Are you coming to Germany from Ghana or Africa for the first time? Here is a list of 10 things to do before coming. This list was inspired by what I went through when I first came as well as stories by friends and family. It is in no way a comprehensive list of things to do before coming. It is just a basic guide I recommend to first timers “Johnny just come”:
1. BUY, BORROW, GET A JACKET
Unless it is in the middle of summer or you have been told by someone in Germany not to, you need a proper jacket. It is mostly cold even at the airport and this cold is not something you probably ever experienced before. If you don’t get one, pack layers of heavy long-sleeved clothes in your carry on luggage. Trust me on this one.
2. BUY AN ENGLISH-GERMAN DICTIONARY OR DOWNLOAD ONE.
Contrary to what most Ghanaians think, English is not widely spoken in Germany. Unless you have a bilingual friend (in my case husband), you cannot get around with English in my opinion. Better still, do yourself a favour and learn a little german online.
3.READ ABOUT THE MEDICAL SYSTEM.
In most African countries, you can buy pretty much any drug over the counter at a pharmacy. In Germany , however, you need a prescription from a doctor before you can buy most medicines. It is quite strict. Also, unless you have an emergency,when you are sick, you don’t go to the hospital. You first go to a general doctor (Hausarzt, Familienarzt) with your (travel) insurance.
4. CHANGE YOUR CURRENCY (GHANA CEDI)
This point especially applies to Ghanaians because most other African currencies can be changed in Germany. The Ghanaian cedi cannot be changed here so get your Euros (preferably), from Ghana before coming.
5. TAKE ALL YOUR DOCUMENTS
Have your documents like birth certificates, passport and even school certificates in order. German officials are sticklers for rules and there is no in-between.
6. BRING YOUR DRIVERS’ LICENCE
Come with your drivers’ licence (translated by the Goethe Institute) or an International drivers’ licence. You can drive with your licence for 6 months after which you are required to get a German one. More on this in another post.
7.BRING YOUR TOILETRIES
When coming to Germany for the first time,bring your lotions, cremes, make up, weave/hair and other toiletries. It is difficult to get most products suitable to Africans here. Most brands here do not make products for blacks. You might get some from Africa/Asian shops but they may be too expensive. Besides,there are no African/Asian shops in some towns and there are just a few online ones that ship to other towns.
8. OBEY THE RULES
”When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Start these before coming.
b. cross the road without using the pedestrian walk way.
c. exceed the speed limit
d. Take someone’s right of way ( this I learnt the hard way)
These rules are strict and come with various fines and punishments
9. BE PREPARED TO BE BORED
For the first few months, you are likely to be bored because it is a new environment and you have no friends. But hey, don’t despair. Things will get better when you finally make new friends. In the meantime, get busy. Find a new hobby to keep you from thinking too much.
10. KEEP YOUR GOOD NEWS TO YOURSELF
When you get your visa, keep your good news to yourself .If you believe in Juju,”African electronics” , then wait and share only after you have reached.
These are my 10 things to do/know before coming to Germany. I would like to here about yours. Leave yours in the comment section. Thank you.