Susanne van Alphen – Founder of the German Women’s Group meets Moscow expat Life

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What is the German Women’s Group?

We are a relatively new group, only founded in October 2013. When I arrived in Moscow one and a half years ago, I was looking for the IWC and a German-speaking women’s group. I became member of the IWC and found lots of national women organisations like the British, French, Scandinavian, Dutch, etc., but unfortunately no German group.

When I asked around I was told that this is because the Germans are very well organised at the ‘German village’ close to metro station, Yugo Zapadnaya. That is where many Germans live and where the German School and the Kinder-garden are. Lots of sport and social activities are organised by this community.
But if you decide to live in the city centre, you don’t have kids or your children are at other schools, you have the IWC to meet other expatriates, but sometimes it is just nice to communicate with other women from your own country or speak in your native language.

Selection_222I met a few other German-speaking ladies and asked them if it would be interesting to found a ‘German women’s group’ and they were all very positive and enthusiastic.

At our first meeting, almost 6 months ago, we were 16 ladies. Now, at our monthly meetings, we are almost 40 and we have about 80 women on our mailing list.

What sort of things do you do in your meetings?

We welcome new German-speaking women who are new to the city and help them, in the beginning, with all the questions they have. We try to match them with other newcomers. When you arrive here it is hard to find your way around, it’s a big city with a very different language. You don’t know where to get things that you need.

Also we share our experience or knowledge, some of our ladies live in Moscow for many years and they are very helpful and support us, ‘new ones’.
During our meeting, we present various activities for the months or invite guests, who want to support the group, but sometimes we just enjoy the coffee and breakfast and the chatting.

What sort of activities do you do in your group?

We meet every second Wednesday of the month from 10.00am-12.00pm, here at the InterContinental Hotel on Tverskaya, and everyone that speaks German is welcome. You don’t have to be a German citizen, we have Austrian and Swiss women, and other nationalities in our group, you just need to speak the German language.

We visit galleries and museum every month. We have two lovely Russian ladies, that are very qualified and fluent in German and they guide the tours.

Every Friday morning we go walking in a different park in Moscow. We have a book club, which meets in people’s homes and share books in German. We do cooking classes and music events, such as going to concert rehearsals of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. We have two art clubs, run by artist members of our group and we do day trips outside of Moscow.

Recently we held a dinner with our partners, followed by a networking event in the Presidential Suite at the InterContinental Hotel. And there is a lot coming up, this is just the start. Hopefully there is something for everyone and we are always open for new ideas.

How do you finance all of this?

At this point, we don’t have a membership fee – if there are costs involved with a particular event, everyone who attends pays individually.

The InterContinental supports the group by letting us use their facilities and everyone that attends the meetings pays a small amount. We are still relatively small, we don’t have any overheads, and we try to keep a low profile. But already we feel the need to find somebody who can help us with IT. Somebody who will create a web-side that would make communication easier.

What are your plans?

I think September is going to be a busy month. After the summer we will have lots of new people. It would be great if new people can get to know about this group and join our activities. I hope we can make people feel comfortable in Moscow, not lost.

For more information about the German Women’s Group, contact Susanne van Alphen on: susanne.vanalphen@hotmail.de