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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Spice Up Your “Fahrvergnügen” – Go Big & Bold With Color

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Car Colors in Germany – All Used to Be Possible

Did it ever occur to you that car colors here in California are quite boring? A recent look at a major shopping mall’s parking lot seems to proof my point…

It almost looks like a car dealership; all white cars on one side and black/dark colors lined up on the other. Pretty subdued, no?

In my childhood, car colors must have gone wild in Germany… At least, I remember our cars having all kinds of vivid colors then. In fact, over the years I would say that we had cars of a pretty broad variety of colors. From a bright red to an ochre Special Jeans Edition” Volkswagen Beetle to a green VW Bug, all the way to a dark violet Mercedes that belonged to my uncle, and my Dad’s lightly linden green 1980’s Mercedes that got replaced by a (boring) silver Benz, to a strikingly yellow Ford and bright metallic blue Peugeot. A kind of gold/beige BMW was in our collection as well… indicating the doom of car colors ahead of us, I assume.

Coming out to California as a teenager, two particular facts regarding cars stood out for me. One was, these monstrous things on wheels roaming California freeways, called Monster Trucks. Second was the fact that the Mercedes Benz here in California had a golden-colored Mercedes star instead of the distinct silver one I was used to from Germany.

That golden Mercedes star together with a golden grill just didn’t cut it for me. It clashed with my image of Mercedes’ sleek elegance conveying a touch of understatement. Everything seemed to be so “bling” in California…

My last car in Germany before moving to California used to be a deep electric blue, but after coming out here I settled for a black one… yes, a boring, black colored SUV! Okay, I admit, not every color goes well with every car model. And the Ford Explorer I had then might not have looked as sharp in electric blue… Besides, at that time, I didn’t want to embarrass my son at his school by standing out with a color that would announce to everyone in the drop-off line that “the Germans” have arrived. We tried to fit in.

But honestly, if you look around you, the cars here in CA make up for a pretty boring car-landscape; from black to white to daring gold or beige/brown, and for the more adventurous type perhaps a dark blue! If you encounter a red, then I am sure it’s some unobtrusive wine/maroon red.

Okay, some Hippie Volkswagen Bus in happy, sunny colors might brighten up the freeway in front of us sometimes, while Ferrari & Co. of course stick out on the streets and call our attention; not only because of their design, but also because they seem to be the only cars these days that dare to put on some bold colors. That’s why, when we see one of them, we have to make sure not to stop breathing since the color alone is taking our breath away!

To my dismay however I found out that the Germans and in fact the Europeans as a whole, are now following the, supposedly fading, American trend towards boring auto colors.

According to AutoBild, the absolute favorite car color of the Germans in 2016 continued to be silver/grey, followed by black and white, and red fell to a sad fifth place. For comparison, in 1986 the color white had not even made it to 2%. Imagine that!

Americans, on the other hand, are on their way to discover (some) color again. While white, black and grey still dominate the top spots, “Blue…” according to the Chicago Tribune, “…is expected to be the hottest car color for 2017!”

I couldn’t confirm this striking trend yet. But, I’ll be for sure keeping an eye out for this splash of color on the streets…!

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Images: CaliforniaGermans & Pixabay.com

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SPARMASSNAHMEN

 Sparmaßnahmen

(Ein Drabble* von Merrill Lyew Emanuel)
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Beim kalifornischen DMV windet sich die Kundenreihe um das Gebäude herum, wie eine dahinkriechende Schlange. Die Beamtin Mary müht sich lustlos hinter dem Tresen ab. Bei jedem Klienten überprüft sie, ob das richtige Formular vorliegt, ob es vollständig ausgefüllt ist, ob der Antrag auf Führerschein rechtens ist. Sie heftet Akten ab, lichtet Passbilder ab, nimmt Fingerdrucke ab.

Apathisch quält sie sich durch die Minuten des Tages, dabei macht sie einen Patzer nach dem anderen. Aufgrund der Sparmassnahmen im Staatshaushalt sind die Planstellen halbiert worden, leere Stellen verbleiben leer. Die Gescheiten finden anderswo leicht einen Job, nur Mary bleibt beim DMV.

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©Merrill Lyew 2016
Image: Pixabay.com
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* WHAT IS a Drabble?  – A drabble is a short work of fiction of around one hundred words.
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Merrill Lyew EmanuelAs a recent retiree, Merrill Lyew Emanuel now has time for his old and new hobbies. Within his hobbies are writing fan fiction in German, solving chess puzzles, repairing things at home that are not broken, doing a little bit of social media, reading every and anything that looks like a book, traveling a little, and taking snapshots with his mirrorless camera.

Having lived in Germany, Costa Rica and the USA, he is fluent in the languages of these countries. As a professional geographer he traveled profusely throughout Latin America. He is living in Southern California for over thirty years. Find more of his work at http://www.merrillius.net

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“FUTURE OR PAST? CLIMATE POLICY AS DRIVER FOR MODERN ECONOMIES” – Environmental Forum with Barbara Hendricks at Stanford Woods Institute

Please join the Stanford Woods Institute Environmental Forum with Barbara Hendricks, the German Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.

Hendricks Flyer

Barbara Hendricks has been Germany’s Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety since December 2013. Before that she served as the federal treasurer of the German Social Democratic Party. From 1998 to 2007, she was a Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Ministry of Finance. Since 1994, Barbara Hendricks, who has a doctorate in history, has represented her home district of Kleve in the German Bundestag.

Reception to follow.

More information can be found at: https://woods.stanford.edu/news-events/event/woods-environmental-forum-future-or-past-climate-policy-driver-modern-economics

For questions, please contact Mollie Field at mfield1[AT]stanford.edu.

DATE AND TIME

Wed, May 17, 2017 at 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM (PDT)

LOCATION

Encina Hall, Bechtel Conference Center, 616 Serra Street, Stanford, CA 94305

Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment is working toward a future in which societies meet people’s needs for water, food, health and other vital services while protecting and nurturing the planet. As the university’s hub of interdisciplinary environment and sustainability research, the Stanford Woods Institute is the go-to place for Stanford faculty, researchers and students to collaborate on environmental research. Their interdisciplinary work crosses sectors and disciplines, advancing solutions to the most critical, complex environmental and sustainability challenges.

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