Roger Almenar is a Valencian engineer who is currently working in Munich. Valencia International sent a team of crack reporters to interview him. They sent us this report and we are hoping that one day they’ll come back and justify their expenses.
Why did you go to this place?
Housing and infant schools are difficult to find in the Munich area, so we started checking many different places, and when we found one place with suitable houses, it did not have any kindergarten places available, and viceversa. But we found possibilities to get both in the village where my wife would work, hence the decision.
What can you tell us about your parents and family?
Ehem, I have my brother who will be reading this, so I can’t say anything bad. We are a family of 7, with 4 boys (yes, we are still this young) and a girl. We grew up in Valencia, but all of us started leaving Valencia when we started to work.
Where did you study? (School(s) and University).
I studied in Salesianos’ school, and at the Technical University of Valencia. I was in Valencia until I left for my Diploma Thesis (in Stuttgart).
What other places have you lived apart from Valencia?
Stuttgart, Detroit, London, Madrid and now Holzkirchen (Munich)
Since when have you lived here?
We moved in October 2013.
City/town of residence:
Holzkirchen, 30km south of Munich, between Munich and the Alps.
Project Manager in the engineering field.
Reason for moving to your new country of residence:
My wife and I were working in Madrid, but we found a good opportunity to move (both with jobs) near Munich, and we agreed that it would be a good opportunity for us as well as for the kids to learn a new culture, new people, language, etc.
What was your first impression of your new country of residence?
Cold weatherwise. On the next day after the move we had a snowfall (beginning of October). At a first impression, the people are also cold, but after the first contact one notices they are actually very friendly.
What do you think of the food?
In terms of food we are OK with German cuisine. We also brought with us a couple of “paletillas” and other “embutidos” so that we wouldn’t forget some of the good things of Spain.
One thing we have learnt is that there is very little fish culture here, and strangely enough the meat culture is very different from Spain: many sauces and stews, but not easy to find a simple grilled steak.
Unfortunately, no paellas or “arroz al horno”.
And although beer is no food, I have to say it is really good, for food, for a chat, for friends, etc.
What do you think of the shopping?
I don’t like to go shopping (ehem, like most men), but I can tell that the prices are similar to Spain, if not slightly cheaper.
When doing the daily shopping, the biggest difference is the lack of fish, the small range of meat offered (in Spain one can find big areas for all types of meat), and the huge variety of milk and yogurt available here.
What do you appreciate about living in your new country of residence?
At the moment this is like an adventure, everything is new. But I do appreciate the safety in general, and the manners of the people when it comes to traffic difficulties (no problem changing lane or joining a new road, as most of the drivers will let you in without hassles).
In general, they are also very open to other people and cultures.
What do you find most frustrating about living in your new country of residence?
Not having sunlight for as long as in Spain. In winter there is no sun later than 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The thing is, one has to re-organise their body clock to make the most of daylight (getting up early at weekends, going to bed early, etc).
What surprises you the most and what do you miss the most since you’ve moved here?
Even though I had already been to Germany in the past, I am still trying to get used to all the paperwork required for any items: registration, work, phones, cars, etc. It seems as if they have been organising this for ages, and when you come it looks like a nightmare learning about all the procedures.
How does the quality of life here compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
The quality of life is pretty good in Germany, particularly in Bavaria. After having worked in USA, UK, Spain and Germany, I would tell you my preferred countries would be one of the last 3. But all of them have pros and cons; of course I would prefer to live in Valencia…. if it had the quality of work of Germany or UK.
If you could change anything about your new country of residence, what would it be?
More sun and a bit of friendlier weather, but then Germany would become Spain, wouldn’t it?
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
A lot of patience for all the paperwork and change in mentality. There are many things that you take for granted when living in your own country, then it causes many surprises when going abroad. But with this in mind, it is really an adventure to enjoy. I disagree with those people who say that moving abroad for job reasons is a tragedy. Of course thinking like this will make it even worse. In most cases it is an opportunity to grow as a person and as a professional.
How are people in your new country different from Valencians?
They are very open and interested in talking to “newcomers”. I believe in Spain we think we are very open to foreigners, but I am not sure this is true. At least I feel I have received better “welcomes” when arriving in foreign countries than in Spain.
Is your family with you? If so, how have they reacted?
Yes, we moved together. This is also an adventure for them, so they are very excited with the move. There are still some “pending” items with the language, but they will work it out fairly soon.
Under what circumstances would you return to Valencia?
Right now we don’t have this in our plans, so I can’t really tell.
Do you think that living abroad has changed you? How?
Yes, it helped me understand other people’s mindsets and other ways of thinking.
Who is important to you in your new country?
My family;, also those who remain in Spain.
What is a typical day like?
In a normal working day, we get up at 6am. After breakfast, we take the kids to the kindergarten and go to work at 8am, where we are until 16-17 more or less, when we pick up the kids and drive back home, spend some time together also having dinner at around 18:30, and everybody to bed earl…-ier than in Spain, between 20:30 and 22. Due to the weather, we have not spent much time going out together. We are looking forward to the summer, when we can go out for longer and have more fun outdoors.
Do people in your new place know much about Valencia and Spain?
They have all been to Spain at some point in time, for work or holiday, and they all loved it. So we only hear good things about the weather, the food, the way of life, etc. Most of the people know about Valencia because of trips or football, but not a lot of people have actually spent quality time in the city.