Category Archives: Expat Stories

The One Time I Filed a Police Report

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THE ONE TIME I FILED A POLICE REPORT

If the title of today’s post might give the impression that it contains a high crime thriller story a la CSI, I unfortunately have to disappoint you.  It doesn’t involve any car chase or robbery (even though our house in Germany was broken into once, but that is a whole other story), just my first (and hopefully last) visit to an American police station.

My encounter with the law enforcement happened over a year ago when I was house sitting in Playa Del Rey over Easter. I had been staying at this location many times before and never encountered any issues – until this particular visit.

The house is part of a fourplex and located a block from the beach, and parking can be very scarce, especially during spring and summer.  The owners of the place I stayed at allowed me to park in one of the parking spaces behind the house, which never had given me any problems.

It was one particular night when I took the dog of the house out for a last stroll and noticed a piece of paper on the windshield of my car. I took it off, and when I unfolded it I saw a handwritten note stating that the parking spots were only for residents.  I didn’t think any of it since I had the OK from one of the tenants to park there, and so I ripped the note apart and threw it away.

I forgot about the incident and kept leaving my car behind the house. Two days later, on Thursday morning I walked out to take the dog to the park, when I discovered another note on my windshield – this time around it wasn’t a very friendly one.

Since I am not planning on sticking to the same level these lovely people went to, I omit the swearwords.  But what it basically stated was, “Hey a******, if you continue to f****** park here, we will make sure that your car will be towed.”

At first, I didn’t know what to think.  It wasn’t until I walked to the side of my car when I noticed two long scratches along the door on the driver’s side.  I could tell that they were done with a key and maliciously.

Since they appeared on the same day I received the nasty note, I was convinced that the person who wrote me the note probable also scratched my car.  Needless to say, I was furious.

I didn’t want to bother the owners of the house and disrupt their vacation, so I went ahead and reached out to a couple of my friends for advice.  I didn’t have any proof, just assumptions, but my friends told me to go ahead and file a police report just to be safe.

I was dreading going down to an actual police station, but I also wanted to know what my chances were (I figured probably 0%, but I went ahead anyway).

So that same afternoon, I dragged myself and my vandalized car to the police station at LAX.  I was nervous walking in, imagining it would be an atmosphere you witness in the movies, with criminals in handcuffs all over the place.  But, as it is with many movies and TV shows, the reality looked a little different.

In fact, I was the only person in that very small police station, and I didn’t have to wait long until one of the officers paid attention to me.  He looked as bored and uninterested in my case as could be, and so I was eager to get this over with.

The officer took down all my information, gave me a copy of it, and basically reassured me what I had been thinking all along – there was not much the police could do.

I could not wait till I was able to get out of there and head back to be with the dog and just put that day behind me.  Until this day, I have no proof who left me the nasty note and scratched my car, but ever since one of the neighbors moved out of the fourplex, I never experienced another issue with parking behind the house – just saying…

Images: pixabay.com

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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You Know You Are Truly German…

YOU KNOW YOU ARE TRULY GERMAN…

…When the phrases listed below make you laugh (or cringe).

Every language has its proverbs.  Some well-known English ones include:

  • “The early bird catches the worm.”
  • “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”

Or

  • “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

Here are some examples that we are familiar with in the German culture:

  • “Aus den Augen, aus dem Sinn.”
  • “Kommt Zeit, kommt Rat.”

Or

  • “Alle guten Dinge sind drei.”

Now, some of these proverbs can be easily translated into the other language.  But there are certain ones that just sound silly if you do translate them word by word. Some of my fellow German readers might have heard of these before.  .

And if not, I hope you still get to enjoy this guessing game and get a good laugh out of it.  I sure do every time one of my friends comes around the corner with one of these (See what I did there?)

  • “I only understand railroad station.”
  • “You go me on the alarm clock.”
  • “My dear Mr. Singing Club.”
  • “This is not the yellow from the egg.”
  • “Now we have the salad.”
  • “With me is not good cherry eating.”
  • “There tap-dances the bear.”
  • “Everything is in butter.”
  • “He doesn’t have all the cups in the closet.”
  • “He has bumblebees in the bottom.”
  • “That is jacket like pants.”
  • “There we have the salad.”
  • “To be washed with all waters.”
  • “There becomes yes the dog in the pan crazy.”
  • “It’s pouring like out of buckets.”
  • “Only the hard come into the garden.”
  • “I do believe my pig whistles.”
  • “Enjoy life in full trains.”
  • “Life is no sugar licking.”
  • “That is me so what of sausage.”
  • “Butter by the fishes.”

I could go on and on and without becoming tired of it.  But since all good things have to come to an end, I will leave you with this video by German actors Matthias Schweighöfer and Friedrich Mücke.  Enjoy!

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Credits: Images – Pixabay.com / Video – ©SonyPicturesGermany

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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You Know You Live Close to Hollywood When…

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YOU KNOW YOU LIVE CLOSE TO HOLLYWOOD WHEN…

… You run into famous celebrities from time to time.  I have always been fascinated with the film and television industry, and it was like a dream come true when my parents took me to visit Hollywood for the first time during a vacation back in 1998.

While the Hollywood Walk of Fame may not be the prettiest and cleanest attraction on the planet, during our trip I was fascinated by it.  I loved seeing the names of famous people from various fields of the entertainment industry framed in pink stars scattered along the streets.  Little did I know that I was actually going to see an actual celebrity just the next day.

We had tickets for the Universal Studios Hollywood. It was a warm summer day, and the park was packed.  While we were waiting in line for the Jurassic Park ride, my mom was looking around and faced the back side, where the actual film studios are located. She suddenly let out a gasp and announced that Mr. Pretty Woman aka Richard Gere just drove by on the studio lot.

I quickly turned around, and there it was, my first major celebrity sighting. Even though I just caught a very short glimpse of Richard scooting in a golf cart in between the sets, it was still something I was very looking forward to telling my High School friends back in Germany.

My next major sighting occurred a couple years ago at LAX airport, also known as “celebrity central” (nah, I just made that up, but it suits the location.)  I was on my way to visit my best friend in Dallas and was hanging out at the departure gate for my flight.

As it was getting closer to boarding time, I stood up and walked closer towards the boarding area.  While I was standing close to a pole and checked my phone, I noticed two women standing close to me, one of them looking very familiar.  I took a longer peek over, and then it dawned on me: There, only a few inches away from me stood Kirsten Dunst.

She seemed so normal and no one was bothering her that you wouldn’t have noticed her. She and her girlfriend were just standing there talking to each other.  I kept glimpsing over, but since I am generally not the type that walks over to ask for autographs or pictures, I didn’t want to bother her.

What a fun coincidence it was that she was on the same flight as me.  But what stood out to me the most was that, instead of sitting in first class and participating in priority boarding, she actually joined the “normal” crowd and sat in Economy Class. This was by far my favorite celebrity moment and showed me again that, at the end of the day, Hollywood stars are just like us.

My latest celebrity experience occurred in 2014 in Laguna Beach.  It was on a Sunday, and a couple of friends and I had just finished a hike around the Laguna Canyons when we decided to grab some food.  We went to a burger place close to the beach.

I didn’t even notice it at first when we entered the restaurant since all I could focus on at that point was food, but two of my girlfriends started whispering to each other.  All I heard them saying was, “there is Batman.” I had no clue what they were talking about and just raised my brows, then put my attention back on the host who was guiding us to our table.

When we all set down, my friends kept peeking over towards the entrance of the restaurant.  Since I still hadn’t figured out what was going on, I leaned back in my chair so I could glimpse past them and then realized why they were so excited.  There, at one of the tables on the other end of the restaurant, sat Christian Bale with his family.

I was a huge fan of The Dark Knight Rises, and so were my friends.  While I was just enjoying being in the same restaurant as the latest Batman actor, my two girlfriends were arguing to go over and ask for a picture with him or not.  I was totally not up for it, obviously because I am always too shy to ask and second because he was there with his kids and wife.

My friends eventually decided against it and we just indulged our food until it was time to pay.  Christian Bale and his family had already left, but our waiter was pretty excited about the whole situation as well.  When he came to give us the check he blurted out, “Did you guys just see that Christian Bale was here?!” We all started laughing and then asked him a million questions about how it was to serve such a famous actor.

So whenever you are going on with your life in Southern California, be aware that around every corner a celebrity could be awaiting you.

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Images: pixabay.com

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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A Friendship For A Lifetime

 

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A FRIENDSHIP FOR A LIFETIME

Recently, I have talked about a friendship that unfortunately didn’t survive the long distance between Germany and the US.   Luckily though, I was able to maintain the majority of my relationships, even though it is sometimes really hard to stay in touch.  One friendship I have been very blessed with is the one with my best friend.

Let me tell you, my best friend and I had quite a few bumps on the road that we had to overcome, but nothing was able to destroy our bond (even if it might have seemed that way in those particular moments).  We have been through many, many ups and downs together, including losses of family members, severe illnesses, broken relationships, and pregnancies. But let’s circle back to where it all began.

We were four years old when we met in a German kindergarten in the town we both grew up.  We also were in the same class during elementary school.  Throughout these two stages of our life, we were friends, but not BFFs. We had occasional play dates, but especially during the later stages of elementary school, we had one particular “friend” interfering with us.

What basically happened was that this one girl was pretty jealous whenever my best friend and I were hanging out. Eileen (name changed due to privacy) could not stand it if she wasn’t involved, and she became mad and mean.

I remember one specific time, when I was about to have a sleepover at my best friend’s house, and Eileen called and told me that if I would go over there, she would stop being friends with me. Gosh, we were seven, eight years old at that time, but she acted like a jealous boyfriend.  With her behavior, she drove a wedge between my best friend and me.

When we graduated elementary school, my best friend and I went on to different schools, while Eileen and I continued our path together.  But her behavior didn’t change.  I remember one time when we were changing after P.E. class, and she asked me who my parents had voted for in the recent election.  I told her that that information was discrete and I wasn’t going to disclose it.

Instead of accepting my response, she threatened me that she would not give me back my stuffed animal horse I had borrowed her.  When I think about this now I start laughing, but back in the days, I didn’t think it was funny at all. It is probably not a big surprise when I tell you that we are not friends anymore.

So, to make a long story short, throughout High School, my best friend and I kept in touch but we weren’t that close at the time.  Some friendships will take their time to grow into a strong relationship, which is how it was with us.

After finishing High School, we continued on to different schools to finish our education.  Luckily, I lost touch with Eileen and didn’t have to deal with her mean ways anymore. During that time, my best friend had her first boyfriend.  I was there for her when the two of them broke up, one of the major milestones our friendship has been through.

Unfortunately though, shortly afterward, I messed up with my best friend’s trust big time. No, I didn’t get involved with her ex, but I disclosed a piece of information to him that was very private and brought her into trouble.

I wasn’t sure if our then-damaged friendship would survive this.  She was very mad at me, and she had every right to be.  I don’t remember exactly how we overcame this, but we did.  It took a while for her to forgive me and to rebuild trust, but we were able to move on.

A couple of years later, we were faced with the next challenge. She landed a job in eastern Leipzig, while I was living with my sister in Olsberg, a small town in the Sauerland region, about two hours away from Dusseldorf, where we grew up.  Again, we stayed in touch but didn’t see each other often.

At the age of 25, I made the move to the United States as an au pair.  When I was living in Brooklyn close to the end of my cultural exchange, my best friend had a business trip to New York.  We were so excited to be reunited at the other side of the pond, especially me since I was going through a really tough time.  We had a blast together in Manhattan and spent some great quality time.  Our friendship was still going strong even though we hadn’t seen each other in so long.

A month after our reunion in New York I moved back to Germany.  The following year, both my best friend and I met our “American men” in the same month.  She met hers at a work event in Leipzig, while I met mine at an Irish pub in Dusseldorf. She got engaged and moved to Charlotte, North Caroline the following April while I moved to Huntington Beach to start college the following July.

I swear to God, we didn’t plan any of this together and had no clue that we would both saying goodbye to live in Germany at almost the same time.  I do believe though that everything in life happens for a reason, and that this coincidence was fate.  While my best friend started out in Charlotte and then moved to Dallas for a couple years, I was always rooted on the west coast.

We kept visiting each other, and it was so amazing to have someone you have known forever be “close by” in a different country.  We could relate to the cultural differences and how hard some adjustments to the U.S. were (and still are). Then, in October of 2015, my best friend moved to Redondo Beach because she got a job in LA.  I was over the moon to have her so close to me.

Having to go through all these stages of our life, our friendship has never been closer.  At his point, we consider each other family.  And I strongly believe that nothing will be able to destroy the bond we have.  We will be those grannies you see in videos and memes that are rocking the dance floor with huge Sombreros on their heads and wine glasses in hand.

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Images: pixabay.com

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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Back At the Happiest Place on Earth

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BACK AT THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH

Since June of 2017, I have been counting down the months, weeks, and days to one particular event happening on February 1st: a trip to Disneyland.  Yes, you read that right, I bought my ticket back in June to go to an event the following year.  But it was for a very good reason.

The tickets were half off, and it was a special event sponsored by California State University Fullerton.  In very humble fashion, the school decided to celebrate its 60th anniversary at the theme park, and invited all its students along. Way to celebrate a birthday!

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Of course my college friends and I didn’t want to miss this, and so we set our alarms to midnight on June 1st, when tickets went on sale.  Luckily, all four of us were able to score a ticket before the event sold out.

Fast forward to February 1st, 2018, ten years after my last trip to Disneyland.  The last time I have been to this magical place was Thanksgiving 2008 with my back-then host family and one of my best friends.

I know it sounds very cliché, but when my friends and I stepped foot into the theme park it felt like entering a different world.  Perfectly arranged flowers in the shape of Mickey Mouse greeted us and I instantly felt like a little kid full of excitement and happiness.

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We made our way towards the famous Main Street, and walked along the many cute little shops located around the area until we reached the Disneyland castle.  Of course we couldn’t pass up on not taking any pictures in front of it.  This turned out to be quite difficult though, with hundreds of park visitors trying to accomplish the same.

After a few tries we gave up and decided to have some fun by going on one of the many rides.  We headed straight to the Matterhorn attraction, which I remember being the favorite of my host kids back in the days.  It was quite a fun ride, even though I didn’t dare to look anywhere else than at my friend sitting in front of me due to my fear of heights.

After conquering the Matterhorn, we took a slower pace and headed towards a different area of the park.  I am sure many of you have probably visited Disneyland before and know that the park is divided in several different areas, such as Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Frontierland.

The park has attractions for every age group, from the very little guests to us adults.  Even if you are not the rollercoaster type like me, there are still plenty of other fun things to do and explore, plus the park offers many great food options.  I could have just eaten my way through and would have been busy all night long.

The only fact that kept me from doing so was that most of the restaurants closed after nine p.m., when the day pass visitors had to leave the park.  That turned out to be a challenge for me since I am a vegetarian, and so my other vegetarian friend and I went on a quest to find something good to eat.

I eventually ended up with a vegetarian Gumbo in a bread bowl (yum).   Besides this tasty dinner dish, we also indulged in Mickey Mouse shaped macaroons and beignets (so so good!).

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After we finished eating, we intended to walk over to Tomorrowland. On our way over, we suddenly heard loud music coming from the Sleeping Beauty Castle, accompanied by a laser show in the colors of the rainbow.

As we walked closer, we saw a group of people dancing in front of the castle while a DJ was playing popular club music tracks.  Yup, my school sure knows how to throw a birthday bash.

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We danced a little (well, actually it was mostly me) before we continued our way to Tomorrowland, where we visited the Star Tours attraction, a 3D ride through space. For the rest of the night, we went from ride to ride until closing time at 1 a.m.  Luckily, we never had to wait long in line.

I am not sure how long it will take me this time till I am going to visit Disneyland again.  I am hoping not another 10 years, but since I just saw today in the news that the park raised its admission prices again, I think I will pass until my school decides to celebrate its birthday there again.

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Images: Anne-Kathrin Schulte

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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