Saturday, 10 October 2015

Renting an apartment

Looking for an apartment to rent is a huge time and energy consuming process. Here are some links to make it a little more confusing ;)

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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Tax deductions

One often encounters high tax deductions while working in Germany. However, it is not an easy job to analyse for what and how much is the amount one pays to the government. This post will help to clarify this information for foreigners working or who wish to work in Germany.

How much?
  • An income of above €8,354 is taxable (€16,708 for a married couple)
  • An income of above €52,882 for a single person (€105,764 for a couple) is then taxed at a rate progressively increasing from 14% to 42%
  • Incomes from €52,882 (€105,764) up to €250,730 (€501,460) are taxed at 42%
  • Incomes over €250,731 for a single person and €501,462 for a married couple are taxed at 45%

For what?
There are several components which constitute the overall tax percentages mentioned above. These components are listed and explained below.
  • Solidarity Surcharge (5.5% of income): To cover the costs of integrating the states of the former East Germany
  • Obligatory Pension Scheme (9.35% of income): To secure income even after retirement
  • Unemployment insurance (1.5% of income): To provide a fixed amount during the period of no-job
  • Health insurance (8.2% of income): To cover hospital, doctor or other medical expenses
  • Disability insurance (1.425% of income): To secure income in case of disability occurrence
  • Wage tax: work tax

Some more information...
Tax classes
  •  class I = single
  • class II = single parent
  • class III = married and spouse has no income or lower income
  • class IV = married and similar income to spouse
  • class V = opposite of class III, i.e. this is the class your lower earning spouse has if you have III
  • class VI= for a second job 

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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Starting up your own business in Germany

There are many who dream to strive for their own business than for others, and thus plan to start up a business sooner or later. For those living outside their homelands, here is a glimpse on how to start a business in Germany as a foreigner (non-EU citizen).

Clear your motive
In the case of a self-employed activity, there must be an economic interest or a particular local need. The self-employed activity must expect to have positive effects on the economy and the funding to implement must be secured by equity or a loan commitment.

Are you allowed?
If you are already have a permit to reside in Germany, the conditions attached to the permit can be altered to permit self-employed activity. If your legal place of residence is not in Germany, you need to submit an application for a "residence permit for the purpose of self-employed commercial activity" (Aufenthaltstitel zum Zweck der selbständigen Gewerbeausübung).

Type of Businesses
If you wish to engage in what may be classified as a "trade", you should check with the local Trades Office (Gewerbeamt). You will be likely required to register your business and get a certificate of registration (Gewerbeschein). To get this certificate you will have to demonstrate that you are of reliable character and qualified to run your business. Having a Gewerbeschein obligates you to pay local trade tax (Gewerbesteuer) and requires that you become a member of the local Chamber of Commerce (Industrie- und Handelskammer - IHK) and to pay a yearly membership fee to them.

Crafts & Freelancers
To engage in "Crafts" you may need the approval of a trade association and establish the fact that you meet German standards relating to specific qualifications for your chosen craft. "Freelancers" fall into a category all their own and have yet a somewhat different set of regulations, laws and procedures that must be followed.

Another piece of pie
The most common form of company is the limited liability company, generally known by the acronym GmbH, which corresponds to a British Limited Company (Ltd.). Share capital must be at least EUR 25,000. However, since 2008, entrepreneurs have been able to start a so called Mini-GmbH (unternehmergesellschaft haftungsbeschränkt). This form of company was developed especially for start-ups, as the bureaucratic efforts are simplified and the minimum share capital is reduced to EUR 1.00.
Finally a checklist to prepare while planning your start-up...
Prepare for your hurdles
  • Language skills
  • Professional qualifications
  • Professional experience
  • Commercial expertise
  • Business Plan
  • Consult financial or Tax advisor

Source of information:
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Sunday, 25 January 2015

5 things to do after arriving in Germany

Here are five quick pointers for students, of tasks to be done after arriving n Germany.

1. Insurance
It is highly recommended to convert your private insurance to a public one, if you are here for a longer stay.

2. Visa conversion
Students are often provided with a temporary visa of few months. Once, arriving in Germany it is very important to get this Visa converted to a student (or work) Visa, at earliest. One should also anticipate waiting period for student Visa, since there will be plenty of international students arriving at the same time.

3. City registration
After finding a place to stay one must register this address at earliest at the city registration office, failing which there is a possibility of a financial penalty.

4. Maps and GPS navigation
It is not common to ask people for address or streets. Thus, one must get equipped and acquainted in using Google maps, GPS navigation software.

5. Handful of SOS words in German
In case you can not communicate even basics in German, it is important to learn quickly few clauses in German which might help you in situation of need. A common phrase is 'Konnen Sie bitte auf English sprechen?' :D (Can you please speak in English?)

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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Please, don’t feel at home!

Post for my dear Indian friends studying abroad!
However, this theory is also applicable and beneficial for students from any other country who is studying abroad.

With growing inclination towards studying in Germany these days, the number of Indian students in Germany has increased in short period. After arriving in Germany, students often try to find friends who belong to the same country as theirs, and then same state, better still from the same city! Many students arriving here consider themselves fortunate to meet Indians, especially belonging to the same caste and culture as theirs.

It is not difficult to find Indians here today, as it was just few years back. Hence, one often begins the journey of studying in Germany, by dwelling in the comfortable company of other Indians around. I myself have been fortunate enough to find many Indians; at university, hostel, work place, and practically everywhere, I walk these days!

However, I wish to bring to light, the importance of being out of our comfort zones occasionally. Here, in Aachen (North-west city in Germany), it is very much possible to make many Indian friends, and cook daily with them, have dinner parties with them, study with them in library, attend lectures with them, and have them as your neighbors. One can roll and swim so deep in this comfort zone that, sometimes one might wonder if he or she is in Germany or India. As good and pleasant this is, it is also important to occasionally step out of our comfort zones and try to explore and utilize the opportunity of meeting people from different lands and cultures.

It is not difficult to arrange dinner party where all your guests come from different countries! They are equally eager and polite. Attending international get-to-gathers and parties occasionally, even just to watch people hailing from different nationalities is a good practice (and talking to them will be a bonus ;) ) I took several opportunities to meet people from different lands. The difference of routines and customs that I find, often amaze me. The trail of thoughts and cultural values exchanged are one of the memorable times of my stay in Germany. I am fortunate to live in a hostel, where my neighbors come from Spain, Ukraine, Germany, Russia, India, etc. I also occasionally attend the international evening gatherings in the city. Living in a student city offers one, a chance to meet people not just from Germany but also from other countries around the world.

Please do not misunderstand or misinterpret my message here. I do not deny the emotional, motivational, cultural and all other unique bonds that we share with people coming from same background as ours. It definitely helps us to sail smoothly in foreign waters. Nevertheless, we must still not forget that one of the main reasons we choose to study abroad, is to get an international exposure. If we start comfortably dwelling in our Indian troops without making an effort of occasionally looking beyond, does not serve the purpose!

Just a note, from an Indian studying abroad :)

P.S. - Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences on this topic as a comment to this post.

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Friday, 23 January 2015

Where's my water?!

No, this isn't about the croc game of finding water, but a real situation which many newly arrived Indians undergo in Germany.

While packing bags to come to Germany for studying or working, one often thinks about clothes, utensils, rare Indian food items one feels one can not live without and so on. However, I bet nobody thinks about packing bottles of water in the bags! (whether it is allowed or not, is a different question). Thus, a newly arrived is often surprised to see a person drinking tap water or drinking water which tastes like soda! So, here's a crisp bit of information about 'Drinking water' in Germany. 

It is very common in Germany to drink water with gas. It is like drinking soda water everyday instead of aqua-purified municipality drinking water in India! This water is often referred to as Sparkling wasser, sprudel (bubbles) wasser or wasser mit kohlensäure (with carbon dioxide) (wasser=water). The plain drinking water is available as 'Still wasser', sometimes also as 'Naturell wasser' (natural water). Another interesting fact about drinking water in Germany is that most of the tap water is drinkable, unless specified as undrinkable. Thus, drinking tap water at home is no harm at all (unless specified otherwise). Yet still, one can also buy water filter for home.

Hope this bit of information helps my fellow Indian friends who have just arrived in Germany!

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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Merry Christmas!

All the glitters and glimmer around you definitely brings the Carol mood and irresistible Holidays. Apart from decorating windows and lighting up star at Christmas tree, there are other ways too in which Christmas is celebrated in Germany. So here is sneak peak at how Christmas is celebrated in Germany.

Christmas markets: With all big and small markets which stay for a month, they light the town to their fullest along with with merry songs and festive mood. Go visit one at your nearest!

Chocolate calendars: Common sight at super markets and often gifted to friends and colleagues. They sound like a must! 

Stollen: This bread cake will be commonly available now. It is often baked, rolled in butter and sugar and kept for two or three weeks.

4 candle tradition: The four Sundays before the Christmas are lighted with candle. On first Sunday with 1 candle, second Sunday towards Christmas with 2nd candle and so on… This is called the advent period.

Merry Christmas!

Image sources (according to order of images used):,,0/Chefkoch/Stollen-Der-beliebteste-Kuchen-zur-Weihnachtszeit.html,

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Top 5 things famous about Germany

Mercedes, Lamborghini, BMW, Rolls Royce, Mini cooper, Audi, Volkswagen, Volvo... and the list can be still extensive. When it comes to cars, the Germans have mastered not just from tip to toe but also from inside out. German automobile industry contributes largely to its economy and holds a strong market worldwide. With the local transport as Audi and Mercedes, the country is home to several numerous world renowned car brands. They say if it is a car, it has to be German!

Germans are very fond of Breads, and thus one may find at least 10 types of breads in a bakery or supermarket here. The breads here are made from different types of grains, cereals and flower seeds and are like their staple diet.

Politeness and Patience
Many people say that Germans are very polite, and I am also of the same opinion. One often finds politeness even from a stranger, who is German. If you are in train and the train is jam packed (which is not a common sight here), you may still find people asking you if you were standing fine :) Hello and bye to everyone (even if you do not know them) at work place, good evening to the bus driver, thank you and sorry couple of times each day and so on... These experiences make one experience the warmth and politeness of Germans.
When it comes to Patience, you could be in a restaurant and waiting almost 10 minutes to get the menu or for getting your bill, but that is normal. Germans have lot of patience. People are not in absolute hurry to get inside the train or to drive their way zooming off the city roads. To let someone with really less stuff to bill go ahead at billing counter at supermarket is normal. If you are in Germany, asking after 10 minutes of ordering ‘How long will it take for my order?!’ restaurant is not normal.

It is very known fact that Germans have a strong national football team, recently portrayed by their winning of FIFA 2014. Football fever, especially World Cup is celebrated in a manner no less than national festival. Children are often found getting trained in football and their elders too are never tired to play it :) I think it is like the Cricket fever in India. Apart from Football too, Germans are often active in Sports like handball, fencing, basketball, etc. Swimming, jogging and cycling are often carried out on regular basis. 

Be it trains, bus, office or party, Germans are very particular about time. ‘A minute lost is a penny lost’ is literally followed. The time schedules are followed up to the mark and you cannot be late if you are in Germany.

Although there are other things too which are famous about Germany, I will keep that for the coming posts and keep this one short ;) 

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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Happy Diwali ! It's festive time...

It has been long since I have been studying, working and exploring in Germany. I wish to dedicate this post to my nostalgia, pouring out during the festive days of Diwali!

Pre-Diwali festivities were mostly cherished with shopping for Diwali dresses and decorating our house. The glowing lanterns not just at my house but also at every window in the vicinity brought a smile and assurance that cheerful holidays are on the eve. Searching hours for an elegant and eye-catchy Rangoli design and then getting right logistics through bargains at local street shops was an inevitable part. The smell of brown sand and night long Rangoli making, sometime with friends and sometimes with family, are memories forever. I also remember how everyone were suppose to wake up early morning and help mom cook sweets and then we all got dressed up in newly bought clothes. On the day of Diwali the house was lit with numerous Diyas (similar to candle) at windows and doors. The Rangoli on that day is special and large, to welcome Bhagwan (God) and the happiness together. The evening family Aarti (prayers) and then the firecrackers are still a vivid memory. The next day, was visiting and wishing day, cause its New Year. We visited all our relatives and friends to wish them prosperous New Year and share some joyful moments together. Eating sweets and snacks at the visitors is a must and one if the rare things that over-satisfied my sweet tooth. 
These are not just memories but one of the reasons of being the way I am. There are millions of others who have been molded differently due to these traditions. There are not just some emotional attachments, but the strings of life which are so strongly tied that there is literally nothing that can break them. 
I have relished and been part of the joyous tradition of Diwali since several years, but it is now that I profoundly understand the main motive of these festivals and the values behind them. I miss my Gharwali Diwali. The recent advertisement of Pepsi has been successful to positively lure me in pouring out my feelings, and I am sure it will motivate many this year to spend a Gharwali Diwali. Check out the video at this link or watch it here (below).

Happy Diwali and A prosperous New Year to everyone!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Work culture in Germany

Are you planning to work in Germany? Or are you interested in having a glimpse of the work culture in Germany? Then, keep reading…

Kindly note that this post provides information which is based on my personal point of view, developed through my personal experiences of working in Germany and learned through the experiences of my friends in Germany.

The work environment in Germany is employee friendly and one often finds supportive and friendly colleagues at work. Politeness and clarity of thoughts are often portrayed and occasional parties are cherries on top.

However, one may find peculiarities in German working environment. It is very essential to adapt to the German working culture and blend in to progress. It goes without saying that learning the language is essential to clearly communicate and socialize. Apart from this, the other important notes are as follows:

1.  Punctuality is obligatory
I may not be the first person telling you that Germans are very particular when it comes to punctuality. However let me stress here, that the resolution of their particularity in punctuality could be as high as 2 minutes. Although, your boss may not have pointed it out, but he will definitely notice if you are 5 minutes late in a meeting. Thus, it is very important to be on time for your interview, meetings, appointments, etc. If you fail to be on time, then you must back it up with a good excuse.

2.  Formal and informal conversations
One must be careful to use ‘Sie’ (Formal ‘You’) while having a first time conversation with someone at work. And then one might ask for the permission to use ‘Du’ (Informal ‘You’). Normally after knowing each other, one often addresses his/her colleagues as ‘Du’, even at higher hierarchies.

3.  Breaks and chats
    It is not often that one discusses his or her personal issues at work. Also, breaks apart from the lunch break are not that often. Coffee breaks after lunch however are common.

4.  Be clear
    One is required to be clear in expressing his/her thoughts without indirect hints and descriptions. This implies for the tasks at hand and also for the otherwise routine at office. However, one must not forget that adaptability is the key, and one must be open to accepting tasks which may not be of interest. This not only provides a wider exposure but also helps you to develop multiple skills outside your comfort zone. One must also be careful about the rights and duties as an intern. One may find flat hierarchy while working, where approaching even the senior most people is easy, however it comes with a responsibility of being clear about your lines. There are several decisions which must be taken after consultation with your immediate reporting personnel. Thus, one must be aware of the office culture and hierarchy to follow.

Image source: Microsoft Clipart