Personal statement – Brian Holland, Munich Re Group
What do you like best in Munich?
My favorite aspects of Munich life are its variety and safety. There are outdoor leisure activities, outdoor fitness activities, indoor fitness activities and endless indoor cultural offerings. As a parent of small children it is difficult to imagine a safer, more interesting place for them to be.
How would you evaluate the leisure facilities and cultural offerings in Munich? What’s your favourite place to go?
There are many performance venues here, and restaurants from cuisines around the world.
I have no overriding favourite place due to the wide variety. A favourite is walking in the city near the river. To view the mix of cityscape and natural beauty is enjoyable, especially when we stop at the occasional playground conveniently near a biergarten.
How would you describe the city and the mentality of its inhabitants?
Munich is a big small town despite being cosmopolitan. People are used to tourists asking questions and are helpful. They often swap to English when they hear my funny accent. It’s surprisingly quiet here, and people respect your space, even on the train. In some cities there isn’t room to sit during a commute, but here I’ve rarely had an issue.
Which advice would you give newcomers?
I’d first establish communication lines to home, to the expat community, and then get involved in some community activity of interest. The people here are quite social in the sense of having many clubs organized around activities like sports. If you’re new to the language then I would strongly recommend hitting German hard for the first several months, even though some get by quite well for years with only English. There are schools called Volkshochschulen that offer everything – languages, cooking, harmonica playing, you name it. As soon as you get your legs in German, expand your experience with the language so it will stick, and you will also learn about something you’re already interested in.
How does Munich differ from your previous residence?
I lived in Atlanta before, and here we can get around without cars. Munich and Atlanta are organized on different principles. You can’t get anywhere in Atlanta without a car. Atlanta can’t compete with Munich’s cultural offerings, and Munich is a denser city. Both have scenic wild areas within the city.
Which kindergartens and schools would you recommend, and why?
There are international private schools that are more oriented to an Anglophone system. The German system is quite different from the US system.
What would you like to do in Munich if you had 4 hours to spend?
I might visit the Müllersches Volksbad or catch a Munich 1860 soccer game in the Allianz Arena.