Tag Archives: Germans in California

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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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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Following The American Dream – Germans in the USA

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America – a country that mesmerizes and fascinates us, or might repel and perhaps irritate us,  but for sure a country that evokes strong emotions either way around the globe!

Many of my generation grew up with an idolized image of America, as the nation of freedom and abundant possibilities and opportunities. That’s what we’ve heard from our parents. The USA helped Germany after the war to get  back on its feet and become a competitive nation among Europe once more, and our parents didn’t forget this!

Even little things had made a big impact. My mother still remembers when she and her sister were getting candy and their first chewing gum ever from American G.I.s stationed in Germany right after the war. They were young kids starved not only for food but attention and hope. And America gave them and many others back the hope for a better & brighter future. America, became the symbol for a better life!

Immigration to the US from Germany was on a “high” after the war of course, then declined some, but interestingly enough among our younger generation emigration is “in” again, not only to the U.S. but to all over the world. Be it that the global market makes the USA once more an attractive place to live in, or that our children having spent time in foreign countries for perfecting their language skills are so intrigued by their exchange country and culture that they want to live there eventually.  As a student exchange destination the USA has consistently been among the favorites. Oftentimes students, who have spent some time in the USA as a teenager or during college yearn to come back to the U.S. later on and wish to make America their home.

Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure: The world definitely grew closer together, and Germans undoubtedly love to travel and seek adventure elsewhere in the world. The USA certainly remains an attractive destination for many of them.

Happy German-American Day!


Photo Credit: ©CaliforniaGermans.com

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 Articles of Interest:

http://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/2534/umfrage/entwicklung-der-anzahl-deutscher-auswanderer/

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/statistik-auswanderung-laesst-deutsche-bevoelkerung-schrumpfen-a-696863.html

https://robertknoche.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/warum-wandern-viele-deuts1.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_American#Contemporary_period

Good Things Come to Those Who Hustle

Good Things Come to Those Who Hustle

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I really didn’t intend to make a whole separate series out of my internship. It just so happened that I went through some major stages I think are worthwhile sharing, and I just wasn’t able to fit it all in one article without having to write a novel. But this one is going to be the last one, and then I will be done with this topic, I swear.

My first few weeks with CBS didn’t go so well for me.  In fact, I was terrified in the beginning to actually go back after my disastrous (as I saw it) first day.  I put so much pressure on myself, trying to perform like a pro when I only had been there for a couple days.  This behavior affected my sleep, my eating habits, my workouts and my friends.

My friends were  true angels in that situation, listening to me whining about possibly leaving the internship.  They tried to lift me up in every possible way.  I really am thankful they didn’t want to rip my head off after I always managed to turn the conversation to how unhappy I was in this position.  I just didn’t feel I was suited for the it.

Until that one week my supervisor was sick and had to leave the office.  That was my time to shine and to step up.  At first, I was terrified when she announced that she had to go home because she wasn’t feeling well.  I hated answering the phone, but now that was my responsibility.  And what can I say; I was actually compatible to do it.  It is really not rocket science to take phone calls and transfer them.  After the first couple times I started to become more comfortable with it and started to lose my fear.

I also got to know my boss a little more during that time since I now had to work directly under here.  We had some good conversations, and she told me how much she appreciated me being there.  That really boosted my confidence, and I became ambitious to fulfill each of my tasks the best I could.  I started thriving and believing in myself.  I actually was capable of handling responsibilities in a gigantic corporation where you are confronted with deadlines and a high-pressure environment.

One day during that week, my boss let me accompany her while she was guiding a television crew around the lot.  This was one of the first times when I saw the perks this job brought with it.  It was fun to not be tied to the desk all day and just walk around and watch the crew film sets and interview talent such as late night host James Corden (love him, by the way).  I happily stayed an hour past my off-time just to be around this environment and observe.  I think I thanked my boss a gazillion times that she let me come with her.

When my supervisor got back, the relationship between us became better, too.  I had a way more positive attitude, and it showed.  From that moment on I knew I didn’t want to terminate the internship and saw it as a great experience and a way to enhance my resume.  Of course there were moments when I hated my job, but that happens in my current position too.  It is something everybody goes through from time to time, as long as the positives outweigh the negatives.

The highlight of my internship actually happened during my last week. It was the week of the LA Screenings, which are happening in May each year.  It is an event where the major networks present their upcoming new summer/fall shows to interested buyers from all over the world.  Working this event was a lot of fun, not only because the interns got to work with A-listers such as Katherine Heigl or Michael Weatherly.  We also got to watch the pilots of the new shows.  On top of that, we had an In-N- Out truck catering the event, which was definitely one of the best things ever.

Yeah, that week I realized how lucky I actually was despite all the difficulties I had in the beginning.  And what can I say, when I had to say goodbye, I started crying.  I knew I would miss the environment and the work.  The only thing that I was looking forward to was to not sit in traffic anymore.  Until I landed my current job, which is located in Culver City.  But that is another story.

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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What Doesn’t Kill You…

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What Doesn’t Kill You…

Before I started my great adventure at CBS, or so I imagined, I had about a month off to get prepared.  Since I attended school as an international student, there were certain regulations I had to follow and documents I had to organize.  As it usually goes with bureaucracy, difficulties arose, and I almost didn’t receive all necessary documents in time, fearing to lose the internship position.  But thankfully, one day before the estimated beginning of the job, I was able to pick up everything I needed.

I was starting my internship on a Friday in January.  That Thursday before, I went out with a girlfriend for dinner, trying to get distracted from my emerging nervousness.  Unfortunately though, all the good Thai food we had didn’t calm me down one bit.  I had a pretty sleepless night, waking up at least once every hour before my alarm rang.  Feeling like a Zombie but trying to portray a motivated attitude, I made my way out of the door two hours before my orientation appointment in Santa Monica.

The heavy LA traffic that I was supposed to be stuck in three times a week from that point on didn’t lift me up either.  But once I arrived at the HR offices and felt the cool vibe that was going on there, I felt a little better.  Also, the people that held the orientation were super nice and friendly and made me feel comfortable.  After an hour of listening and signing papers, I was sent off to drive to Television City located right in the middle of LA where the office I worked in was located.

During the 20-minute drive, I kept reminding me that everything will be fine, it was my first day, and that I was there to learn and nobody expected me to be perfect.  Unfortunately, on that day I became my own worst enemy.  Once I proceeded through the entry gate, parked my car, and was guided upstairs on the third floor where my work space was located, my nervousness resurfaced pretty strong.  And the encounter with my boss as well as supervisor didn’t help that emotional stage.  I instantly got the impression that something was off, but didn’t want to judge anything too soon.

I received a quick introduction and run-down of what I was supposed to do from now on before my supervisor took me around the lot to get my ID I had to use from now on to be able to access the studio and the building.  I was beyond tired, but tried to remember every little detail she was telling me.  Once we got back upstairs to our work spaces, I was directed to go over the intern information one more time, and then go on my lunch break.  When I came back and my supervisor wasn’t there, I felt a little lost.  And that was when things started to take a turn downwards for me.

At first, I had problems logging back in to my computer, due to a typo in my login information that was provided to me.  After a couple minutes of trying, I finally figured it out and was able to access my computer.  Puh, first small challenge survived.  I checked my emails and saw that my supervisor had asked me to do the table of contents for that day’s press clips. She had attached a template of how to do it, and so I instantly got on the task.  It probably took me an hour to finish it, with my supervisor asking several times when I would be done.  That and the fact that I made a lot of formatting mistakes put a lot of extra pressure on me.

My personal problem is that I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself and want to please everybody instead of realizing that nobody expects me to be perfect on my first day.  But I wasn’t able to think like that, and so all I wanted to do was to finish the table of contents as quick as possible, regardless of several typos I had to fix anyways.  My supervisor sent me an email of what I needed to keep in mind in regards to the table of contents in the future.

After I was finally done with this task, I was asked to start the clips for the following Monday by putting them in a Word document and saving them under a specific folder my supervisor told me earlier about.  Unfortunately, I forgot which folder, and when I asked my supervisor, she wasn’t really pleased.  In a moody voice she told me, “The one I told you earlier about.” My brain was still blank and I couldn’t think of the location of the folder.

So, feeling even more uncomfortable, I went back to my supervisor and asked her really nicely if she could show me one more time where I could find it.  Expecting another annoyed answer, I was very surprised that she kept calmer this time and quickly showed me where to find it.  But from that situation on, I had an even more uncomfortable feeling.  I don’t want to disclose too much, but sometimes, she made me feel stupid when I was just being an intern who was there to learn certain things.

In addition to this incident, I was also being told off that day for not properly following the call protocol, meaning that I forgot to ask who the caller was before transferring her to my boss’s phone.  I understand what I did wrong, but from that moment on, I was terrified to make that mistake again and to pick up the phone in general.

At the end of the day, I didn’t feel that my supervisor and my boss were really pleased with my performance.  It took forever for me to finish assignments, I had problems with handling the phone, and my electronic hour log didn’t work, so I had to run out to my car, get the paper version I was handed during orientation, had to scan it and send it via email to the HR department.  All this made me leave the office half an hour late on my first day.

I know this all doesn’t sound as dramatic on paper, but I was devastated.  I felt like a total failure and doubted that I would be able to handle the pressure well.  Once I sat in my car to drive back home, I started crying, not wanting to go back the following week.  It took many conversations with friends, patience, and my supervisor being sick to finally realize that I was capable of doing the job, and that I had the potential to learn a lot.  I just wasn’t able to see that right away.

Images: 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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