Tag Archives: Expat

Why Germany Is a Great Place to Have Kids

Why Germany Is a Great Place to Have Kids

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by Kate Müser
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Parental leave – or rather its absence – has recently become a hot topic in the US. Will a sinking birthrate in the US lead to financial motivation for struggling parents?

In Germany, on the other hand, the birthrate has been rising recently, up just slightly from worrying lows. Here, generous parental benefits were implemented years ago.

Most Americans would fall out of their chairs to learn that new parents in Germany can receive around two-thirds of their salary for up to 14 months after the birth of their child – without going to work.

Meanwhile parents can plan the years after birth with a great deal of flexibility – taking turns working part-time or not at all, and with a high degree of job security.

With my first baby on the way, I’m about to experience the full extent of German family benefits first hand.

But are state subsidies and time off work the only reasons why German is known for being an ideal place to have kids?

I chatted with German YouTuber and mommy-of-two Charlotte from the channel MenschFrau to find out.

©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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October 3rd, Germany celebrates “Tag der Deutschen Einheit” – The German National Day

Today Germany celebrates its National Day, the “Tag der deutschen Einheit” !

Today Germany commemorates the reunification of Germany. After WW II Germany got divided into East and West Germany. A fortified wall made sure that interaction between these two Germanys was limited and especially controlled .

Many Germans never believed that they would ever witness a unified Germany again, but November 9th, 1989 should catch them by surprise.

On this fateful day in history the East German government declared that all East Germans were free to go to the West and visit West Germany and West Berlin. Germany and the world went wild! Impactful, dramatic images of that day still captivate us today.

So why don’t we celebrate our German National Day on November 9th after all?

November 9th happens to be a day for a variety of  historical events in Germany, and not all were such that they should be honored or remembered positively on a day that shall celebrate the National day of Germany .

November 9th was the day on which the German republic was proclaimed in 1918, and it was also a November 9th when Hitler’s first coup in 1923 was defeated. This ominous date however also marks the anniversary of the Reichskristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) in 1938, the day of the first large-scale Nazi-led pogroms against Jews.

November 9th therefore did not seem an appropriate date for the German National Day.

October 3rd was chosen instead since this was the day in 1990 when the formal reunification took place.

October 3rd replaced the date of June 17, which used to be the date for “The Day of German Unity” during the days of the BRD ( The Federal Republic of Germany).

Images: Pixabay.com

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The Beauty of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA)

Walking Through Downtown L.A.

– A Report in Pictures –
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Los Angeles, a fascinating city and a dream destination for many, has so much to offer. Beautiful beaches, legendary Hollywood, famous Universal Studios, iconic Muscle Beach at Venice, eclectic art, amazing museums, delectable restaurants…just to name a few highlights.

For sure L.A. is not only an exciting city for newcomers and tourists alike, but also for us expats living here it is worth dedicating a summer vacation to exploring Los Angles and beyond.

So here we go.

My family loves Downtown L.A. (DTLA). Be it Olvera Street the often called “birthplace of Los Angeles”, Chinatown , Little Tokyo, the contemporary art museum MOCA or THE BROAD museum and of course the Grand Central Market, which is always a must for us when we are in DTLA.

Needless to say our latest trip to DTLA started out right here and should end here as well with some delicious ice cream before heading back home.

Energized, after having had lunch at Wexler’s Deli indulging on their pastrami sandwich ‘The OG’, my son’s favorite, we make our way to the Grand Central Library.

Shortcut Along Angels Flight

There is a great short cut to South Grand Avenue by climbing the stairways alongside the Angels Flight funicular, which is right across from the Grand Central Market’s exit on Hill Street.

On South Grand Avenue we pay a short visit to MOCA, glance at The BROAD, (which is closed on Mondays) and take in the fabulous architecture of the Disney Music Hall before we continue our path to the library.

More art along the way!

Arriving at the corner of South Grand Ave / 5th Street we are finally met by one of Los Angeles architectural and historical landmarks, The Central Library!

The original library of 1926, the Goodhue Building, is an early example of Art Deco. The Tom Bradley Wing was added as a modern addition in 1993 and features most of the library’s collection today.

The Goodhue Building houses the Children’s and Teen department, which we always enjoy visiting.

Upon entering via the Rotunda with its Zodiac Chandelier one feels transported into a different time.

Have we entered Victorian era England or have we teleported into a Harry Potter movie?  Not sure, but it’s beautiful!

On our way out we make sure to walk through the atrium of the Tom Bradley Wing to get back into modern times.

Back outside on 5th Street we realize that we happen to stand right across of L.A.’s famous skyslide which is attached to the top of the US Bank skyscraper. Definitely nothing for the faint-hearted!! So I am quickly moving on pulling my mesmerized son with me down the street to The Last Bookstore on 453 S Spring Street.

The Last Bookstore, an eccentric book store that engages every book lover with tons of books, art galleries, hidden reading sanctuaries and a book labyrinth.

Even if you are not interested in books per se, this bookstore is a must! And if it’s only to inhale the L.A.vibe !

Enough books for today! We are heading back to the Grand Central Market and the Bradbury Building, which happens to be directly opposite of the market’s entrance on S. Broadway.

Not promising anything extraordinary from the outside the Bradbury Building fascinates once you walk through the narrow entrance lobby. Letting our eyes feast one more time on an L.A. architectural landmark, we are walking into the five-story building and are met with an amazing, light-filled atrium brimming with staircases in ornate ironwork and two wrought-iron ‘bird cage’ elevators. The Bradbury Building has been featured in many movies, the Blade Runner being one of them.

Together with the Central Library and the Union Station, the Bradbury Building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places .

For everyone still seeking adventure, you could move on to see much more here in Downtown L.A. – After all L.A.’s Union Station is not far away and famous theaters like the Theatre at the ACE Hotel are just down the road.

My son and I, however, called it a day and we went back to the Grand Central Market to reward ourselves with a delicious ice cream and an interesting coffee concoction. The drink called Business and Pleasure at G & B actually consists of three drinks! Iced almond-macademia milk cappuccino, carbonated iced tea and an espresso shot. Give it a try next time you visit Grand Central Market!

Prost! Cheers! À votre santé!

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Images: All Rights reserved ©CaliforniaGermans

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MUT

Mut

(Eine Kurzgeschichte von Dieter Kermas)
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Der Wetterbericht versprach einen sonnigen, warmen Sommertag.
Es war noch recht früh am Morgen. Lange nicht Rad gefahren, dachte ich.
Nach einem kurzen, heftigen Kampf, den inneren Schweinehund besiegt und den Drahtesel aus seinem Tiefschlaf geweckt.
Luftdruck geprüft, nachgepumpt. Bremsen geprüft, nachgestellt.
Hosenklammern angelegt.
Nun konnte es losgehen.

Zuerst fuhr ich in Richtung Teltowkanal. Den Uferweg musste ich mir mit Joggern, Hundebesitzern und Spaziergängern teilen. Nach unfallfreier Umkurvung dieser teils unberechenbaren Hindernisse, bekam ich Lust auf eine Pause.
Zwei Kilometer weiter fand ich eine Uferböschung, die zur Rast einlud.
Rad gesichert und mich auf dem warmen Sonnenplätzchen langgemacht.
Für den ersten Ausflug nach der langen Pause, so dachte ich, wäre es nun Zeit den Heimweg anzutreten.

Um den Weg bis nach Hause möglichst autostraßenfrei zurückzulegen, wählte ich eine Strecke durch den Steglitzer Stadtpark.
Wie am Kanal, so tummelten sich hier wiederum die oben beschriebenen Hindernisse. Kinderscharen erschwerten zusätzlich ein flottes Vorankommen.
Nun, ich hatte ja Zeit und konnte den kurzen Rest des Weges im langsamen Tempo hinter mich bringen.
Ein schwarzes, flatterndes Etwas versuchte von rechts nach links an meinem Rad vorbei zu flüchten. Ich hielt sofort an, stieg ab und sah genauer hin.
Das könnte eine junge Krähe sein, stellte ich fest. Wohl zu früh aus dem Nest gefallen, war mein zweiter Gedanke. Hat die Flugprüfung wohl nicht bestanden, konstatierte ich.
Mach´ s gut, und suche lieber deine Eltern, wollte ich noch rufen, als ein lautes, hechelndes Japsen mein Ohr erreichte.
Ich drehte mich um. Liebe kleine Krähe, jetzt kommen ernste Probleme auf dich zu, dachte ich sofort.

Ein weißer, braun und schwarz gefleckter Terrier rannte bellend hinter einem kleinen Jungen her, der mit seinem Roller, laut „Mama“ rufend, dem jagdeifrigen Hund zu entkommen suchte. Den bittenden Zuruf der besorgten Mutter ignorierte die Hundebesitzerin und ließ ihren Liebling sich ungehindert austoben. Erst nachdem die Mutter des kleinen Jungen dem Hund mit der Handtasche drohte, ließ er ab, um dann nach neuen jagdbaren Lebewesen zu suchen.

Es konnte sich nur um Sekunden handeln, und die junge Krähe wäre sein nächstes Opfer geworden. Der Ausgang dieser Begegnung war mir vollkommen klar. Im Geist sah ich bereits den zerfledderten Körper des jungen Vogels.
Jetzt musste ich schnell handeln und in das Geschehen eingreifen.
Rad hingelegt. Der noch recht flinken Krähe nachgeeilt und nach einigen Fehlversuchen erwischt. Voller Angst schrie die kleine Krähe markerschütternd in meinen Händen.
Wohin mit ihr, dachte ich. Da bot sich eine sehr dicht zugewachsene Eibe als Versteck an.
Ein paar Schritte und ich steckte das unablässig schreiende Bündel zwischen die Zweige, so hoch es ging. Dort krallte sich das Häufchen Unglück sogleich an einem Ast fest.
Anstatt nun dankbar den Schnabel zu halten, lärmte das kleine Biest ohne Pause weiter.
Schrei nur solange du willst, dachte ich und kletterte wieder auf mein Rad.

Dann ging alles sehr schnell. Ein Rauschen über mir und ein wütendes, heiseres Krächzen drang an meine Ohren. Ehe ich wusste, was los war, spürte ich einen heftigen Flügelschlag an meinem Kopf und gleichzeitig fuhren spitze Krallen durch meine Haare, so dass diese nach vorne gekämmt wurden.
Die Elternkrähen hatten mich zum Feind ihres Sprösslings erklärt und attackierten mich mutig und gnadenlos. Während eine Krähe abdrehte und, so vermutete ich, zum Jungvogel flog, setzte die zweite Krähe erneut zum Sturzflug an. Zuerst wollte ich nach dem Vogel schlagen, hätte aber dabei eventuell die Balance verloren. Also duckte ich mich. Nun aber so schnell wie möglich weg von hier, dachte ich und trat heftig in die Pedalen. Nun ist es leider nicht möglich in voller Flucht, beide Hände am Lenker zu halten und auch noch den Angriff des Vogels abzuwehren. So duckte ich mich noch tiefer und floh so schnell ich treten konnte. Als die Entfernung zur jungen Krähe dem Elternvogel groß genug erschien, ließ er von mir ab und verschwand.

Nachdem nun alles vorüber war, hielt ich an und sah zurück. Erleichtert stellte ich fest, dass der Terrier mit seinem Frauchen in einen anderen Weg abgebogen war und keine Gefahr mehr für den Jungvogel darstellte.
Die Krähen umflogen die Eibe und kümmerten sich um ihren Nachwuchs.
Langsam sammelte ich mich wieder und schwor, in meiner anfänglichen Aufregung, den Krähen ewige Fehde.
Doch bald wandelte sich meine Wut in große Achtung vor dem Mut der Vögel, die ohne Rücksicht auf die Folgen angegriffen hatten.

Den Film „Die Vögel“ von Hitchcock, sehe ich seit diesem Tage mit ganz anderen Augen.

©Dieter Kermas

Image:  Wikimedia -Theatrical poster for the film The Birds (1963)

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Dieter Kermas, CaliforniaGermans Author and a true Berliner, turned to writing after he retired from his profession as an engineer. Family and friends urged him to document his many experiences during his childhood in wartime Germany. This made for a collection of various essays which have been published here at CaliforniaGermans. (You can find the stories here on CaliforniaGermans.com by putting “Dieter Kermas” into the Search Box.) Apart from his childhood memories he is also sharing some of his short stories and poems on CaliforniaGermans. Dieter Kermas, who loves to write, is currently working on his first novel. Some of his work has been included in anthologies.

To get in touch with Dieter Kermas, please send an email with subjectline “Dieter Kermas” to: californiagermans@gmail.com
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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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