Tag Archives: Expat in California

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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Believe In Yourself

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Believe In Yourself

While I was pretty relieved and happy to have found a job in the entertainment industry that matches my skills, there were still some people who were able to criticize my decision of taking an unpaid internship.  After submitting more than 60 applications, you really loosen your standards and take whatever you can get.  Somehow, I did believe in myself and that I will be able to make it work.

But when I talked to members of my family about this recent step, I didn’t expect to hear what they were about to say.  They knew about my ordeal and how much effort it took me to finally land a job after college.  They were aware of why I turned the other job down and decided to work in LA again.  So when I informed them about the most recent event in my life, my father had nothing less to say than: We do not sell ourselves under worth.

At first, his words didn’t hit me that hard.  I tried to explain that I am working in a position where I actually get to use a lot of the skills I was taught in school, and that I am enjoying where I am at.  But he seemed to only think of the unpaid part.  Yes, of course I’d rather have a paid position.  Of course I don’t want to have four occupations (as I currently do), two of them unpaid, but I have to start at the bottom and work my way up.

Nobody who just got out of college is going to start off in an executive position.  And my dad even admitted that in Germany the situation for recent college graduates doesn’t necessarily look much better when trying to find a job.  Many of them, apparently, also start out as interns, trying to get the foot in the professional door.

I don’t want to go to deep into it, but while the conversation with my family continued, I felt a lot of negativity rising in myself.  Negativity I don’t need nor want in my life.  Before that Skype call, I was perfectly happy.  I am beyond grateful to be able to live where I do; I landed a job; I am enjoying life to the fullest.  But there were still people who I felt were trying to put me down.

From their side, they would probably argue that they were just being realistic.  Trust me, I am aware that my life is not a fairy tale, and that I won’t be able to sustain my life forever with an unpaid position.  But I do believe that good things will come to those who hustle, and I am not afraid to accept the challenge and pull my sleeves up.

As for now, I decided to cut all negativity and unnecessary pressure out of my life and focus on my career.  I don’t need people to worry for me about what will happen next year, or why I don’t have a paid position.  I am the happiest I have ever been, and that is what my family and my surroundings should focus on.

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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Graduating University in the United States

Anne Kathrin

 

 

Graduating in the United States

Welcome back! The past three weeks have been pure craziness (in a good way), and a lot has happened during that time: I completed my internship with CBS Studios International, had friends and family from Germany in town to visit, and I also graduated.  I am glad things are slowly getting back to normal and that I could close some important chapters in my life while new ones are about to start.

Looking back, it feels super crazy how fast the time in school actually flew by. I still remember the first day when I started my educational journey at Community College, before I finally got to transfer to Cal State Fullerton to complete my Bachelor’s degree.  This school has given me so much amazing opportunities to make new friendships, meet great professors, and get involved (as I mentioned in more detail in one of my previous articles).  I am actually kind of sad that this period of my life is over now.  Not only because I think so highly of this university, but also because I lost some sense of security.  By going to school, my life had a particular structure and stability.  Now, I am totally on my own, trying to find a job that matches my skills and interests and that also pays enough to be able to sustain a life here in Orange County.  Therefore, I still like to reminisce about my last semester and graduation day.

I can’t really compare graduation in the United States with graduation in Germany since I never finished university in Europe.  So when the big day arrived two weeks ago, I didn’t really know exactly what to expect.  I was just super excited to be walking the stage to receive my certificate together with some of my best friends.  With my decorated cap, gown, two sashes, one cord and a tassel in tow, I gathered my family and friends from Europe and headed to school two hours before the start of the actual ceremony to make sure we get a parking spot.  Even though we left way ahead of time, traffic around the university was crazy.  But at least we got a parking spot close to the stadium where the ceremony was being held.  I told my parents and friends where the audience seating was, while I walked over to where the graduates had to meet. Little did I know at that time that the ceremony of the Communications department, which I was being part of, would receive press coverage and start a social media debate because of one particular commencement speaker.  But I will come back to that a little later.

Once every one of the graduates had gathered at the assembly point, the ceremony promptly started at 9:45 am.  The first to walk into the stadium were the department chairs and speakers, followed by the concentration commencement leaders, who were carrying signs for each of the five communications concentrations (advertising, photo communications, entertainment and tourism, journalism, and public relations).  Then came the Master’s degree recipients, followed by the many hundreds of Bachelor’s degree graduates, myself included.  If you asked me to describe the feeling while walking in the stadium to ceremonial music while the audience was cheering, I would say, “It was pretty cool!”

Once all of us found a seat and the presentation of the national anthem was completed (which really gave me the chills because it just felt so amazing), the department chairs and speakers took to the stage.  That was when the ceremony took a short detour to the worse.  One of the commencement representatives was an award-winning anchor and journalist of Latino heritage. With more than 40 percent of journalism graduates coming from a Hispanic background, the university thought it to be a great contribution to present her as one of the inspirational and motivational speakers.  Unfortunately, not everybody felt that way.  It all started out well, until the speaker began to focus solemnly on the Latino graduates by stating things such as, “Hispanics are the future.”  That did not sit well with everybody.  It got way worse when she started to mention politics, a topic, in my opinion, you definitely shouldn’t bring up during a commencement speech.  Members of the audience started to boo at her and yell, “Get off the stage,” while others flipped the bird at her. I started to feel really uncomfortable in my seat. Of course I do have my personal opinion about this matter, which I won’t state here, since everybody is allowed to agree or disagree.  All I am going to say is that I don’t think it was a smart move for a speaker to bring certain things up when you have people from many different background and political opinions at an official university ceremony.  The incident received press coverage and sparked a debate about racism, something that clearly was not intended by anyone on this special day.  

Fortunately enough though, the following speakers were able to turn the mood around, and the ceremony proceeded without any further negative incidents.  After the presenters concluded their speeches, the students were asked to assemble in line to go onto the stage and receive their certificate.  It was one of the best moments I have ever experienced when the department chair called out my name through the speaker and my family and friends cheered while I was walking down the stage.  And with that, that chapter of my life is closed.  At least for now…

Image: ©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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Roadtrippin’ along the California Coast

Anne Kathrin Hearst Castle

Roadtrippin’ along the California Coast

I like to call myself a writer, publicity intern, and social media junkie.  I always love to explore and acquire new skills.  My newest addition to the previous mentioned set of self-acclaimed professions would be video editor.  I know that I am far from a professional video editor, I mean, let’s be honest, I don’t even possess a professional camera.  But one of my best girlfriends and I recently went on a trip together along the California Coast, and I decided to literally give it a shot and document our trip by capturing it with my iPhone.  The link to the end result can be found at the bottom of this piece, and I hope people can see through my lens the beauty of what the United States’ west coast has to offer.

I am so glad my friend “pushed” me to go on this trip.  I love to travel and explore places, and a couple of months ago I casually mentioned to her that I would really like to visit Hearst Castle up in San Simeon.  She decided to take a look into it as well, but we dropped the subject for a while.  I didn’t even try to put any effort into planning the trip because I was extremely busy with work, school, applying for jobs after college and anything else that was going on in my life.  One night over Sushi, my girlfriend brought the trip up again, asking if I would still be down to do it.  Even though I had to deal with a lot of pressure at that time, I just thought that a trip was exactly what I needed to release some of the stress.  I am so glad she convinced me to finally do it!  We set a date, booked a hotel, and planned our route.

Starting in Huntington Beach, we knew we wanted to take PCH all the way up to Monterey, our final destination.  We first stopped in Oxnard to enjoy a great breakfast of French toast and Eggs Benedict, before we hit the road again all the way up until we arrived at Hearst Castle, which is named after and built by Anne KathrinAmerican newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst.  The landmark offers a variety of different tours, and I would recommend anyone planning on visiting to reserve a tour in advance.  We didn’t do so, and we were lucky that they had still open spots for the “Designing the Dream Tour,” which guides you through the guest houses and castle bedrooms.  Visitors of this tour also get to see the beautiful gardens and the amazing indoor pool, where real gold is embedded in the grounds.  For $30, the price of the tour was totally appropriate for what you get to see up on the hill and along the beautiful green hills.  Tourists also receive a wonderful coastal view.  All in all, I can recommend anyone to visit and take a tour.

Anne Kathrin Big SurAfter we marked Hearst Castle off our bucket list, we were really excited to continue driving along the coast to Big Sur.  I have visited Big Sur many, many years ago, and I remembered it being incredibly beautiful.  But once we actually reached the scenic part, it was beyond breathtaking.  I can’t describe it; you actually have to see it.  Even the pictures I took don’t do the real image any justice.  I am sure anyone of you who has taken a trip to Big Sur can relate.  We made countless stops along the road to take pictures, film, and just enjoy the beautiful scenery.  At some point, we had dinner at a little cute restaurant with view over the ocean, in the middle of nowhere.  After dinner, we watched the sunset over the coast while we enjoyed amazing chocolate fudge we had bought at Hearst Castle (I can definitely recommend their deserts too, great stuff!).  We then made our way up to Monterey, where we fell totally exhausted but happy into our beds.

Anne KathrinThe next day, we decided to do the 17-Mile Drive, which leads along Pebble Beach.  It took us about 40 minutes from Monterey to get there.  Park admission by car is $10, bikes and pedestrians get in for free.  What didn’t come to our advantage that day were some pretty strong winds, which is a little bit of an understatement.  I mean, it was still worth it, even though we mainly just jumped out of the car at a couple of the many view points to take some quick pictures.  The water up in Northern California, especially in this area, is just plain gorgeous.  It has the turquoise twist we don’t really get to see out here in the south.  After we made it through the “storm,” we started making our way back to Huntington Beach.  We got to enjoy the beautiful Big Sur coast once more, until we finally arrived back in Orange County.

Click on the link to get a glimpse of our beautiful golden coast.  As Katy Perry correctly points out in her famous song California Gurls, “You can travel the world.  But nothing comes close to the golden coast!”

Images & video : ©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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Adventures of a German Au Pair in the United States – Finding a Way Back to the U.S.

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Working My Way Back to the United States

My au pair time was officially over.  The realization hit me every day I was living back in Germany.  Even though I had started a new job as a kindergarten teacher that kept me pretty busy, I found myself reminiscing at least once a day about my life in California.  I missed it so much!

I felt bad about it because I was finally close to my best friends and family again, but then again my au pair stay had changed me and my life forever.  I had fallen in love with traveling the world, and even though I hadn’t been really good with settling in other places before my cultural exchange, my desire to leave Europe and immigrate somewhere far away grew ever bigger after my U.S. stay.  I am not the only person that felt like that; many of my au pair friends experienced this kind of travel fever.  Some of them eventually became flight attendants for long distance flights, just to get out of Germany every so often.  Even I applied for a position as a flight attendant once while being back in Europe.  

It happened in late 2010 when I had worked for more than a year in the kindergarten institution where I had been responsible for taking care of children between the ages of 7 months and 6 years.  Even though no one day was the same at work, I felt like I needed a break from my routine.  I was so very hungry for traveling on a consistent basis, specifically long distance, but it was just too costly to do so only for leisure.  Therefore, I looked up long distance flight attendant positions one night and found an opening for a well-known German airline. With no hesitations, I instantly applied, hoping to hear back from the company anytime soon.  My prayers were heard; I received an email with an invitation to a telephone interview.  I was beyond thrilled, imagining myself being up in the clouds already.  But, as life usually goes, all came different.  

One night in December 2010, my dad approached me.  In general this wasn’t really surprising since he usually liked to lecture me every once in a while about my life and the choices I made, but this time it was different.  I had been living with my parents since I had moved back from the United States due to the fact that I was unsure of where my future would take me. So until I had figured that out I could stay with them.  On this particular night then, my father came all the way up to my room, mentioning he wanted to talk to me.  All I thought at that moment was ‘Oh great, not another lecture I don’t want to hear at the moment.’ But he actually was about to nail it this time.  Without hesitation, he told me that he had noticed my being so unhappy for most of the time, and he wanted to know why.  So I told him straight to his face that I hated being back and I didn’t feel at home in Europe anymore!  I know those were harsh words that I threw at my father’s face, but I had been frustrated for a while with living back in Germany, with no clue how I could make my way back to the U.S..  

To my surprise, my dad was very understanding, and we had a really good conversation.  I told him that I knew that one of the ways of going back to the United States was to attend college there, which I had thought of for a while since I wasn’t very happy in my profession as a kindergarten teacher.  My father told me that if that was what I really wanted, he would help me make my dream a reality.  But he had one condition: I had to find a college major that would guarantee me a good career.  I cannot describe how relieved I was, first about having opened up to my dad and second of course about his response.  I instantly started researching schools in the Orange County area, specifically around Huntington Beach since I had been there on vacation in 2010 and had fallen in love with the laid-back lifestyle.  

I eventually found a college in Fountain Valley that I liked.  Over the next couple of days I gathered the paperwork together that I needed for the application and started filling it out.  I was super anxious when I did that because I was afraid that one piece of the wrong information would mess up all my chances of getting into college in the United States.  But luckily, my story had a happy ending.  In April 2011, when I was in Huntington Beach on vacation, I stopped by the college to ask them about my application process.  When the lady at the counter told me that I had been accepted to start attending school in the fall of 2011, I was beyond happy.  I was finally about to work my way back to the U.S., and this time, hopefully, without ever having to leave again…

To be continued…
(Next Wednesday: Read about Kathrin’s “living her dream” since being back in California)
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Image: Pixabay.com
Disclaimer: Names in the story may have been changed to protect people’s privacy
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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 lives 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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