Sarah, 32 years old, from Melbourne, has been living in Germany for two years with her husband and three children. The youngest was born a year ago in Fürth. Her eldest daughter Ruby attends the first class of primary school, her middle child, Lily, goes to day care. Her husband has found a job in Germany without any German-language skills. His specialist expertise was enough for a large telecommunications company to be able to start in English right away.
In their home country, they were both working, however in Germany the young woman is concentrating first and foremost on settling-in and on the children. The connection to home is maintained through Telegram and other messenger services. The physical contact is missing, but the telephone calls, photos and videos help to keep family and friends up to date and vice versa.
It is precisely these social media platforms that Sarah also uses to exchange views and experiences with other women from her country and to ask questions on issues that arise in her everyday life here in Germany.
How do you get a place in a day-care centre here and what does "settling in" mean? Why and how do I have to find a paediatrician and which vaccinations are compulsory? Do you know of any free digital opportunities to learn German? Where can I get Vegemite? What do you read to the children and does anybody know of an English language children’s bookshop? Do you have an English-speaking gynaecologist to recommend and what do I have to consider when I am pregnant for the first time here in Germany?
The advice is not always accurate, but the opportunity to exchange ideas with like-minded people in groups on social media is a very important support and orientation point in everyday life for them.
18 months have passed, and Sarah has successfully completed an integration course and now has German language skills at B1 level. The children are well integrated in Kindergarten and school, so that she now has more time to focus on her own professional goals. She has a degree in mathematics, but she does not want to pursue an academic career; rather, she is interested in working as an auditor or tax clerk. Her language skills are not yet sufficient to tackle a qualification, but what would be the best steps to take? She asks in social media groups whether anyone has had a similar experience.