Why Munich?

Back in 2020, during the peak of the pandemic, I moved to Munich, Germany, where I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Technical University of Munich (in German, Technische Universität München). This was the first time I officially stepped foot into Europe.

You may ask: How did this happen? I saw an advertisement for a postdoctoral position in the area of task planning and representation under the supervision of Prof. Dongheui Lee, who ran the Human-centered Assistive Robotics group (now she is posted at TU Wien, Vienna, Austria).

At the time, I was searching for very novel yet challenging opportunities from which I could learn more about what I would like to explore as a professor, to broaden my network, and to experience a different place and environment. Admittedly, I am not good at breaking out of my comfort zone – nevertheless, I tried my best to make the most out of this experience.

Where in Munich?

I lived relatively close to work (~10 minutes via U-bahn or ~30 minutes away walking – I typically walked home after work every day). I stayed in an area known as Rotkreuzplatz (lit. “Red Cross Square/Area”), which is named after the Red Cross HQ based within this neighbourhood. It was conveniently located on the U1/7 train line, and the famous Schloss Nymphenburg is about 30 minutes away walking. I would go there from time to time, as it is a great place for pictures and walking.

Rotkreuzplatz U-bahn Station
Exit of Rotkreuzplatz station (April 4th, 2021)
Rotkreuzplatz U-bahn Station
Exit of Rotkreuzplatz station (Nov 6th, 2020)

Differences in culture and mentality

Right away, it struck me that life here in Germany is much different to what I expected (which is what I saw in media).

For starters, the German mentality is very different. Although the people here can be private and reserved, they are very friendly and respectful of others. In times like the ongoing pandemic, Germans tend to think of the bigger picture, where their duty is to keep one another safe and to preserve common unities and freedoms for all rather than for oneself. In the USA, the general focus is on “individual liberties”, where people care more about personal inconveniences rather than of the potential impact for the broader society. Because of that, I generally felt safer in public spaces in the city. Most places required some proof of vaccination, but the positives outweighed the negatives in this case.

"Maximum freedom or minimal risk? Courage decides."

Another observation I made is the use of an honour system in transportation. Passengers were expected to have bought the correct tickets for riding on subways or buses. No one ever checked if you really purchased the ticket on a regular, but you may be surprised by very occasional visits by ticketing officials who board the trains posing as regular passengers. I only encountered one of these enforces once during my stay in Munich, and that was a few months in to my time there.

Experiencing the Four Seasons

Prior to my travel here, I never experienced snow! Tampa was too warm to see the change of seasons (although it can get very chilly in the winter time). It was always lovely to see the snow come down, but I hated walking through it, haha. Luckily, the city was very good at keeping sidewalks cleared. There were only a handful of snowfalls where there was a lot of snow left behind.

There were some difficult days in Munich during the winter time. I really think that I experienced some bouts of SAD. Looking back, I should have taken some Vitamin D supplements to help. A Caribbean guy like myself needs some sun!

During the spring, cherry blossoms would bloom at the Olympiapark, which I read were gifted to the city by Japan.

Das Essen (Food)

There was a lot to try there in Munich. Admittedly, there are lots of things I did not get to eat..

However, I did try a lot of the common things, like Leberkäsesemmel (a sandwich with Leberkäse – a type of meatloaf), Schnitzelsemmel (a sandwich with Schnitzel – flattened and breaded pork cutlet), Weisswurst and other types of sausages, pretzels. And of course… Radler and beer.

My favourite food was Schweinshaxe ! See below for a nice shot of the Bavarian classic.

Schweinshaxe -- Pork Leg!
Leberkäsen (with veggies on the side 🤓)


Looking back, this was a monumental move I made to break out of my comfort zone. I feel that I am still processing everything that happened during my time there, as it was a bit difficult to meet people there during the pandemic time. Not only that, but it was exacerbated by the need to learn German for certain areas or crowds, as not every local is keen on speaking in English.

Someday I want to go back. Although the pay was not as high as in the USA, I believe the cost of living and quality of life is generally better than the USA (hot take, I know).

Germans love memes too.