Category Archives: Expat Stories

The Tale of the Traveling Cake Continues

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THE TALE OF THE TRAVELING CAKE CONTINUES

It was a beautiful Saturday in April of 2017, when one particular wedding cake and I started the journey from Redondo Beach into the deep Malibu Canyon.  My boss and I figured that if I left the bakery with the cake at 9 a.m. it would give me plenty of time to arrive at the venue at the appointed 11 a.m.

As we all know, traveling through the LA area usually consists of sitting in traffic at least at some point, if not more.   But since it was a Saturday, I had high hopes that the traffic Gods were on my side.

Unfortunately, they were not.  In fact, they wanted to test my patience extra hard that day with a three-lane-closure at LAX due to a crash that involved a burned-out vehicle.  My hopes of a punctual arrival diminished from minute to minute, and while the cars in front of me still weren’t moving, I decided to give the wedding planner a heads-up about my delay.

Thankfully, she was not too stressed about it (or she was just good at hiding her real feelings). It felt like an eternity, but eventually cars started moving again, and slowly but surely I was ready to continue my route while the cake was still peacefully sitting in its box.

Now is probably a good time to tell you a little bit about the “transport box,” just for an overall better understanding of the situation.  This particular box was actually a bigger paper carton with no lid.  The cake was securely fastened onto a round shaped cake board, and then just pushed into the box, the open side facing my dashboard.  To my defense, it was not my idea to position the cake like this on my passenger seat.  You might know now where this story is going.

I was finally able to get out of the whole traffic mess and to speed up to a decent pace; wanting to make sure I hopefully don’t encounter anymore delays. I kept driving on the 405 north for a while before my GPS told me to merge onto the US 101.

I merged onto the outer right lane, slowing down a bit but still holding a steady speed, about to approach the loop towards the 101 freeway.  Unsuspecting, I made my way around it, when suddenly the car in front of me hit the brakes hard, resulting me into doing the same thing.

I knew right away what terrible maneuver I just had done.  While pushing my foot the hardest I could onto my breaks, I heard a swoosh sound.  I looked over to my right side, and in a matter of seconds, I witnessed the precious 12-piece cake slipping out of the box and straight onto the floor.

I will not be able to tell you verbatim what I was exactly yelling out at the moment since it consists of a series of swear words.  What I can tell you is that I started to cry hysterically.

I couldn’t contemplate what was worse: the fact that the cake actually dropped on the floor or that I had to call my boss and tell her about it. Well, since there was no way around it, I picked up my phone and anxiously dialed her number.

When she heard that I was crying, she instantly knew that something really bad must have happened. To my relief, she was very understanding and tried to calm me down, which made me sob even more.

Unfortunately, I still had to deliver the cake, hoping that the florist would be able to cover up the damages. “At least the cake wasn’t supposed to be the one eaten,” is what I kept telling myself to calm me down and to prepare me from having to face a pretty uncomfortable situation, but more on that next time. As for now, feel free to enjoy a graphic image of the described disaster.

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Images: pixabay.com, Anne-Kathrin Schulte
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on 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 May Have Your Cake, But You Can’t Always Eat It

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YOU MAY HAVE YOUR CAKE, BUT YOU CAN’T ALWAYS EAT IT

Dear Readers,

I know it’s been a while.  Unfortunately, it’s been way too long, and I do feel bad.  I missed writing and taking the time to be creative.  But, as all of us know, life happens.  My life has been extremely busy these past couple months.  I am not complaining as I love being busy, I just deeply regret that I didn’t have time to sit down, be inspired, and write.

The thing is I probably could have produced somewhat of an article each week- but it would have felt more as a chore than something that I truly enjoy. Busting out an article because you have to instead of because you want to produces (obviously) different results.  But I am finally able to slowly get back into the swing of things.

As I have mentioned in one of my last pieces, I started working with dogs, and I love it!  Being with animals is such a stress reliever, and I met so many wonderful people through it as well.  But besides this opportunity, I also started working as a coordinator for a baker.  One of my friends was doing the job before, but since she started a full time job she was unable to continue the work and recommended me.

The position sounded really great as I was able to work remotely, so it perfectly fit in with my schedule.   But, as this happens a lot in life as well, things came different at some point than discussed.  In theory, my duties consisted of handling e-mail customer inquiries, a fun and easy task.  Of course, it took me a little in the beginning until I got the hang of it, but I eventually was able to spend less than one hour a day working from my computer.

Things started to change about a couple weeks into my job.  I knew that my friend handled some of the pastry and cake deliveries in the past as she was living less than five minutes away from the bakery.  I, on the other hand, live about an hour away from Redondo Beach, where the shop is located.  So I became a little skeptical when my boss started asking me to do deliveries as well.

I might not have minded it that much if it wouldn’t have been on a weekend, but to ask me to come out two days in a row to deliver cakes just didn’t sound too appealing to me, especially since one of the locations included Compton, which I thankfully turned down.  As a compromise though and since I didn’t want to seem entitled, I agreed to accomplish the delivery of an ice cake to Marina Del Rey.

The whole way from Redondo Beach to its final destination I felt like I was on my way to Siberia.  Since it was an ice cake, I had to put the air conditioning in my car on full blast. Even though I ended up with a cold I am happy to report that the cake made it to the party without any harm.

From that day on, my boss figured she could sign me up for more deliveries.  Without even asking me, she concluded that I was in charge of spending one precious Saturday in April driving up to the Malibu Canyons to deliver a wedding cake.  If that didn’t already sound bad enough, let me tell you that the notorious cake was only supposed to be used for photography purposes and not to be eaten.  Anyways, since my boss was supposed to go out of town that weekend, she told me that I have to do this delivery.

I wasn’t very happy, to say the least, especially since it was my friend’s birthday and I would be missing half of the celebrations.  But what was I supposed to do when my boss tells me to do it, even though deliveries were not part of my job description in the first place?  I know, I know, I sound like a whiner and unappreciative.  Well, you might feel me a little more after I tell you the whole tale of that one fateful day.

It was a warm and sunny Saturday morning.  I had come to terms with the fact that I was about to drive the 160 miles round trip to deliver a simple twelve piece cake into the middle of nowhere while my boss was basking in the Palm Springs sun.

To my surprise though, she was still working on the masterpiece when I arrived at the bakery in Redondo Beach.  She told me that she had to cancel her girls’ trip since she still had a couple orders to finish.  I instantly felt bad and selfish, and I swore to myself to bury any feelings of irritation about my interrupted weekend plans.

We ended up sharing some bonding conversation while she was finishing up the wedding cake.  Looking at the clock, I got a little nervous considering that the cake was supposed to arrive in Malibu at 11 a.m. and it was already past nine.  Luckily though, she was almost done.

Since I am a pretty clumsy person, I didn’t decline her offer to securely transport the cake to my car.  She put it in a carton box and carried it over to my passenger seat, where she positioned it in a way to make it easy for me to pick it up and switch it onto the cake board once I arrived at the destination.

We then exchanged our goodbyes, not knowing what unanticipated turn the whole day would take.  But more to that story next time.

Image: pixabay.com
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on 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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My 13 Years of Integration in Germany in Fast-Forward

My 13 Years of Integration in Germany in Fast-Forward

(By Kate Müser)
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I used to think that adapting to life in a new country would be a life-long process. When I first moved to Germany in 2002 – and even after I’d spent a decade here – I never thought that the process might at some point shift gears and head in reverse.

I’ve since spent over 13 – nearly 14 – years here, and it’s only been in the past couple of years that I’ve started watching Netflix series in original language, attending an English-speaking church, googling the closet burrito shop – and even toying with the idea of relocating to San Diego or Silicon Valley.

It’s not that I don’t still appreciate the German lifestyle – their penchant for practicality, ecology and quality, not to mention comfortable car-free zones and the world’s best cakes and breads.

Rather I started noticing that the one American trait I’d always prided myself in – that naive but optimistic belief that you can achieve anything you set your mind to – was dwindling. And if I lost that, how American would I still be?

Most importantly, I grew up in California often feeling like I didn’t fit it: I sunburn easily, was a Francophile in high school, and studied classical piano. But fitting in – anywhere in the world – is drastically overrated. After all, there is SPF 70 sunscreen and – as you know better than anyone – plenty of Europeans in California, too.

Perhaps it was my German husband, who at times seems more like a Californian than I do (he tans and surfs!), or perhaps it was the structural changes at work that meant I now speak German 95% of the time.

Whatever the cause of my U-turn, cultural identity, I’ve found, is still in flux after 13 years – and it’s never too late to make a few readjustments.

In this YouTube video, I’ve summed up my personal ups and downs as an expat.

Are you a German in California? I would love to hear about your experiences, too.

©KateMüser

Image: Pixabay.com

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Kate Müser, who grew up in Pleasanton, California, was surprised to discover that she feels even closer to her home state now than she did when she first moved to Bonn, Germany, over 13 years ago.

She is the creator of the successful YouTube series #thoseGermans and the portrait series #germany24. Visit Kate’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/katemuser and her website, justkate.de.

For over a decade, Kate has been a TV, radio and online journalist at Deutsche Welle, where she currently hosts the video series Meet the Germans with Kate and the TV show PopXport.

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Deutsche Auswanderer rund um Los Angeles für ZDF Sendung gesucht

Christiane Hübscher, ZDF -Journalistin in der Bay Area sucht interessante deutsche Auswanderer für  TV-Portraits in der Sendung “Hallo Deutschland”

“Liebe Deutsche in Kalifornien, ich bin ZDF-Journalistin in der Bay Area und habe schon mehrere TV-Portraits über deutsche Auswanderer in und um San Francisco gedreht. Weil das beim Zuschauer so gut ankommt, suchen wir nun weitere interessante Deutsche anderswo in Kalifornien, vor allem in L.A.! Wer hat eine gute Geschichte zu erzählen? Dann gerne PM an mich.” (siehe auch FB post in CaliforniaGermans-The Group)

Hier ein paar Beispiele der letzten Beiträge, damit Ihr eine bessere Vorstellung habt, wie sowas aussehen kann:

Deutsche Lehrerin in SF:
https://www.zdf.de/…/hallo-deutschland-vom-23-mai-2017-100.… (ab Minute 19:01)

Deutsche Biergartenbesitzerin in San Jose:
https://www.zdf.de/…/hallo-deutschland-vom-15-mai-2017-100.… (ab Minute 30:07)

 

Image: © ZDF.de

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My Easter Tradition

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MY EASTER TRADITION

Back in the days when I was a little kid and living in Germany, Easter was one of my favorite holidays.  I loved believing in the Easter bunny, which would come out early in the morning to hide eggs, candy, and toys all around the house and backyard.

My family’s tradition consisted of going to church in the morning, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Once the service was over I remember how excited I usually became, knowing there were lots of surprises waiting at home for my sister and I.  My mother was usually the one hiding all the Easter goodies the night before, but when I was little I truly believed that the Easter bunny was doing all the hard work.

At a certain age I knew that my parents were the ones behind everything, but I still didn’t mind hunting for toys and candy.  It was such a blast, especially since we had a three story home with a small yard, so there were lots of hiding spots.  Once all the surprises were collected, us kids usually inspected everything and tested the new toys.

After the first excitement of the hunt eventually subsided, it was time for brunch.  For that, we usually had a big family gathering either at a hotel or restaurant, where a buffet was offered.  It was the perfect solution and suited everybody’s taste.  Also, since we were a group of about ten people, none of our family members had to stand in the kitchen for hours.  My family is actually still holding up that tradition, just nowadays without me since I moved to the United States.

Since I have been living in America, I have been celebrating Easter, if at all, very differently.  My first Easter in the states was back in 2012, when I was living with a family that had two young children.

One year, I remember I prepared Easter baskets for them that were filled with chocolates and small toys.  I left them on the kitchen table with a note, wishing them a Happy Easter while they were out and about.  The next year, I went to a family gathering with them, but it was still not the same as back in my childhood days.

The following years, I wasn’t celebrating the Holiday at all, and if I wouldn’t have seen it marked in my calendar, I would have had no idea what date Easter was that year.  It just felt different for me over here, I can’t really explain why, but I didn’t have such a connection as I had back in Europe growing up.

Last year marked the first time in a while where I had an Easter experience somewhat similar to my childhood days.  You can describe it as the adult version of what the tradition for us kids looked like.  My now-roommate was house sitting at a beautiful home, fully equipped with a pool and hot tub.

Since she introduced a brunch tradition to her friends many years ago, she extended the invite to me, and I was more than happy to accept since I missed the family Easter brunch gatherings.

It was a beautiful Sunday, the sun was shining, and my roommates’ friends and I started arriving at the location one after another.  Entering the house, I could already smell eggs, bacon (that was the time I was still eating meat), and pancakes.

We gathered around the backyard, some people hanging out in a hammock, others in the hot tub, pool, and benches all around, while the two dogs of the homeowners kept roaming around us.

We had a great time talking, eating, and enjoying the sun together until it was time for the annual beer hunt. Yes, my roommate upgraded the traditional egg hunt to a fun-filled beer hunt, where all of us participants received a beer carton and had to find as many beers as would fit into it.

All the while knowing how clumsy I am, especially when it comes to handling fragile items such as glass, I entered this content with caution, but finished with no further incidents.

After all beer bottles were found, all participants sat back outside with their precious findings, looking forward to indulge into the liquid goodies.  I was sitting in the sun, sipping on my drink when I decided it was getting too hot and wanted to move into the shade, of course not without my cargo.

What I did not consider was that my beer carton, which was soaked up on the bottom with water from the pool, had become a little fragile.  I lifted it up, not supporting the bottom with my hands, and sure enough, it made a quick rip and all remaining bottles smashed on the concrete ground.

Everyone was staring very surprised and quietly at the mess I just had created, until some of us were able to digest the shock a little and got up to clean up the glass.  Oh well, since I am not a big drinker anyways I wasn’t too upset I wasn’t able to drink more, but I did feel very bad about the broken glass all over the floor.

My roommate did invite me again to this year’s Easter brunch/ beer hunt, but luckily I will be up in LA this time, hopefully not breaking anything.  However all of you who are celebrating or not celebrating the Holiday, I wish you a very Happy Easter!

Image: pixabay.com
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on 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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