Must need household things for those who are new to Germany

When I came to Germany to start my life here, as an Indian few things were new for me and there were no proper guide, when it comes to household things. I couldn’t find any sites, forums or blogs related to it. As most of them live in rented apartments and it’s always necessary to keep the house clean and tidy to the core, because we can expect landlord visits and there are more chances for us being kicked out of the apartment, if your apartment is untidy.  I am not going to discuss about any cleaning products here. I am just gonna say about few affordable household things which will make your life easy in keeping your house clean. And I would say these things are pretty much considered as must haves in every German household.

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1. Stove Scraper (Herdschaber):

We Indians cook a lot and obviously it will lead to mess. The Glass stove tops become sticky with oil what we use. For me it was the best life saver and every time when I use, it makes my stove top brand new again. Use a damp cloth or paper towel to remove any excess crumbs or other mess. Next, add a liberal amount of the liquid cleaner and scrap it out.

2. Microfiber cloth (Mikrofasertuch):

It’s one of the best household thing for the whole house. It’s available in all stores. It can be used for cleaning stove tops, kitchen cupboards, sink, doors, television etc.. It can be used without cleaning products for a wide variety of cleaning tasks and it’s reusable. I will link my favorite and affordable brand.

3. Garbage bag stand (Müllsackständer):

This is very useful for places in Germany where waste separation is done. I use it especially for plastic waste (Plastikmüll). It’s cheap and works great for me.

4. Rubber Toilet and kitchen sink Plunger (Saugglocke pömpel):

 

This is a must have household thing when you enter Germany as we cannot afford for plumber here. This plunger is good for sinks both in bathrooms and kitchens but can also be used in bathtubs.

5. Stainless steel sink strainer (Küche Spüle Sieb Stecker):

 

This strainer is very for every Indian household as we tend to more solid debris. This strainer is highly recommended to filter out the solid debris in the water system. There are plastic and rubber strainers are also available.

6. House shoes (Hausschuhe):

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House shoes are more common German thing here and it’s really a must have in winter. It not only keep your feet warm but also protects your carpet from getting dirty.

7. Duster (Staubmagnet):

This is my favorite and handy cleaning thing. The duster is pushed onto the handle and holds it quite well. My daughter loves to clean with it. I especially like to use it to clean my keyboard and the electrical appliances as it can easily reach even the small gaps and dust well.

I just randomly covered few basic household things which is very useful when you move in to Germany. Will upload more in future. I hope it will help someone who is planning to move or newcomer to Germany.

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5 Best books that helps my kid to learn German in daily basis

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Raising a bilingual or multilingual kid needs a lot of commitment for every parent. If you decided to raise a child bilingual or multilingual (with the new language like German) there’s no harm in immersing them in the world of German from day one. When I had my daughter I decided to raise her multilingual from day one and the best way to expose her to languages is by books. I slowly started searching for books in German which should be simple and understandable with lots of pictures which should not only attracts my kid but also me. As I too learn with her.

The research shows that babies can distinguish between languages from the age of just seven months, use qualities like pitch and duration of sounds to keep two languages separate. German language can be exposed in different forms like nursery rhymes, books, lullabies, cartoons and television shows. I am not a native speaker and cannot speak very good Deutsch so, I decided to expose my kid to these forms and still working on it.

Take a look at some of my and my kid’s favorite books that I read and still reading to my daughter:

1. Wie heißt denn das?

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This is the first ever book I bought for my daughter. She started her German language with this book. It’s a small book and ideal from the age of 6 months. It’s a board book and I would say it’s worth a buy. I think it will last forever. Still mine look brand new.

2. Mien erstes Bild Wörterbuch

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This is one of my favorite books and it has about 500 words with pictures. The best part of the book is the quality of the book for a such a low price (4.99€ ) and the colorful pictures in it. It is ideal for 2-year-old kids. The attractive part of the book is that it has a small story in the beginning (like the pic below) and then lead to words so it’s very interesting for kids to read the words which connects to the story.

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3. Mein großes Bilder-Lexikon

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This book is ideal for 2 to 4 years old kids. On each double page a theme is presented, with many details and it is very helpful for us moms and dads who doesn’t speak German. Everything is labeled,  so while reading one will never gets into the embarrassment of not knowing what e.g., is an ein Bagger or ein Radlader. I therefore recommend this book to all who have small children. It is a great gift for boys and girls. It costs around 8.97€.

4. Soundbuch In der Wildnis: 10 Tierstimmen

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We bought this for our daughter on her 2nd birthday. This sound book is very high quality book,  that is, it consists of thick cardboard and the sound bar on the side really good and will lasts forever. Batteries are included and so it can go straight after unpacking. This book is little bit on the pricey side (14.99€) but it’s worth a buy I could say.

5. Ein Tag bei uns 

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This book is about little Theo’s daily routine from getting up, playing in kindergarten and going to bed. This book is really good for linguistic development and can be used from early months. The quality of the book is very good and the pictures are very colorful. It’s not expensive too (3.90€).

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It has great picture quality

I hope this blog is helpful for parents like me who try to grow their kids bilingual or multilingual. Stay tuned for my upcoming blog on best German story books for kids and bilingual books (English and German) for kids.

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Misconceptions which shocked me about India

It’s been a while since I wrote something in my blog. Recently I finished my B2 level in German language. My 10 months course not only taught language but also got the opportunity to mingle with people from different countries. After getting closer to people from other land, something which surprised me is the misconception what they have about my homeland India. Some made my eyebrows raise and few made me laugh. I realized, India, being a multiculturalmultiethnic and multireligious society, there is no big wonder that people have so much misconceptions. Here, I like to write about some questions which I came across being an Indian in Germany.

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Do you speak “Indian”?

No, of course we don’t speak “Indian,” because Indian is not a language. People have no idea, how many languages and dialects exist in our country and are spoken by everyone. There are about 122 native languages exists in India. So, whenever I come across the question “Sprichst du Indisch?” (do you speak Indian?), my answer will not be yes or no, rather a big lecture of Indian languages.

As shown in Bollywood films, do you guys dance in streets?

I remembered, when my good friend asked this to me “Tanzen Sie alle, wie in Bollywood-Filmen gezeigt, auf der Straße?”, I couldn’t control my laughter. Yes we love to see movies but none of us go around dancing in streets and singing in the rain. We live so normally, much like the other people in the world.

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Have you seen snakes in streets?

It was a weird question which I came across from one of my Greek friend. She literally thought India is underdeveloped and we see wild animals in daily basis. I asked “where you have seen snakes” She replied “In Zoo or Snack parks”, I said “Dear even I have seen it only in zoo and snake parks like you”.  Snakes are not commonly found in streets or in public places except in zoos.

Why Indian food is so spicy?

Not in every part of the country we serve spicy food. If you go to northern part, for example, we have Dal varieties (curried yellow lentils), can be mild. In down south we have delicacies like idli, vada, and the most loving dish curd-rice. We have foods that suit for all kind of taste buds.

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Dal (yellow lentil curry)

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Curd rice

You speak different language other than your national language?

As I said earlier there are about 122 native languages and 23 official languages in India. 60% of Indians have mother tongues other than Hindi. So, its normal for an Indian to speak in his state’s language and not in national language.

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Why can’t you eat beef but eat chicken?

There are people in India who eat beef, It’s something what Hindu religion says and its our choice to eat or avoid. So, people who follow and believe in Hindu religion doesn’t consume the cow. There are many religion other than Hindu, hence many consume beef in India.

Can you teach Yoga?

I always have a weird smile at this question and say no. Because I always felt ashamed that more than Indians, the western world is taking Yoga more seriously (as far as i know). It’s a fact that lot of us don’t do Yoga.

Do all Indian people sleep in streets?

One of my German friend visited India and she saw a large amount of people sleeping in streets and parks and thought its a normal practice for Indians to sleep in streets. But, no not every Indian sleeps in streets. They are bunch of homeless people like the same in other western countries. The only difference is the number of people, which is obviously higher, considering the Indian population.

Does India have a hot weather all 365 days?

Nope! Even our countries weather changes from region to region.  India does get very hot summers, equally cold winters and a moderate tropical weather. Looking at the size of the country it is not possible to have only one kind of weather throughout the year. We have six ecological seasons.

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My first winter experience in Germany as a migrant from a warm country like India – tips which I gained over the years

I was born and brought up in southern part of India. It’s the place where the weather is always warm. Back then I felt cold in winter which was around 20 -25 degree Celsius but after experiencing winter in Germany I changed my mind from cold to warm 😋. In my home town even in winter we can survive without wearing any winter clothes. I always thought cold weather will be good as I experienced extreme hot weathers. Back then I imagined snow as a beautiful glaze of sleet, crystal, snow flake etc. Now after 5 years of living in Germany and after 5 winters, the thought has slightly changed in my mind. Even though I love snow and I always eagerly wait for the first snow and excitement I get to see the snowfall never went down, but getting into the snow or freezing weather on a daily basis has definitely proven wrong about my imagination which I had back then. It’s always beautiful if you are inside the home with heaters on and sipping a hot tea and watching snow or cold breeze through the window. On the other hand getting up at morning 6, where it’s pitch dark outside, me doing house chores and dressing with multiple layers of clothes which added extra kgs to the weight and dressing my kid in same way and taking her to kindergarten daily is not a joke.

I remember going out without covering my head in minus degrees, made my ears numb. I didn’t realise the importance of boots until I slipped in snow with sport shoes on. Went out without mittens in very cold weather which made my finger tips pain like someone prick with the needle. I am the person who never used chapstick back in India but here, after experiencing a bad lip crack followed by bleeding made me realise its importance in winter , which now is like an organ for me which always stays with me. In addition to all I got a best gift called sinusitis which says hi in all winters and it’s terrible. Over the years I learnt to suffer less from sinusitis. One by one I learnt how to survive winter, the skills got strong when I had my baby girl. Through all trial and errors now after 5 years I somewhat manage to adapt my body in this cold weather which made me to write this blog and help my fellow immigrants who lived their entire life in a warm country like mine and experiencing new winter weather. Here are few tips from my experience to you guys.

Stay active. I know when winter blows in, you want to pull the blankets over your head and go back to sleep but there is no reason you need to take a break from physical activity when temperature drops. Actually there are advantages in staying extra active in winter.

  • As it’s not humid like summer which make you sweat more and exhaust soon so walking or running extra mile is added advantage.
  • Exercising more results in burning extra calories.
  • Great way to take some vitamin D.
  • Getting fresh air and exercising with intake of vitamin D boosts immunity from cold and flu.

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Dress in layers. Dressing in layers is the key to keep you safe from cold weather hazards. They help trap the heat and form a kind of insulation. Avoid layering in cotton because when you sweat, the inside moisture is trapped and will make you feel colder. Invest on moisture wicking fabrics and a good waterproof jacket to help to keep you warm in rain and snow.

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Stay hydrated. Winter never indicates us to drink water even though our body needs it. I always forget to drink water during the beginning years of winter season as I don’t get thirst and ended up in headaches. Keep hydrated as much as possible to maintain fluid balance. Symptoms of dehydration in winter are chapped lips, dry cough, nosebleed, headaches and acne.

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Avoid sickness during winter with household things and nutritional foods. I always struggle with sinusitis every winter. Over the years I learned some home remedies to prevent it and helped to ease if I got a sinus infection. The wise method is to invest on a good humidifier. It’s a life safer for me and my daughter during cold and flu. Second thing I noticed is to eat food which gives immunity during winter season like vitamin C rich foods, herbs and spices, yogurt, lots of vegetables like mushroom, dark leafy greens, broccoli and non veg like salmon, chicken soup etc. One thing which also helped is steam. Regular steam inhalation reduce the inflammation.

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Give some care to your drying eyes and skin. Best thing to take care of your eyes and skin is eating omega-3-fatty acid rich foods like fish, eggs, milk, yogurt, soy milk etc. Invest on good moisturizer during winter for your skin. Don’t forget the sunscreen, it’s important even for winter. As I said earlier proper hydration keeps skin retain moisture. Blink you eyes often to avoid dryness due to harsh winter weather.

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Fresh air. Let the fresh air circulate your home once in a while which is healthy for you as it takes away the trapped moisture inside the house which lead to mold formation. The fresh air circulation is always more comfortable and feel good. If you have a baby or kid who has not started kindergarten then just take them out everyday to get fresh oxygen.

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Invest on good boots. I remember falling down with my sports shoes walking on the snow melting ice. Walking on a melting snow is too dangerous that too with a flat base shoes hence, invest on a snow boots or even sport shoes which helps your feet keep their grip on the ground.

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I hope these tips are helpful for people like me who has been migrated to a different country with winters totally different from the homeland being super cold and snowy.

Stay warm and stay healthy

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My first interview published on expat focus

Thank you expatfocus for interviewing me. Really had a good feeling as it will help people like me. Happy to be a part of expatfocus as they do a great job for guiding people when they move to different place.

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895B53CC-94C5-405D-9CA6-9B000AB2BDA2Here is the expat focus link – https://expatfocus.com/c/aid=4700/expat-experiences/germany/rama/

 

Pregnancy and giving birth in Germany as a non native resident

After spending my first Christmas in Germany, we planned a trip to Cologne, Germany to celebrate our New year 2014. Cologne was a beautiful city with a wonderful architecture. It was a New year’s Eve, my husband and I were standing on the bank of Rhine River in a minus degree weather, when the clock struck 12, the blaze of fireworks lighted up the night sky, it was such a delightful treat for our eyes.

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We had such a nice trip without knowing it’s going to be the last trip for us as a couple, yes we were pregnant and we found out on 6th of January, 2014. It was a mix of emotions for me as I am new to Germany and far-away from my home town. Lucky for me as my pregnancy and delivery in Germany was overwhelmingly positive. In this blog, I just want to spread the knowledge of what I know from my experience of being pregnant and giving birth in Germany.

An appointment with OB/GYN (Frauenarzt). As soon as you found out your pregnancy with the pregnancy kit (Schwangerschaftstest) which can be bought at any drugstore, make an appointment with the gynecologist (Frauenarzt). In Germany, there is a definite distinction between the gynecologist, practice on their own clinic and the gynecologist who actually delivers baby in the hospital. The gynecologist who practice in their own clinic will perform all routine medical exams and oversees the pregnancy until labor and then the hospital of choice takes over the delivery. We cannot expect the same gynecologist who performed all the tests and checkups to be a gynecologist for your delivery. Most of the Frauenarzt speak English which actually helped me a lot.

Mutterpass is a must. On the first day of the checkup, the doctor will issue a booklet called Mutterpass (mother’s pass). It is an essential thing to be carried along by every pregnant women in Germany throughout the pregnancy. The book consists of all pertinent information such as the results of all tests and examinations made during the pregnancy. It is a most important document to be carried as the doctor who performs all test will most likely, not be the one who delivers the baby, hence the person who delivers your baby needs this book for all the information. Mutterpass is also necessary after your delivery, when you plan to have a second child it provides all information about the previous delivery.

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Regular checkups. After the pregnancy confirmation there will be checkup every four weeks until week 32. After this point there will be regular two-week checkups. Basic examinations are done on every checkup like urinalysis, blood pressure check, weigh-in, blood tests, ultrasound and a talk with the gynecologist. Glucose tolerance test is done around the week of 24 to 28. At the third trimester, CTG (Electronic fetal monitor, EFM) scans will be added which takes about an hour, this EFM monitors will measure heart rate and Braxton-Hicks contractions.

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Baby’s heart rate is monitored by Electronic Fetal Monitor (EFM) in a general checkup

Bunch of ultrasound pics. This is an exciting part for me, because in Germany along with your regular examinations, there will be an ultrasound scan almost on every doctor visit. These are safe, non-invasive scans which produce image of growing fetus inside the uterus. My doctor always ended up giving many ultrasound pics in every visit, I could even make a book out of it (Ha.. Ha..).

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Touring the hospital before delivery. It is necessary to select a hospital for birth when you enter your third trimester (some people will do even before that). Couples can visit the hospital as part of a scheduled tour of the maternity unit (Kreißsaal). Here couples are allowed to visit delivery suite, nursery, midwives etc. After touring many hospitals you can choose one and register the hospital of your choice as soon as possible because you may miss a private room (if you wish to have one) and end up in shared room. While registering you will get the chance to meet your midwife and discuss the birth plan of your choice and finish the paper works before delivery. While registering its important to see whether the hospital has full pediatric care facilities, as some hospitals will have only limited pediatric care facilities, in this case, if the baby needs extra care, then the baby will be transferred to the nearest Kinderklinik and you will remain in the same hospital, therefore you will be separated from the baby.

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Kreißsaal

Hebamme (Midwife). Midwife play a major role in Germany, they are trained and licensed professionals to perform all the medical examinations. In Germany, your birth will be midwife-led. Doctor’s play a background role, they come only in a medical emergency like C-section. Midwife offer you advice on pregnancy related questions and after-care. In Germany some will hire a midwife privately for pre-birth guidance and also to accompany them in the hospital during the birth. Others might hire them only for post-delivery help. If you do not choose a Hebamme in advance, the hospital will provide one. Good thing is that there are midwives able to speak languages other than German too.

Natural medicine. The German people are so supportive of natural medicine. Homeopathic medicine are used very liberally by the hospital midwives. These medicine helps to prepare the uterus for childbirth, induce labor, dilate the cervix, start contractions, and make contractions more effective. Germans believe homeopathic medicines are completely safe for women to take during childbirth, and it will also never harm the unborn baby. They are always gentle, non-toxic and have no side effects.

C-section is the last key. In Germany, unless if there is a medical emergency, C-section delivery is not appreciated. C-sections are scheduled only when doctor knows that a vaginal birth is risky. Midwives will encourage the women to have a vaginal birth. Germany’s cesarean average is 30 percent. This is something amusing to see as an Indian because India’s C-section rate is very high when compared to Germany as some Indian women choose to have C-section and some end up in C-section due to obvious reasons.

A women, as long as she lives, will remember how she was made to feel at her birth, as the quote says, the positive birth is a good beginning for you and your baby. I am extremely happy for having such experience in Germany. In this blog I have touched some of the important points, as it is a vast topic which cannot be written in one blog. I wanted to share my newly acquired knowledge which might help some women out there.

 

Fascinating things about German parenting in my view as an Indian

I delivered my baby girl 3 years ago in Germany.  The initial months of settling down and adjusting to motherhood was a big deal for me like every other new mom out there. I had a great confusion how am I going to raise my child in a different country? It’s totally different from my life back home in India. In my process of parenthood  I came through many fascinating things about German parenting. I would like share my view on those with you all.

Academics comes late. Children start their Kindergarten in 3 years and they stay there until they are 6 or 7.  German parents don’t push their kids in their academics they  think Kindergarten is a place meant to play and social learning. Teachers here don’t encourage academics until children go to primary school. No learning or writing ABC’s until primary school. I would worry sometimes whether it’s too late for my child to start her academics but still it’s so refreshing and new. I totally started embracing this unstructured play way kind as you are going to be 4, 5 or 6 only once.

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Practical moms. Leaving kids outside alone without any supervision is very common thing in many German families. German parents are concerned about safety, of course but they usually focus on where the kids play, not the abductions, as stranger abductions are very rare in Germany. I remember an incident when I was shocked to see a kid drinking water in glass cup and asked “what if the glass cup breaks?” and a German parent who was standing beside me said “not to worry , I have an excellent medicine for cut”. Parents will never fight for their kids instead they let them fight for themselves, for e.g., if one kid takes the other kid’s toys away, we consider they are not good at sharing but Germans say the kid has to stand up for him/her more, the kid needs to take her toy back or fight.

As green as possible. Es gibt kein schlechtes Wetter, es gibt nur falsche Kleidung! As the proverb says there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. I realized it when my daughter fell sick frequently during winter as I was keeping her indoors most of the time.  No matter how the weather is, parents still bundle their kids up and take them to park everyday.

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Kids on their own. German kids become independent way earlier than other country kids.  It’s a culture where responsibility is taught by allowing their kids to walk and play on their own, they trust their child is capable of doing things responsibly. German prize independence in children, which can feel a little strange to someone brought up in an Indian home like me.

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Bikes without pedals. When I first came here, I was clueless why the kids riding this kind of bike instead of pedaled ones as I never saw such bike back home. Later I understood it’s a good way to learn balancing in cycling . This push bike takes pedaling out of the picture so your child can concentrate on balancing. And when they are ready for a pedal bike, they will pick it up much faster as they are already comfortable balancing.

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Life balance. I admire this quality in Germans. Germans work a lot and they seem to be workaholic but on the other hand Germans value their time at home each day, and many women work part-time so they can spend more time with their kids. People just naturally manage to live well, with work and spending time both playing an important role for them.

As a person from a different country it is very fascinating to see the difference in the culture especially in parenting. It’s a great place with world-class culture and I am trying to incorporate the good qualities of German parenting along with my own culture. At-last it’s such a wonderful place to be a mother or a child.