I am Christine from the United States, Vice President of AIWCC. I have been in Germany for two years. Before coming to Cologne, I studied and worked in China where I met my future German husband. I have an insider to German culture at home. I am learning so much about Germany and its culture from my husband everyday. I am an American who loves to live abroad. The challenges you face every day abroad, you get used to a certain level of challenges and when I go back home, it is all so easy. Nothing is hard anymore. There are people who are suited to live this addictive lifestyle outside of their home countries. And I am just like that.
Do you feel integrated?
I can say based on my experience in China that I fit in; I do not stick out like a sore thumb and people think that I am German. I try to take part and learn as much as I can, but I will always feel a bit different.
Do you remember any cross-cultural blunder you have committed?
When I first met a real estate agent, I introduced myself as “Hi, I am Christine,” and only after I learned that you are not supposed to introduce yourself only by your first name. It is just so common in the USA to use your first name to be friendly.
Do you think Germany is a multicultural society?
As an American, I find it hard to understand why German institutions are not so open to have more foreigners. My country is built on people coming from all parts of the world and I’m learning more about German culture through this lens.
Is there something you would like to change in the German society?
I’d say the extra layer of formality. The formal way is often hard to deal with and get used to. I also find it hard for me to adjust to the German weather. I miss hot summers. When I have to wear jeans and a sweater in summer it is terrible!