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Meet the Expat – Rebecca Hilton in Germany

In this week’s interview we head over to Germany to talk to Rebecca who moved there from the UK (via Thailand) with her young family.

We have been in Germany for two years and I feel settled…so we will be on the move again soon!

Cheers from the Wiesbaden Festival, Germany!
Cheers from the Wiesbaden Festival!

Where do you live now, and where did you move from?

I’m British and at the moment I live in Germany.

Is this the first time you’ve been an expat? If not, where have you lived before? If so, what was the leaving process like?

This is the second country we have moved to as a family. The first was Thailand, and we moved there from the UK back in 2013. How was it leaving the UK? Hard! Asia seemed so far away, and we had two young children. My husband left a few months before me, and I carried on working, looking after the family and packing everything up. I was so exhausted by the time we left that I slept the whole way on the plane – and thankfully, so did the kids! Saying goodbye to people you love is hard, and while the moves get easier, being apart from the people you are closest to never does.

Bathing elephants in Chaing Mai, Thailand
Another amazing experience was giving these gorgeous elephants a bath in Chaing Mai, Thailand

How do you spend your time? Do you work?

I worked in marketing and change management right up until we left the UK. Now, when I am not looking after the children, I spend my time writing, which has always been a passion. I have recently set up an online book club for expats – I love to read, and I think books are a wonderful way to connect with other people. I also run coaching sessions to help other expats find their feet.

What do you miss most from home?

My family. My friends. And Yorkshire tea…

What do you appreciate the most in your adopted country?

There are so many wonderful things about living in Germany, but I think the fresh air and beautiful, diverse landscapes are what I like best.

The German countryside where we live
The German countryside where we live

We loved living in Asia and travelling to new places, spending time at the beach and discovering new things. But it’s wonderful to be back in Europe, and for our children to experience the galleries, museums and culture that we grew up with.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia
A visit to Angkor Wat in Cambodia was one of the highlights of our time in Asia

How did you make new friends in your new home?

I am lucky that my kids go to an international school so it’s easy to meet other people who are in a similar situation. I also set up a book club which has been a great way of meeting new people. I have now extended this online to a virtual book club, called Expat Book Club. We’re on facebook and Instagram, and everyone is welcome!

Have you started learning the language? Any tips on the best way to do it?

I was completely clueless about German before we moved. I had lessons for a year and I always try to speak German when I am out and about. Most Germans speak amazing English here though, so my attempts to practise don’t get too far! My tips would be to just try – even if you feel silly, even if you get it wrong, make the effort.

Do you obviously stand out as being foreign? What’s your experience with this?

Nope. In Bangkok where we were obviously foreign, but here people think we are German. Until we open our mouths…

If you have children, what are your observations on Third Culture Kids?

My kids don’t identify as TCKs, but they are incredibly adaptable. They are always quick to make friends, and always eager to learn about different cultures.

Children playing with a dog in Germany
The countryside where we live is perfect for family life

Any tips for beating home sickness? 

Keep busy. Throw yourself into the task of making friends and establishing a new social life. But maintain links with home. Make sure you have your creature comforts – photographs, your favourite drink or food from home.

What’s the most common question you are asked about being an expat?

When are you coming home?

How does the cost of living compare to where you were before? Anything that really surprised you as being particularly cheap or expensive?

Compared to Thailand, breakfast cereal is cheap here, as is wine! Eating out is more expensive. I miss Thai street food!

Wiesbaden Festival
Another thing I love about Germany is all the different festivals…my favourite is this one, the Weinfest, which takes place in Wiesbaden every August

 

Are you settled here now? Or do you plan to move on one day?

We have been in Germany for two years and I feel settled…so we will be on the move again soon!

Would you share something embarrassing that happened to you as an expat (but that makes you smile when you look back)?

Loads of things! I feel like I am always embarrassing myself… Lots of language related cringes here in Germany. I always embarrass my kids as I get languages mixed up. When we moved to Germany I kept saying ‘thank you’ in Thai and it drove the kids mad!

And finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone considering moving to where you live, what would it be?

If you are considering a move to Germany, think carefully about where you will live. If you are not fluent in German, a big city will be better. Remember that shops are closed on Sundays…I now enjoy this, as it means we spend time with family and friends.

Rebecca Hilton

Keep in touch!

You can hear more from Rebecca on her website Making Here Home and you can follow her on social media using these links:

 

Would you like to be featured? Send us an email to [email protected] with your responses, together with at least four good quality photographs.

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