Expat Voices: Raghav Sikka
American Raghav Sikka thinks Germany is a paradise for drivers, but would like to change the social system.
Name: Raghav Sikka
City of residence: Berlin
Date of birth: 20 June 1986
Civil status: Single
Reason for moving to Germany: Decided to do an intensive language course in Berlin so that I could speak German and be able to work in Europe’s coolest capital.
Lived in Germany for: just over a year
What was your first impression of Germany?
The first time I visited Germany I thought it to be an organised and a well-planned country. This was mainly due to the top class public transportation and the social security system. Although because of the East-West division in Berlin, I felt the city was still developing and had both good and the ugly parts.
What do you think of the food?
The food in Germany is very meat-based. Some of their specialties include Kassler with Sauerkraut (thin sliced pork and shredded cabbage), Eisbein (boiled pork leg) and Bratwurst/Currywurst (typical German sausages). Apart from the regular German food, one can find a fine selection of Italian, Indian and Thai restaurants. Mini pizzas and Döner kebab rolls are also very popular among the German people.
What do you think of the shopping in Germany?
Berlin has overtaken Düsseldorf as the fashion capital of Germany. Due to Fashion Week and fairs like Bread and Butter taking place in Berlin, it is opening up more and more trendy boutiques/shops for the fashionable in the city. However the regular department stores and shopping malls are scattered throughout the country. In my opinion, Germany offers the best sporting wear in the world.
What do you appreciate about living in Germany?
I appreciate how Germans are so systematic and time conscious in their daily lives. I love the fact that there is no speed limit on highways in Germany. For those who love driving it is a drivers’ paradise.
What do you find most frustrating about living in Germany?
Those of the older generation who are still living in the past and can simply not stop complaining about Turkish, Russian and other foreigners living here. On the other hand I am always curious to understand the thinking gap between the young and the old.
What puzzles you about Germany and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
For me it is quite astonishing that everything is shut on Sundays and one is not allowed to make any kind of noise in the house. I have been told off for vacuuming my apartment. From time to time I miss home food.
How does the quality of life in Germany compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
Living in Berlin is relatively inexpensive compared to other European capitals like London, Paris and Barcelona. The centre of Berlin is more expensive and has a much better quality of life than other areas within the city.
If you could change anything about Germany, what would it be?
I would try to change the social system that cuts a large amount of taxes from the people working and provides for those who are unemployed or simply do not want to earn money. Investing more in the educational system and focusing on unemployment issues would improve this situation.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Learn German in Germany so that you can experience the culture to the fullest. There are tremendous opportunities if you are familiar with the language.
Photo credits: Raghav Sikka
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