Expat Voices: Pia Lappalainen on living in Germany
Finnish expat Pia Lappalainen loves living in the happening city of Berlin but wishes Germany didn’t like overdubbing movies so much.
Name: Pia Lappalainen
City of residence: Berlin
Civil status: Married
Occupation: Marketing freelancer
Reason for moving to Germany: I have lived in Germany three times now. First as a student, then I came here for a job and now I am back again for love.
What was your first impression of Germany?
My first memory is when I arrived in Bavaria and realized that the German I had learned at school was only remotely related to the language I was hearing around me.
What do you think of the food?
I prefer the modern, lighter dishes to the hearty traditional ones. Bread is fantastic and you can find all possible sorts under the sun. In the bigger cities, such as Berlin, the restaurant options are extremely international – unending and of outstanding quality. It makes it easy to avoid cooking at home.
What do you think of the shopping in Germany?
I love shopping and I have a thing for accessories. Shopping for clothes is great in Berlin. It has all the big fashion brands as well as edgy local designers. It is nice to be able to avoid the chain stores and go for more individual choices.
What do you appreciate about living in Germany?
I like the fact that everything works and is safe and trustworthy. Also a big country in the middle of Europe offers many professional opportunities; the whole continent is easily accessible. I also think that Berlin is one of the most happening cities in Europe, it feels good to be here.
What do you find most frustrating about living in Germany?
For a movie buff like me, dubbing all the feature films is hands down the most frustrating aspect around. Luckily, Berlin has a number of theatres that are showing original versions.
What puzzles you about German culture and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
The formality even in small, everyday encounters puzzles me. It took me a long time to accept the polite form of address as something normal people do here and not feel stifled by it.
I have lived abroad for the past 15 years and sometimes I miss using the finer nuances of my mother tongue. All in all, it is family and friends I miss most. Every now and then I also get a craving for Finnish edible treats like salty licorice, blueberry soup and chocolate porridge.
How does the quality of life in Germany compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
The quality of life is high in Germany. There is noticeable wealth in the country and that makes “everything” available. People are environmentally conscious and this consumer demand has made it easier to find and use organic or sustainable options for everyday needs. I must say though, the weather does not add to the overall quality of life score.
If you could change anything about Germany, what would it be?
I would introduce a resident ID card that would be available for non-citizens also. That would make all sorts of registering and signing up so much easier.
Also all TV channels should come with second audio programs where viewers could decide between the synchronized and the original language versions at their own discretion.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
First and foremost, learn the language. Getting to know Germans is not always easy, they are friendly and willing to help but you need to make the move and approach them first.
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