Ana Karenina Pera is a Chemical Engineer living in Stuttgart, Germany. She says she is blessed with a very wonderful husband and an adorable little girl, and although only a recent expat to Stuttgart, is loving the experience so far. Ana blogs about her experiences on the diverse and eclectic blog www.kikamzpera.com
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: I am originally from the Philippines but my family is based in Japan before coming to Germany.
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Stuttgart City.
Q: How long have you lived here?
A: Less than a year... arrived here April, 2009.
Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
A: I moved with my husband and baby.
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: Because of my husband’s job. He has an international assignment here for initially 3 years.
Q: What do you enjoy most about Stuttgart, how’s the quality of life as a Filippino in Germany?
A: I find it modern and convenient. There are many places to visit and the surrounding suburbs are equally beautiful. Public parks are numerous and they’re the best places to go to for a relaxing weekend. I get to enjoy the things that I also enjoyed in Japan. Although clothing can be a bit expensive, I learned that the best time to buy is during end of season sales! I also found that there are many local shops selling goods at reasonable prices.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: That all shopping centers are closed on Sundays! I am not very used to this since back home and back in Japan, the shops are all open.
Q: Is the city safe?
A: Yes, I think it is safe enough.
About living in Stuttgart
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Stuttgart as an expat?
A: I guess it would all depend on your needs. Before moving here, we were given a week to visit Germany for an information trip for us to have a feel of the country, and specifically the city where we are most likely to live. When looking for the best place to live, one has to consider accessibility, security, convenience, the neighbourhood and the likes. We looked into many areas, in the suburbs and within the city and chose the place that we think will best fit our needs.
Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation?
A: I will rate our accommodation here 9 out of 10, 10 being the highest.
Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Compared to cost of living in the Philippines, I would say that it is very expensive. Compared to Japan, it is more or less the same. Dining out though could be very expensive so we try to minimise it here.
Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: The locals are nice enough but you know how it is with the Germans. They are not well known to be very warm people. Nevertheless, I cannot generalize because I don’t really have German friends. We mix mainly with fellow Filipino expats.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: It was easy enough. We found our friends in the church. There is the saying of the Filipinos that goes: “If you want to meet other Filipinos, go to the church and you are sure to find one.” However, meeting locals is hard because I still have a disability with the language. Although I have my German language lessons, I am still not comfortable using it.
Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move?
A: We did have assistance from a relocation company that my husband’s company appointed to help us in our move. That’s why it was quite easy to settle in terms of the living accommodations.
Family and children
Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home?
A: I don’t think we had major problems adjusting to our new home mainly because we have had a brief orientation before moving here. Nevertheless, there are a few minor ones like there are no TV shows in English except for CNN and BBC so that it was a headache. We got used to it though. Moreover, because rice is a staple food for us, it was difficult to have meals without rice on the table. We’re glad though that there are a number of Asian stores selling this kind of commodity.
Q: Did your children settle in easily?
A: For my two-year-old, I think she did. The only problem is that I think she has a difficulty in choosing which language to use because she watches German shows and we communicate with her in our dialect or in English.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Stuttgart?
A: If you have a health insurance, there is no problem when it comes to having a medical check-up or treatment. You must of course have a family doctor because you cannot just go to a specialist without the referral from your family doctor. I suggest looking for a family doctor that is of the same nationality as you so that you can communicate clearly. In my opinion, doctors here are not so vocal. They won’t bother to explain everything unless you ask them the right questions. As with most countries, you must get an appointment first otherwise, the doctor won’t see you. There are also emergency clinics and hospitals should an emergency arise. In addition, medicines, whether over the counter or prescribed can only be bought at the Apotheke.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: If you are moving into a new country, read the different resources available to you. Also, join forums and ask about the area where you will be moving in. Experience they say is the best teacher so that these people have a wealth of experience to share that will help you move in easier. There might probably be a number of support groups for expats available in the area around you too, and although I do not participate in them, I think they will be most helpful.
– Interviewed February 2010