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Subject: soc.culture.german FAQ (posted monthly) part 6/6
This article was archived around: Mon, 03 Sep 2001 06:03:36 GMT
Last modified: 2001-09-02
This is part 6 of the ASCII version of the FAQ list for
soc.culture.german. Find the WWW version at
<http://www.watzmann.net/scg/index.html>. The FAQ is posted on
the first of every month.
Table of Contents for Part 6
23. Money Talk
23.1 Sending Money
23.1.1 Sending money to Germany
23.1.2 Sending money
23.2 Exchange Rates?
23.3.1 VAT in Germany?
23.3.2 Tax Treaty?
23.4 Currency Names and Nicknames
23.4.2 Groschen (10 Pfennige)
23.4.3 Taler (3 Mark)
23.4.4 Sechser (5 (!) Pfennige)
23.4.5 Heiermann (5 Mark)
23.4.6 Zwickel (2 Mark)
23.4.7 Pfund (20 Mark)
23.4.8 Hunni or Blauer (100 Mark)
23.4.9 Riese (1000 Mark)
23.4.10 Page comments
24.1 European Resources
24.2 Taking a Computer along to Germany?
24.3 Taking Foreign Electronic Equipment to Germany?
24.4 Shipping Your Household US<->Europe/Germany
24.4.1 General Remarks on Shipping your Household
126.96.36.199 Other experiences:
24.4.3 Specific Shipping Companies
24.5 Things to take to Germany?
24.5.1 Some Presents might be Lucrative Paraphernalia ;-)
24.5.2 Little Things Easily Forgotten
24.6 Postdoc Experiences at a German University
24.6.1 Page comments
25. Urban Legends
25.1 I am a jelly doughnut
25.2 German Did Not Become the US's Official Language by 1 Vote.
25.3 Once I heard that
25.3.1 Page comments
26.1 Funny men of literature
26.2 Plain old funny guys
26.3 Younger guns
26.3.1 Page comments
27. Questions and Answers
27.1 Where do I Keep Up with German Soccer Results?
27.2 Ich lebe/arbeite fuer begrenzte Zeit im Ausland. Wie kann ich...
27.2.1 ...Angehoerige in Deutschland benachrichtigen lassen?
27.2.2 ...mehr erfahren ueber das Land meiner beruflichen Taetigkeit?
27.2.3 ...meinen auslaendischen akademischen Titel uebertragen?
188.8.131.52 Fakten fuer alle Bundeslaender:
184.108.40.206 Fakten fuer alle Bundeslaender ausser Bayern
27.2.4 ...mein Wahlrecht wahrnehmen?
27.3 Mail Ordering Other Stuff?
27.3.1 Software, CD-ROM's etc.
27.4 How can I Find Out about that Famous ...
27.4.1 Page comments
23. Money Talk
Money in Germany mostly means real money, good old cash. Cash is used
more commonly than any other payment method in Germany. Credit cards
are accepted by many places, for example car rental agencies,
airlines, almost all hotels, many gasoline stations, restaurants and
bigger stores in bigger towns, but often frowned upon for small
purchases. Many, mainly smaller, businesses won't accept credit cards
because of their billing costs, so you better ask before you have to
pawn your firstborn because you don't have cash on you. Businesses
that accept credit cards usually accept all the major ones like Visa,
Mastercard/Eurocard and American Express.
Eurocheque cards (EC cards) are accepted more commonly than credit
cards because of their lower transaction costs. You usually them from
almost any European bank if you have an account there and fulfill
certain conditions, similar to those for obtaining a credit card.
Payment is guaranteed up to 400,- DM or the equivalent value in a
different currency, but frequently higher sums are accepted when you
present some form of identification. You can also get cash from ATMs
with an EC card for between 0 and 4 DM per transaction.
23.1. Sending Money
Getting money across international borders can be tricky. The
following hints are mostly based on experiences of posters on s.c.g
who needed to send money to mail order places in Germany / to transfer
their funds when working abroad / for their own or their relatives'
traveling needs / etc.
(Says one reader:)
As for financial transactions, let me point out that combin-
ing various strategies you've listed really works well. For
one thing if you have accounts on both sides of the Atlantic
(or elsewhere for that matter) it's good to have checks of
those accounts with you wherever you go. Here, for instance,
I pay my bills in the US simply by sending checks from an
American checking account. That way cash flow stays within
the respective country and doesn't have to undergo exchange
rates or excessive fees. To bring the money across the
Atlantic international credit cards work great.
23.1.1. Sending money to Germany
American ATM cards
German ATMs accept nearly anything that's credit card sized and
magnetic. Most German ATM's accept cards from one of the major
American networks such as Cirrus. Ask your American bank though
how many arms and legs they charge for cash withdrawals abroad.
The German bank that runs the ATM in question will also want a
cut, somewhere between 2 DM and 5 DM, usually.
Transfering from an American account to a German
Account" People have been able to transfer money from an
American bank to a German (notably with Postbank and
Raiffeisenbank.) It's possible to cash a personal check from a
U.S. to a German account. The Postbank charges a fee of only 3
DM for one check, Raiffeisenbank takes out 15 DM. No other
hidden costs, but, alas, you probably need to have an account
with the respective institute for using this service. US checks
must be made payable to the bank that cashes them.
Sending a (e.g. American) personal check
is definitely risky business, unless the check is a Eurocheque
drawn on another European bank.
Deposit with foreign branches of German banks
If you are lucky enough to find a major German bank's branch in
your city you might be able to direct deposit money. One bank
that makes that work like a charm is Citibank
<http://www.citibank.de/>, an American bank with branches in
several states in the US and a fairly tightly knit network of
branches in Germany.
International postal money orders
As of May 2000, the Deutsche Post AG does not accept
international postal money orders anymore. If you want to
complain about this, send email to their customer service
Go to a local (e.g.) American Express office and purchase DM
travelers checks. You lose a lot when you change your USD
traveler checks at German banks. You can get single checks, 20's
and above. No service fee, but a few points off the bank
exchange rate. Make sure to fill out the Pay to the order of:
field for security! Problem: You may not get the exact amount
you need (DM 57.89) when paying, say, a mail order bill.
American Express money orders
Are well accepted by German banks. For long term you might
consider opening a German bank account and depositing a regular
payment with American Express money orders. Then you can pay
German bills off of that account.
Ruesch International Financial Services <http://www.ruesch.com/>
will issue a draft in DM (and other currencies) at the current
rate of exchange, plus a service charge of US$15 per
transaction. Their services are for deposit only, meaning, the
recipient needs an account in Germany! Call the U.S.
headquarters <http://www.ruesch.com/offices/washingtondc.htm> in
Washington, DC at +1(800)424-2923 to set up an account. Their
website <http://www.ruesch.com/> provides a list of regional
23.1.2. Sending money from Germany
Cash advances from a credit card
Some German credit cards let you maintain a balance on them by
transferring money to a special account (ask the issuer of your
credit card how to do this). If you have a balance on your card,
you can obtain a cash advance up to the amount you have on the
card, rather than being restricted by the usual per-day maximum
advances. Depending on the credit card, a cash advance will then
cost you the same as using the card for purchases abroad,
usually between 1% and 2% of the total amount.
Transferring from a German bank to an American bank
Most German banks have close relations with at least one
American bank and let you transfer money to any account with an
American bank. You get usually hit with fees on either end.
Deutsche Bank charges currently 14 DM for each transfer to an
German account -> EC ATM
Take along your Eurocheque (EC) card as long as you are
travelling within Europe (and selected other countries; ask your
local bank). Then you can get money from every ATM (Geldautomat)
with EC sign.
The fee is DM 5 for every take, but you get the interbank
exchange rate rather than the marked down rates you get for
traveler's checks or cash exchanges (shudder).
You pay DM 10 at the time you buy DM-denominated travelers
checks. Supposedly you should be charged no additional fees when
you redeem them at your destination for their currency, which,
however, does not turn out to be true in some places, as s.c.g
readers report. Theoretically, in such cases, you can be
reimbursed by your local German bank, once you are back ...what
an overall hassle... 1996-10
23.2. Exchange Rates?
On the web:
o Xenon LAboratories' Universal Currency Converter
<http://www.xe.net/ucc/> converts pretty much any currency into any
other currency using daily updated exchange rates. They also
maintain an archive of historic exchange rates
o Deutsche Bank <http://www.deutsche-bank.de/> offers a page
docs/dbpb/deutsch/kurse/Devisen.html> of the latest exchange rates
on their truly horrible website.
o The Institute for Banking and Finance
<http://www.wiso.gwdg.de/ifbg/ifbghome.html> at the Universitaet
Goettingen maintains links to currency information
o Olson's currency converter <http://www.oanda.com>
23.3.1. VAT in Germany?
In Germany every retail price includes 16% Value Added Tax (VAT) (in
German: Mehrwehrtsteuer, MwSt). If you buy goods in Germany and plan
to take them with you to a foreign country it is possible to get a
refund for the VAT. In some places you even get a discount in the
shop. To get the VAT refunded you usually need some proof that you do
not life in Germany (Passport ...) and a special receipt from the
store. It is possible for Germans to get a refund if their Passport
shows a foreign address. Then ask for your refund at the border or
airport (if the store did not deduct the tax already). Please ask the
customs people for details. This refund might be not available for
residents of European Community member states.
23.3.2. Tax Treaty?
The US and Germany have a tax treaty. This means that, as a US
citizen, you only pay taxes to the IRS if your US taxes would be
higher than your German taxes. So if your US taxes under your income
would have been US$1000, and you paid US$900 to the Finanzamt, then
you'd owe US$100 to the US government.
On basis of this tax treaty German students, studying and working in
the US, might be able to claim tax exemption for part or all of their
US income. The key is whether you receive an assistantship or a
fellowship. According to the US-German tax treaty special taxation of
assistantships is limited to four years (maximum presence for these
rules to apply) and $5000 per year are tax exempt (Treaty Article
20(4), Compensation during study or training.)
Fellowships, however, have no limit in terms of time of presence nor
in the amount (Treaty Article 20(3), Scholarship or fellowship grant,)
i.e. as long as you receive a fellowship in the sense of this treaty
your total "income" is tax exempt. Conclusion: try to get a
23.4. Currency Names and Nicknames
Supposedly Mark was a term coined in Cologne. People there used to put
marks in equal distances on silver bars, and cut them at these marks
if they needed smaller amounts of silver to pay someone. So the
smallest fraction of one silverbar was one Mark.
The Mark has gone through quite some changes with history:
Germany was comprised of some 40 single kingdoms, each of whom
had their own currency with their own name.
United Germany comes into existance, and so does the Mark.
1871 - 1923
Mark (abbreviated M)
Hyperinflation after WW1 causes the value of the Mark to drop by
a factor 1,000 each month. At the end of the year, prices like
1,000 billion Mark for everyday items are common. A new
currency was introduced, rendering old money worthless.
1923 - 1924
1924 - 1948
The four allied forces (U.S.A., Great Brittain, France on the
one hand and USSR on the other) introduce new currencies in
their respective zones. The former three agree to use the same
kind, whereas the latter choose a different one. (Soon after
this the two post-war States of Germany were established.)
Period West East
1948 - 1964 Deutsche Mark (DM) Deutsche Mark (DM) (same name butdifferent!)
1964 - 1967 (same) Mark der Deutschen Notenbank (MDN)
1967 - 1990 (same) Mark der DDR (M)
1990 (same) adoption of West German currency
1990 - today Deutsche Mark
23.4.2. Groschen (10 Pfennige)
The Groschen was an official currency unit in Prussia until 1871. The
Prussian currency was the Taler (see below.) 1 Taler = 30 Groschen =
300 Pfennig (originally, 360 Pfennig, but this changed in the 1850s).
The Taler currency was also in use in smaller states in northern
Note that the Austrian Groschen (1/100 Schilling) is quite different
from the German Groschen. 1997-01
23.4.3. Taler (3 Mark)
remained a common term for 3 Mark coins until they were discontinued a
few years before WW I. It has the same origin, by the way, as the US
Dollar, the Danish Rigsdaler and the Swedish Riksdaler. (If you
pronounce it correctly you'll still hear it ;-) Namely, they stem
from the name of the currency used in the area of Joachimsthal in the
16-th century: the Joachims-Thaler. 1996-10
23.4.4. Sechser (5 (!) Pfennige)
The term dates back to the mid-19th century. Until the 1850s, a
Groschen had 12 Pfennige, and a Sechser was therefore half a Groschen.
When the Groschen later lost 2 Pfennige and was only 10, the new 5
Pfennig coins were still, colloquially, called Sechser, which
persists until today.
23.4.5. Heiermann (5 Mark)
It appears that, in the 1950's, 5 DM would buy you some fun with a
prostitute in Hamburg's redlight district St.Pauli. A colloquial
expression for a bed is Heia, which is pronounced the same way as
23.4.6. Zwickel (2 Mark)
Casual name for the 2 Mark coin; some loved/hated politicians'
portraits have appeared on its backside recently. (Strauss, Brandt
23.4.7. Pfund (20 Mark)
A less common term is Pfund (pound) for 20 DM. This might date back to
times when a British pound was still a pound and worth about 20 DM.
23.4.8. Hunni or Blauer (100 Mark)
Very simply derived from the blue color of the hundert Mark note.
23.4.9. Riese (1000 Mark)
Riese means giant, you get the idea.
23.4.10. Page comments
24.1. European Resources
<ftp://ftp.physics.purdue.edu/pub/scg/EUROPEAN.RESOURCES> is a
collection of pointers by David Johnson that cover a variety of issues
when moving to or visiting the European continent. Among others, there
are: relocation kits, eurailpasses, international travel news,
intercultural press, foreign newspapers and magazines, international
employment gazette, the european (newspaper). 1996-06
24.2. Taking a Computer along to Germany?
Will it work in Germany - different voltage, outlets? Is there a way
to use an adapter? I know that works for hairdryers, but
computers seem a bit more sensitive.
o Do not (NOT) use the simple "converters" used for hairdryers, they
sometimes are nothing but a diode that blocks every other half-
period of the incoming ac. Great for heating coils, but a
disaster for a computer. Either your computer accepts 230 V
directly, in which case you only need a new power cable, or you
need a decent transformer. It can be a so-called auto-transformer
(without galvanic separation of primary and secondary,) which is
half the weight and should be half the cost, but the thing must
be rated for the power of your computer (especially the display, if
you take that also with you). The transformer should be bigger
than two fists, and remember: too big does no harm, except to your
o Of course you know about the differences in keyboard layout, and
umlauts in the German language...
o Check the back of your computer about the voltage and
frequency accepted. If it does accept 240 V and 50 Hz. No
problem, all you need is an adapter for the outlet (BTW, they are
easier to buy in Germany). If it does accept 50 Hz but only 110
V, you need a transformer. I've heard that the cheap ones from
travel suppliers sometimes screw up. I bought myself a couple,
but didn't try them yet. If it only accepts 110V and 60 Hz, you
should consider getting a new power supply and exchange it in
your computer. It should run well below DM100 to do that. 1996-06
24.3. Taking Foreign Electronic Equipment to Germany?
If you wish to use domestic American electronics in Germany you will
encounter difficulties such as:
o The medium wave (AM) frequencies sometimes have different spacings
(e.g. 9 kHz vs. 10 kHz). This will cause problems with digital
o The voltage / frequency in Germany is 220-240 V / 50 Hz and not 110
V / 60 Hz as in the US. Improper voltage / frequency could result
in serious damage. (Actually, that's true for most of Europe now,
one of the cases where regulation is a benefit ...the states of the
European Union have agreed to keep line voltages at 230V/50Hz
o German plugs have a different shape. While people from European
Union countries might not have the line voltage problems, they are
faced with differently shaped plugs, just the same!
o TV uses the PAL norm. American TV uses the NTSC norm. French and
British systems are different, yet. These norms are incompatible.
Therefore foreign television will generally not work in Germany and
vice-versa, although multi-norm (multi-system) TV's are available
in Europe. (See `Audio / Video Tapes' for more.) 1996-1
Walk About Travel Gear <http://walkabouttravel-
gear.com/wwelect.htm> do a thorough job of explaining which
appliances need converters, which need adapters, and of
course, they have some available to sell.
24.4. Shipping Your Household US<->Europe/Germany
Summary of a thread from Winter 1995.
24.4.1. General Remarks on Shipping your Household
There are different shipping methods (besides airmail):
The regular shipping companies charge about 80c per pound for
shipping from NY to Frankfurt. The more you have to send, the
cheaper the rate gets. For shipment of less than 500 lbs, they
usually use flat rates. For example, International Sea & Air
shipping Co. (+1-212-766-1616) charges
1-100 lbs 101-200 lbs 201-300 lbs 401-500 lbs
US$247 273 352 445 501-1000 lbs
1001-2000 lbs 2001 lbs & over 89c/lb 77c/lb
If you live far from NY, you have to pay more. If I ship my stuff
from North Carolina, the rate is much higher than the above rates.
For example, DeHavens (+1-919-220-5441) in NC charges US$1.48/lb
for 500-700 lbs, and US$1.35/lb for 701-1000 lbs. Several other
local places have the same or higher rates. The good thing about
these places is that their rates include door-to-door service.
There are some outrageously cheap shipping options for those who
live in NY or other big cities. (See below.)
US Post Office
The regular shipping service by the US-post is much more
expensive Than the above mentioned shipping service, but their
book shipping option, known as M-Bag, is the cheapest way (under
any ordinary circumstances) to ship books from anywhere in the
US to anywhere overseas. They charge only 72c per pound. Each
bag has the minimum weight of 15lbs and the maximum weight of
66lbs. You can put books and periodicals in these bags. The
regular printed matter is excluded from this service, although
its rate is still lower than those for other materials. Time to
Germany varies from 2-6 weeks, so plan ahead. But for the price,
you can't beat it. It is especially good for shipments of books
and notes. Supposedly the bags get emptied in Bremen and the
little boxes are sent individually; but soc.culture.german
readers also have received the whole bag instead...Reportedly
these bags take quite a beating, so tape the little boxes well!
220.127.116.11. Other experiences:
several quotes from readers of s.c.g
I had about 800lbs of stuff to ship. I called several haul-
ing companies and they would charge me between US$1000-1500.
Almost as expensive as by mail. A friend gave me a number to
call, where they charge only about US$250 per cubic meter
(it's in a container on a ship). I called them and they con-
firmed the price. I think you should get something similar
from the east coast.
Don't know about NC, but if you can get your stuff to NYC,
there is a guy called K.D. Marreck who does shipments to
Germany for an outrageously cheap price (I shipped my 5
large boxes with books, printer, PC etc for US$100). He
cooperates with the German mover's company Kuehne&Nagel; I
think what he does is he includes your handful of boxes in
large containers paid for by companies doing large int'l
shipments. First I was sort of suspicious since the ware-
house, to which I had to take my boxes, was in one of the
worst neighborhoods in NYC and looked rather run-down. But
everything arrived complete and intact. Besides, I had got-
ten the address from the German consulate in NYC, so I guess
this guy is not known as a crook. The address: KD Marreck
Intl and Domestic Moving Services, PO Box 43, Manhasset NY
11030, tel +1(516)627-0845, fax 627-6143
I am an air freight forwarder and I am most familiar with
what you are saying. It is true that the warehouses
(including mine) of freight forwarders are in the worst
areas of town (for me Buffalo, NY). It is good advice to
check with various shipping agents. If you are not in a
hurry, tell the forwarder you wish to "consolidate" your
freight with other oceanbound freight going to Germany.
This means your freight leaves with other large shipments at
a rate much less than usually charged. You can negotiate
Contact Panalpina in Washington DC. But make a conscientious
decision what you want to send. Basically the bulkier an
item, the more expensive it is per pound.
My advice is to send as much stuff as you can through the
mail, with the US postal service your local branch about
book rates, and rates for sending things through surface
mail. It may take a little longer to get your stuff once you
are in Germany, but the savings are worth it.
Be aware of possible difficulties with finding parts or even just
service stations for rare cars; rare being defined by the German
market. Of all US car manufacturers, only Ford is presently in the
German market to a sizable share. To get parts for a Chevy or Pontiac
could prove very expensive. Japanese and Korean cars should meet
fewer problems in Germany. Of course, practically all European car
manufacturers also sell to the German market.
Whichever way you get your car to Germany, you will very likely have
to make changes to comply with German safety standards. The checking
is done by, among others, the TUeV <http://www.tuevs.de/>. Their
experts on car importing issues seem to be Herr Gayk, phone number +49
89 5190 3109, or Herr Schmidt, phone number +49 89 32950 931. Make
sure that you can make your car the inspection before you ship it !
The following are quotes from readers of soc.culture.german.
To ship your car over, in very broad terms, there are two
ways of going:
o shipping your car door-to-door with your furniture
o shipping it separately.
I chose the latter because it is much less expensive.
When they ship your car with your furniture, you need a
big container and in my case that would have meant
wasting a lot of space.
Another thing I did to save money is to drop off my car at
the port and pick it up at the port in Germany. Finally, I
learned there are potentially two middle men on the sending
side - the moving company and the freight forwarder. I
decided to eliminate the moving company and go directly to
the freight forwarder.
The freight forwarder does things like store your car until
the next shipment and fill out paper work. The one I used is
called Sea Bridge in Baltimore.
No matter which way you go you'll need three copies of your
title notarized front and back. Note that some readers
report they didn't need this. In my case, the freight
forwarder is going to make those notarized copies for me.
In my case the charge for sending my 1992 VW Jetta GL from
Baltimore to Bremerhafen is US$744 plus the insurance. The
insurance costs 1.5 % the estimated value of your car. If
I'd gone through the moving company, the insurance would
have been 2.5% the value.
I understand that when I go to pick up my car in Germany
I'll need to pay some German port taxes. The agent at Sea
Bridge advised me not to get an agent on the German side. He
says that I could do the paper work myself in about 2 hours.
I shipped a car to Paris. There are three ways to do it.
First, you can have the car sent on a car-carrier. This is
the most expensive way. Would have cost me about US$2000 to
have the car delivered to Le Havre, France.
Second choice, have the car shipped as if it were household
goods - ie, in a 40 foot container. This way they deliver it
to your city, and maybe even to your home. Cost runs about
Final way, and the way I did it - I had the car shipped in
the 40 foot container WITH my household goods. Ran me an
extra US$600 and I simply picked the car up at the shipper's
warehouse in Paris.
Call any major moving company for details. In Washington,
try Security Storage, Victory Van, or Colonial Storage.
For shipping cars US -> Europe you can try Sunship Interna-
tional Harry Zaki (?) 1-800-344-9428 Aug '92: US$900
in 1992 I selected pick-up at home (in the US) and delivery
to the harbor in Antwerp; it did cost around US$ 1000. I had
it organized by Rainier Movers(?) (somewhere in Washington
state); can recommend them.
Last year I shipped my Mazda from Portland, Oregon to Bre-
men, with the following costs:
o Truck to San Francisco: US$250
o Ship from SFO to Bremen (via Panama): US$800
o Handling in Bremen: DM300
o Customs and Tax (Umzugsgut!): zilch
o remodeling for Tuev: DM600
Transport: Bossi & CO. Inc., 80 Park Avenue, P.O. Box
69, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, tel +1(201)659-4471, fax
659-4325. Customs: Since I had owned the car for more
than 6 months, and my residence was in the US, I was
exempted. Otherwise it would have been 15% tax, 10%
customs (22% for pickups) based on the value of the car.
Insurance: my German insurance insured the car temporarily
Remodeling: the car is a Mazda Miata, 1990. It's sold just
the same in Germany. I had to change: bright lights to H4,
turn signals separate from parking lights, brake lights need
individual fuses. 1995-3
British vehicles need to change headlights ... and still
have the steering wheel on the other side. But can't do the
TUeV without having the headlights converted to continental
type. Before also strict emissions testing ...1996-1
24.4.3. Specific Shipping Companies
Abaco International Shippers <http://www.abaco1.com> in Chicago,
Il offer special shipping rates to students moving over seas. Can also
be contacted by email <mailto:ABACOINTL@msn.com> or tel
A www site that might be able to help with most moving questions is
www.vanpac.com <http://www.vanpac.com/>. Their site has lot's of
resources on the subject. 1997-01
24.5. Things to take to Germany?
24.5.1. Some Presents might be Lucrative Paraphernalia ;-)
o Jeans: A pair of l...'. is about US$30 in the U.S., while you pay
around DM 150 in Germany...
o T-Shirts, sweat-shirts, baseball-caps, mementos from such places as
the Monterey Sea-Aquarium or the Museum of Modern Arts or the
Air&Space or Smithsonian museum (or whatever is in your
o Computer: software and paperback books about software and hardware.
publications by your favorite computer users group (BMUG, BCS,
o Books: paperbacks (non-fictional mostly), cartoons, cooking, travel
guides, historical, biographies, etc...
o Music: CD's are much cheaper in the US, especially if you do one
of those mail-order buy 8, pay for 1/2 (and what do you mean I
forgot to tell you about shipping&handling?), and some cannot be
easily found overseas. Support your local starving-musicians and
buy some of their stuff (CD's, T-shirts) at the next gig you in
your favorite music hang-out...
o Posters: from museums, art boutiques, Natl. Geo, Smithsonian
o Magazines: Sunday NYT, last years Natl. Geo., Air&Space,
Smithsonian, Architectural Digest, Texas (or whatever is published
monthly with your state's name on it - with lots of pictures and
o Rags: CACM, IEEE, Foreign Affairs,... specialty rags (Private
Pilot, Sailing, Woodworking, Beer and Wine Making,...)
o Deli: Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce, KY Jelly, Tortillas, Tortilla Chips,
Lemon&Lime Chips, Guacamole, Mole, Bagels
o and if you are a photographer, why not make a couple of 8x10 prints
of some of your best (sign them and put them in a frame) ?!?
24.5.2. Little Things Easily Forgotten
If you need a Foreign-German dictionary, bring one. You can find
German-Foreign dictionaries, but they are not as good since they are
oriented more towards people who know German. The difference is
subtle, the ones from your original country would probably be a lot
Remember that the stores in Germany may only open their doors between
7 AM and 8 PM on regular workdays -- and not all of them do. They
have to close around 4 PM on Saturdays, and all day Sundays. There
are a few exceptions, esp. in the bigger cities (Kioske and they
like); but those might prove hard to find if you are new in town. If
you'll need something right away, remember to bring it. 1997-01
Addendum: Good places to buy something at off-hours are gas-stations.
Most of them sell various groceries (not just candy-bars) and things
like toothpaste or shaving cream. A lot of the newer ones even live up
to a real 24h deli. In the past you could only rely on freeway gas
stations to be open 24h, but these days, a lot are open 7 days 24h and
only the really small ones close for more than 4-6 hours at night.
You can purchase better Foreign-language tourist books in your home
country than in German bookstores. (Maybe with the notable exception
of English guides to metropolitan areas.)
You might want to consider purchasing a calling card in your home
country for calling home. Chances are calls to your card are still
cheaper than telekom-originated calls; <sigh>
Bring important telephone numbers, of course. You don't want to pay
for overseas directory assistance.
If you want to rent an auto, do it in advance, before you arrive in
Europe. It is hard to believe how expensive auto rentals are in
Europe (3-4 times higher than in the US, e.g.!)
You'll have to figure out how to pay your credit card. They probably
won't let you slide for 3 months.
Many ATM cards work in Germany. This is probably the easiest and
cheapest way to change currency. But don't depend on it completely.
Bring some German currency. It's not always easy to change dollars,
and there are often high fees. Some banks charge for travelers checks
others don't. Best to be able to survive till you find one of the
Make sure that you have a place to stay for the first few nights.
During major events (industrial fair in Hannover; Octoberfest in
Munich...) all the hotels fill up for miles around. 1995-10
24.6. Postdoc Experiences at a German University
All those wunderbar surprises that may or may not hit you, when you
spend some time as a postdoc at a German university...
I am paying DM440 (+DM150 Nebenkosten) = DM590 for 35
m^2 in somebody's house. They have converted the top
floor of their building into 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom and
1 room which serves as kitchen and sitting room. My
understanding is that I am getting a reasonably good
deal. I imagine that comparable space in an apartment
building probably costs more. Btw, don't forget to ask
about the Nebenkosten. The price quoted to me was just
the DM450 and then I found out later they were going
to add DM150 (supposedly to cover heating and water.)
Oh, we always do this in germany, she said. I also pay
electricity extra but it's not much ( DM30 per month).
There are so many deductions that change every other
month that I have no idea what I'm supposed to be
paying. however, everybody else seems to be having
similar amounts taken out of their pay. I estimate
that all deductions *INCLUDING HEALTH AND OTHER
INSURANCES* amount to about 1/3 of my paycheck.
Initially it was about 1/2 until my tax status
stabilized. I got the difference back the following
This depends on your income. if it's low enough you
are obliged to have the government version; this is
deducted from the paycheck. If your income is high
enough you have the choice of taking private insurance
of which the government will pay 1/2. your
contribution is also taken out of your paycheck. I
have private insurance at DM690 per month (ouch!) but
it does cover visits to the dentist.
As regards insurance (personnel not health), one is
very strongly advised to get Haftpflichtversicherung
(3rd party or liability insurance). It's the one
personal insurance one is most strongly advised to
get. Although house contents insurance etc is also a
good idea. Cause any damage to anyone/anything and you
will be liable. No question of going to court to
settle a dispute, it is simply settled by insurance
claims. If you have children you are liable for any
and all damage they do (your child runs into the
street and causes an oncoming vehicle to swerve into a
telegraph pole or another vehicle. YOU are liable for
all damage (to both vehicles, the telegraph pole, etc)
... DM 2 Mio was the minimum (1993), 5 Mio was
recommeded. added 1/96
Is horribly expensive. Cheap is DM15. Decent is
DM20->30+. No refills for coffee. customary in the US.
groceries and clothing
Generally these are also more expensive than in the
USA but right now I guess the dollar is weak and this
makes it worse. Food shopping is not that much more
expensive but clothes are usually quite a bit more
expensive. Typical prices in a j.c.penney type store:
shirts DM30-80, trousers DM80-150 shoes DM100-200.
It seems that everything you want requires 10 forms
plus copies of birth certificates, passports, marriage
licenses (driver's license probably won't work) and
whatever else you can think of.
note: I live in Aachen which is a medium sized town.
I'm not sure how much different the cost of rent and
food will be in a large city.
I forgot to mention something. It has to do with
taxes/social security contributions in germany.
Unfortunately, when I went to see the people in the
administration, I spent about 1/2 hr and it was still not
clear to me what the deal was but the gist of it is:
There is some kind of pension scheme into which everybody
(Angestellte) pays (Beamte get this automatically I think
(?)). however, if you are here for 1 year only, you are
exempt from these payments. It turns out that my contract
here at RWTH Aachen will now be extended beyond the original
1 year. As a result, I now become obliged to make these
payments and what is more, I have to make payments for the
previous year as well. The bottom line of all this is that I
have to pay (approximately) DM1000 straight down. This came
without warning. I thought I would let you know in case
anybody else asks about taxes etc; I'm sorry I don't have
any more details.
24.6.1. Page comments
25. Urban Legends
25.1. I am a jelly doughnut
In his famous speech in Berlin, J. F. Kennedy, the president of the
United States, announced Ich bin ein Berliner.
This is frequently (and willfully?!) misconstrued as translating to
the English phrase I am a jelly doughnut. While the German word
Berliner indeed also refers to a German bakery deli, and a naive
learner of the German language might be lead to believe Kennedy only
embarrassed himself, it was actually never conceived in this meaning
by the German audience.
For a scholarly discussion, see the following journal article:
Eichhoff, Juergen; Monatshefte, 85 no 1, (1993) p. 71. Ich bin ein
Berliner: A History and a Linguistic Clarification.
Summary: President John F. Kennedy's well-known exclamation has been
often declared to be incorrect German, causing the President to be
totally misunderstood by his audience. It is shown here that and why
the statement, translated for Kennedy by a native speaker of German,
is the correct and the only correct way of expressing in German what
the President wanted to say. 1995-10
25.2. German Did Not Become the US's Official Language by 1 Vote.
There never was any such vote. Dennis Baron, in Declining Grammar,
In 1795, a proposal in Congress to print all federal laws in
German as well as English lost by only one vote. Known as
'the German vote' or 'the Muhlenberg Vote,' after the
speaker of the house who reportedly stepped down to cast the
deciding negative, this event has been transmuted by pro-
English folk tradition into a myth that German came close to
replacing English as our national language.
For a more complete account read one of his posts <http://www.watz-
mann.net/scg/german-by-one-vote.html> to soc.culture.german.
25.3. Germany Once I heard that Mein Kampf is forbidden in
There is no index of forbidden books. Legally speaking, this is a
question of copyright laws.
The state of Bavaria (claims to) own the copyright to Hitler's Mein
Kampf. <http://ftp.utas.edu.au/docs/flonta/DP,1,1,95/HITLER.html> They
do not grant the right to publish, copy, or distribute the book in any
form, on paper, electronically, or on tape, in an effort to hinder the
spread of the book and message. If you get any copy of the book
printed after 1945, it was illegally produced and marketed.
25.3.1. Page comments
It is a little known fact that humor doesn't translate into German. No
I am not talking about translating your favorite Monty Python skit
into German. I am talking about the word itself. Yep, German has no
word for humor. Which makes life for German would-be humorists quite
Lately, they have banded together and launched a website to celebrate
their favorite food: das Butterbrot <http://www.butterbrot.de>. Stefan
Raab, perennially trying to be funny, sung a song about a chain-link
fence (Maschendrahtzaun) and its travails with its owner, Regina
Zindler, and her neighbor. The whole affair has been amusing Germans
ever since the fall of '99. Now it even has its own website
<http://www.maschendrahtzaun.de/>. Not really funny ...
Jokes aside, there is some humor to be found in Germany, some of it is
seriously funny. Watch me as I give a taxonomy of German funny men in
the following sections.
26.1. Funny men of literature
The godfather of German literature himself, Johann Wolfgang von
Goethe, was known to crack jokes every so often. Anybody who has read
Faust <http://gutenberg.aol.de/goethe/faust1/faust_to.htm> can attest
to that. In a weak hour, he wrote a little known play called
Hanswurst's Hochzeit which, with such illustrious characters as Ursel
mit dem kalten Loch (Ursula with the cold hole), has all the thigh-
slapping jokes one could ever wish for.
Germany has also produced quite a few satirists, the most famous of
them is certainly Heinrich Heine
<http://gutenberg.aol.de/autoren/heine.htm>. Others are Georg
Christoph Lichtenberg <http://gutenberg.aol.de/autoren/lichtenb.htm>,
famous for his acerbic aphorisms, and Jean Paul
There are also quite a few satiric journalists, amongst them Kurt
(have a look at An das Baby
<http://www2.gasou.edu/gsufl/german/texte/tucho-1.htm>) and Karl Kraus
Wilhelm Busch <http://gutenberg.aol.de/autoren/busch.htm> is famous
for his funny and satirical poems, which he also illustrated himself.
Max und Moritz <http://gutenberg.aol.de/wbusch/mm.htm> is by now a
classic children's book. Christian Morgenstern
<http://gutenberg.aol.de/autoren/morgenst.htm> wrote poems (Fisches
that are funny and bizarre at the same time, predating Dada by several
26.2. Plain old funny guys
The classical pranksters from the twenties are Karl Valentin and Liesl
Karlstadt. Among Valentin's antics was a pun to protest the
hyperinflation of the twenties: he wallpapered a parkbench with
million and billion Mark notes and called it the Reichsbank. (I guess
that one doesn't translate very well).
Heinz Erhard was everybody's favorite in the sixties and seventies,
when he displayed his very fifties sense of jovial, grandfatherly
humor in film after film. One of the gems from these films is this
poem, which he recites to a completely (and understandably)
Die alten Zaehne waren schlect,
man begann sie 'rauszureissen.
Die neuen kamen grade recht,
um damit ins Gras zu beissen.
Another classic is Loriot who is a bit of a German version of Peter
Sellers in his life skits. Apart from those, he has also worked as a
cartoonist, written poems and directed some comedy movies (Oedipussy).
Traditionally, most German humorists were Kabarettisten or political
satirists. If you live in the US, watch Mark Russell on PBS to get an
idea. Some famous ones are Dieter Hildebrandt, Gerhard Polt and Hanns
26.3. Younger guns
In the eighties, the man was Otto Waalkes. Ask anybody who grew up in
Germany in the eighties.
In the nineties, people like Hape Kerkeling, Juergen von der Lippe or
Tom Gerhard tried (and often succeeded) to be funny with plain stupid
antics. A classic is Hape Kerkeling's dressing up, quite badly, in
drag as Queen Beatrix of Holland on the occasion of her state visit
and trying to get into the official state dinner as the queen herself.
The TV station RTL <http://www.rtl.de/> started a German copy of
Saturday Night Live <http://www.nbc.com/snl/> in the early nineties
which launched the career of quite a few younger German comedians like
Wigald Boning or Mirko Nontscheff.
Slowly, Germany's changing demographics are having an effect on the
comedy scene and there are several emerging comedians of Turkish
origin, one of them is Django Asuel, who quite convincingly talks
about growing up as a foreigner in small town Bavaria and the battles
with small minds that entails.
26.3.1. Page comments
27. Questions and Answers
27.1. Where do I Keep Up with German Soccer Results?
If you ask Thomas Hofmeister he will send you the most recent soccer
results via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. His
postings are also archived on a WWW-Server. <http://www.object-
27.2. kann ich... Ich lebe/arbeite fuer begrenzte Zeit im Ausland.
(Because this is only important for Germans, I write this in German.
There are just too many special legal terms involved to do it in
...Angehoerige in Deutschland benachrichtigen lassen?
Im falle eines Falles...oder wenn einem sonst etwas zustoesst, kann
eine Registrierung bei der deutschen Botschaft im Ausland hilfreich
sein. Dort kann man Kontaktadressen hinterlassen, auf freiwilliger
Basis, natuerlich. Keine "Meldepflicht"... 1996-12
...mehr erfahren ueber das Land meiner beruflichen
Ausfuehrliches Informationsmaterial kann als Merkblatt fuer
Auslandstaetige beim Bundesverwaltungsamt, Postfach 680169, 50728
Koeln angefordert werden. 1996-11
27.2.3. uebertragen? ...meinen auslaendischen akademischen Titel
Es gibt jetzt eine Broschuere, Anerkennung auslaendischer
Studienleistungen und auslaendischer Hochschulabschluesse, welche
kostenlos vom Bundesministerium fuer Bildung und Forschung
<http://www.bmbf.de/> angefordert werden kann. Dort drin sind dann
auch Adressen von verschiedenen Behoerden zu finden.
Generelles zum Thema:
o Zustaendig ist das Bundesland, in dem man seinen Wohnsitz hat.
o Die Regelungen der verschiedenen Bundeslaender sind nicht
o Das Fuehren auslaendischer Titel und Grade ist ohne vorherige
Genehmigung durch das zustaendige Bundesland strafbar !
o In Bayern sieht es so aus:
o Auslaendische Titel duerfen nur in der Originalform gefuehrt werden
o Eine Konvertierung auslaendischer Titel (also z.B. M.S ->
Dipl.-Ing. Ph.D. -> Dr. etc.) ist in Bayern lt. Auskunft des
Kultusministeriums nicht moeglich.
o Mit der Fuehrungsgenehmigung ist keine Anerkennung verbunden.
18.104.22.168. Fakten fuer alle Bundeslaender:
o Um einen auslaendischen akademischen Grad in seiner Originalform
fuehren zu duerfen, bedarf es einer Erlaubnis zum Fuehren ...
o Diese Erlaubnis erteilt das Kultusministerium des Bundeslandes, in
welchem der erste Wohnsitz liegt. Fuer Personen, die nicht in
Deutschland wohnen, erteilt das Land NRW die Erlaubnis.
o Die Erlaubnis kostet etwa 100-150 DM Bearbeitungsgebuehr. Die
Bearbeitung dauert etwa einen Monat.
o Die Erlaubnis besagt nichts ueber eine Gleichwertigkeit. Sie stellt
lediglich fest, dass der Titel rechtmaessig erworben wurde und
gibt an, in welcher Form er verwendet werden darf. Zum Beispiel
wird aus einem Master of Science, der an der State University of
New York at Albany erworben wurde, ein Master of Science at State
University of New York at Albany. Gleichzeitig werden auch
zulaessige Abkuerzungen mitgeteilt (Bsp: M.S. (SUNYA)).
Fakten fuer alle Bundeslaender ausser Bayern
Es gibt noch den zweiten Weg (ausser in Bayern): Ihr koennt einen im
Ausland erworbenen Titel als einem deutschen gleichwertig anerkennen
lassen. Die Bearbeitung ist dann im allgemeinen etwas aufwendiger
(laenger, teurer). Das Ergebnis ist, dass ihr euch dann statt Ph.D
Dr. phil nennen duerft (oder auch Dr. rer. nat.). Die Details sind von
Bundesland zu Bundesland sehr verschieden. Diese Anerkennung kann auch
In einem Beispiel (Baden-Wuerttemberg) wurde ein amerikanischer Master
(in Computer Science) in einen Magister umgewandelt. Dies wurde mit
der Studienzeit begruendet, welche kuerzer war als die
Regelstudienzeit fuer einen Diplom-Informatiker.
Wer nicht in Deutschland gemeldet ist, muss sich an das
Kultusministerium von Nordrhein-Westfalen wenden. Es wird dann ein
Nachweis verlangt, dass man wirklich im Ausland lebt. Da es in vielen
Laendern (speziell USA) keine Meldepflicht gibt, muss normalerweise
der umgeschriebene Pass vorgelegt werden (Kopie reicht). Andere
Nachweise sind zum Beispiel ein Auszug aus der DMV-Kartei (im
wesentlichen besagt dieser, dass man einen amerikanischen
Fuehrerschein hat, welcher auf eine amerikanische Adresse ausgestellt
Die Adresse in NRW: Ministerium fuer Wissenschaft und Forschung, des
Landes NRW, Postfach 101103, (Voelkinger Str. 49), 40002 Duesseldorf
tel +49(211)896-4335, fax +49(211)896-4555
Verlangt wird in NRW (wie sonst auch): Beglaubigte Kopie des
Abiturzeugnisses und der Verleihungsurkunde fuer den amerikanischen
Grad, Kopie eines Wohnsitznachweises, ausgefuelltes Antragsformular.
Nach der Bearbeitung wird eine Gebuehr verlangt (war 150 DM). Ein
Ph.D. wird in Dr. rer. nat. (USA) umgewandelt. Die Bearbeitung dauert
etwa 3-4 Monate.
Eine Korrektur: Auslaendische akademische Grade, welche in englisch,
franzoesisch, spanisch sowie einigen anderen Sprachen verliehen
wurden, werden seit neuestem, bundesweit, nur noch in ihrer
Originalform mit Zusatz anerkannt. Diese Information habe ich einem
Merkblattes des Kultusministriums in NRW entnommen. Aus einem Ph.D
wird also kein Dr. (USA) mehr sondern ein Ph.D (USA). Eine Erlaubnis
zum Fuehren des Titels in seiner Originalform wird immer dann gegeben,
wenn die Universitaet welche den Titel verliehen hat im jeweiligen
Land zum verleihen des Titels berechtigt ist. Die Gebuehren sind nach
wie vor etwas ueber 100 DM. 1996-03
Eine Ergaenzung: Der vorliegende Gesetzesauszug ist der Paragraph 141
des Gesetzes ueber die Universitaeten des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalens
(Universitaetsgesetz - UG) vom 20.11.79 zuletzt geaendert durch
Gesetz vom 6.7.93.
Demnach koennen saemtliche Hochschulgrade, staatliche Titel, und
Bezeichnungen, die an einer staatlichen oder staatlich anerkannten
Hochschule in einem anderen Mitgliedstaat der EU erworben worden sind,
gefuehrt werden. Da diese Regelung sich unmittelbar aus der Richtlinie
des Rates (der EU) vom 21.12.88 ergibt (89/58/EWG), duerften sich
entsprechende Regelungen in allen anderen Bundeslaendern und Staaten
der EU wiederfinden. 1996-03
27.2.4. ...mein Wahlrecht wahrnehmen?
Der freundliche Bundeswahlleiter Johann Hahlen, Praesident des
Statistischen Bundesamtes, hat in einer Pressemitteilung
<http://www.statistik-bund.de/presse/deutsch/pm/p8130211.htm> fuer die
Bundestagswahl 1998 die Bedingungen zusammengefasst, unter denen im
Ausland lebende Deutsche an Bundestagswahlen teilnehmen koennen. Das
folgende ist eine Zusammenfassung dieser Pressemitteilung.
Jeder Deutsche im Sinne des Artikel 116 des Grundgesetzes, der aelter
als 18 Jahre ist, mit staendigem Aufenthalt im Ausland ist
wahlberechtigt, wenn er sich nicht laenger als 25 Jahre (seit April
1998, war frueher 10 Jahre) im Ausland aufhaelt. Ausland fuer
Wahlrechtszwecke sind alle Laender, die ausserhalb des Europarats
liegen; der Europarat umschliesst die Laender der Europaeischen Union
und die meisten anderen europaeischen Laender wie Albanien, Andorra,
Bulgarien, ehemalige jugoslawische Republik Mazedonien, Estland,
Island, Kroatien, Lettland, Liechtenstein, Litauen, Malta, Moldau,
Norwegen, Polen, Rumnien, Russische Foederation, San Marino, Schweiz,
Slowakische Republik, Slowenien, Tschechische Republik, Tuerkei,
Ukraine, Ungarn und Zypern.
Waehlen darf nur, wer in ein Waehlerverzeichnis eingetragen ist. Da
man bei staendigem Aufenthalt im Ausland nicht automatisch in ein
Waehlerverzeichnis (ueber das Einwohnermeldeamt) eingetragen wird,
muss man einen foermlichen Antrag auf Eintragung in ein
Waehlerverzeichnis stellen und gleichzeitig eine Versicherung an Eides
Statt abgeben, dass man Deutscher im Sinne des Grundgesetzes ist,
einem das Wahlrecht nicht aberkannt wurde usw.
Fuer jeden Antragsteller ist ein besonderes Formblatt in Erst- und
Zweitausfertigung auszufuellen. Sammelantraege sind nicht moeglich.
Der Antrag sollte fruehstmoeglich gestellt werden; er muss
spaetestens bis zum 21. Tage vor der Wahl bei der zustaendigen
Gemeindebehoerde eingegangen sein. Die Antragsfrist kann nicht
verlaengert werden. In das Waehlerverzeichnis eingetragene
Wahlberechtigte erhalten ueber die Eintragung keine Benachrichtigung.
Ihnen werden ohne weitere Aufforderung der Wahlschein und die
Briefwahlunterlagen ca. 1 Monat vor dem Wahltag uebersandt.
Antragsformulare koennen von den folgenden Stellen erhalten werden:
o von allen Botschaften und Konsulate der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
o vom Bundeswahlleiter, Statistisches Bundesamt, 65180 Wiesbaden
o den Kreiswahlleitern in Deutschland Zustaendige Gemeindebehoerde,
an die der Antrag zu richten ist, ist:
o die Gemeindebehoerde der letzten gemeldeten Hauptwohnung in der
o der Oberstadtdirektor der Stadt Bonn - Stadthaus, Berliner Platz 2,
D-53103 Bonn, wenn der Wahlberechtigte noch nie fuer eine Wohnung
in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland gemeldet war. 1999-04
27.3. Mail Ordering Other Stuff?
27.3.1. Software, CD-ROM's etc.
NBG USA INC.
482 Holly Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102, tel +1(800)624-8729, fax
<http://www.agoralang.com:2410/nbgusa.html/> (not yet there
email email@example.com 1996-12
Their catalog contains a lot of German software! Dictionaries,
lexica, and other materials on CD-ROM, from the Duden Universal
Woerterbuch & Duden/Oxford Grosswoerterbuch Englisch (US$180)
to Langenscheidt's Taschenwoerterbuch English (US$60) to a
generic "compact woerterbuch" (US$30). A tour of the Munich Zoo
for US$20. An educational CD (in German) for US$25. A CD of
German shareware for US$10. Some Mac and some
Spanish/French/English stuff is included, too. 1996-12
Two of the biggest mail-order companies in Germany are reachable
through the web: Otto <http://www.otto.de> and Quelle
27.4. How can I Find Out about that Famous ...
For German public figures check out the Munzinger-Archiv; a collection
of leaflets containing biographical data of numerous people. 1996-02
27.4.1. Page comments