Tag Archives: Anne-Kathrin Schulte

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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New Year, New Career?

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NEW YEAR, NEW CAREER?

To say life has been a rollercoaster lately would be a total understatement.  These last couple months have been very challenging, and I needed to take a break from writing for a bit, even though I claim it is a kind of therapy for me.  But, as we all know, life happens, and we do have to prioritize certain things.

I usually start to slow down during the winter months for a bit, not being able to be as active as during spring or summer. Piled on top of this was my career situation.  I did start an internship in August, which I unfortunately had to terminate in November.  I had such a great time at Tricoast Worldwide, and it really wasn’t easy to leave.  I learned so much and had wonderful coworkers who made work feel like fun.  I loved the family environment so much more than working for big corporations like I did before.

But, as another saying tells, if one door closes, another one opens, which I did not see at first.  As not many of you might know, I do work as an independent contractor for an app that provides dog walking, boarding, and sitting.  I started doing this job on the side when I was still at Tricoast, but it became my full-time position once I quit.  I am a huge dog lover and have to confess that I was actually a little excited, yet also scared, to take on this career shift.

I personally rather am with animals than sitting at a desk all day, staring at a computer screen.  I also wasn’t ready to start writing applications for PR jobs again, after it took so much effort to eventually land an unpaid position- yeah, no thanks.  I told myself to take it easy over the holidays, and once New Year’s hit, I would feel refreshed and ready to give applying another go.

But you know what? It didn’t happen like that.  Yes, I did take it easy over the holidays and got some much needed rest.  But I wasn’t feeling refreshed and ready to write applications.  All I wanted was to work with dogs.  I know that probably sounds ridiculous to many people, especially in expensive California.

But I am happy.  I am truly happy to have a job that doesn’t feel like a job to me.  It never feels like work for me, and every day is different.  This, I believe, is what your dream job has to feel like.  And, since I have put a couple of these in this post already, here is another smart saying by Mark Twain that sums it up perfectly: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I do am aware that I will not be able to perform this job forever.  At the end of each day, I can always feel every muscle in my legs from being on my feet all day.  Also, there are no benefits, and I have to work rain or shine in order to make ends meet. But I see this position as my ground base.

I would love to be able to combine my degree in communications with working with animals at some point.  But I am not stressing out about it at the moment.  I rather enjoy what I do, be able to save up some fundamentals, and then start taking the next step of the career ladder. And also find the time to write more again.

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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Thanksgiving

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THANKSGIVING

One of my favorite holidays since living in the U.S. has definitely been Thanksgiving.  I love getting together with friends to cook, chat, eat, and just have a great time. We do have Thanksgiving in Germany as well, but it’s not being celebrated the way the Americans do, at least when I was still living there.

When I was a child in elementary school, I remember that our class hosted a play for the parents at a farm in the forest on the actual Thanksgiving Day.  The families gathered at the school in the morning before everyone, including teachers, kids, and parents participated in the approximately 20-minute walk towards the forest.

Once we reached the destination, the entertainment part started.  I don’t remember many specific details except all of us singing songs together and the kids performing a play for the parents, praising all the great things the earth provided us with.  That was pretty much all we did for Thanksgiving.

Coming over here, I really started seeing Thanksgiving more as a holiday and opened up to celebrating it.  I mean, I moved all the way over here to get used to a different culture, might as well indulge in the American customs.  I have celebrated in Texas a couple years and in California.  Sometimes, my friends put together a Friendsgiving a couple days before the actual Thanksgiving Day, so I got to celebrate it twice in one year.

This year will be the first year where I won’t be celebrating on the actual day.  Fortunately, my dear friend Katy (name changed due to privacy) put on a wonderful Friendsgiving celebration this past Saturday.  It had an interesting twist giving the fact that my friend is vegan.  I personally don’t eat meat myself and am pretty open to different diets and loved the various dishes.

Another Thanksgiving “tradition” I had to get used to as well was Black Friday.  It is so crazy to me how people are lining up in front of stores for hours just to get a great bargain, when Thanksgiving should actually be all about being thankful for what we have.  I love that there are certain stores that advertise the importance of being with family instead of shopping and keep their doors closed.

But however all of you are spending your Thanksgiving, I hope you are having a wonderful time.

Happy Holidays!

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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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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Spring Break 2015

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Spring Break 2015

As nice and multifaceted California is, sometimes it is nice to get out and explore other parts of the country.  My personal goal each year is to visit a place I have never been before.  In April 2015, that place was Miami.  I was debating to travel to either Boston or Miami.  I love visiting cities and explore the architecture and culture.  But during Spring Break, all I wanted to do was to relax and soak up the sun, and so the decision fell on Florida.

It was the perfect time to travel to Miami since it wasn’t too hot or too humid that early on during the year.  What I didn’t expect though were some of the horrendous prices that were about to face me.  Beforehand I have to say though that I got some great deals on flight and hotel.  I booked early on, so prices for flights were still pretty decent.

For my stay, I looked at both hotels and private stays.  I ended up getting a hotel for a bargain price, but it was located a little outside from South Beach.  Therefore, I had to rent a car on top, which I had originally planned anyways since I wanted to drive down to Key West one of the days.  All in all, the sum I had to pay was still acceptable.

On my day of travel, I was really surprised to see that the plane was the size of those jets that I usually take when flying international.  The flight was pretty smooth and took about five hours.  When we finally arrived in Miami, it was already evening, and all I wanted to do was make my way to the hotel and sleep.

The next day, I got up early, ready to pick up my rental and explore the town.  Once I had my car, I made my may down to South Beach, destined to spend my morning in the sun.  It took me about 20 minutes driving from the Hialeah area to my destination.  My excitement to hang out by the water was about to receive a setback when I was trying to find affordable parking.

So here is a tip in case you consider traveling to Miami: either pack enough cash to pay for the horrendous parking prices, or park further away and walk.  I should have done my research beforehand, but I didn’t expect that there was no free parking anywhere, unlike in Orange County.  Well, I had to learn the hard way.  After I was tired of passing several parking opportunities that ranged from $10 an hour and up, I pulled into a parking area, paid $20 for two hours, and made my way to the beach.

I swore to myself to conduct research that same night to find cheaper parking opportunities, since I wasn’t willing to spend that much on parking.  But for now, all I wanted to was to relax.  When I saw the white sand and bright blue water, I was in awe.  As much as I love the beaches in California, after this trip, South Beach also had my heart.

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When my two hours of painful expensive parking were up, I made my way towards the Bay to participate in my first time ever paddle boarding (I had no issues finding affordable parking there, by the way.) Until that day, I never stood on a board before but have been dying to try it.  So to make this vacation extra special, I decided to book a guided sunset paddle tour.  The guys that took me out were great, and I managed to not fall in which, considering my terrible balance, was a miracle to me.  I enjoyed the beautiful Miami sunset before heading back to my quarters for the night.

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When I arrived back at my hotel, the first thing I did was researching cheaper parking opportunities.  And voila, it didn’t take me long until I found some useful recommendations.  So basically, if you intend to park cheap in South Beach, you have to calculate in some walking time, since the more reasonable priced parking garages are a bit of a distance, but definitely worth it.  I paid about $5 a day instead of $10 an hour for the rest of the trip, and was finally able to really enjoy the beach.

Besides the parking issue, I can’t recall any bad memories about my vacation in Miami.  The vibe was pretty similar to what I am used to here in Huntington Beach.  The weather was amazing, and being able to actually swim in the ocean with no huge waves was a big plus.  One of the highlights was my short trip to Key West on the third day, but more about that next time…

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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