A whole new life for a Filipina in Frankfurt

  • in Germany
Published 2017-08-03 06:39

Cyril Anne met her husband on a work trip to Germany, where she then moved to continue their life together. She has developed a love for all things German, from the cuisine to warm and friendly people, and she tells Expat.com about some of her favourite things about living in Frankfurt.

Please introduce yourself. Where are you from, what are you doing in Germany and what were you doing before you arrived?

I am Cyril Anne Wussow from the Philippines. I was a licensed chemist back in the Philippines, and before I moved to Germany, I was working as a technical support and documentation engineer for a multinational corporation in Manila, Philippines, but reporting directly to the office in Hasselroth, Germany. I am now working as a freelance technical document translator and online language tutor.

What brought you to Germany? How long have you been in the country?

I migrated to Germany because of my husband. I met him during my training days with the company -- I had to attend two training sessions in Germany, and my husband is one of the engineers in the German office. We got married in 2011 and that is also the year I moved to Germany, so I’ve been living here for around five and half years.

What is the process to move to Germany?

Because we got married in the Philippines, I came to Germany with a family reunification visa. Before that, I had to take language proficiency exams at the Goethe Institut in Manila.

What is your favourite thing about Germany, and what is your least favourite thing?

I honestly can’t think of anything that I do not like here in Germany, but to be more specific, I am a big fan of the German cuisine. I love the sausages, the pastries, cabbages and the beer.

How would you describe Germany in one sentence?

A land full of surprises. I would hear how Germans are firm and serious people, but I was quite surprised to have only met very warm and friendly Germans.

Wlaking in Germany

What are the features of today’s expat job market in Germany?

Nowadays, I have seen a strong need for medical personnel and anything related to computer sciences.

How easy or difficult it is to find accommodation in Germany?

Finding accommodation in Germany is difficult if one chooses to live in the city. For example, here in Frankfurt am Main, I had once tried to find an apartment to no avail. I only found studio-type apartments but the price was not within my budget -- it was almost twice the amount that we pay for our one-bedroom apartment an hour and a half away from Frankfurt. But if one is fine to spend a little bit more on travel time, can find a decent accommodation around 10-15km away from the city.

What are the year’s biggest holidays in Germany?

Christmas and Lenten season are the favourite holidays celebrated by Germans.

How do you find the lifestyle in Germany?

The German lifestyle for me is laid-back. They know how to balance work and play and really enjoy life to the fullest.

How is the transportation system in Germany? How do you move around?

German transportation is very reliable, at least in comparison to my home country. There is a timetable that is followed as much as possible. Of course, there are incidents where trains have been cancelled or delayed due to manpower strikes or weather conditions, but they inform the public in advance for any disruptions to be expected. The transportation system has also a very reliable internet website that you can check and receive updates. I am a frequent commuter, and I use both the bus and the train.

Every time we go for a vacation in another city within Germany, we use the public transportation to spare some parking fees, and I am always the one in charge of finding our station or bus stop. Hence, I could say, that if somebody asked me how to get from one point to another with the public transportation, I know where to look for information and how to guide them to the right direction.

Blogger in Germany

Have you been able to adapt to Germany and the society there?

I think, yes. I have no problem communicating with the locals and doing almost the same things they do -- eating the local recipies or taking part in the festivities.

How is everyday life for you in Germany?

My everyday life is a routine of household chores and online classes. Since last year, I have been providing online tutorial of the German language. For almost three years now, I have also been working part time as a technical documents translator, so yeah, my everyday life is confined within our home, but there's also an hour to spare for a walk around our village.

What do you do in your free time?

I blog, or I go out for a walk. I also love to take photos and I am grateful that we live very close to the nature, so I get to take lovely photos every time I go out for a walk. Lately, I discovered the joys of colouring books, so I am also into it.

Are there activities for people who enjoy nightlife?

Where I live, I am afraid there’s not much of a nightlife, or at least I don't know about it. But in Frankfurt there are a lot of places to go. We usually go to Sachsenhausen. There is even a Karaoke bar there that reminds me of home. Filipinos love to sing and that bar has even a Filipino name, Mabuhay Karaoke Bar.

What new habits have you developed in Germany? And what old habits have you quit in Germany?

I am now a coffee-lover. I only started to enjoy coffee here in Germany. Maybe because of the delicious pastries that go well with it. I have quit fast food though. Also, since I moved to Germany, I spend more time in the kitchen rather than going out and eating fast food. 

What is your opinion on the cost of living in Germany?

Cost of living in Germany varies from place to place, and especially from the city to the countryside. For example, the price of one beer in Frankfurt equals to two beers in Gelnhausen, and the same with food -- the price of one full meal including drinks anywhere in our place is the price of only one meal in Frankfurt.

Parking fees costs are also different (higher) in the city. For example, 2€ can be a day parking ticket in some places in the countryside, whereas 2€ is just enough for a 30-minute parking in the city -- that’s why I prefer taking the public transportation, it spares me the money and headache of finding a parking space. The bus tickets, I think, are more or less the same price in the city and the countryside, depending only on the duration of the trip.

What is something that you would like to do in Germany but haven’t had the opportunity to do yet?

There are still a lot of historical places in Germany that I really want to see. I am a fan of history and architecture, so I want to explore every corner of Germany and learn more about their forefathers.

hiking in Germany

Share your most memorable experience in Germany.

Getting lost in Stuttgart with my German husband. We were in Stuttgart to watch a football game, and from the hotel, we took the public transportation. I only knew the station where we had to take the bus from to go to the stadium, but I wasn't sure which bus we had to take. My husband, who is more of a car-person, trusted me and simply followed me, but when I noticed that we were actually travelling further away from the city, we both realised (with the driver's help) that we were on the wrong bus. Luckily, the driver was nice enough, and allowed us to stay onboard, as his route back would be in the direction of the stadium. We had a round-trip around Stuttgart!

What do you think of the local cuisine? What are your favourite dishes?

I love German cuisine. Hesse’s Grie Soß and green sauce are my favourites. Added to it are Thüringen’s dumplings, Sauerkraut from the east side, apple red cabbage from west, and their wide variety of cakes and strudel.

What do you miss the most about your home country?

The mangoes! Philippines mangoes are incomparable. I get to buy mangoes here but I still miss the extraordinary sweetness of ours.

Have you had a moment that you almost felt like leaving from Germany? How did you overcome that? What kept you there?

Sometimes, homesickness sinks in and I am nostalgic, thinking of my family, my relatives and my friends. But I go out, check out the groceries and look for ingredients that I can use so I can cook something that would at least make me feel a bit at home. I also talk about it with my husband, and he will take me on a weekend trip. I am still here because I always remind myself what is the main reason I am here, and yes, love always wins. I am just so lucky that my husband is very supportive and understanding.

What motivated you to create your blog 'Pinays in Germany'?

The time I was applying for my national visa, I felt clueless: what documents do I need, what should I do next, how long would it take. There are not many helpful sites for Filipinos, so I started documenting every step I took. Then I became a member of various forums and noticed that I am not the only Filipina who is clueless, and there were times when I would answer on different forums. So I decided to blog about this information to reach out to other Filipinos and guide them through the visa procedures and integration in Germany.

selfie in Germany

Give us some useful tips that soon-to-be expatriates in Germany will benefit from.

Learn the language. You can get away with your English for a while but not for a lifetime. And be open-minded. Your opinion is not the only thing that matters, to be able to survive and be fully integrated in Germany, you also need to listen to others, be it the locals or fellow migrants.

If you had to advise an expat on five items to bring with them to Germany, what would they be?

Non-material things such as open-mindedness, patience, self-confidence, hunger for wisdom and friendliness.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to get back to the university so I can help my fellow Filipinos better. I am thinking of taking another course that will allow me to take the state examination for translator or as a language teacher. I am finding more satisfaction when I am working not just for money but to help others.

What is one thing that you will take with you from Germany?

German punctuality and professionalism.