My name is Jennifer McDaniel. I’m a wife, mother, and animal lover. We are originally from Dallas, Texas USA. My husband’s job brought us to Germany. He was a pilot in the military so we were accustomed to moving. When his current job said Germany was an opportunity, we jumped on it. I thought our prior experience of moving all over the world would be beneficial in our transition. I could not have been more wrong!
How did your integration process go?
We arrived with what seems like a gigantic bad-luck storm cloud over our heads. It’s safe to say we had the worst first 6 month transition possible. It has been a series of bad news with a daily malfunction! It has been difficult, stressful, and depressing. It is very difficult to leave your home, your family, your belongings and start off fresh in a foreign country. In our prior moves, we moved to an area with other Americans. We had “built in” friends if you will. It’s been a shock to how lonely a fresh start can be. I have not learned to speak German yet. Without general conversation skills, it is very isolating.
Has your lifestyle changed since you moved to Cologne?
Everything has changed and in ways I could not have imagined. Our little family of four has become very close. We know we are in this together! Our lifestyle is more simple here. I feel we do not compete as much as we did in the States. Our kids do not realize what is the latest and greatest and are not begging for the newest toys daily. We have downsized in house, vehicles, and “stuff” in general. It feels good to get rid of all the excess.I do not think I have ridden a bike since I was a child. I can not believe how much I enjoy it! It’s so easy to get around. Little differences in how I was raising my children have also changed. I worked very hard to keep my kids in a bubble. I monitored the words they heard, the pictures they saw, and who they befriended. I’m loving aspects of the non-censorship, multi cultural friends, and open-mindedness Cologne provides. There’s a town in Texas with a motto “Keep Austin Weird”. It is a way of celebrating all the different people, cultures, and walks of life. I have compared our new “home” to Austin, Texas several times!
Do you think Germany is a multicultural society?
I absolutely think Germany is a multicultural society. Maybe I find that more because we are urban living in a large town. We haven’t had any issues with Germans not accepting foreigners. In fact, our German friends and neighbours have been beyond helpful, welcoming, and caring. My faith in humanity is constantly being restored by the hearts of Koelners. You just have to slow down and take a look around you.
Anything else you want to share with the readers?
I completely agree with the following quote by Mark Twain! I am so proud of my children and the experience they are gaining by making friends all over the world. I believe recognising human beings as human beings is key to living abroad.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”