“Wow, I can’t believe in I’m living in Europe”
You probably won’t hear a European say very often a sentence like this but at the adidas Group it is common dinner repartee or lunchtime banter. Laughter often exudes from sharing of relocation antics and tribulations of dealing with a new language and culture. I’m still amazed everyday how many people I work with from all over the world here at the adidas Group headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany. I am myself a South African who relocated to Germany.
At the adidas Group’s headquarters more than 60 nationalities come together to push the industry leading brands to the next level. Thus, so many people working here are born in other countries and English is their second language. Every day seems like a learning experience, whether I’m invited over for a South African braai one week or celebrating Chinese New Year’s at a friend’s place the next or having a proper American BBQ over the weekend. Moving to a completely new country is hard work but its par for the course working within the adidas Group and you certainly have a community of people to make the experience manageable. And let’s be honest, the opportunity to work in a new culture, experience new places, new foods and new people is once in a lifetime.
Weekend drives through three countries in one day
When most entertain the idea of packing up and moving to a foreign destination, cosmopolitan and trendsetting places like Paris, Hong Kong and London usually top the list. I’m sure when most people think about life in Europe, Herzogenaurach in Germany, doesn’t top the list. For those of you who didn’t know: this thousand year old Bavarian village is situated in the centre of nine European countries, which can be easily accessed by train, automobile and inexpensive flights. What once was implausible, like weekend drives through three countries in one day, is now just a quick Saturday morning decision.
The town in northern Bavaria, Herzogenaurach is best known for being the home of adidas and Puma. This is where the sports apparel and footwear industry all began and where rival brothers Adi Dassler, adidas, and Rudolf Dassler, Puma, battled it out to become the top sporting goods brands in the world. Ever since its rise to a globally operating company, the adidas Group is committed to its roots and its home town and still has its global headquarters in Herzogenaurach. However, with an average age of thirty-two at the adidas Group most employees choose to live in the larger, more gregarious Nuremberg.
Situated 23 km from Herzogenaurach, Nuremberg is a metropolitan city with almost a thousand years of history that is still evident in its cityscape. The city is famous for its politics as it was the preferred residence of German Emperors in the Middle Ages and is considered one of the top romantic Bavarian cities. Even though the city was destroyed by WWII bombings, the medieval city centre was reconstructed using the original stone. Thus, walking through romantic coble stone alleyways and watching sunsets over hillside castles has almost become common place now.
The geographical closeness and the historical richness combined with all attributes of a vivid and modern, metropolitan city are all reasons why the dream of living in the heart of Europe is still so surreal for a non-European.
Whimsical “German” moments…
But how does it practically feel to relocate? I caught up with Philana-Lee Gouws, who joined the adidas Group in August 2011 and interviewed her on her experiences. This way we could share experiences and commiserate on the whimsical “German” moments we have had so far moving to “Deutschland” and joining the adidas Group. Come back later to get insight on the hurdles you have to overcome and the cool surprises you experience as a foreigner living abroad.
Until then: Have you ever been considering relocation? What were your expectations and concerns? Or did you maybe already have some funny or exciting experiences living abroad? Share it with us!