How to find a Kita for your child in Germany | Expat Guide

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Tender beginnings for the  little ones 

Guys, after almost 9 months of waiting, finally, we got a spot for my daughter in a Kita here in Germany!!! 

I know, I know, I heard you, you might say that this is such a normal thing,no big deal, but hey NO! not here in Germany. Believe me, once you got a spot in the Kindergarten or Kita for your child here, you’ve got to be jumping for joy and saying thanks all over again. Because I am telling you, It’s not EASY. It was never EASY.

Okay, maybe I am overreacting, but yes, it is quite a relief when we got the letter from the municipality informing us that my daughter was selected to join a Kita this coming September.It was a long wait and therefore we loooove this  news. A new chapter for my child’s life, and as well as for us parents. Finally,an end to long days and months of waiting.Of course, as a disclaimer, this is purely based on my experience. Maybe someone got so lucky that they immediately find a place for their child in Kita, a case to case basis. But I observed this phenomenon for long months now and therefore have established my opinion about the complicated system for childcare and Kindergarten schools especially here in our area in Bavaria, southern part of Germany.

So how did we got the spot? What techniques did we do?

If you are an Expat parent like me, I am so sure that the moment you moved into a new country and you’ve started to explore your new neighborhood for parks and playgrounds, the next thing you want to establish is joining a playgroup, Nursery, childcare or a Kita /Kindergarten for your little ones especially if you are a working Mama. It is very important to get a support group for your children. This is one of the natural ways in “re-potting the uprooted child”.

“So here’s the truth: Getting a spot in the Kita/Kindergarten for your child here in Germany REALLY ONLY depends on LUCK, or in logical terms-written in the stars, destiny, or some may call it fate, or your blessing!”

What you need to do as a parent ? Here are practical ways ( which I did!) on the course of our application for Kita in a span of almost 9 months;

  1. Do your research. –  I don’t speak German yet but I did a lot of research even prior to arriving here in Bavaria. I made a list from the schools which I saw online even while I was still in Kuwait and then mapped their location once we got here. Depending on the area where you live, find as many Kita that you can in your vicinity. If you apply for 2, the chance is almost zero, but if you apply for at least 8-10, then at least you can have a chance. For complete listings of Kita per area, you can always refer to the information provided online by your local municipality or ask from the Rathaus. For residents in Ingolstadt, there are so many information provided by Stadt Ingolstadt and there is a department who is really in charge of finding a space for every child to be put into a Kita/Kindergarten.There are persons there which main job is this; helping you get that slot for your child ( Freie Plätze in Kindertageseinrichtungen).

 

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My Pre-schooler tiny Goblin

2. Explore and visit the Kita/ Kindergarten in your Area – You need to be out and find the location of the school. As soon as we have the list, we started walking and exploring and visiting the school one by one. It is always good to personally inquire from the staff for any vacancy.

3. Write a formal “Anmeldebogen” ( Application) in Deutsch ( German) and send by post or email– This one is very effective, at least it works for me. Most of the staff I’ve talked via phone always told me that they don’t speak much English so when they read my letter and my inquiry written in Deutsch, I got concrete answers, even quick replies.

4. Follow Up. Every single Month. If you are forceful like me-make phonecalls  to ask for progress. Take time to follow-up. Sometimes, there might be a chance that someone left the Kita or moved away so a vacant space is available. The Kita that we’ve got is the one we’ve got on the opening day and not the first one we’ve applied or visited.Also, take note that depending on your area, you are most likely to get a spot on the place where your local address is linked to.

5.Attend the Opening Day – All Kitas and Kindergartens have an opening day held during the month of January where you can write the application once again for your child at the same time take a tour of the facilities of the school and their profile. This is very important. They have an announcement on this on their websites so pay attention for updates and changes of dates.

In the Kita, it compose normally of 2-3 groups, with around 25 children.During the opening day, I have asked the teachers what are their criteria in choosing a child to be in their Kita and here’s the information I’ve got :

  1. Parent’s status – If both parents are working, single mother/father .
  2. Location of residence, and if you work on certain companies ( like Audi , Schanzer etc.) then you can have some benefits or privileges.
  3. Language of the child/ spoken at home and the age of the child.
  4. Decision by the Municipality ( Department for Children and Families – Kitaplatzkoordinator)

With all these, all you can do is wait for a confirmation from any one of the school that you’ve applied, and nobody knows when will it be.They will give out confirmation around March and have the meeting with parents of the children who were chosen by month of June to prepare them for the  start of semester in September.

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Repotting the Uprooted child

So what are your options if you can’t find a place for your child?

Today, kindergartens here in Germany are an integral, yet voluntary, part of the early education system: Over 80% of all children between three and six years attend a kindergarten in Germany. The state supports parents with monetary incentives, such as tax reductions and child allowance (Kindergeld). The basic concept of Kitas and Kindergarten here are all “play based”, which is totally opposite from the American and English system which has more emphasis on academics. Now, I have written before how kid-friendly Germany is and how it is more AWESOME to be a kid living here. But then have a shortage of Kita really sucks!

Generally, in every area, there’s plenty of Kindergarten to choose from but it seems that it’s still not enough to accommodate the number of children who needs to be enrolled, add the fact the number of migrant’s children and the booming Expat population, especially in big cities like Berlin, Hamburg or in Munich.The staff have always told us that the waiting list is too much and “kein frei platz “( or no vacant space) .Even if there are many options for parents on where to put their child, the competition is still tight.

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Eager to learn..

Here are the childcare options for children ( 3 months up to 6 years old) here in Germany ;

Tagesmutter  ( or Day mother) – yes, you can hire a “Mother“in Germany. The Tagesmutter takes care of 3-5 children in her home, like a small daycare. Tagesmutter take care of your child in their home while you go to work. In most cases they care for additional children as well, so your child is guaranteed to have contact with peers.A Tagesmutter needs to be certified by the youth welfare office and most of them have a Pedagogy background and have a great experience with children.

Nannies-  are also an option in Germany. In contrast to in-home daycare providers, nannies come to your home to care for your child. In-home daycare providers and nannies are not required to be trained early childhood educators.  For a 20-hour week, in-home daycare providers charge an average of 300 to 600 euros per month.

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The long wait is over…

Here in Ingolstadt, in South Germany ( Bavaria) , you can contact the Mobile Familie e.V if you are interested for alternative options. There are equivalent of these services depending in the area where you live.They have the following services available all throughout Germany:

  1. Tagespflege (Daycare)
  2.  Kibeno ( Childcare Emergency Call)- supports parents in emergency situations where a caregiver is needed for the child / child at short notice.
  3. Kinderfrau – ( Childminder) -A childminder regularly takes care of the children in the parents’ household over a longer period of time. The Kinderfrau is employed by the parents.
  4. Au-Pair ( Nanny/Governess) – An au pair lives with a family, supports them mainly with the care of the children and helps in the household.
  5. Notmutter – (Emergency Mother) -An emergency mother takes care of the children of a family in emergency situations, especially when the mother is ill.
  6. Babysitters 

I hope the above information have helped you in a way to have an idea how it goes here when it comes to applying for a Kita/ Kindergarten for your child.

If you have more questions, please feel free to give comments or share your own experience for your child.

For Expat Mamas and Papas who are in this stage, good luck with your application !

 

Osterbrunnen in Ingolstadt

 

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“Impressive work found in Ostermarkt where around 10,000 handpainted eggs adorn the King Ludwig fountain  for this year’s Osterbrunnen. “

In our neighborhood alone,the sight of pink, white and eager cherry blossom trees (or  Kirschbaum ) are now blossoming with beautiful pink and white flowers, signaling the spring days ahead. The sight of the white Spargels ( white Asparagus)  in the wet market this morning assures me that beautiful days of Spring ( Frühling) here in Germany have indeed arrived! The past days the temperatures soars high,a good 10-15 degrees, sunny and bright, and I can’t believe that we can finally stroll outside without our bulky jackets. Weather is perfect, every where I see, I see growth of greens from the trees and yes, a time to celebrate Easter soon.

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Here in Ingolstadt, Easter vibes  is so alive and arrives right on the 1st day of April,in the Osterbrunnen fest right along the Paradeplatz in the old town.The event started with a parade of music, opening speech from our city mayor, Christian Lösel, and the tapping of the beer keg or O’zapft is! If you want a free mug of beer, all you have to do is be there!

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The Ostermarkt will run from 1st of April until 17th 2017 from 10.00 ~19.00 Uhr. Around the Paradeplatz, there are food stalls which serves the local delicacies, a Karussel (Carousel) for children, and quaint shops selling Easter goods.My daughter was too excited to see the carousel but always afraid to ride it!

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Tell you frankly, Easter here in Germany is a big thing since aside from its religious significance, it also signal the arrival of Spring, the season of renewal. About 3 weeks ago, the shops were packed with all the decorations and different types of  decorations for Easter such as eggs, Easter bunny ( Osternhase) and so much more. I have never seen such frenzy as these in the Philippines! There are Easter Chocolate eggs as big as a basketball! Today I got 6 pieces of Easter eggs given away during the opening ceremony and we are literally walking in a red-carpet cobbled streets of Ludwigstrasse. There are so many freebies along the street, I even had a glass of white wine! There are face painting for kids and there is such a happy ‘vibe”, even the Biergartens are in full swing once again! Ingolstadt is a small city and yet with so many festivals to celebrate, you can never get boring.

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Since April 15, 2000, the first Ostermarkt was inaugurated by Mayor Hans Amler and was solemnized by Moritzpfarrer Leo Pöll and since then, this event has become one of the highlights of Spring.

Right in the middle of Paradeplatz in front of the Neues Schloss stands the decorated fountain, with the monument of the mighty King Ludwig of Bavaria. During the first festival, around 3,000 ( three thousand)  painted easter eggs in white and blue colors ( Grösster weiss/blauer Osterbrunnen Bayerns) adorns the fountain, but each year they are increasing in number. The whole fountain is filled with spring flowers and Easter decorations arranged in a  steel crown like specially made by trainees of Audi AG.Now, around 10, 000 hand painted Easter eggs are on display for everyone to see. Such a lovely sight and a heritage that Ingolstädter are all proud of.

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To decorate the fountain, it requires 500 hours to do the creative work of painting the eggs and arranging the steel crown and finally set up the fountain.Looking at all the eggs, it is intricately painted and crafted.Imagine 10,000 pieces!

What an impressive work and creativity!

 

Have you ever seen a fountain decorated with thousands of Easter eggs? How is Easter celebrated in your area?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Duvets are better than One : Sleeping the German way

 

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Culture Shock :  Two beds, Two Duvets , no top covers.

While on our holiday in Rhineland -Palatinate and Trier last 2015, I was totally shocked to see how our beds were made. Two single mattresses in one bed frame, with two duvets on top, with two big square pillows pinched in the middle . No covers. Same as the one I observe in Austria.The Dutch husband even told me that the beds can even be folded on a height that you like. All I can say was , Why oh why?

This is not-so-Asian, no, not even middle-eastern.Scandinavian style, definitely and yes, the absolute German way of sleeping.

I ponder on this matter and thought how it originated but I couldn’t find any material. Maybe for cleanliness purposes since I notice that Germans love to hang their duvets from their window to ‘air’, a typical scene I have  also seen in Kuwait. My neighbor does this even during winter.But dirty air or wind can even make it dirtier, don’t you think?

Maybe for more comfort, and less ‘tug-of-war‘  scenarios? Could this even led why Germany has a low birth -rate? or a presumably relationship-killer? Some say it’s funny seeing you sleeping like cocooned caterpillars next to each other.

And how does the fun happens?

Or what if your partner is a night-farter? It can happen and a total mood buster.Or what if  you’re the type to stick out a foot while sleeping?

Whatever the reasons behind it, there must be something to it that clicks.To think that not only Germany have this thing, but also other countries like  Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Finland — they all love  having two duvets on one bed.

English and American people tend to tuck their duvets under the mattress so that you can slip in from the top. Germans would hardly acquire a taste for this nighttime covering. Germans, as I have learned and confirmed, are not accustomed to share a duvet with their Ehepartner (spouse) or Lebensgefährte (partner in life). Germans need a duvet to be twisted and turned. This can only be guaranteed when each person has got his or her own duvet for the night. Germans really have a way to make everything in life easy–with their all sorts of inventions and interventions!

When we move here in Germany, we got a new bed  and of course, my husband love this idea  so much so we opted to get 2 beds to fit in one bed frame. The most common standard size for German mattresses is 90 by 200 cm for singles and 180 by 200 cm for couples.

The English language has a variety of names to denote particular bed sizes: Cot, Single, Small Double or Three Quarter, Double, Queen, King, Super King, etc., which I find similar to the middle east. I think all the beds there is fit for a king! The German language, however, is more pragmatic in this way. They don’t have any nice-sounding words for the various bed sizes. Here, shopping for beds comes easy.For example, by using either measurements or conventional adjectives such as Klein (small) and groß (large).

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Duvets for  different season . One for Winter and one for Summer

The ordinary German Matratze (mattress) measures 90 cm (3ft) breadthways and 200 cm (6ft 6″) lengthways. This ordinary mattress is used for a single bed frame – which makes it a Einzelbett (Single). When two of these mattresses are put together they make a Doppelbett (Double) or Ehebett (marriage bed).

Some singles who don’t have to share their bed with another person opt for a bed size, which is larger than the ordinary 90 cm (3ft) by 200 cm (6ft 6″) mattress. Germans refer to this as a großes Einzelbett (large single bed). It’s measures: 140 cm (4ft 6″) by 200 cm (6ft 6″). German couples who think the common lying surface of 180 cm (5ft 9″) by 200 cm (6ft 6″) – two single mattresses put together – is still too small for a restful sleep can also opt for a mattress that measures 200 cm by 200 cm (6ft 6″) or two mattresses that measure 100 cm (3ft 3″) by 200 cm – which makes it ein großes Doppelbett (a large Double).

Does this tickle your interest? Here I find more interesting facts about sleeping and the way German prefer how their beds being done.

The Decke

Once you have your foam mattress and latenrost all set up, next come the bedlinens. Fitted sheets are easy enough. They are readily available in most shops .They are called Spannbetttüche and available is any color and several various fabrics. You match your bed size to the package and your bed is covered. So if you have 2 separate mattress, you get two pieces as well. I’m telling you, I sweat when I am making our bed with all these multiple linens.

Latenrost

There are no box springs here in Germany. The non-mattress spring support is called a Lattenrost. This is a set of bent wooden slats that are bouncy all held in a frame that goes under the mattress. The lattenrost come in different “bouncy-ness”s as well. Some are even articulated to allow sitting up in bed.

Pillows and sizes

In Germany, they use huge square pillows instead of small rectangular ones, it’s as simple as that but not really if you have your usual pillows. You can’t find pillow case that can fit to it. So if you are moving to Germany, you better bring loads of spare ones or you can always buy online.

I told you, here in Germany, it’s all about function, it’s not the new fashion fad in sleeping but there are reasons why you need to resolve into this for better sleeping. It’s good for your back as well. Take a look at Ikea tips for good sleeping options  to help you on your next bed shopping!

Also, I found some great reading why Two Duvets in one bed is really the answer for a better sleep. Check these out;

Scandinavian Style : Two Duvets on one Bed 

Our hearts beats as one when we sleep in two Duvets

 

Any thoughts? Would you love or not this style for sleeping?

What’s your own sleeping preferences?

 

 

Mobile lifestyle in Kuwait

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Umbrella and mobile phone : A good match to survive the heat

Expats outnumbered the locals in Kuwait, with 70% of its  population is composed of expatriates. So expat life is rather diversified compared here in Germany. One typical street sight in Kuwait is summed up in the photo above. It doesn’t matter where you are and who you are and what you do in life. An office janitor can have the latest gadget phones same as his Modir ( Boss) as well as anybody.  Everyone seemed to be glued in their mobile phones anytime of the day. It seems like if you don’t own a smart phone, you are left out and isolated. It becomes a necessity and at the same time a hazard especially for reckless drivers who are pinned to their phones while driving. Taxi drivers,mostly Egyptians, Indians, Bangladeshi or Syrians, have 2-3 phones to manage while they go on their work. Crazy, right? but its true. They are talking to their families and friends while driving around. Insane as it may sound but Kuwait becomes fanatic to smartphones and internet calls. Before I was in wonder, but now, no more, horrific and fatal  car accidents  happens everyday, especially in the Gulf road and 5th ring road where drivers drive like maniac. Everyday life revolves around internet, social media and chatting. You should take a look at this article to see how far it goes. If you’re living in Kuwait, I know how it feels, it sucks!

If you’re an expat, having a smart phone with internet is a must. It’s a  materialistic symbolism too. One can easily  get an internet line provided that they have a civil ID to present when they purchase. One’s number is linked to your personal data in the country’s ID system. Another particular sight in  is how Kuwait evolved into mobile parenting.While out in the mall or park, you can see that children have iPads and tablet to keep the child occupied in their buggies while busy parents do their errands. Kuwait has become a symbol for parenting in the iPhone stage. When you move to Kuwait, a way to combat homesickness, your mobile lifestyle becomes elevated and your life revolves in your phone.

Hungry? just log in and check into Talabat or call for delivery from Canary for mushakel and  kebab. Even if the  Matam ( restaurant ) is just around the corner of your flat.I am writing this because I have never seen such incidents like this here in Germany. A total culture clash I must say. Or maybe not yet…

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Hala February Festival and National Day in Kuwait

Oh well, Happy National Day Kuwait!

For expats out there, enjoy the long weekend with the Hala February festivities and stay away from the Gulf road or you’ll end up harassed by the water gun fanatics!

Want to know more about Expat life in  the Gulf? Here are some related further reading :

Hala February Festival in Kuwait

Only in Kuwait : National Spraying gun day!

Kuwait : National Identity symbol

 

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via Photo Challenge: A Good Match

How to get the eAT for Non-EU Spouses (Aufenthaltstitel) in Germany

 

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Expat Guide : Aufenhaltstitel for Non-EU Spouses (Third World Country Nationals)

 

Finally, last Thursday, I got my Residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel ) to live legally in Germany. It feels so different knowing that I’m not a visiting tourist anymore. I live here now, so to speak. My paperwork is done. As an Expat,paper work always come with every move and you know that feeling that you don’t really feel at home unless your papers are done, right?

So, as I shared in some of my posts that from the last 4 months, I was a trying-hard Expat wanting to fit-in as much as possible in my new German routines & lifestyle. It took exactly four months of processing, but it was a very neat wait and I think I have done a lot during those months! I started my application last June 27 and I received it last October 27, even falling on the same date. The Bureaucracy in Germany might be a shock to you if you are unfamiliar with German ways but comparing it with my observations from Gulf countries vs. Philippine Bureaucracy, I must say that Germany is rather structured when it comes to Immigration.

Are you planning to live in Germany to join your spouse?

I want to share with you my experience with Auslandbehörde for processing my residence permit. This is especially for  Non-EU Spouses (Third World Country national ) who wants planning to reside in Germany . To be able to join your EU/EEA/Switzerland Spouse/partner,these general conditions should be met and supported with proof of evidence ;

  1. Have a resident permit
  2. Have enough room for you (as judged by the German Auslandbehörde or Immigration’s office)
  3. Have sufficient & secure finances (again assessed by the Auslandbehörde)

My Application for German Residence Permit as a Non-EU Spouse (Third World Country National)

  1. Secure a valid Visa (depending on your nationality)

I came to Germany under a Schengen Visa valid for 90 days. Since my husband is an EU national, I entered Germany through the Right of Free Movement for EU/EEA/Switzerland  nationals.This privilege is basically for Spouses & Family members of EU/EEA Nationals to live & reside in any Schengen country excluding their home country. I don’t have to submit a proof of German Language proficiency since this is not mandatory on my case, although in some cases, a Language proficiency certificate is required such as in  Family Reunion Visa applications. Since I am holding a Philippine passport (Third World Country national), I needed only a valid Visa to enter Europe. I arranged my Schengen visa from the Dutch Embassy in Kuwait ,and arranged all German translations/ Attestation for our documents in the German Embassy in Kuwait. Another option is the Family Reunion Visa but this is a complicated & a tedious process for me.I am still holding a residence  in Kuwait and we only have 2 months to prepare to move to Germany. If you will be coming from the Philippines, you need to check with the German Embassy for different requirements. You can choose which one work best for you.

2. Register in the local Town Hall (Rathaus) upon your arrival in Germany

Upon arrival in Germany, it is important to register in the Alien’s Office or the Auslandbehörde  in your local  City Town Hall or Rathaus. Look for the Registry Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) that is responsible for your community or your city neighborhood. Registering is a simple matter of going there and filling out a form.Your personal appearance is a must.

The following listed documents are required by the Auslandbehörde throughout the whole process of application of residence permit.

 

  • Valid Passport
  • 1 current biometric photo ( They may require another recent biometric photos in the latter part of application)
    Photo properties : 35mm x 45mm, frontal shot with neutral facial expression and closed mouth, looking straight into the camera, light background. This is available  in most Photo studios.
  • Filled out form “Angaben zur Ausstellung einer Aufenthaltskarte” . (Note: All forms are in German) 
  • Proof of relationship (Original copy of Marriage certificate) with German translations and attested by the German Embassy, for us it’s in Kuwait.
  • Proof of registered residence of the EU/ EEA /Switzerland national ( Passport & the Anmeldebestätigung)
  • Proof of the right to free movement of the EU/EEA citizen

    In individual cases, proof of the right of freedom of movement of the EU/EEA citizen may be required. You also need to bring the following documents of your Spouse;

    • for employees: confirmation from the employer of the appointment or employment or his Bestätigung über Arbeitsverhältnis
    • Health Insurance – ( You need a copy of your Anmeldebestätigung for you to apply for a Health Insurance) This is a mandatory requirement for all residents & Expats in Germany.
    • Lease Contract  or Mitvertrag –Proof of residence in Germany.
  • Original copy of 3 months recent Pay slip ( of your Spouse)
  • Sicherheitsbefragung für ausländer – you need to arrange an appointment for this and bring your Passport, & your Spouse or Interpreter’s passport & 1 biometric photo. This personal interview normally lasts about 45 minutes. In this security interview, it is very important to give accurate information since false statements could nullify your application and getting banned from EU.

3. Getting your Bescheinigung – This is a proof that you started the request for an Aufenhaltstitel (Residence permit) . All the documents needed for the application needs to be submitted within 6 months. If your visa expires within the processing period, this document gives you the right to stay in Germany , but not in other Schengen countries. My visa expired while my application was still in process so this documents gave me the right to stay in Germany until it was done.

Legal basis : Section 5 para.1 Freizügigkeitsgesetz/EU-FreizügG/EU

Note : If you leave Germany before receiving your Aufenthaltstitel,it would complicate your application so its best to stay and complete your residence application first til its done.

4.Reporting to  Auslandbehörde to finalize & paying the Fees.-The following fees are assessed based on the actual technical effort:

  • Up to the age of 24: 8.00 to 22.80 Euros
  • Over the age of 24: 28.80 Euros
  • Signing of the legal document attesting that you live together as married couple and living in the address that you declared.

5. Your eAT (Electronic residence permit/ Aufenthaltstitel )

Since 1st September 2011, the electronic residence permit is issued as a separate document in a credit card format.All Third country nationals will be issued with their own card.This card has an electronic ID function for business/activity conducted on the internet and machines. This card also supports electronic signatures for legally binding signing of digital documents. The eAT is only valid as long as you possess a valid passport or alternative document so keeping your passport in its validity period is very important. The validity of the eAT is determined by the kind of residence issued by the Auslandbehörde. In my case, I was granted for 5 years. After 5 years, I am eligible to apply for permanent residence if I wish to. I am also allowed to work, attend the Integration course and learn the language at my own pace. This allows me as well to open a bank account etc. I can travel across Europe & Schengen countries without needing a visa.

It is very important to become responsible Expats and be aware of our responsibilities as residents in a foreign country. Respecting their culture & abiding their laws is the least that we can do to become worthy of the privilege that was given to us to live and enjoy life with our families. My whole experience with the Auslandbehörde  here in Bavaria is very  professional & efficient. I must say that not all the things that I’ve read in the internet before was true but I ma sure its depending on case to case basis. Almost all the information is found  online and you can inquire personally in the local Rathaus (City Town Hall).

Now its time to learn the German language seriously!

 

How was your experience doing your paperwork in your new country?

For those of you who are working on your residence permits, Goodluck!

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Parks & Playgrounds in Ingolstadt

To tell you frankly, I didn’t appreciate parks & playgrounds until I had a child of my own!

If you have an active toddler like mine, I am so sure that playgrounds have become your best friends. Either indoor play yard or an outdoor sandpit, it always saves your day. It’s one happy place where your kids just let go of their  steam and for a moment, you’ve got the chance to inhale and breathe. I know I’m not alone in this,but when your child is happy, you are happy too!

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Sandpit, play area & wasserspielplatz in Baggersee

There are play areas for Kids..Everywhere!

As a new Expat, you search for grocery shops or bakeries, but for me, one of my early priorities is to look for playgrounds for my daughter to play. Well, Germany is famous for its abundance of outdoor activities and play areas for kids & toddlers. I must say that being a kid here is awesome and has a lot to offer. I was really surprised to find that in almost every neighborhood, there are Spielplatz or play areas for kids. Isn’t that amazing? In the Bike shop, supermarkets and groceries, in Biergartens and restaurants, they always have a  play area where kids can play. There are trampolines & rockers along the busiest shopping streets . Some even have a changing area where you can breastfeed, feed or change the diapers for free!

The one in dm-drogerie is our favorite because you can shop while your kids play. Great thing about dm is it’s absolutely free and very convenient. Did I mention that even in the Rathaus ( or the Town Hall) they have kid toys placed in the walls along the corridor. Very kid-friendly especially during waiting time.

It’s beautiful, natural, safe ,full of creative spaces, and best of all, it’s all FREE!

 

Life being an Expat is challenging. You’ve got no friends yet,you barely speak the language, you don’t even know your neighbors, but your child is screaming out for tiny humans company. A bored child is a whining child so the best thing to do is take her out! Searching for parks & playground is also a perfect chance to get acquainted with the new neighborhood and making new friends.It is actually easy to make friends when you have a kid,it’s less intimidating. The moment kids starting to play with each other, it’s easy to start a conversation. This works well for me so I’m sure it can work with you too.

So here in Ingolstadt, we have discovered quite a number of  parks and playgrounds which has helped us a lot in trying to integrate in this new culture. Here’s our list for our favourites ;

Klenze Park

Klenzepark is a huge oasis for kids (and for adults too). This place has a large field and beautiful park I must say, with trees surrounding it and has luscious  rose gardens with fountains. It is the site for the 1992 Bavarian Garden Festival and has a unique open air museum of German fortification architecture. It will host the 2020  State Flower Show so that’s something to look forward if you love nature & flowers.  Ideally located along the  Donau river, it’s a scenic place where you can take your kids for a lazy stroll, cycling or play in the playground.With the view of the historical Neues Schloss and with the love-lock bridge, this is our favorite spot so far.There is a fountain  (Wasserspieltplatz) with huge rocks where children can enjoy playing in the water especially in Summer.The whole field is also surrounded with small water canals where children (and adults!) splash their feet in Summer.

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Wood basics playground – Eliminating all plastics .

Just beside the Wasserspieltplatz is the Natural Playground. It has  wooden slides, climbing areas, rockers, swings and fun activities for kids. In the center is a sand pit where toddlers & kids  playing in the sand. .It’s very accessible by bike,by walking or by bus. There is an ample underground parking and comfort rooms.Inside the park are Biergartens, cafes, and museums.

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Wasserspieltplatz & Fountain in Klenze park

Luitpoldpark

Luitpoldpark is ideal for all ages and the entire family as  well. There is a forest where you can take your kids to have a short trek, stroll and have quiet walks with all the towering trees above you. This is a secluded place to jog, run and or just taking your dog for a walk. In the center was a playground with slide, rockers, and sand pit where your child can play while parents can have a picnic. I have seen many families having their birthday parties here and meet-ups.Adjacent was a football field where bigger kids can enjoy a football game as well. There is a small hill that is great for toddlers to climb up and run.

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Sun rays peeking in the trees

 

Further down Luitpoldpark is the Biotoperlebnisfad and the Nazi victims memorial park. The paths are ideal for skate boarding, cycling plus  exploring through the woods can let you learn more about the trees and its history &  age. If you like Forestry & Foliage, then this is a great place for you.

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Learning about the Trees in Luitpoldpark

 

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Playtime in a windy day!

Fort Haslang Parks and Playground

We discovered this playground by chance. While we are looking for a Pediatrician for my daughter, we decided to let her play a bit and we found this play ground nearby. It has a scenic field full of short shrubs and flowers, a cycling path with apple trees and forest flowers and in its center is a play ground with sand pit, slides, rockers & plenty of space for children to run around. A bit further is a place for bigger kids where they have ramps for bicycles, ziplines, and table tennis areas. This playground has benches for parents too. Surprisingly, almost all parks & playground in Germany always have an area for parents to sit, drink their coffee and a trash bin. You won’t even need to worry about where to throw the soiled diapers.

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Picking summer flowers in the field of Fort Haslang Parks & playground
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Fort Haslang playground

Wildpark am BaggerseeOberschüttweg

This beautiful wildlife escape is just 15 minutes away from our home. Ideally situated near the Dam and you will have  scenic views of the River Danube and lush forest, a lake, and a Lakehouse with lots of Biergarten & cafes. Discovering the beauty of Baggersee last Summer was one of the highlights of our first Summer here. This place is best for campers during summer, and ideal for cycling. It has 54km stretch for you to cycle til you drop. If you have a kid’s seat attached to your bike like most Germans does or an Anhänger ( Child chariot), then you can easily explore this place thru cycling while having panoramic views of the Auswaldsee.  The Wildpark & Baggersee play area are absolutely free. The wasserspielplatz for kids is one of my daughter’s favorite and I like that it has an active water pumps where parents can do some activity and exercise.

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Wildpark 
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Building sandcastles and playing with sand 

Biergarten Künettegrabenalong Jahnstraße

This Playground is adjacent to a Biergarten. Yes, in Germany, there are Biergartens which has a playground beside it. It has lovely views of the winding bridges, old fortifications, and the ponds filled with ducks.  Go here early in the morning and you can enjoy the peace & quiet. Perfect for nap times too.The playground itself is frequented by pre- schoolers  on their outdoor walks & play times because it is surrounded with trees, and has lots of creative games areas. There is a sand pit, water pipes, slides, swings, turntables, see-saws and table tennis & basket ball courts. They have swings made of old tires.While your kids play, parents can have a happy hour in the Biergarten as well or just feed the ducks!

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Up close with the wild deers in Wildpark

Zoo WassersternGerolfinger Str. / Aloisiweg 19

This small Zoo is a one of a kind attraction for kids. It is a non-profit zoo which houses different animals which look more like a private collection. The place is a combination of a Botanical Garden and a zoo. There are reptiles and birds on the ground floor, an Aquarium and sea animals in the basement and wild birds, monkeys, and birds like parrots, owl and other birds located in the garden. It is frequently visited by Kindergarten students, visitors, and people with disabilities. Ideal for a family getaway on weekends. There are tables & chairs for parents to rest and a changing room for babies.

 

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Climb steps in St.Anton Spielplatz

St. Anton play ground & Park-Münchnerstr.

This playground is very close to the Haupbanhof and just across the St.Anton Church . It is in front of a Pet Zoo shop and has a shady park & play area for the little ones. We love to walk going here. It has a huge field where people do yoga, train their dogs, or just have a lazy weekend picnic. It has a pebble & sand pit, rockers, slides, and a wooden climb & maze paths. It is one of our favorite playground because it is shady and quiet. It is surrounded with ample trees as well.

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Close to nature

I am so thankful that we live in a place where these playgrounds and parks are accessible. As a parent,there’s a lot more to write about playgrounds here in Bavaria, they are really something to be proud of. We keep on discovering new ones each day. Play areas doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. In Germany, the approach for more green, natural, simple & safe play outweighs farther the confines of an indoor play areas.

How ‘s it been Expat Mamas? How was your move so far?

 

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Come and Go | Quest

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Home is not a place…It’s a feeling.

” You get a strange feeling when you leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love, but you miss the person you are at this time and place because you’ll never be this way  ever again…” { Azar Nafazi }

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An Expat’s quest for  a place to call “Home”- You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere.That is the price you pay for the richness of living and loving people in more than one place.

I recently visited my home country last May   with my daughter, her first trip to the Philippines, and for me, Oh well, I thought of  it as another home visit, but a  rather special homecoming because it’s the first time my daughter would meet her Grandmother and the rest of the family. It is also my first time to travel alone with an infant for 15 long  hours . Yes, alone.

As I sit in the plane, looking out in the window, thoughts in my head are clouding again–Hmmm, here I go again,  I’m a visiting Expat –living a double life.

Why do I say this?

The feeling of coming home with an infant in my arms and going through the airport is suddenly unreal to me. Almost the same as the time I went home for quick vacations from work  when I was living in Kuwait for the last 8 years. I was shocked and confused to return and realize how out of touch I was with people who I knew, places and life in the place I had lived for many long years. For the first few days my hands fumbled on my phone because I forgot how to make a call, or even reload my phone, not knowing the codes anymore. I become  unfamiliar with the common places such as banks, streets, and even my favorite shops. My memory is still full of how I lived my days in Kuwait. On the other hand, everything was so familiar and yet, feels so unfamiliar. Sinking back into my old life was almost too easy, and within days my new life in Germany seemed slightly surreal.

I saw some of my closest friends but the feelings is not the same as before. I couldn’t patch the gap that time had created. I could only settle on the present time.Walking through familiar streets and places becomes a new discovery. Some places haven’t changed much in a decade, and yet, the feelings I had is somewhat strange.

 

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No reason to stay is a good reason to go. 

Being able to slip from one life to another is a strange experience that many expats will relate to. By becoming an expat , I started a new life, but fragments of the old ‘me’ still linger in my native country, tempting me when I return.

I heard many times from fellow OFW ( overseas contract worker) , “I’m going home for good”. For good means that their life as expat wasn’t for keeps. The need to return to one’s old home is a never-ending yearning. That is why every home-coming is exciting, anticipated, and full of eagerness. But the secret that Expat doesn’t reveal is the shock of coming home.

Being an expat can be like being two people at once, split between two places. Half my identity belongs to Philippines, and by visiting, I revived that person, the person I was before I left. Even my feet set on another ground, a fraction of an inch of me belongs to Kuwait. It has been part of me and I couldn’t take that away. Walking now in the streets of Germany, I still feel very much alienated.

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It’s a funny thing coming home.Nothing changes.Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what changed is YOU… { f.scott fitzgerald}

After visiting my home country, I realize that it isn’t “home” anymore. Looking back at Kuwait, I can’t see myself calling that place my “home”either. In a way, of course,  Ph  will always be home, but that sense of relief at being at the end of my journey only came to me when I was back together in Germany, in our new “home”, with my  daughter & my husband.

Makes me think: what makes home into home?

Because some little things I am missing in Philippines and Kuwait  are present in my old life, waiting for me to return, but when I was in there, I felt incomplete, because part of me now belongs to Germany and my new life here.

I guess the Quest continues…

Have you had any experience of going back home after long years from abroad?

This is post is in response to this week Photo Challenge : Quest

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Surprising things that German parents do

 

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This is a typical sight in Germany. Mama on the bike and baby on board in bike seat. Photo credit to : Young Germany / Michael Reichel

The first time I saw in Amsterdam a mother cycling with her 2 kids inside a rather impressive ‘ BakfietsBakfiets‘ and’ Kinderzitje’ ( Kid’s seat attached on the rear end of a bike)  I almost shrieked and laughed! How could this be,  in Philippines, Bakfiets or the modern SUV in Holland could resemble much like the Kariton  dragged by an animal ( mostly carabao)  with the harvest from the farm, mostly sacks of rice. In the fields, kids play  while riding it, but purely for fun. In Holland, it’s functional. Bakfiets are attached to a bike and in it, is your child, along with bag of  groceries, plants, toys, you name it, it’s all in there! Such a surprising part of Dutch culture that Dutch are known for.

Here in Germany, I saw something else. As I roamed the streets getting to know our neighborhood, I saw and witnessed more and more surprising things about Parenthood that only German parents do with their kids.  To tell you frankly, before coming to Europe, I thought  Germans are strict, cold, and severe people, let alone being parents, but I was completely mistaken. Here are the reasons why ignorance doesn’t pay and why I love just how  German Parents doing it, the German way.

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Why ‘ free play’ is important in German kids.

Play comes first (until 6 years old!)

I saw from my friend’s feed that their toddlers & pre- schoolers are already being taught how to scribble, write, draw, count and do the academic side of learning. Do you know what German  Kindergarten kids do ?

They play, play & play.

As I was applying for a space for my daughter in a Krippe  & Kindergartens , we were invited to visit and have a look at their school and this is where I got the whole picture of playing as the best form of learning for toddlers until 6 yrs. of age here. Kindergartens  in Germany are based on the concept that  learning is a game of mind (or  lernen ist ein spiel der sinne).

While Kindergarten normally starts at the age of 3, most parents who are urged to go back to work immediately can already put their child ( from 6 mos) in a Krippe or Kita. I saw that the kindergarten is full of different play-areas, fun games and interactive media for kids to just play while learning. Learning to  read, write and count is not being pushed. I was shocked at same time  totally impressed to see a tiny 2-year-old toddler struggle to put on her socks and jacket in the corridor, all by herself. All kindergartens have a spacious outdoor playground with sand pits, climbing areas, ball pits, slides and natural maze that kids can enjoy free-play,while having fun! When they get tired, they have a nap room.

Most kindergarten kids are taken out for a walk touring around the city or just a walk in the woods for an outdoor learning. They also visit nearby playgrounds to play, outside their classrooms. They really give a whole new meaning for playing while learning.

As they say, You are only 3 once in your life, so I find this whole thing of “unstructured playing” very beneficial. Seriously, being a kid is more fun in Germany!

Take their kids Outside-Everyday!

Germans just love the outdoors so they take the kids outside everyday. According to a German saying “there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” which sounds logical to me. The value of outside time is promoted in the schools, hence the “garten” in Kindergarten. It’s also obvious in Germany’s numerous playgrounds. In our neighborhood alone, you can go to 3 different playgrounds within 2 hours!  No matter how cold and grey it gets, parents still bundle their kids up and take them to the park, or send them out on their own. I see babies napping in the forest, parks and in the busy streets. Kids are taught subconsciously the value of nature to overall well-being. Walking and strolling everyday is part of every family’s routine.

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Enjoying outdoors

Freedom and Independency is encouraged as early as age of 2

Along the streets you see mothers walking with their kids on their walking bike at a very young age. Almost still toddling and yet learning how to balance and to pedal the bike. It’s not unusual to see toddlers already cycling at the age of 2.5 y/o and preschoolers cycling going to school. When they eventually learned to cycle, they took them cycling almost everywhere. German parents instill in the minds of their kids to be independent by equipping them with skills to explore by themselves,alone & unsupervised. As research have proved that walking around without parental supervision, or “independent mobility”  is good for kids. Nobody follows a kid in the playground. If you see a mother following wherever her kids go, then she’s a foreigner! I tell you, this is what surprised me the most, I am the only mother who runs after my daughter while all the other mothers are just sitting in the bench.

In the parks & playground, mothers are often drinking tea, coffee and chatting with their friends while they let their kids climb and play. They are so lax in parenting because the safety measures and security is highly efficient. They already removed all the risks even before a child touches what’s in the play areas. Playgrounds are very safe for kids, mostly made with wood, with sand and plastics are mostly omnipresent.

Giving them Bikes instead of iPad or Playstation

German parents give less regard on tech gadgets to entertain kids such as iPad or Playstation or XBox , psp etc. I seldom see kids playing with iPad or computer games. This is because of great emphasis on playing outdoors. Almost everyone owns a  Bike carrier, kid’s seat and a big part of toddler life is owning a kid’s bike. Why? because it promotes being active, functional & again, independency.

If the Dutch  have Bakfiets, then Germans have  their carriers. Of course, take it on German efficiency. I  observed that  kids are brought into an early exposure to be part of the society. The kids are tucked into their carrier, in a kid’s seat at the back of the bike or in a stroller and off they go in everyday life. There is no excuse for German parents for not bringing their kids along. I love the fact that having a kid in Germany shows that a child is not an excess baggage that you bring along with your chores or errands. Add up the efficient transport system then parents doesn’t need to worry about bringing along a baby in a stroller. Even if public transportation isn’t your thing, Germany is a very bike-friendly country.  Even if with kids.  Especially with kids.

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My daughter enjoys the limitless fun in one of the Wasserspielplatz in Germany.

Bringing their kids to Biergarten

German parents knows how to enjoy  before and after the baby comes. We all know that they love (adore)  beer and Oktoberfest. I was shocked to see locals bring along their kids while they socialize, drink beer and relax.In our place alone, you can find Biergartens almost in every corner. Nowadays they are transformed  into a great family destination. Who doesn’t want to do things as a family on a Friday night?

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German kids are exposed to responsible drinking at an early stage since Beer is a big part of their culture. Parents don’t get wasted just because they go to a Biergarten. (Photo credit to ExtraPrimaGood)

Biergartens have become a go-to destination for family outings, play dates and toddler birthdays. On weekend afternoons, many transform into Gymboree-like spaces with multiple brews on tap. If beer is not your thing, then don’t worry, there are juices, lemonades and hearty bites for you. The great thing is, having a kid doesn’t hinder your social life.

What do you think of German parenting?

Do you think you can raise your own child the German way?

 

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8 Arabic Words to learn if you are an Expat moving to Middle East

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Marhaba! Welcome to the Arabic speaking world. 

Aside from the food, language is the second thing that you ‘taste‘when you become an Expat. Trust me,learning a few local phrases  will save you from debilitating language bubble trap.Those everyday language dilemma,they will come.

I still remember my culture shock hearing Arabic for the first time. It’s neither ugly nor pleasant to hear, it’s just ‘unknown’ to my ears. I can’t understand a single word. It  sound so strange and I felt like my brain is tortured trying to dissect each word. At home I heard the prayer calls from the mosques and I jumped out of bed, and asked, “Is that  a global warning to evacuate the whole building or some kind of cult gathering,reciting their chants.”? I couldn’t sleep on the first weeks. My system needs to get used to it.

Looking back after 8 long years, I smiled at my poor mind. I realized that it really takes perseverance and “desire”to learn a new language. The other day, I was talking to a friend in English and suddenly I replied in Arabic, and here in Germany, I still found myself  uttering  basic Arabic words /phrases unintentionally like La ( No) , Aiwa (Yes), mafi ( nothing) and the phrase that becomes my favorite expression, Shuno Hada!?

If you’re an Expat in the Middle East, (or planning to be) these are the Top 8 Arabic words that you should know and learn. Knowing the basic lingo is always helpful. Arabic language has core phrases that are essential wherever you are in the whole region and speaking them as the way that natives do will definitely  bring a smile on their faces. Take it from me, learning the street language is the best way to integrate, its much easier &  easy to memorize especially if you don’t have time to study it formally. Remember, Arabic is a language where much words have no direct English translation, so go for it.

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Learning new language- Love it or Hate it?

Khalas – literally means finish, end, and provocably, It’s over. This is probably the most underrated Arabic word that I have learned in Kuwait. It could mean a lot of things depending on when & how you used it. You can say ‘Khalas’ after a phone call, when buying something and you agree with the price, or simply nodding to end a long discussion. Sometimes it’s used to denotes Shut up! or That’s a wrap! Having a hard time to tell the taxi driver to stop, just say “Khalas” and you’re done.

Yalla  -means  Hurry up, Let’s go, come on,or can denote as well as ‘Okay’, when used indirectly. Yalla is my favourite word so far. In Hebrew, a combination of the Arabic word yalla means “let’s go, hurry up” and of the English word bye means “see you later”. This combination is used as a farewell expression (usually when you are in a hurry). Sounds like “OK must go, catch you later”

Shokran –  means Thank you.
A very straightforward ‘shokran’will be your next favorite word and will bring you a long way. People normally reply with ‘Afwan‘( or You’re welcome).

Assalamu alaikum –  Salam, or Assalamu alaikum literally means Peace be upon you. It is used when you  greet people and also before you part with them. It’s like the simple ‘Hi, Hello,and  Goodbye’ in English. Natives always reacts positively when Expats/tourists utter this word. Its one way to show people politeness & being courteous. Over the phone, I’d       love to say ‘Salam’after I’ve said Hello. It always brings fresh vibes in a conversation,          also before ending a call. People normally replies, Salam, or Wa Alaykum Salaam, Waleiykum assalam warahmatullahi wa barakatuh ( And peace and mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you).

 Masha’Allah  -Masha’Allah is a word that you use to show that you are happy about a good thing that happened to someone else.  For example, if your co-worker just had a baby and told you about it, you would say “Masha’Allah”.  Other examples of times when you would use this word are when a friend buy’s a new house or if someone shows you a picture of their child.  Basically, if someone talks about something good in their life, say Masha’Allah.

Insha’Allah – Insha’Allah is definitely one of the precarious words I have learned while being in Middle East. It confuses me at first, but later I understand when & why they kept on saying it. Although at work,I found it vague when I follow-up on things and they just replied ‘Insha ‘Allah’.Insha’allah ( pronounced as in-sha-la) literally means “God willing”. This is a phrase that is said a lot by locals on daily conversations.When you use this word, you want to make sure you use it before it happens.For example, you would say “Insha ‘Allah, I will see you tomorrow” (or  God willing, I will see you tomorrow).

Hamdullilah – Hamdullah is the opposite of Insha’allah. You say Insha’allah before something happens and Hamdullah after it happens. Hamdullilah means “Thank God”and you use it to give thanks for something good that happened. People normally utter this word after a meal, or when going after a hard time and its over. Don’t be surprised when you asked someone how are they doing and they just replied “Hamdullah!”. If you are so bored and doesn’t want to elaborate your answer when someone asked how are you doing, simply answer, ‘Hamdullah!’

Shuno Hada – or Shu hada means “What is this? ” For me, its more of a sarcastic way of saying “What in the world..??! ” or at things if it appears to be insane or unbelievable. I love this phrase because I saw many crazy things back then in Kuwait and I just laugh while saying “Shuno hada!?” Talking about Only in Kuwait, right?

 

Do you have any favorite foreign words? Feel free to share it in the comments!

If you would want to learn a new language, which one it is?

 

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Only in Kuwait!

 

 

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Only in Kuwait | by Justbluedutch

Why Kuwait is such a controversial country? It’s a tiny oil-rich magnet in the Gulf and yet  holds a profound mystery for some who haven’t been there, and a nonchalant charm for Expats who have toiled there every single day.The other day I was reading the recent study by Internations citing that Kuwait (along with Nigeria & Greece )  is still on the bottom sink for “Worst Country for Expats “. I dunno how to feel about this but somehow, I knew, stats are based on facts too. I , for example, how is it to live there day after day.

Being an Expat allows you to see things in both ways. More of a culture shock for some but normally it is how you  see things, accepting it  and adapting to a new culture. Integration happens when you began to pick it up and live with it , and not for the sake of  comparison to your own roots. I have seen strange things in Kuwait. Some that is so odd that makes me crazy.Who doesn’t? For locals, it all seems normal for them.Nothing to argue about. As simple as : If you don’t like it here –pack your bags & Leave!

I think anybody comes to the Netherlands , or in Germany, even in Philippines would also have something to say about the “not so ordinary “in their eyes as an Expat. Looking back at the 8 years I spent in Kuwait, for some things I don’t really get why and How on earth they are doing it. I have written the Guide to Expating in Kuwait and for those who are new to this country’s arid climate “How to beat the heat in Kuwait “ you might as well chuckle with me as you know exactly how is it .

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Shuno Hada! No Parking , both in Arabic & English signages. What are these cars doing in here?

1.Only in Kuwait that the Handicapped parking spaces are seized by ordinary people.Even the ones with a clear signage.Only in Kuwait that you could be beaten by a mob because of a dispute in a parking lot. Why do I get the feeling that pedestrians never felt safe along roads in Kuwait. Sure thing, SUV rules!

2. I love coffee, absolutely but I don’t get it why they drink tea almost every hour and drink coffee or Arabic coffee {gahwah}  in small cups 3 rounds in one sitting. Why not just get a mug? Did you know that only in Kuwait that a tea boy is called “Office Boy”?

Did you know that in the Avenues alone, ( the largest super mall there) there are 6 Starbucks , in all over Kuwait there are 76 branches! I am sure this list will be updated soon. I tell you, people there always need  a caffeine fix. What about Costa Coffee, Coffee Bean & Leaf, Caribou, Second Cup,Tim Hortons etc., the lists go on.

Coffee and Tea in Kuwait will never get boring. So as the sweets, cakes & pastry shops!

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I swear this is a typical scenario in the streets of Kuwait!

3.I don’t understand why  maniacal drivers  put up their feet on the dashboard and let babies do the steering. Is it the new toy?  In 120-140 km/h.In the Gulf road, and some things that this speed is still so lame!

Yes, without seat belt.

Wearing seat belt seems like more of an offensive rather than defensive. Taxi drivers have 2-3 phones being used simultaneously WHILE Driving! It’s a bonus if you found one having Skype calls to any point in the world. You have the whole story all throughout your ride.

4.Seriously it’s only in Kuwait where I saw camels, sheep, lamb & goats being transported and paraded in the highway. Especially in the busy roads of Al- Ghazali  road going to Shuwaikh, in front of a shopping mall Centerpoint.  I know the Friday market is out there but still, it is an odd sight for me. It’s a thing when you see these poor animals paraded to slaughterhouse. Right there, in front of your car. You can even smell the camels from your window.Way to the desert area, you see camels strutting their stuff in the roads going to Wafra /Kabd /Khiran/Abdali area and yet you don’t see any road sign for you to watch out for animals.

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Sabah al kheir Kuwait! Camel herd in Wafra farms.

5.People don’t mind incorrect spelling of signage of shops, menus of the restaurant and even directions. You’re so smart if you figure it out yourself. Well as for food, you need to eat like a local for you to know where is the best Shawerma or best done kebab & grilled stuff. With burgers, people seems to know where it is no matter what the hour is.

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Only in Kuwait. laundry shop in Abraq Khaitan.

6.The make up Oh God. Talk about make-up and Loads of it. I have never seen that much heavily make-up women here in Europe, but only in Kuwait that women wears make up even going to a Bakala in 50 degrees .

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One Authority of the Soft small / big please?

7.Only in Kuwait that the sky changes from bluish to grey to orange to brown to almost pitch black due to sandstorms. But sometimes, this mighty M is always visible.

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Watching the sandstorm looms over McDonald’s.

 

How are things over there? Do you also  find ‘Strange’ things such as these?

How do you deal with it? I would love to hear your comments .

Be it from food, behavior of people, how locals interact with you, customs and traditional way of life, at work, even just the country itself.You really see diversity at large. Kuwait is one small country but booming with Expats you it’s no wonder that you can find an Asian store right next to the block next to an Indian restaurant and opposite to a Turkish pastry shop and just a few meters away to an American boutique. A Kaleidoscope indeed.

For the new Expats in Kuwait, welcome and enjoy your stay.

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