I am Joana. I was born in Portugal, raised in America (New Jersey to be exact) and I am now living in Germany. I am studying marketing at the moment, and have German class for four hours every week day. I make jewelry and would like to open a web shop soon.
What brought you to Germany?
I fell in love with a German man. But this is not just a love story. We have been together for almost 4 years, and it came time to make a decision for one of us to move closer to the other, and well, I knew deep down that Germany was the better choice. I was four when my parents moved from Portugal to the USA, but I, obviously, didn’t have a say in the matter at the time. America never felt like home for me. I couldn’t tell you why. Germany is home now.
Can you tell us about a cross-cultural blunder you have committed?
Hmm, I think the only thing is that I am used to the Portuguese way of greeting someone, which is the whole double kiss on the cheek, but Germans seem a little bit more distant and cold, and tend to prefer handshakes.
What strikes you most in Germany?
One of the first things I noticed was the independence that young children have. I find it amazing how small kids get on public transportation and just go to and from school on their own or with a couple of their friends. You don’t see that much in the States. Also, the fact that Germany has made it important and quite easy for so many of us to integrate into their language and culture is quite nice. A friend of mine from my German class said that a very nice lady started to help her with her German homework on the tram ride to class. It’s nice when people are helpful, and appreciate the fact that taking on this language is no easy task.
What do people in your country think of Germany and Germans?
This is an interesting question, with a strange answer. When I originally announced at my job in NJ that I was leaving, and moving to Germany, some of the responses made me feel like I was maybe on a hidden camera show. Like someone asking me if I was moving to the East or West Germany or random statements like “I hear they never teach anything about the holocaust in their schools.” or the really awkward one “aren’t they all still Nazis?” This seems to be one of those weird rumors that can be hard to break since so many people never travel outside of the USA. Some Americans can’t seem to shake the past.