Tag Archives: Expat in California

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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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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