Category Archives: Expat Stories

Helau and Alaaf – Carnival Tradition in Germany

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HELAU AND ALAAF – CARNIVAL TRADITION IN GERMANY

This upcoming Thursday, certain cities in Germany, including my hometown Dusseldorf, are going to be crowded with thousands of people – adults as well as children – dressed up in costumes. Welcome to the yearly tradition of Carnival.  For those of you who have never heard of this festivity before, I would describe it as a mixture of Halloween (minus the scary costumes) plus Mardi Gras.

Due to the fact that I grew up in a so-called Carnival central city, I basically was born into the tradition.  Today I can gladly say that I don’t miss it one bit, but back when I was living in Europe I did feel obligated to participate.  So what does Carnival consist of?

This time of the year, which is also named the 5th season, actually starts in November on 11-11 at 11:11 a.m., but the peak of the tradition happens around late February/ beginning of March on a Thursday.  That day called “Altweiber” (old women), it is common at work for women to cut off the men’s ties with scissors and then celebrate on the streets and at bars till late at night.

The highlight of the Carnival celebration is held on Monday with the Rose Monday parades, which are very popular in the cities of Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Mainz.  The 5th season usually ends that following Wednesday, called Ash Wednesday.

To sum it up, Carnival is one of the biggest events celebrated in Germany with parades, costume balls, and street parties.  There are two popular cries that you would be hearing a lot during this time: Helau in Dusseldorf and Mainz, and Alaaf in Cologne, Bonn, and Aachen.

I personally enjoyed this celebration more when I was a little kid in kindergarten and elementary school.  I mean, what kid doesn’t like to dress up.  My favorite costume of all time used to be a cat.  Cats were my favorite animal back then, so luckily for my parents they could recycle my costume every year and didn’t have to get a new one.

Being an adult, I never found it too appealing to put on a costume and get drunk on the streets, even though I participated a couple times.

What changed my perception a little bit was when I actually joined a show dance group that performed during masquerade balls.  I received this opportunity when I was living with my sister in a very small town in the mountains.

A friend of a friend happened to be one of the dancers, and since I loved dancing and had been doing it throughout my entire life, I saw the chance to become part of the group through that connection since they were in need of an additional performer.

For two years I was a member of this group.  And what can I say, I loved it.  I loved rehearsing for the show, performing on stage, and participating in tournaments.  But I still wasn’t too fond about everything else that included Carnival.

Once it was clear that I would be moving to the United Stands, I obviously had to end my time with this group.  It was a fun two years, but I am not missing it much nowadays.  But for everyone else who is a great fan of Carnival, have fun out there these next couple of days!

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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“Fettes Schwein” – A New Food Truck on the Streets of Los Angeles

Fettes Schwein Food Truck

An Alternative to the almighty Currywurst is roaming L.A. streets

German Angelenos be on the look out for yet another new food truck! This time it’s Stojan’s Fettes Schwein truck in bold blue and pink colors, which delights with some Austrian inspired delicacies.

Stojan and Manuela, who left Austria for sunny Los Angeles, are including a traditional Schnitzel on their menu. From Schnitzel Platter to Schnitzel Sandwich,  you for sure will get your Schnitzel fix here.  Their salad bar lets you create your own salad and offers a healthy alternative to ‘all things meat’.

Even though the famous Currywurst made its way also onto their menu, Fettes Schwein has apparently a variety of sausages to offer its clientele as well.

Let’s hope they’ll include some Austrian speciality sausages, that are standard at every ‘Würstelbude’ (sausage stand) in Austria. I’d say, “It’s time for the Käsekrainer! ”

You can check out some of their menu and find out where their truck will be for lunchtime by visiting Fette Schwein‘s Facebook Page.


Photo Credit: ©Fettes Schwein

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Berliner Rundfunk 91.4 needs ‘Berliners’ living in California

unnamed-2Are you from Berlin and made California your home?

A new radio show on the Berliner Rundfunk 91.4 is on the look out for ‘Berliners’ who have left Berlin to live in California!

They are especially interested in how many years it has been since you’ve left Berlin and if you are missing your home city Berlin.  In fact what do you miss the most? Do you still have family in Berlin? What brought you to California and what are you doing professionally here?

But most importantly they would like to know if you are planning on coming ‘home’ to Berlin for Christmas, and if you would like to visit someone over there, or if you particularly miss someone special over there.

If you are interested in sharing some of your life story with the Berliner Rundfunk 91.4, please contact editor Helena Daehler at helena.daehler(AT)berliner-rundfunk.de

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Image: Neue Berliner Rundfunk GmbH und Co. KG

 

WDR Redaktion “Bustour” sucht Deutsche aus NRW

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Hallo liebe Deutsche in den USA,

ich suche Deutsche aus NRW, die in den USA leben und die wir im Rahmen einer Sommerferienserie portraitieren könnten. Weil sie Büffel jagen…oder einen außergewöhnlichen Beruf haben…oder bei Indianern leben..oder Wüstenforscher oder Surflehrer oder NBA-Spieler oder Baseballtrainer sind …oder sonst irgend was interessantes tun, das ich mir gar nicht ausdenken kann. Wichtig ist für uns immer, dass derjenige keinen Bürojob macht, sondern etwas tut, das für unsere Zuschauer interessant anzugucken ist.

So ist ein Schreibtischjob, sei er noch so interessant, kein gutes Fernsehthema, weil er auf der ganzen Welt gleich aussieht. Toll sind Tätigkeiten, bei denen man etwas von Land und Leuten mitbekommt. Interessant sind auch Wettbewerbe und Wettkämpfe aller Art mit deutscher Beteiligung…ob das auf Weltniveau oder im Stadtteil ist, ist für uns eigentlich unwichtig, wichtig sind gute Bilder, deshalb darf es auch gerne etwas skuriler sein…Bäume werfen oder sägen oder Murmeltiere fangen oder Indianerponies zähmen…oder oder oder…

Zeitrahmen ist ungefähr: 4.7. – 20. 8. , Wir kommen mit unserem Oldtimerbus in NY an und fahren dann Richtung Westküste

Interessierte können sich auf der WDR-Seite auch Beiträge aus dem letzten Jahr anschauen, wo wir in Rumänien und Bulgarien und Ungarn unterwegs waren. Einfach WDR.de, dann Mediathek anklicken, und dann Bustour eingeben, da kann man sich dann diverse unserer 5-minütigen Portraits angucken und bekommt eine Vorstellung, was wir vorhaben-nämlich nette, liebevoll gedrehte und getextete kleine Geschichten aus der Ferne.

Bitte leiten Sie unseren Aufruf gerne an alle Deutschen, die Sie kennen, weiter, ich freue mich sehr über jeden Tipp! Und wer unsicher ist…kann mich einfach anrufen oder anmailen, dann können wir gemeinsam sehen, ob’s passt. Bin auch gut über whatsapp und Skype erreichbar…deswegen auch unten mein Skypename…

Herzlichen Dank, ich freue mich sehr auf jede Antwort!

Beste Grüße B. Luther

Barbara Luther
WDR Fernsehen
Redaktion “Bustour”
Tel. 0171-9320177
Skype: skypebaluechen

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Short Trip to Key West – So Worth It

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Short Trip to Key West – So Worth It

While being in Miami, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to make a short day trip four hours south to Key West.  I read beforehand that the drive all the way down along several little islands was supposed to be beautiful.  With a plan in my head and full of excitement, I woke up early on the third day of my Miami trip, ready to hit the road before rush hour.

The drive definitely did not disappoint, and I can only recommend this tour to anyone planning to visit South Florida.  Visitors have the option to either travel down with organized bus tours or to go on their own.  I didn’t want to be reliable on anybody else and also have the option to leave the island anytime I feel like it.  Therefore, the better option for me was to travel down myself.

The drive was gorgeous.   Each of the small islands on the way down possessed its own charm, and I stopped on several for a short break to take pictures.  The only thing that was missing was the turquoise blue water.  I held the belief that, due to the proximity to the Caribbean Islands, the water was supposed to be way lighter than it actually was.  Other than that, the views and scenery were amazing.

After about four hours, I arrived on Key West.  I didn’t get to drive around the whole island.  Instead, I made my way directly to the downtown area.  Parking was at first a little difficult.  I intended to park in the surrounding neighborhoods for free, but didn’t find a spot.  I ended up parking at a parking garage of a hotel right by the water.  The price was not bad and nothing close to horrendous parking prices in South Beach Miami.

I first thought about renting a bike to explore the island.  The streets were small and there was a lot of car and bike traffic, so I decided to rather walk.  I instantly felt the relaxing island vibe and Caribbean flair, which is displayed in the food, architecture, and layout of Key West.  I had a fantastic time on the island and will let some images speak for itself rather than writing a novel.

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Images: © 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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