I’ve been living here in around 1,5 years now and before I lived in Taiwan for one semester (well I was a toddler when I went to school in Canada so I think it won’t count) so I guess it’s quite legitimate for me to assume such survival indicators.
1. Learn the value of ‘friend-distinguishing’. I found it was a great mistake to blatantly decide to work with someone in class assignment just because we get along well. WRONG. Just because someone is a good friend, doesn’t mean they could be reliable enough to work with you. In my experience, turns out someone could be a great person to hang out with and totally worthless than an earthworm in work.
2. Having a native friend is somehow mandatory. Well, for me my boyfriend and papa neighbor (the guy next door whose always stuffing me with food) counts great. Especially if you live in a country where you can’t speak the language fluently or unfamiliar with how the system runs. For me this really helps, since German isn’t a language you can master fast – especially if you’re too used to English.
3. If you’re a student, make a good use of it. For instance, in Germany if you’re a student you can travel free by train, all you do is show your student card (thoska). Works like magic. So when I travel, I travel until the border of the province (where the card is valid) and use paid trips after I’m out of border. I never take bus or trams if I don’t need to, most of the time I would prefer to walk. This point includes using student discounts for anything available, as much as you can.
4. Cooking by yourself saves a lot of money. Cooking for 2-3 persons saves more money. My boyfriend and I made this arrangement and we spend approximately 5 euros per day for both of us for all meals. 7 euros when we’re feeling like getting a little spoiled. Generally our meals are healthy and the portion is big.
So for you women, when you rage about being questioned why you’re not able to cook and proud that you can’t – think again about it, especially if you want to study abroad or at least, live alone to pursue your career (well, of course unless you aim to marry a rich man and be a freeloader for the rest of your life).
5. It’s not a sin not to gather with a group of people from your country. Personally, I’m not a very social person. I only hang out with someone who makes sense to me: not annoying, doesn’t talk crap, not arrogant or think they’re the best, etc. Apparently sometimes its quite hard to find someone whose not like that. Sometimes, even when they’re not like this, they’re stuck with these kind of persons without ever noticing (well, either they’re slow or just simply too nice). I think you don’t need to hang out with a bunch of people just because they’re from the same country as you are. It’s also fair to say you don’t need to like me or be nice to me just because we’re from the same country because that’s nonsense. To be honest, sometimes some of them are just a pain in the ass and there’s no point of forcing yourself.
6. Predict the weather, if you can even before you arrive. Preparing what kind of clothes you need to bring is important. Most of the time taking general predictions of one country’s weather forecast could be a terrible mistake, because they turn out to be different with the town you’re going to live in.
7. Take time to learn what is “cheap” and what is “expensive”. Each town has different living cost and prices. Living in Munich might cost twice as much as living in the small town I’m living in. I once made this mistake when going shopping with someone from Munich. I ended up getting something for 16 euro because he said its “cheap” when I can actually get it for way less, like 5 euros or so in another shop.
8. Shopping mall doesn’t always means the stuff is expensive. You can obviously see this in Indonesia – well it doesn’t really count in Germany though. It depends on which country and town.
9. Make your shopping route/plan. Especially if you live in a small town like me, where you can only get certain things from other towns, this is important. There are various way, which also could be arranged with friends. Either taking turns, or if its possible for a free delivery within certain minimum order, gather friends to order together. What’s hard is normally to remind ourselves to only buy what we need.