My name is Chad and I have been married to my wife Amanda since 2003. We both were born and grew up in the United States, me in North Carolina and Amanda in New York. Before moving to Germany in January 2013 with our dog Barney, we lived just outside of New York City in the State of New Jersey. Because we both travel so much, and to share our experiences living in Germany, I started our travel blog. This site started out as a hobby to share our experiences with friends & family, but I now love sharing our experiences both from living in Germany and from traveling our beautiful world.
What brought you to Germany?
Both Amanda and I work for the same large, global company, and she was offered a fantastic opportunity to work in our German headquarters. Luckily, I was able to find a job with our same company, but I work under a local contract. We came to Germany knowing that it would be for at a minimum of two years, but we now know we will be here at least four years – and we are very happy with this.
What was the biggest struggle when you moved?
Thankfully, our company has been really fantastic in giving us the resources to help us with our move. They coordinated the actual move and assigned someone to help us with the countless number of things a couple with a dog have to buy, register with, and coordinate. Without their help, the actual move itself would have been a huge struggle. But, I think personally for the both of us, our initial struggles dealt more with trying to get into a routine where things felt normal. Finding the grocery store, figuring out how to get to work, locating a Hundepension so we felt comfortable leaving our dog if we travel; finding our way and getting into a routine was our struggle. But, after about three months, things started to feel very normal, as normal as living in a foreign country for us could be.
What is it that you like/dislike about your life in Germany?
We have made it a point to try to focus on things we like about living in Germany instead of the negatives, as this has helped with any homesickness that we may have felt. The best advice we received was to not focus on the things that we miss from the US but rather just acknowledge that things are different and that different is okay. However, I will say that if we did not have the modern conveniences of Skype, online banking, GPS Smartphones, etc. that there could be a lot to dislike. We really like the people that we have met, and I personally like living in an area so full of rich history. And, regarding dislikes, the thing that we sometimes dislike is that most shops close at 8pm and Sundays, which means having to adjust schedules for shopping around work. But, I will easily exchange this dislike for the peacefulness that we hear in the evenings and on Sundays.
Any funny, cross-cultural moment? 😉
For me, the language barrier between English and German has presented some interesting funny moments. We have been learning German, and we find that most Germans know a considerable amount of English. After four months here, I went to walk our dog while my wife started cooking dinner. When I came back inside, I told her that I had a real conversation with someone about our dog and it was completely in German (no English). Then, I told her that it was the best conversation that I had ever had… with a 6 year old!! That is when I realized at what level my German abilities were!!
Do you think Germany is a multicultural country?
I have found that in and around the larger cities Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich for example that these areas are obviously multicultural. And, in the town that our company is located with it being a global company, this has attracted a very diverse workforce to this area because of the work assignments. But, if we travel to more of the smaller towns and villages, we have found mostly German citizens who have lived there for many generations. In the city area that we live around Mannheim, there are many, local festivals celebrating certain cultures of people who live nearby, for example we have seen posters for African, Turkish, and Greek celebrations. My guess is most of these are setup by the local communities, but they are open to the public. Of course, I do not want to paint a perfectly rosy picture, because I have heard stories of some people who relocated to Germany due to work from certain countries, and their experiences of registering to live in their cities were more difficult than us in the aspect of having to provide additional levels of paperwork.
Do you feel integrated?
As far as feeling integrated into Germany, I would say that for the most part yes. We have made some close German friends. We are both into a solid routine regarding our daily lives. But, there are instances where even after two years, we still feel like foreigners. We still watch American television through the internet, and we finally got German cable television about six months ago. And, while we both are learning German, we both still speak English in the home and mostly at work and it is still a challenge to speak the language easily. I think that with each passing day, we take a step closer to being more integrated. I am going home to the States for the first time in one and a half years in June, so I will see how “German” I have become.
Has any of the stereotypes been confirmed about Germans? 😉
The stereotype of Germans being punctual and orderly has been confirmed several times. One example I have is when we had to have our winter tires exchanged on our car, I asked how long will it take because I had to wait. The lady said that once I hand them my keys, it will take twenty-seven minutes. Not a round number like thirty minutes – but she gave me a very precise time. Of course, I had to time them, and it took twenty-seven minutes!
What is it that still strikes you here?
Sometimes when I feel a little stressed at work, or if I feel a little homesick, I remind myself that I am living in Germany, that I am living in Europe. And, I realize that this is such a wonderful opportunity that not everyone gets to experience, and I want to experience as much as possible during this time.
Anything else you wish to add?
Though we may speak different languages and have different backgrounds, we (Americans, Germans, and other nationalities living in Germany) are fundamentally all the same, wishing the best for each other and trying to do the best for themselves and their families. As the American author Mark Twain wrote “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” And, I 100% agree with this observation, as we only have one place to live on this Earth, and it really helps if we can just all appreciate the differences of everyone, and just get along.