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Germany has always had a bad rep when it comes to customer service. In fact, many people refer to their lack of customer service as a service desert.”

When I first moved to Germany, I really braced myself for this, and was surprised that it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I mean it’s not even in the same ballpark as the sort of service I’m used to in North America, but in the end, transactions tend to end with a “thank you, bye” and no limbs were lost.

That was during my first year in Germany, when I lived in Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg. Sure customer service might not always include a friendly smile or a “have a great day!”, but in the end, I still liked Germany and wrote off the experience as just a difference in culture.

It wasn’t until I moved to Bavaria when that all changed.

Suddenly, bad customer service didn’t just mean no service, but horrible to the point where people have been aggressive, insulting and out-right abusive. Of course, it’s not like all service I’ve received in Bavaria have been horrifying, but I’ve definitely felt it enough to never want to live there again.

In North America, there’s the saying, “the customer is always right” and if you worked in retail or hospitality (which I did throughout high school and uni), you would know that managers tend to drill that into your head, even if you don’t always believe it. In Germany however, it seems like they’ll do everything possible to prove that the customer is always wrong.

Here are four go the worst customer service experiences I’ve ever received (ironically enough all except one happened in Munich), ending with a recent highly unpleasant encounter with CleverFit Munich. Just how bad is German customer service?

Read on…

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10 tips for succeeding in a Skype interview

by Michelle on August 13, 2015 · 0 comments

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One of the best ways of traveling and seeing a new country is no doubt working abroad. Sure there’s plenty of other ways like backpacking, studying or volunteering abroad, but I love working abroad because it not only exposes you to so much cultural aspects of a country and helps to finance your stay (and weekend trips!), but also it’s great to have on your resume and lets you build your career despite moving around to different countries.

Some people worry that travel might strain their career opportunities later on in life, but I think quite the opposite. I think it’s great having international work experience on your resume to really set yourself apart from your competition. As much as I love travelling, I feel like life is unfulfilling without having a successful career, so why not have the best of both worlds?

Before landing your perfect, wonderfully exotic job though, there’s of course the application process, and the interviews. For those familiar with working abroad, then you already know this consists of lots of Skype interviews.

For some, Skype interviews are great! It’s not everyday you get to talk to your potential boss while still being in your underwear from waist down. For others, Skype interviews can be pretty dreadful. I definitely used to fall into the latter way of thinking – I’m great with in-person interviews but when it comes to Skype interviews, I’ve definitely had some embarrassing and awkward first few attempts at them.

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Before moving to the Netherlands, I’ve definitely been guilty of forgetting that there’s more to the country than just Amsterdam. Even with my friends abroad, although I’ve mentioned that I currently live in Utrecht, almost all of them tend to always ask me, “how’s Amsterdam?”

While Amsterdam is no doubt a really amazing city, for those planning a visit to the Netherlands, here are some of my other favourite Dutch cities for those who want to experience some Dutch places that are off the beaten path! (Also stay tuned for an upcoming post on scenic place in the Netherlands to check out)

1. Utrecht

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Ok I’m probably biased for listing Utrecht first since I live there but it’s definitely one of the most quintessentially Dutch cities you can get. There’s lots of pretty Dutch style houses (those long and narrow ones), the occasional windmill here and there and even their own special canals that are located below street level and lined with restaurants (the pancake restaurants are a must!) and cafes (in fact these “wharves” are one of a kind in the world!).

Utrecht is also known as having the second most cultural events in the country after Amsterdam. In fact, I’ve been describing Utrecht to friends as “Amsterdam without the Red Light District.”

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General Observations about the Dutch

by Michelle on July 7, 2015 · 12 comments

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Since I’ve been living in the Netherlands for almost 3 months now (it goes by so fast!), I thought a post about the Netherlands is in order. When I moved to Germany, I already knew tons of stereotypes and cultural facts about the country so their “foreignness” was quite easy to understand. Although I’ve been to the Netherlands (well Amsterdam) a few times before, the Dutch largely still remains somewhat of a mystery since they’re not exactly widely talked about by non-Dutch people.

And while I still haven’t fully uncovered the mystery of their ways, there are some observations I’ve made during my time here!

1. Everyone is tall and skinny

This is definitely true where I live (in the Utrecht/Amsterdam area) although having gone to the south of the Netherlands, people don’t seem as tall or skinny as their northern counterparts. It’s not uncommon finding girls who are 6′ tall, although being 5’5, surprisingly I don’t feel that short. There’s actually quite a few Dutch girls my height, but anything shorter is definitely a rarity.

When it comes to being skinny, I find it really impressive how fit people here stay, even well into old age. I read somewhere that obesity rates are increasing everywhere in the EU except for the Netherlands and it really shows. Especially coming from Bavaria where everyone seems to sport a beer belly, it’s definitely a change being here!

Interestingly, Dutch people also really love fried foods like fries (which is served in heaping piles!) and kroket (a long deep fried doughy thing filled with different kinds of meat) which you can get at any of the fast food “vending machines” scattered around a city. How do they stay skinny eating all of that still remains a mystery but judging by what my colleagues eat for lunch, the Dutch seem to prefer salads and other very light meals! Also they bike A LOT.

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My horrible experience with Nestpick and why I’ll never use them again

by Michelle June 21, 2015

When I was searching for apartments in Amsterdam and Utrecht, I discovered a website called Nestpick. For those of you who haven’t heard of Nestpick, it’s a site that lets you look for rooms online that are placed on the website by “verified” landlords. If you find one you like, you pay a deposit on the room and the landlord […]

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My trip to Amsterdam in April (and a guide to the Dutch Holiday Working Visa)

by Michelle May 31, 2015

After getting my internship offer, one of my major hurdles was figuring out how to work in the Netherlands. While I have a residence permit that lets me live and work in Germany, unfortunately that doesn’t extend to the rest of the EU countries. Luckily as a Canadian and under 30 years old, you can get a Holiday Working Visa […]

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Going Dutch! My move to the Netherlands and scoring my dream internship!

by Michelle May 12, 2015

April was definitely a month of changes. Since the beginning of March, I had been applying for internships. Originally I looked into internships with political organizations but as it turned out, doing a major in politics and even getting lots of A’s in my poli sci classes is not enough to beat out the intense competition. Afterwards I thought, what […]

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Paris, Part III (Versailles!)

by Michelle May 7, 2015

This is the last of the Paris series! I decided to group my 3rd and last day of Paris together in one post since I’m a bit behind in my posts…I’m currently living in the Netherlands and am really excited to give you guys all the updates in my next post! The palace of Versailles has been a place I’ve […]

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Paris, Part II

by Michelle April 30, 2015

The second day when we were in Paris was also my birthday. Turning 26 was pretty scary – especially that moment when you realize that now you’re closer to 30 than 20! It was similar to when I was 19 and was anticipating that big turn to 20, where I’ll no longer be a teen. I still remember then I […]

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My birthday in Paris, Part 1

by Michelle April 23, 2015

April has been one of the craziest months I’ve had in a long time. There’s so many upcoming changes in my life, including a move to another country in a week! I will definitely be filling you guys in on everything in the upcoming days/weeks! Anyway it was my birthday on the 18th and keeping with the tradition of traveling […]

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