Thursday, August 20, 2009

What to bring to Germany Part II

Are you moving to Germany? Since my first post on this failed and I ended up just confusing everyone, I thought I would try this again after a conversation recently with some other expats including the lovely Snooker.

First, I will qualify this by saying that you can find almost everything in Germany. I myself moved here with my son and hubby and 6 suitcases. We didn't bring anything else over. We tried to adapt as much as possible.

I know that we can substitute and often find things that are better. Contact lens solution was one thing I found that I love here and is a bit cheaper. (I use the DM generic brand) However, we are on a budget, we both work and take care of a little one. Sometimes, we don't feel very "adventurous."

And once in awhile, I just want to be comforted by things that I am familiar with especially when I am sick. I am living in a country where many things are unfamiliar to me not at the least, the language.

Here is my new and improved list after one year of living that I have not found suitable substitutions for. Please remember folks, I am in Berlin with no car. I don't have access to stores like Real or Kaufland (and most of the time, I am glad that I don't!)
  1. Drugs - No, not that kind my silly readers (that is plentiful here as far as I have smelled!) Tylenol, NyQuil, Ibuprofen, Sudafed and even things like witch hazel (hydrogen peroxide) and isopropyl alcohol are not to be found here as easily or as cheaply. To give you an example, I recently had emergency but minor surgery which left me in enormous pain. They gave me 6 Paracetamol (tylenol for the NA folks reading) and told me I could get more from my Dr if I needed them. I usually refrain from using medicine (unlike a lot of American stereotypes) but I really wanted to be able to sleep fairly pain free. I don't even think the dosage was as strong as the OTC in the US.
  2. Baking Powder - they sell backpulver here but it doesn't work the same as the double reactive baking powder found in North America. You can add more but eventually your food items begin tasting more like backpulver and don't ever achieve that wonderful fluffiness we love. You can find baking soda (Natriumbicarbonat or Natron) here but they sell it in small packets instead of big boxes.
  3. Chocolate Chips - You can occasionally find a small 2 oz bag of Schokolade Tropfen that cost an arm and a leg but unless you want to chop up chocolate by yourself, you will be choco chip cookieless for your time here.
  4. Fig cookies. Ok, so maybe you aren't a big fan of these as I am (My name is Yelli and I am addicted) but you can not find them anywhere. (PCC had the most delicious whole wheat fig cookies-Yummy!)
  5. Pillows - see my post here to see what monstrosities-they-call-pillows one is most likely to find here. If you can't deal with these, BYOP.
  6. Craft supplies - If you like to do crafts with kids or just yourself, it can be quite difficult to find even simple things like pipe cleaners chenille strips, googly eyes, wax paper, felt etc...
  7. Vanilla - You can make your own (vanilla beans are super cheap on but it takes while so bring a few small bottles to tie you over.
  8. Hot sauce - 'nuff said
  9. BBQ sauce - I have seen Jack Daniel's BBQ sauce here a few times but if you like BBQ sauce without high fructose syrup in it, bring your own!
  10. Calender - If you are like me and can't remember US holidays, bring a calender with you. We made a calender at Snapfish and put pictures of our family members on there as well.
  11. Clothes especially Jeans - I have not had much luck finding jeans that fit me as well as the jeans brand I like in the States. Also, if you are going to end up buying American brand jeans anyways, (i.e. Levis) prepare for sticker shock. The H & M jeans I found fell apart after a few weeks so I also do not recommend buying poor quality jeans here as a substitute. I have to admit, it really annoys me to pay 3X more for cheap clothes that fall apart.
  12. measuring spoons - I am now a digital scale convert instead of measuring cups so I didn't bother to put those on the list but I do occasionally use my old recipes and measuring spoons are invaluable to me.
  13. pie pans - you can't find pie pans here. There isn't even really a word to translate the word pie and the Germans think you are nuts when you try to describe it to them. They do however, eat them up as fast as you can make them!
  14. English books and movies - You can find them here in Berlin and I am sure elsewhere. St. George's will order almost anything for you but again, they are expensive. also has a good selection. In addition, if you plan on watching German or British movies, remember that they are a different region code than the US and will not play unless you have a region free DVD player (including laptops)
  15. Specialty spices - taco seasoning (which you can make), cream of tartar, etc. If you think it is strange, bring it along!
  16. Ceaser Salad Dressing - I don't know if I recommend bringing this over but I certainly have not found this dinner staple of mine. in Germany anywhere.
"You adapt. You innovate. You overcome diversity."
- unknown author

Anything important I miss?

Stay tuned for what NOT to bring when moving to Germany...


Harvey Morrell said...

Just a couple of nits: BBQ sauce is easy to make and tastes better than anything you can get bottled. Same with hot sauce. In Munich, you can find both in the Kaufhof near the train station at Stachus, however.

As for DVD's, as long as you have a computer, you have a software app that lets you play any DVD from any country on any platform (Mac, Linux, Windows)=VLC Player.

Your reference to pies and pie pans is dead on, and made me smile.

christina said...

Pie pans! Fig Newtons! Yes, yes! First thing I do when we get to Vancouver is run into WalMart and buy up all the baking pans I can find. And my kids keep asking me WHY there are no Fig Newtons here.

Carol said...

Pillows?! Too funny! We work so hard to outfit our German bedding habit in America! Tell you what? I'll send you an endless supply of American pillows if you send me German Bettwaesche! They do NOT sell them here, even at Ikea! Drives me nuts! I've written about this whole German bedding topic often:



Michael said...

pie pan - Do you mean a "rundes Backblech"?

cliff1976 said...

Michael> some of those look suitable for pies, but not all of them. My excellent wife found exactly what we needed for baking pies in Poland. Take a look at the lowest piece of pottery in the image.

Michael said...

Maybe Tarteform is the right german word then?
In Germany "Haushaltswarengeschäfte" (household supply stores) offer these kind of baking form.

christina said...

@Michael - There's a big difference between a tart pan and a pie pan and the ones sold here are larger and really more for French tarts and quiches than good old American pies. :-)

Snooker said...

Oh woe is me! I must admit that within two months of moving to Germany I received my one and only care package. What was it? Pie pans, brown sugar and vanilla. I've since found brown sugar and although I've lost one pie pan (ya just lose these things around the Germs - I secretly suspect they stole it just for the pie that was in it), I'm pretty well set these days.

What you missed on your list is every single official identification/marriage/birth paper in triplicate, translated, signed and duly stamped by an official. You MUST have these as well.