When people move to a new country, culture shocks are a common phenomenon. In that regard, Hermien was lucky when she moved from Johannesburg to Munich for three months as part of a BSH job rotation. “I had been working for BSH for eight years and had already traveled to the Munich headquarters at least once a year.” So she was familiar with Germany and had always felt welcome there.
In South Africa, Hermien is BSH’s Head of Accounting and Controlling. She is a member of BSH’s talent program which offers employees the possibility to work in a different field at a foreign BSH location for three months to strengthen interdisciplinary skills. When Hermien got the chance to move to Munich, she and her family did not have to think long about it. So in 2018, Hermien embarked on the adventure with her husband and two daughters.
Off to new beginnings
Every new start comes with its challenges, and in Hermien’s case, it was not different. “We only had one week to organize our move,” she remembers. The first challenge: finding a home. “It wasn’t easy to find an accommodation suitable for a family for three months.” The second challenge: finding daycare for their three and five-year-old girls. Luckily, Hermien’s husband was working remotely for the three months period. With this flexibility, he was able to take care of them during the day.
It didn’t take the family long to settle in and discover the positive sides of Munich: “The commute with the Munich transport system is really convenient compared to Johannesburg,” she says. “Also, it is really safe to live here. We were amazed at the cars being parked outside in the streets. That would be a no-go in South Africa.” The biggest adjustment, according to Hermien: the food. “It took a while to adapt to what is available in the shops and our normal way of cooking. In South Africa, it consists of a lot of meat.” But with Germany known to be country of meat lovers as well, their adaptation to local food culture was a smooth one.
At the BSH headquarter in Munich, Hermien worked in the transformation team of the Customer Service Department – an unusual experience for her. “I am used to being in control. But here I had a new function, in a new department, with a different way of working. I was definitely outside my comfort zone!” Still, her colleagues made her feel comfortable from the very beginning. “They were amazing. I met people from different countries and departments, people I would not have gotten to know in my usual work life.”
Once they had settled, Hermien and her family used their time to travel over the weekends and explore the country. They also quite enjoyed the festive season, frequently visiting Christmas markets in and around Munich. All too soon, their stay came to an end. “We were so surprised at how quick the time flew by.” Back in South Africa, Hermien still likes to cast her mind back to the memorable Munich months – all made possible by the “Broaden your Perspective” initiative.