food, meet the natives as well as support the local economy so please do try to visit at least one. A full list of the upcoming festivals and other events can be found here. The website is in German but it is easy enough to follow.

My German Learning Progress – Update

Well, that is week one of my two-week intensive German studies over, and it has been one of the busiest weeks of my life.

I am staying in the beautiful home of the teacher (actually, she is the school owner) and her husband, and each day comprises one-on-one lessons from 9am to around 4pm. Meals are taken with the family, and free time is also spent predominantly with them.

Being private tuition as opposed to class based lessons, the programme is tailored to my particular needs, and in my case it is a combination of grammar, phonetics and comprehension. Of course, I am finding the German grammar the hardest element to get to grips with, but also the fact that the entire day is pretty much solid German means I am feeling mentally exhausted quite often and on occasions emotionally drained too. The latter was a surprise to me – on Wednesday evening I just felt like jelly and incredibly homesick to the point where I thought to myself “why the hell am I doing this?”. I think this was the result of exhaustion from the intensive studies and the fact that it started to hit me that all my efforts to date really have only lightly scratched the surface of the vast sphere of the German language. My teacher came to the rescue and after half an hour or so I was back on track and ready to face yet another German social gathering, but I have to admit there are still occasions when I really feel I need to be alone but cannot without appearing rude. Continue reading