One of the reasons why I have trouble imagining leaving my adopted home in Germany and moving back to America is a matter of transportation. Even if public transportation isn’t your thing, Germany is a very bike-friendly country. Even if with kids. Especially with kids.
In the United States it was impossible to get on with life without a car (at least not living in a major metropolis). In Germany, I can’t imagine owning one. Sure, being able to drive as fast as I want on the Autobahn might be kind of neat (and terrifying…), but gas here is expensive. Why pay for a car when I could ride my bike, save money, do my part for the environment, and stay in shape? It is a win-win-win situation.
This is a preview of German Bike Culture: Biking With Babies.
Sieben Linden is one of many alternative communities that thrives in Germany. Photo copyright dpa / picture alliance
Germany might be well known for big ideas in fields like green energy and engineering, but it also supports a thriving counter culture, which means that thousands of small groups and individuals are also trying their hand at making the world a better place. A Wagenplatz is one form of collective living (almost entirely) unique to Germany. In the video below, an American expat living in Germany talks about her own tiny house, how she renovated it herself, and why she chooses to live the way she does. Could you imagine living in such a small space?
Getting a child born abroad a passport involves a lot of paperwork. But in the end it is more complicated than it looks. Photo copyright dpa / picture alliance
It took us almost a year. I guess you could call us procrastinators, but in the end, it turned out to be a good idea. When it comes to doing paperwork and interacting with the German authorities, timeliness can be very important. But the American authorities are a little bit more relaxed, and it didn’t matter that we’d taken over a year to get around to making an appointment. But the rumor that the Germans love their paperwork might not be so unique. The Americans seem to love it just as much. At least when it comes to citzenship.
This is a preview of Expat Life: A Birth Abroad and Other Paperwork.
Everyone settles into life in a new country at a different rate. Some are immediately at home, while others never feel completely comfortable. Homesickness, awkwardness, loneliness: they all are parts of the expat experience to a greater or lesser degree. But fitting in is too. You might surprise yourself.
I have been in Germany for eight years now, but it has only been in the last few years that I have been noticing the telltale signs of “German-ification.” Though I have felt at home in Germany for many years more, it seems my transition into this culture is now complete. How did I know? Well…
What is it like to work in Germany? Read one expat’s comparison with working life in the USA. Photo copyright picture-alliance/chromorange
On the train between home and work I sometimes stop and wonder. How much does the place where I live affect my daily life? How many of the details of my day have “Germany” written all over them? I can’t say for sure what my life would be like if I was still living in the United States, but with a leap of the imagination, it isn’t hard to see how much would be different.
This is a preview of A Day in the Life: Working in Germany.
Who will live and who will…well, nobody is going to die, but we might get a good laugh out of it. I couldn’t resist: I loved George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series, and when HBO created a sigil generator to hype the TV series’ third series, I got a little crazy. But seriously, how much fun are these? What German-themed Game of Thrones house sigils would you make?
I started off with the classics. (And realized that most German cities don’t have nearly dramatic enough slogans. They should take the lead from Connecticut, whose “Live Free or Die” slogan would make for an excellent Game of Thrones-esque house sigil. But hey, at least we know that Germany is a more friendly place to live than Westeros.)
Music can be a boon to language learning. Photo copyright picture alliance / Maximilian Schönherr
During my first year in Germany, German music became very important to me. Though I never could get into bands like Kraftwerk or Rammstein, other artists who sang in German were staples in my DIY, trial-by-fire, at-home German lessons. I had almost a decade of German study behind me, but it still took me hours to translate a song. Once I understood what was being said, however, that vocabulary, those turns of phrase, and their definitions were in my brain for good.
This is a preview of Learning German: Foreign Language Learning With Music.