My husband and I met in NZ where we also lived for a few years. In NZ people are very openminded, everyone accepts the fact that it is a pot of different cultures and nationalities. They are interested in people from overseas, want to get to know them better and don't mind when their English is not the best.
My husband said that he'd love to come to Austria, as there is no future for us in ZA. I've always known that this was a big step for him and thought it was a very 'brave' thing to do.
2,5 months ago we arrived here. The first 3 weeks it wasn't easy for him, I tried as much as I could to make him happy, but he wasn't really. Luckily he settled in better and better and started enjoying life here.
Unfortunately I had to find out a lot of negative things about my homecountry: foreigners are not really welcome here, hardly anyone is interested in you and where u r from and hardly anyone would try to speak a bit of English. (apart from that everyone seems to smoke in this country)
My husband started his 2nd job, as the first one didn't work out at all. He asked people there many times to speak slowly, but they wouldn't. He got shown how to do his job by other collegues and when the supervirsor came everything he di, wasn't the right way. Because of German skills he couldn't explain what was happening. He got really frustrated so I went to see his boss. I asked here if it was possible that they could smoke less on the way to work (as there were 6 people and only my husband a non smoker) and also explained to her, that he felt a bit unhappy about things which ended in 'She's not gonna let him discriminate smokers and if he's unhappy, it would be better for him to find a different job'.
So he's been doing another job for about 3weeks and the same is starting all over again: he asks people to speak slowly (it is also very noisy in the factory), but they just don't (and after askign them many times he gave up). The supervisor is not always happy with what he's doing, but that's the way he was shown things by his woking mates. It is his first month there, which is a 'trial month', so we (I?) better get things sorted now. Last night he was so frustrated and grumpy that I didn't want to discuss things with him. I suggested once to go there and talk to the people, but he didn't want me to. This morning I got a txt saying 'They r talking about me'- and when I read it, I knew exactly how he felt.
Do they think he's stupid? That he doesn't understand what they r saying? What is wrong with people here?
I really don't know how long it's gonna take until he'll find a job, where it is not a big deal to talk a bit more slowly or where u'll find 1 person (out of over a 100) who can speak a little bit of English and who could offer him to help out.
At the moment I just feel like crying, because he deserves so much better. He is a great guy, hard working, reliable, funny, extremley considerate and sensitive. Sometimes I wonder if he's too sensitive and maybe should just give a shit about people. But that's him: caring about everybody and trying to make everyone happy...
advice is highly appreciated. Would like to know as well, if there are other people going throug the same...
sorry if this message got a bit long...
It sounds like you are letting this affect your relationship.
One of the lessons is to learn not to let things get to you.
My sister knew no German when she first moved there and found a similar recieption, but she stuck it out, took german lessons and never let anyone get to her.
She's now been living there for about 15years.
I wouldn't advise fighting your husbands battle for his, support him yes. Talking to his work boss just causes resentment.
Don't let petty minded behaviour ruin you life, good luck and hope things get better soon. All else fails i'd move.
What to say? Moving to a foreign country with its own cultural ways and languages is a tremendous emotional and financial challenge (but you know that). And unfortunately many cultural differences arise (or are greatly emphasized) in the workplace. It will take time and much patience. The language will become easier with time, but personal frustrations (large or small) often are intensified by perceived (and real) feelings of alienation and misunderstanding. Whether slights are real or only imagined, they cut deeper when living in a foreign culture. Things will get better, but this could take much longer than a year; there will be progress, but also setbacks.
Difficulties with language intensify the problems. Unfortunately not everyone is capable of communicating well with non-native speakers. After five years in Germany I still notice that there are some people with whom I simply have much greater difficulty making myself understood and understanding them. And stress makes this even worse (which unfortunately is exactly what one has in a new work situation). Is your husband attending any language classes? If he is working then he probably doesn't have the time for this.
One thing that seems critical is for your husband to establish a good relationship with at least some of his work colleagues. I am completely, overwhelmingly sympathetic to your problem with the smoking. Germany is the same; one has the feeling here that one has returned to a previous century sometimes. But although this is finally beginning to change, it is still the commonly held view (even by Germans who otherwise dislike it) that smoking anywhere one pleases is more or less a "God-given right" (if you will). This will change as Germany (and perhaps Austria) come into the "modern times", but -- to make a long story short, your husband (for now, at least) may have to choose between getting away from the smoke or getting on with the work colleagues. I know that this sounds terrible, but that is still in many places here the reality.
So, nonethessless, tell your husband that he is not alone and to hang in there as best possible and to think about the good things in life here; and let him know that many of us have been in just his position. (You might also want to look into joining an expats mailing list for more moral support and advice.)
[ Edit: Edited at Oct 17, 2006 10:22 AM by pfeiffer ]
Thanks a lot guys for ur posts, I appreciate it heaps!
It also made me think a lot and there were a few statements I really liked.
Yes my husband is doing a German Course. A new law came out in January saying: if you apply for any kind of permit (residence/work etc.) you accept the 'Integration Agreement", which means: you have 5yrs to do a German course and an exam. If you do the whole thing in 1yrs time you get 50% of ur money back.
Last night we had a big talk, but as I was emotionally upset myself, it wasn't a great conversation. But I also realised at the same time, that I let him make me upset, so another thing I've learned to stop 'letting it get to me'. At least I told him options he (we) had and I guess it opened his eyes a bit more as well.
I guess it's the whole situation we're in and everything we've been through. Just for once it would be nice, if things went a bit smoother... but well, that's life and we're here to learn.
Kevin, what is that email list thing u talked about? can you give me some more information on that? sounds pretty interesting!
I also experienced the same in NZ when I worked at a Childcare Centre, that some parents just didn't get my jokes, while others at the same time cracked up laughing
thanks a again for ur advice
P.S. looked at ur profile Jason and I found it very humorous
I think i understand the problems, your husband is having. I am from Ireland, and live in Bavaria. The attitude towards foreigners, in Bavaria, is similiar to the the attitude towards foreigners, in Austria.
Peole are unpleasant, to foreigners, to say the least. I think u should ignore the unpleasantness, until your husband can get a job someplace else.
If u want to stay in Europe, in a German speaking country, i would suggest the north of Germany. It is a much easier place, for foreigners, to live.
I think it will make no difference, if your husband gets a different job, in Austria. He is likely to get the same attitude, from his new colleagues.
When my boyfriends gets a good enough job someplace else, we will never come back to Bavaria. The people are the most narrow minded and petty minded people i have ever had the misfortune to live near.
Just my two cents'... I used to get emotionally wrapped up in whatever my b/f at the time was feeling. If things were going badly at his work, it made me upset. If he was mad at his boss, so was I. I finally realized it's a lot better when one person in the couple is mad at a time. Your husband is naturally upset and frustrated at being in a new place and speaking a new language and not being quickly accepted. Give him time to get accustomd to it, and try not to fuel the fire, which I completely understand is easy to do. Look at it as a tag-team effort: it's your turn to be the strong one and offer support without getting emotionally caught up in everything.
Good luck! Hard stuff happens so we appreciate all the good stuff that follows.
yes, good things happen. At work there was a new guy today and for the first time he had a nice conversation with someone there! (mix of German and English)
I'm usually a very positive person, but it just got to me the other day... I guess the main reason is, because it is all about my husband's happiness...
Mel, all the best for u guys in Germany. If you r fed up, come for a holiday to Austria
There are also nice people living here... like Charles and I