Tim comes from Bath, England. Following a job offer in 1998, he moved to Bavaria where he works as a teacher, trainer and translator. In this Interview, he shares his views about life in Germany.
Know Howe for English
Hi Tim, could you quickly introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Tim Howe and I'm originally from Bath, England. I've been living and working in Bavaria as a teacher, trainer and translator since 2000. At present, I am teaching part time at a university, freelancing at diverse colleges and giving workshop presentations to teachers and pupils. It’s a nice mixture.
Why did you choose to expatriate to Germany?
Most of the best job offers in my line of work were coming from here.
As a British expat, what were the procedures you had to follow to move there?
Germany loves bureaucracy, but I experienced surprisingly little, actually. Just a visit to the Ausländerbehörden for an Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residence permit).
What has attracted you to Munich?
Bavaria has a better climate and a breath-taking scenery. Oh, and great beer-garden culture too.
What surprised you the most at your arrival?
I’m not easily surprised by anything.
Was it difficult to find accommodation there?
Finding affordable accomodation in Munich – either to rent or buy – can be a real nightmare. We finally moved out and built our own place.
What are the local labor market's features? Is it easy for an expat to be hired there?
I can speak only for the teaching profession. Most of my work is short term and freelance.
How do you find the German lifestyle?
It is very civilised. There is also a good work-life balance here.
Have you been able to adapt yourself to the country and to its society?
I had no problem at all although, like I say on my blog, I’ll never get used to impatient black Audi drivers creeping up close behind on the autobahn and giving me the flashing headlight treatment. It’s actually a highway-code offence but that’s all “sausage” to them, as they say over here.
What does your every day life in Munich look like?
No two days are ever alike here.
Any particular experience in the country you would like to share with us?
I’ll share an experience that will prove that Gernans do have a sense of humour. The other day, I made a phone call to the Munich call centre of a well-known insurance company. As usual, I was kept on hold for ages, continually being told “Please hold the line”. To enliven the waiting time, I started singing along to the catchy wait-loop jingle. Finally, a customer service girl came on the line, sounding rather amused. In the background, I could hear loud bursts of laughter too. The lady apologised most profusely for the long wait and asked for my understanding. Apparently, she’d heard me singing and thought it so sweet she deliberately kept me on hold, putting my “entertainment” on loudspeaker for the rest of the call center to enjoy too...
What is your opinion on the cost of living in Munich?
The price-performance ratio seems about right here.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I usually go swimming in summer, forest walking in winter, and sometimes skiing too.
Your favorite local dishes?
To be honest, I’m not a fan of traditional Bavarian food. It’s rather “stodgy”.
What do you like the most about Germany?
Traditional jazz Frühschoppen in beer gardens, thermal pools and saunas. Also, their casual but smart and sensible dress sense. I like wearing shorts to work in summer. Try that in England and you get called a “weirdo”.
What do you miss the most about your home country?
Deadpan humour and the latest hard-copy issue of The Daily Telegraph.
What has motivated you to write your blog “Being British in Bavaria”? How does it help?
I love writing for an audience. It’s as simple as that.
Would you like to give any advice to soon-to-be expatriates in Germany?
Don’t expect Germans to fall over themselves to get to know you straight away. It’s a slow process. And try not to be too spontaneous either. When it comes to inviting people round to your place, Germans like to be given a week or two advance notice, and preferably a choice of dates too.
What are your plans for the future?
If I had my time again, I probably wouldn’t become a teacher, which was the only career suggestion they managed to offer at school, when I asked how I might best use my foreign language skills. I think I would become a full-time writer or journalist instead. That said, I do quite enjoy teaching and it has opened up many interesting doors for me as an expat in Germany. My ultimate plan could be to write a book on teaching and travel in Germany, and then tour the country promoting it. But I would like to keep on teaching, of course.