You can be whoever you want to be

In Berlin you are free, you can be whoever you want to be. There are clearly less barriers and you’re at least given a chance to try out something new.

There are not so many prewritten social conventions and many different ways of life are widely accepted.

As you have so many possibilities and ways of life, sometimes it is hard to choose between following a classical career or pursuing an artistic, freer lifestyle. But one is clear, if you focus on earning money, then stay away from this city.

Jeannette, you have grown up and lived in Berlin: so how about multicultural living? Is it functioning?

We are living multikulti every day here. It’s quite normal that I work together with people from different nationalities and cultures. It’s simply how it is.

George Schorschi: “I really view comedy as an art form!”

My name is George Schorschi. I come from Arizona, USA and have lived around Germany for about 6 years. I have the piercing blue eyes of a snow dragon and the blond hair of a 1940’s German propaganda poster. When I’m not performing or producing comedy, I enjoy running, Project Management, ABC accounting, and complaining about how “Game of Thrones” isn’t as good as the books.

What brings you to Germany?

I moved to Germany as a student. Part of it was because of a girl (bad idea), but I really wanted to try something new. I had studied German Language and Culture (as well as Theatre and later International Business Management), plus my mother had lived in Germany for some time as well. There was just something about being here that I liked- a mixture of old and new, the past and the present, it was just everywhere. I enrolled in a school and started living in Berlin.

Who or what would you say influences your comedy style?

Patton Oswalt has a bit where he describes the comedians of the past 10 years or so as the “Comedy Connoisseurs”. Basically, he talks about how people who respect it as an art form make the best comedy. I think that’s very true- there was a time when pointing out universal annoyances was funny enough (“what’s the deal with airline food?!”), but now it’s old hat. These days the only original comedy comes from personal struggles or experiences- writing jokes is one thing, but when you go onstage and put your own brand on it? That’s how you stay original and fresh.

I very much enjoy Oswalt’s work, as well as Tina Fey, David Cross, John Mulaney, and Greg Proops. Oh- and my favorite podcast, hands down, has to be “How Did This Get Made?”

Have you always wanted to become a comedian?

Ha! Yes and no.

At first I had a hard time thinking of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I just couldn’t decide! So I figured, “what’s the one job where you can do every job?” and chose acting. While I was studying Theatre the thing I noticed was just how cut throat and unfriendly it could be- lots of drama in the drama department. So I started performing improv comedy with National Comedy Theatre Phoenix as a founding member. The difference was incredible- there was so much support there! It really felt like a second family. I still perform with them any chance I can get.

After I moved to Germany I really started to feel lost. I hadn’t performed in some time and truly missed it. While living in Berlin I joined ComedySportz Berlin and even taught improv with them, but there was still something missing. That’s when I found out about the English comedy scene in Berlin. I’d never done standup before and was nervous, but I found a lot of support from the other comedians. Some of them were also just starting out, so there was a real brotherhood there. After that I just kept performing while studying and working- it took a lot of sacrifice, but I did it because I felt I had to.

Have you ever just blanked on stage? What happened?

Having done improv for 12 years, I’ve never had any horror story of just forgetting my set. From time to time something will happen to distract me and I get a little off track, but for the most part I’m able to play off it and keep focus.

However, I DO have a horror story of an audition in the beginning of my career. I started my monologue and then just… forgot it. It was gone. I sincerely don’t know how that happened, it just disappeared from my brain! Thankfully this was for a school show and the director was also an instructor. He saw my panic and started getting me back into character. Once that happened, the monologue just came back and I finished the audition. I didn’t get the part, of course!

Did your family friends try to talk you out of becoming a comedian?

No. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive. I don’t think anyone’s ever told me that they didn’t think I could be funny for money.

However, one of my projects now is to produce an English comedy circuit in and around Germany. Here I have met some resistance. When I first suggested it as an idea years ago, I was told that it couldn’t be done. Some people had contacts in various cities but no one thought it would be worthwhile to go out for just one show. They weren’t wrong; that’s where the idea for a circuit came to fruition. It was a lot of hard work and stress organizing travel and coordinating schedules. Even as recent as last year I’ve been told that I should quit what I’m doing and start performing in German, it would never work. Now I produce regular sold out shows for over 500 people in Frankfurt, Essen, Dusseldorf, Heidelberg, Cologne, and Karlsruhe. We just finished the second season and I’m looking for more cities now!

How important is the knowledge of the German language? Do you perform in German?

Anyone living in Germany should learn German. That’s just courtesy.

You miss out on a lot if you don’t speak the local language and I find it a bit rude that some people make the excuse “they all speak English anyway”. You’re in a country which has (in theory) welcomed you – you can make the effort to learn German. It’s the polite thing to do.

Of course that doesn’t stop me from making fun of Germans!

I am a bit of a snob when it comes to performing in German, though. A lot of people will say that the best cuisine is from France or the best ballet is from Russia or the best opera is from Italy. To me stand-up and other forms of comedy are an art form, just like cuisine or ballet or opera. You can do it in other languages but English is just made for it- frankly, the flexibility of the language opens up so, so much more than German can ever hope to achieve in my eyes.

How do you manage to sustain yourself just by being a stand up comedian? 😉

I think for the most part comedians have “day jobs” while they are starting out. My day jobs have varied but I’ve been a financial assistant and a project manager. To me, performing and producing comedy isn’t just a passion, it’s also a project. My experience as a comedian has also been very helpful in this area as well.

I also have taken it upon myself to try and bring English comedy to a lot of places in Germany and the surrounding areas. This isn’t just me, by the way- it’s a mix of comedians from around the world, each with their own personal style and flavor. There’s a lot of expats and immigrants who share English as a common language and need a laugh. Right now on my blog there’s a link to join a mailing list for my tour- it’s my hope that if enough people from a city join, I can start a regular night there/teach improv. So tell your friends haha!

How important is the concept of nationality/national identity for a stand up comedian?

It depends. In my opinion, a person’s nationality has a huge impact on the way they see the world. After all, spending your formative years in a certain environment will definitely have an impact on who you present yourself to be. But that’s not to say that “all American comedians are like this” or “all German comedians are like that”. There’s different varieties within each national identity that while there may be a common thread connecting two persons from the same nationality, there could also be quite a few differences as well.

The biggest factor here is how that nationality/national identity is presented on stage. My character is an exaggeration of a US persona, among other personas.

Ask yourself a question and then answer it?

How can we find out more about your shows/classes?

My blog has the option for a mailing list, but you can of course follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and my blog. Subscribing to my events on Facebook is one of the fastest and easiest ways to be kept in the loop.

What types of crowds are the best/worst to perform for?

I really view comedy as an art form and think that people attending a show should respect it. There are some shows where it is perfectly welcome to heckle a comedian, and there are others where a comedian wants a fully attentive audience. But to me, the only requirement I have of my audience is that they respect the art form. Bad audiences are ones where someone drunkenly yells at the stage or texts on their phone, things like that. Good audiences are the ones where they realize they have paid good money for a show and are ready to laugh.

Are there topics that you try to avoid in your shows? …topics that are too raw or too recent for comedy?

This is something which comes up a lot amongst comedians. Is there such a thing as too soon or off-limits? Things you just can’t joke about?

Personally I think it really depends on the room. I wrote an article on my blog where I explained the conflict I felt as both a producer and a performer. I don’t like censoring people but will admit that sometimes a joke isn’t appropriate. The best thing you can do is feel the room and decide if a joke would work. If you try something and it bombs, you can’t get made at the audience. Just review what you did and decide if you think it needs work or it just isn’t funny.

Photo credits: Carla Crawley

From Kazan to Augsburg

Hello, my name is Almira. I moved to Germany from Russia about 13 years ago and I now live in Augsburg, Bavaria. For several years I have been working as a doctor at a hospital here in Bavaria.

What do you miss the most about your home country?

I miss my beautiful city and the direct contact with friends and acquaintances I know from my youth. And above all, Russian openness and friendliness and that the people in Russia are a bit quieter than people here. This is probably connected with the cold climate. 😉

What do you think when you hear “multiculturalism”?

Multiculturalism to me stands for people trying to live friendly together, to understand each other, and to find a compromise between cultural and religious differences.

What is the most common stereotype about the Russians you meet in Germany?

That’s a tough question… I’ve not heard much for the past years… I guess it has to do with the fact that I myself am married to a German.

I had heard though, and  I actually think is wrong, that  Russians were uneducated. That’s not true. There are many young people in Russia who want to study, respect others and try to understand people of other nationalities and friendly deal with all issues.

Irma und Almira Kern

Read the full interview in German here.

Interview by Irma – our new collaborator!!!



Gil Hockman – a musician from Johannesburg, now sometimes in Berlin

Hi! My name is Gil and I am a sing-songwriter from Johannesburg, South Africa. If this was at my show I would also say something weird like “Ich wünschte ich ware ein Eichhörnchen und ein Sumo-Ringer, weil dann kan ich mehr Nüsse und sushi essen.” It helps to break the ice 😉

What brings you to Germany?

I first came to Germany on a three month trip to Berlin in April 2014. I had some time and bit of extra money and I had heard that Berlin was the coolest city in the world. I wanted to see what that was like. I played a few gigs for the experience and then met my (German) girlfriend. So between those two things I have been coming back as often as possible. At the moment I spend about half my time in Berlin.

When did you start playing?

I played guitar really really badly from when I was about eighteen – basically I could play Free Falling by Tom Petty and one or two other things – and I have also played bass in an experimental rock/poetry band that didn’t really require any technical skill.  But in my early thirties I decided that I wanted to try become a real artist of some sort so I started learning to play the guitar properly and write songs and stuff.

Have you always wanted to become a musician? Are you from a family of musicians?

I think I have always wanted to but until a few years ago I was never brave enough to admit that to myself. No one in my family really plays an instrument in a way that could be influential but they all really like music and I think that was enough to plant the seeds early on.

How does your typical day look like? 😉

I try wake up at a reasonable time, around 9am or 10am, have some breakfast and coffee and then start working. My work on any given day depends on what is happening in my life at that moment. Over the last couple months I was working on a soundtrack mostly sitting in my little home studio and writing music. Now that is done and I am getting ready for a tour so I am practicing and trying to get all the last minute admin and promo done. (When I am putting a tour together then it is just weeks and weeks of emailing and planning). When I come back from tour I want to finnish a new album so it will be a couple months of writing and recording and fundraising. So it really depends. In between all this I also write advertising copy for an extra living so that gets done whenever it comes in. Socially, because I work from home, friends drop by now and then for a coffee and I also try to go for a run or a swim every couple of days. In the evenings I’ll be doing some more work or just hanging out with my girlfriend when we are in the same city.

Does a musician need to know German to play his music in Germany?

I don’t think so. Obviously it helps but I think you just need to know enough to introduce yourself on stage and say one or two small things to make a connection with the audience. I have found that people in Germany are mostly quite accepting and welcoming even if you can’t really speak German.

Has your music been influenced in some way by the German culture since you moved here?

I think it has a bit. I was definitely inspired by what I saw other musicians doing on stage and my live show has evolved a lot as a result. Being in Germany and getting exposed to the possibilities in the European music scene in general has been really inspiring and made me more focused on what I am doing. The scene in South Africa is much smaller and it is easy to feel that there are only limited possibilities. Also, at one point I thought it would be a really stereotypical thing to cycle around Berlin while listening to Kraftwerk. I didn’t know their music before and now I am quite a fan and I have started to hear some of that influence coming out in the new music I am writing.

What projects are currently working on?

As I mentioned before, I am about to head of on tour and then I to record a new album for release in September. I’ve written about half of it so I need to write the rest and then record it.

For musician how important is the concept of nationality and national identity?

It’s probably different for everyone but for me I think it is quite important. Not that I am a nationalist or that I am trying to project a particular identity but South Africa is such a complex and political country that I feel like my own path through life, which is mostly what my songwriting is focused on, can’t ever be completely be separated from the path of my country.

What does 2016 look like for you?

It looks like a year of trying to repeat things but improving and getting a better understanding of them. The last couple years has been full of firsts for me: first proper album, first time promoting a release in Europe, first gigs in Berlin and the first tours around Europe, that sort of stuff. This year I am really just going to do all that again but this time with some experience to help me along the way. Hopefully by the end of the year it will all add up to having a more solid base to work from.

Gil’s new album, Dolorous, is out!  You can find it at Bandcamp (CD or Download)iTunesSpotify and more…

Gigs, blog, videos, info at

Geordie Little Music

My name is Geordie Little and I am a percussive acoustic guitarist originally from Australia.

What brings you to Germany?

I came to Berlin for a holiday at the end of 2011 and was supposed to go back to Australia to finish Uni. But while I was here I fell in love with the city and with a girl in it, and decided I wanted to be a musician and that I wanted to stay.

So I quit uni and started playing guitar for a living and I’ve never really looked back.

When did you start playing?

I started playing guitar when I was 7. I learnt classical and jazz and played in school rock bands and things, but I never wanted to do it professionally. Only when I came to Berlin did I think seriously about doing it for a living, and started developing my own style.

Have you always wanted to become a musician? Are you from a family of musicians?

No and no. My mum had a guitar when I was a kid, which is why I started playing, but it was definitely not a family of musicians. And when I did have to play concerts growing up I hated it. I would get so nervous and couldn’t stop shaking. It was only when I started busking on the street that I got over my nerves and started to enjoy performing.

How does your typical day look like? 😉

I get up, have a shower, make my girlfriend a coffee and take it back to bed. Then I do a couple of hours of admin, head to my studio/practice room and do a couple of hours of practice, then head out to the streets to busk for a couple of hours. Then if I have a gig then I’ll go to soundcheck, play, and finally fall into bed ready to do it all again.

Does a musician need to know German to play his music in Germany?

Honestly no, but it does help sometimes. It helps when talking to fans and also helps when talking to police on the street! But the music industry is very much international so most things are done in English, especially the bigger gigs. I do like talking german when I play though, and I think the audience reacts well to it.

Has your music been influenced in some way by the German culture since you moved here?

I think it has been influenced greatly just by being here. My entire outlook on life has changed since being here, in a good way, and a large part of that comes from the people I’ve met and the principles German people have.

I feel like home here now and I’m sure my experiences rub off onto my writing and playing. It must!

What projects are you currently working on?

My new album is coming out in a couple of months, so I’ve been working pretty hard on that, and organising a release concert. I’m also doing some touring this year to different festivals and working on a new show with some amazing Acrobats in Sweden. And I’m also working with another Berlin guitarist to organise the Berlin Acoustic Guitar Nights. I keep quite busy!

For musician how important is the concept of national identity?

I think personal identity is everything. For me that doesn’t really involve much national Identity. Of course, I am Australian and that has shaped the way I grew up and the morals and things that I have, but I don’t consider that all of who I am. Now I live in Germany and that rubs off. I have friends from all over the world and they influence me too. I think National Identity lets you know where you came from but I don’t think it should limit where you are going.

What does 2016 look like for you?

Busy! Travelling to Switzerland, Austria, England, France, Slovakia, Sweden, and Australia for gigs. Lot’s in Berlin too. And I’m getting married. It’s going to be a good year!

We have always been, after all, the achievements of other cultures!

My name is Maximilian and I’m a German citizen living abroad (currently  in Russia) and teaching the German language.

Coming to Moscow was my own decision. Of course, there were some difficulties at the beginning, but I always take any challenge as something positive.

I have a feeling that Russia is a country in which at the same time many other, if I may say so, countries co-exist! As when you come to the market and there is everything: the Caucasus, Central Asia, Europe and much more… But with regards to the pace of life (if i compare it to my beloved Germany) – Russia is different. There are fewer rules (often no rules at all!) and a lot more improvisation in everything you do and in the way you think and live. I don’t even know how to put it into words, you should come and try to experience it yourself! And then we’ll talk 😉

Any country you live in that is more or less different from yours, changes you, expands your horizons. It’s like you are reading a book about something yet unknown to you, that you are about to discover – and suddenly the novel draws you, opens a new world ;-). After reading this book, you’ve changed, became a bit of a different person.

I don’t really know what does my future hold… whether i will remain in Moscow. I can imagine life in another country: I am not so tied to the city. Not everything in life depends on the place where you live. I do not want to be chained to the city, whatever it is. It seems to me that now the mentality of different peoples get closer and closer together. We have always been, after all,  the achievements of other cultures: be it national cuisine, literature or gunpowder for cannons. Now this process has accelerated and will do so even more!

I feel both German and French

I lived two years in Belgium, when I was very very small. I lived eight years in Germany after that… Then I moved to France, it’s been nine years that I live here. It was extremely difficult at the beginning…. I arrived to a new city, I knew neither people nor places. I did not want to go out…. In addition, there was the stress because of the  school….

Do you feel yourself German? French?


Do you feel a social distance when you are in France because of your German roots?

Yes, I do not really feel at home in any country. I am considered German in France and French in Germany. I am welcomed, but there is a distinction 😉

If I say “multicoolty”  what comes to mind?

I actually imagine a flag just like the gay pride flag with lots of colours 😉 lots of different visions, different customs, different ideals. Multicoolty is one word: it is a kind of proof that we can be all together beyond our differences…

Interview by Clémence

Read the full interview in French here.

Moscow is not bad after all…

My name is Davide and I am an Italian chef working in an Italian restaurant in Moscow. This is not the first experience abroad related to my work. I had worked for some time in the United States, Canada, and Japan and in different Italian cities… At first I thought I would come to Russia for a year, but it’s been three years since I moved hereJ, and I continue to enjoy my life here. I have a great job, I am surrounded by terrific people and Moscow is not bad after all…. And after a while you get used to the grey climate as well. I think I stay here for a little longer.

Before coming to Russia, I deliberately did not read anything – no guides or travel websites I mean. So I did not have any stereotypes about Russia, because I simply did not want to know anything but to experience things myself…. I came to Moscow and began to explore the city from scratch. For example, I was very much pleased to find out that several Italian architects played an important role in the city’s construction!

What are the main difficulties for you in Russia?

Even though I am Italian 😉 I am still not very accustomed to the fact that there is no timetable in Russia. People here have breakfast, lunch and dinner whenever they want. 😉

In Italy, every meal has its own particular time and it is sacred!

I also really miss the Italian tradition of the aperitif. After work every Italian meets his/her friends in a bar, drinking something light and chatting on various topics including Italian politics.

Due to the lack of knowledge of the Russian language, I have to learn to live here without it. The first months of coming to a supermarket I had to choose products only from the pictures. 😉 This method of survival has been so far working well for me!

What is it that you like the most about Russia?

Russian women. 😉 Beautiful long hair, nice clothes, always good-looking! And regardless of the season, even if it is winter (and Russian winter can be terrible, believe me) Russian women can safely walk the streets of Moscow on high heels. Beautiful to look at. 😉

It is weird and uncomfortable

Hello world! My name is David and I am an American from Utah who happens to be living in the Russian capital now 😉 .

What brings me to Russia?

Well, my church… I am a Mormon. I am on a mission with the Church of the Later Day Saints since August 2015.

What is it that you like/dislike in Russia?

I like the Russian language (I attend a course), the Russian culture and numerous museums in Moscow. I also started liking the “tea culture” on every occasion. 😉

What I don’t like is that there is no private space… don’t get me wrong, but here people tend to stand too close to each other. It is weird and uncomfortable. I often take a couple of steps back when people approach me (I am used to it you see)… it’s the thing that every American complains about.

I also find the lack of smiling faces rather depressing… we Americans tend to smile for no particular reason and are optimist by nature…. But I understand that Russians had a very hard life…

What are the main difficulties you are facing?

 The language and perhaps finding friends…. People need more time here to become friends unlike the USA.

 How do Russians perceive you here?

 Ah I don’t like this question. Too generic… One thing for sure is that there’s a lot of anti-American propaganda in the Russian TV. Older generation of Russians probably have a “negative” perception of the Americans, but young generation rather like all things American like MacDonald’s, Pizza hut, our movies etc etc.

What are your 5 main “findings” in Moscow?

Museums, Russian cinema, beautiful architecture and Russian ballet and classical music!

Chance to have a new life

My name is Ahmad Salem and I come from Syria. I am 27 years old and currently live in Trier. In Syria I studied Informatics. When I was a child I dreamt of coming to Germany one day and here I am right now.

How long was your journey?

My journey took 15 days until I arrived to Germany…

What has been the best/worst part of your experiences in Germany?

I had nothing bad happened to me so far…

The best experience is living with German students  😉

What are the main difficulties you are facing right now?

The hardest thing is the language and how far I am from my family in Syria, but I have a language school to attend and hopefully I will start speaking German pretty soon.

What is it that you like in your new life?

A lot of things: the people, the lifestyle,  the German system and the beautiful nature!

Do you feel yourself part of the German society? 

Not yet, but I’d say I am about 60% there 😉 and I like it so much!

Anything you wish to add?

I wold like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to Germany for giving us the chance to have a new life and I wish the best for the German people 😊😊

Why Canada?

Hi! My Name is Stanislav Shakurov and I’m originally from Kazan, Russia. But now I live and work as interpreter in Canada.

Why Canada?

I always wanted to try living a few years somewhere abroad, but Canada was the most attractive country for me, the same weather and climate, but different culture and language.

Likes and dislikes about Canada and the Canadians?

The likes and dislikes always depend on the city or area you live in. I live in a town with the population of about 60 000 people. But I like big cities, so I am considering moving to Edmonton. In general, what I like is that the average salaries in Canada are higher than in Russia 😉

Has your life style changed since you moved to Grande Prairie?

Lifestyle hasn’t changed a lot.

What is the first thing you do when you go back to your home country?

When I go back to Russia, the first thing I do will be meeting my relatives and my old friends as I really miss them.

Does Canada seem multicultural to you?

Canada is really multicultural, lots of people from all over the world come to live and work here.

Do you feel yourself integrated?

Not totally, but I’ m getting there. 😉

Have you ever experienced any cases of discrimination in Canada?

Well, I never felt discriminated, but I hate when sometimes, speaking with a Canadian, and not understanding what he said, he replies “Never mind”. Sometimes it feels like some people here may consider themselves better than others just because of their better knowledge of English.

I am not an expat, and if I had to choose only one country to live in for all my life, that country would be Russia. But I have a choice to travel. I have seen only small piece of Canada and I hope to see and learn more about this beautiful country.

Advice to a new expat in Canada? 

When you come to Canada, do not judge a lot!

by Anastasia

Do I consider myself German? Yes. Do I consider myself only German? No!

Hello all, my name is Irma Kern and I am very glad to be a part of the wonderful project that is multicoolty. I’m also a student and doing my double major in media scienes and soon history at the University of Bonn.

What brings you to Germany?

My way to Germany was a simple one as I didn’t even have a say in it, which doesn’t mean that I’m not glad about the decision. It was my mother who got married to a German, which led us leaving the Republic of Tatarstan in Russia and coming here.

How do you like your life in Germany?

At this point I should probably say that I’ve spent almost all my life in Germany – 13 out of 19 years. I do remember some of my time in Tatarstan, but I know that that hardly counts as a ground for comparison. Nevertheless, the answer is I like it quite a lot. Visiting other countries you learn to set aside what bad feelings you might have about your own country and appreciate what it has to offer, which in Germany, in my opinion, is order, reliable social services and, to a certain degree, independence.

Do you consider yourself German?

I was dreading this question. See, anyone who has two or more nationalities and cultures, I believe, comes to a point where they ask themselves: Who am I? What culture do I belong to? What do I call myself? You’d think, after having pondered over these things ever since realising I should be sure about my own identity, I would finally know what to say. Well, I don’t. The thing is, I would readily sign up if ever a representative of the Tatarian culture was needed, I miss my birthplace and its peculiarities and tear up everytime I have to leave. At the same time, I refer to Germany as “our country”, say “my hometown Augsburg” and I certainly feel integrated into the German society.

Then again, I feel like I belong to the Kabardinian culture as well as my biological father is from there. And over and over again I find myself talking about Turkish culture to other people and teaching them some lovely Turkish expressions and traditions (having learned quite a lot about it through my friends) as if I were Turkish myself. And that’s not even the end of it.

So, do I consider myself German? Yes. Do I consider myself only German? No. I wouldn’t dream of it.

What is it that you like/dislike about German universities?

Once again, unfortunately, I have nothing to compare it to. What I do like very much about the University I study at is that it’s perfectly normal having people from other countries around you. And once you find yourself in a position where you’ve somehow became friends with many international students, as I luckily have, not one day passes by without you talking about your own and learning about their cultures. What was a big suprise for me, and a very pleasant one, was that many German people here seem interested in intercultural exchange. Where I went to school, I was mostly alone with my interest in learning other languages and about other countries. At university, you can participate in language courses and activities that circle around gaining international competence. The languages I want to learn are not part of the offer, though, and I wish those activities were more promoted so that more people knew about them.

What would you like to “import” from Germany to your home country?

There is quite a lot, actually. First and foremost, it’s the awareness that people can and actually do differ from what is considered avarage, even normal. It would start with adding a vegetarian dish to the menue and go on with accepting a child’s passion even if it’s not what is expected from him or her. I’m not saying that these objectives are completely achieved in Germany, but it seems to be a bit easier here.

Furthermore, I would love for the public transport in Russia to take Germany as an example. I find it very disturbing that I can’t plan my day because you just never know if and when the bus/tramway/train will come. It’s not that big of a problem for me as I only ever am there on holidays, but living there it would be pretty troublesome. All in all, I wish for the public services to be more consumer friendly. Even if it is only for the sake of appearances people in public places like shops or hospitals could smile a bit more. 😉

Does Germany seem multicultural to you? 

There are, undoubtedly, many different nationalities represented in the current population of Germany. For me, it is a wonderful thing and I see in this diversity a chance to enrichen our lives. People are afraid of what they don’t know and here we have the perfect opportunity to come in touch with the people from countries we hear so many bad things and have prejudices about. In most cases you come to see that yes, we have our differences and we don’t have to approve of all of them, but once we have the will, we can live peacefully together disregarding those cultural differences.

Why don’t I feel that Germany is, in fact, multicultural then? I think, maybe it’s because the various cultures seem to coexist without ever coming in contact with each other. While a reason for this most probably is that some communities just keep to themselves, another factor certainly is the lack of interest in the rest of the population. While I cherish the freedom that was gained by abandoning some inacceptable cultural practices, I wish one wouldn’t be considered backward once one values tradition. Being emotionally invested in trying to keep culture alive sometimes is met with the lack of comprehension.

You can’t force an interest upon someone if they just don’t care, of course, but if one was to put just a little effort into looking for multiculturalism, one would find a whole room full of treasure.

So for me, Germany could be multicultural and you can make it so for yourself, but the country in itself probably isn’t (yet).

Then there is Russia. One would have a hard time trying to claim one nation as the main nation of Russia. There are about 20 republics and even more nationalities all of whom may speak Russian, but have their own languages as well. Tatarstan, more precisely Kazan – capital city, puts its efforts into being known as the city where two nations, two languages and two religions meet: Tatarian and Russian, Islam and Russian Orthodox. And while I’m always wary of big projects in Russia (see Sochi) I must say that this seems to have good effects on the city, as well as the people as it gives them something to belong to while on the same time reminding them that there is another…. this situation is something to be celebrated.

What is the first thing you do when you go back home?

I eat. I grab my grandma and take her to places where they serve all the dishes I’ve missed over the year – mostly Tatar soups, with the occasional Uzbek dumplings, Korean cabbage salad and Tadjik rice. Then we go buy the apples, cucumbers and bread that just tastes differently from their Germany equivalents and are happy sitting near the Volga drinking our tea Kazan style (which is with lemon or with milk next to a dessert called „Chak-Chak“). Sorry, I got overly excited.

Have you learnt anything about your home country while living in Germany?

Yes. Everytime you visit your home country you start noticing things because by living in another country you’ve just become different from others. One thing I noticed really disappointed me. A young journalist once said to me: „Never underestimate the power of media and the stupidity of men“. Well, calling the people there stupid might be completely ridiculous. I would say it’s more the lack of awareness which leads to many of them not questioning the actions of the government. They are constantely surrounded by the higher-up’s efforts to bring forth a division into “us” and “them” making it easier to blame “them” while present their own actions as righteous. Also, I was furious to witness that while being a (European) foreigner is all nice and fancy, as soon as your skin tone is a bit darker and it’s obvious you’re from Asia or any Arab or Turk countries, you get labelled all kind of nasty things.

And still, there are many specialities of Tatarstan and its people I wouldn’t miss in the world. Apparently, there can’t be one without the other, but there’s always room for improvement, right?

Advice to a new expat who is thinking of moving to Germany?

In Germany, we say „Probieren geht über Studieren“ (The proof of the pudding is in the eating – ed.). I could say as much as I want about Germany, it’s always different from what one imagines. I do think, though, that you won’t be disappointed. The country offers many opportunities, you just have to find the right people.

Speaking of whom, there really are many people who are willing to guide any newcomers through their new life in Germany. And a guide is what I would recommend to anyone. While Germany is not a country where traditions play a big role and there are many social practices to be observed, it still can be a bit hard to know your way around as to not negatively attract attention. So make use of any international groups your institution has to offer or just look for some groups on Facebook and let yourself be known. Your call won’t go unnoticed!

Just cherish diversity and don’t let the anti-multicoolties let you down!!!

France and Germany aren’t that different after all!

I’m Clémence, originally coming from France (Bordeaux). I like culture (of other countries) and art in general (I’m counting music, painting and books in). I’d love to learn a lot of foreign langages because languages permit you to have a different look on things and the world and I find it extremely interesting! Unfortunately I’m not a fast langage-learner ;-(

What brings you to Germany?

I study things that don’t exist in France that is media science and next year history (well, this exists in France). It’s a course with two subjects, something that is almost impossible in France… (France is too traditional with its University courses, that’s also the reason why I’m glad to be here: people are more relaxed when they think about their future).

Do you feel integrated into the German society?

I don’t know… Most of my friends in Germany have roots in different countries… People are nice too me, but I only know two or three Germans that I like to meet. And as I cook my own food, I don’t really have the feeling to live “like a german”.… I think people feel integrated when they have friends 😉 I have some friends now in Germany, so I’d like to say yes.

What is it that you like/dislike about German Universities?

I like the diversity of courses and the low level of stress, and the fact that I’m considered and treated equally like everyone else. Furthermore, now we are not thousands, like in the first year of almost every course in France because there is absolutely no selection, so everybody goes in because nobody knows what else to do (the system of Azubi is less developed and has a bad reputation).

I dislike the lack of tests (never thought I’d ever say that!). In France we have regular tests and it lets us to know if we learn well enough or not.

Has your lifestyle changed since you moved to Germany? if yes, how?

I cook myself (yes, before my mother did, and I ate at school – each pupil does it in France and I am sick of this kind of food)! I also eat a lot less bread (i mean baguette!! – and I find bread more expensive here, so instead I often buy toasts), but else… France and Germany aren’t that different after all.

Oh, and busses are better than in Bordeaux. Really practical!

What would you like to “import” from Germany to your home country?

My friends and the “cool attitude”, foreign shops (it’s not so developed in France), the drivers who let almost systematically the walkers cross the streets ;-), the “indifference” towards the veil (well, it’s better tolerated than in France), public transportation system, tolerance, diversity and a lot of vegetarians and vegan products!

Does Germany seem multicultural to you?

I don’t think France is more or less multicultural, but I do think that foreign people are better integrated in Germany, or at least not as much looked at weirdly as in France. But people don’t come from the same countries: in France we have a lot of people from Africa, a lot from former colonies or north Africa (the Maghreb region)…

What is the the first thing you do when you go back home?

 Hug my mother!

What stereotypes about Germany have been confirmed? 😉

Lot of bicycles… 😀

Have you learnt anything about your home country while living in Germany?

Bread is not expensive, people are too stressed out about their future and they have no interest into other cultures compared to the persons I met in Bonn. (French might be interested, but they will never think about doing anything to get closer to a different culture, perhaps only traveling to other countries, but as a tourist you mostly likely don’t learn about other cultures – and that’s one of the reasons why, I think, French suck so much in foreign languages! 😉 )

Advice to a new expat who is thinking of moving to Germany?

Have patience: it took two-three months before I met people who wanted to manage real friendships!

And forget stereotypes and already-made ideas and enjoy!!!

“You have an (imaginary) emigration-ability-score of x…”

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a „successful“ immigrant? To achieve a decent standard of living even though your education might not be accepted? Is there a formula? So that before immigration you could take a test and get a result: „You have an emigration-ability-score of x, which means you have y% chance of succeeding in living a fulfilled and successful life abroad.“

Viola_HoffmannBy Viola Hoffmann

Co-Founder and Managing Director of Accedera GmbH




The more I think about it, moving somewhere abroad has many similarities to being an entrepreneur and building a business (and oh boy, how much do I sometimes wish that there was an „entrepreneur-ability-score“, so that every once in a while when I am doubting myself and my ability to make it work, I could look at my score result and think: Keep calm, the test said you will make it – (naturally I assume that I would ace that test…).

As you might know or might have guessed by now, I am an entrepreneur. I am not an immigrant, migrant, expat, exchange student,… I’m plain, simple German. But I do dedicate my life to two things (well, probably more, but these two do occupy my thoughts a lot): (1) How to support people moving to Germany from abroad in the best way and (2) how to do this while earning a living with it. Both tasks can be challenging. But as so often, it is easier for me to see how to help others than how to help myself.

When sometimes I can’t see how to help myself I ask an expert for guidance just like so many times people from abroad have asked me for guidance when it comes to establishing a life here.

Well, last time I asked for guidance in building my business, I was struck by the similarities of the qualities that both entrepreneurs and newcomers to a country require to have a good chance to succeed.

Let me name a few of them:

1. Courage and a lot of risk-affinity to leave your known surroundings and try out something new.
2. Self-Confidence and an almost unbreakable believe that you will be able to overcome any obstacle in the way.
3. Persistence to keep on going and going even when times are not positive.
4. Adaptability to change behaviour, to learn, to accept when your planned path does not lead you to success and to change the route.

These are only a few essential qualities, but I think they are important both for starting a life in a different country and for starting a business.

It is really curious that statistically in Germany more migrants become entrepreneurs than non-migrants.

Until now I thought there were many reasons for this starting with less prosperous possibilities on the labour market. But I am not so sure anymore. Maybe it is the fact that in order to be a „successful“ migrant, you are already cultivating all the qualities it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?


Accedera’s Guide to Germany is the go-to blog for everybody from abroad who wants to build a fulfilled and successful professional life in Germany. With our blog we support you in finding a job in your field of expertise by providing you with useful insights and behind-the-scenes information with regards to excellent CV writing, brilliant job interview performance, German regional particularities and much more. 


Building fences is not a solution

My name is Julia and, though I’m German, my husband keeps telling me that I’m more French since I was born on the “left side of Rhine river” in Palatinate. I lived in Berlin for five years and now I’m living in Brandenburg where you can still sense the differences of East and West Germany.

Regarding the current situation with refugee crisis, that is widely debated in Germany, I think it cannot continue like it is now. I don’t think building fences is a solution – people fleeing war find their way in anyway and I cannot blame them. But at the same time we cannot ignore the problems we are facing either. There has to be a European solution and we have to really address the problems and difficulties we are facing.

By building fences we support people crossing borders without registration and that means without perspective. It is essential to open the job market for the refugees. If you don’t have a job or any perspective then no wonder some people turn into a criminal. It is important to be able to build up your life in a new environment and to come together with local people.

At the same time it has to be very clear that people who don’t want to integrate or abide by the law should not come here. There are some basic values I’m not willing to compromise on at any cost. I’m already compromising on the security question, but I am not prepared to compromise on freedom or equal rights. It has to be very clear for the refugees that yes, they are welcome, but here is how this society works and this should be explained in detail. When a person is not willing to respect freedom and equality, then he should not come here. Thinking about all that is currently happening, I’m afraid that the generation of our children will not have the luxury anymore to grow up in a secure and free society like we did. I always thought that our generation will not have to face a war, but now I’m not so sure of it anymore…

A French chef who fell in love with Berlin

Berlin is great! It was a great decision to come to live here. It’s not stressful, people are more relaxed and free here.

I was 17 years old when I first visited Berlin with my high school class. On that trip I decided that I want to live here. A few years later when I was 23 I went for a motorcycle tour to the Netherlands and that’s when I told my parents that I won’t be returning to France.

I booked a hostel for a week in Berlin, ended up staying in that hostel for three weeks while searching for an apartment, and then I hung out in my new shared flat for another month doing nothing… Finally, when I was already running a bit short on money, I decided to look for a job. I already finished my qualification as a chef and had some work experience from Paris. So I printed my half-page CV written in a mixture of French-English-German and brought it to some restaurants one morning.

I had just started my “job search” when a restaurant in Friedrichstrasse told me that they might have an opening. I met the chef the next day and started working there four days later! So in fact it took me about one hour to find a job in Berlin! Even though during the “job interview” I didn’t understand everything he said…  😀 I anticipated the “right” answer based on his expression. I simply replied to him “yes”, “no”, “indeed” and shrugged my shoulders occasionally. 🙂

Being on the move is probably in my DNA

Hello! My name is Julia, I am 25. Korean born, Kazakh raised, I studied in the UK and since November last year I am based in Berlin.The history of my family spreads across the Northern hemisphere… Long story short, I am a descendant of Korean migrants originating from the Jeju island, famous for its female pearl divers, and of the Kazakh nomads from the “Sherkesh” clan originating from the Western part of the country. Hence, being on the move is probably in my DNA. By occupation I am a marketing and comms professional but at heart I’m a filmmaker.

What brings you to Germany?

To put it simply – Love. My husband is German and after spending past four years traveling across the continent, we decided to settle in one place and we chose Berlin.

How do you like your life in Germany in comparison to your home country? 

It’s funny, but in Kazakhstan we grow up with some substantial knowledge of not only German history, but also culture and market products. After the fall of the USSR, Kazakhstan’s market was flooded with foreign products and most of them were from Germany. My first mobile phone was Siemens and my dad had an old Mercedes, and I drank Zuko when I was small… and million other things like that, making our daily life, you know. So in a way I was familiar with Germany even before I moved here. Another thing what I really like is the German hospitality. Hospitality is the foundation of Kazakh culture and I am glad to see similar attitude to foreigners here. Most of the people I’ve met so far were welcoming and were genuinely interested in learning something about my culture. What I like specifically about Berlin is its casual atmosphere and rich cultural landscape. There is also a lot more space here in comparison to London, where houses are squeezed next to one another and rooms are tiny. I like having space. What I am really surprised and even confused about, is the lack of digitalisation of the daily life despite the fact that Berlin is consistently named the new Silicon Valley. Such things as e- goverment services, card payments, online and mobile banking, mobile internet, home broadband, public transport passes, etc. are behind both Kazakhstan and the UK!

There is a lot more face to face interaction and doing things the old school way. On the other hand, it’s nice to have a human touch occasionally.

Could you tell me a few words about your blog?

I am currently working on two projects, which are in a way related, because they both concern the issue of migration. The first is my personal blog, which I started after I moved to Germany. There, I keep record of my personal experiences and also share my intercultural perspective on things I find important and interesting. These are migration, media and entrepreneurship. In the future, I am planning to invite experts in these fields to guest blog.

Another project, on which I am working together with my friends since May 2015, is called Koshpendiler (Nomads translated from Kazakh). It is a collection of stories of Kazakhs living abroad. The goal of this project is to unite Kazakhs living abroad and also to show my country to the international community through the stories of its people. We are planning to launch this project in February. We will have an English version, so everyone is welcome!

Do you feel yourself integrated into the German society? 

It is a good question. I don’t feel like a tourist, because, well, I am with my husband here and we have a family around the corner. This helps. I also speak German, not yet fluently, but enough to read newspapers and find my way around and meet people, so I can discuss hot topics and be on the same page with them. However, I don’t have many friends here yet, so I’d say I will be fully integrated when I have circle of pals here and when I am totally fluent in German, because the language is key to most of experiences. But I am on a good track, that is my answer.

Does Germany look multicultural to you?

In my understanding, multiculturalism is not just about a number of cultures or nationalities living next to each other, but the extent to which these cultures interact and understand each other. In that respect I think Germany is still quite monocultural, partly because of the Christian influence and partly because of its history. I am lucky to have been to different parts of Germany: I went to cities like Munich and Dresden and I’ve also been to rural parts of Brandenburg, so my experience is not limited only to Berlin, which is of course very international. Most of the people I met outside big cities speak only German and haven’t been much further than to nearby countries. For comparison, in Kazakhstan we have historically two official languages – Kazakh (Turk origin) and Russian (Slavic origin). This by default makes its people familiar with two very different cultures. Second, we officially celebrate all sorts of religious and historic holidays, for example Chrismas and Kurban Ayt, as well as Nauryz and New Year. Finally, with 126 nationalities residing in Kazakhstan, it’s the country where a mixed marriage is a norm. In my family we have Koreans, Kazakhs, Russians, Germans, Jews, Tatars, English. Germany is definitely on its way to become more multicultural, and maybe in some fifty years there will be a some kind of European culture only.

But today Germany is international but monocultural in my opinion.

What would you like “import” from Germany to your country?

Conscious approach to environmental protection and The German Autobahn.

5 discoveries in Germany so far?

I am a foodie, so here are my 5 fun food facts:

1. There is no such thing as a traditional German dish, rather traditional dishes for each region

2. In addition, there is a special type of sausage in every area or region

3. Most of German idioms concern food. My favourite one is “es ist mir Wurst”, which in direct translation to English means “it’s a sausage to me”, which means “I don’t care”

4. Germans are kings of bread. There are more types of bread than anywhere in the world

5. There are more than 50 words across Germany for describing a bread roll, Berliners, for example say Schrippe!

What is the first thing you do when you go back?

I haven’t yet been home, but I guess after I meet all my relatives and my friends, I will try home made food cooked by my grandma 🙂

What does 2016 look like for you?

It looks like a pretty busy year ahead. In addition to achieving fluency in German and running my projects, I am doing two online courses on EdX and preparing for my German driving licence exam. Wish me luck! 🙂

Consistency, tolerance and curiosity are the three magic words!

My name is Mona, I’m 28 years old and I was born in south Germany, Bavaria. Travelling and discovering different cultures and learning new languages was always very central in my life and accompanies me until now. So, after having lived for some time in Japan (1 year), Mexico (7 months) and the UK (1 year), I’m currently living again in Germany – this time in Berlin. For a living I work for a consulting company, where I usually work in different project teams all around Germany to consult companies with their HR and IT issues. There is so much that interest me and which I find inspiring. The world offers just so many wonderful things and moments and I enjoy to experience as much of it as possible. Out of those things the following is what I really like to do: Meeting up with friends, having diverse conversations, writing in many ways, cross-literature reading, traveling and philosophising about cultural identity, migration/integration, diversity and everything that belongs to a multicultural world. What I really love in life: My family! My husband is from Paraguay and together we founded a new life together in (for now) Berlin. This Christmas morning we were given the most wonderful present on earth: Our little daughter, Aramí Zoé! Since then the universe has a new centre for us, existing of diapers, breast feeding, sleepless nights and so many wonderful baby smiles that one just forgets everything at once.

Could you tell us a bit about your blog?

The idea and motivation for the Multiculturalbaby blog arose when I became pregnant. I suddenly realised that apart from raising a child and giving him/her all our love and patience, my husband and I would need to think about our own cultural identities and which parts of our two (sometimes very different) cultural mindsets we want to show our child. So I developed an interest in multicultural families and child raising beside my general interest for cultures. As I love writing it was clear for me that I would like to document and publish my investigations and thoughts. So the idea of a blog was obvious.

So in short, Multiculturalbaby is about the question how to raise your child in a multicultural family but also about how to help your kid to become a so-called “multicultural world citizen”. Topics I write about are for instant (prenatal) bilingualism/multilingualism, comparison of different cultures (e.g. global differences in parental leave) or tips for multicultural child raising. The content is a mix of my investigations, interviews, my own reflections, thoughts and experiences, as well as reviews of things that helped us in our multicultural child raising (e.g. bilingual games, cross-racial children literature). I am also super happy to listen to others’ stories and hear about their experience in raising their children in a multicultural surrounding. Connecting with other family blogs, websites, societies etc. helps me to get new content and learn for my own family.

What does it mean to you to have a binational family? Was it something you always wanted?

I never really thought about having a binational family but what was very clear during my whole growing up was that I love to travel and discover the world. So in a way it didn’t come by surprise that I fell in love with someone from another country and found a family with him. In the first place, having a binational family for me means to really stay curious and face the challenge of learning everyday something new, even if it means that you have to give up some of your own beliefs. I mean, in any relationship one constantly learns from each other and needs to adapt. But having two totally different mindsets, customs, rituals etc. doesn’t make it easier. But for me it makes it richer.

Hence, living in a binational family for me means to give from your own and take from the other culture and then form your own cultural mix as a family. The important thing is, that you do it together.

What are the difficulties of raising a child in a multicultural family and a multicultural society?

I think the most difficult thing is to be consistent with your educational style. As my husband and I come from very different cultural backgrounds, we ourselves often need to discuss to find the “way in the middle” that fits to both of us. I guess, this is a normal thing in any family (as in a way every family is made out of multiple cultures, even where both parents come from the same country). Still, there are probably more basic things to discuss in a binational family. Lets take Christmas, for instance. Paraguay is in plain summer at Christmas time, whereas in Germany we snuggle into warm pillows to escape the frosty weather. So Christmas celebrations in both countries are very different. While my husband is Christian, I don’t belong to any religion. Let’s say I was Muslim, how difficult would that be…?

Raising up your kids in a multicultural society is not really a topic for us yet as our kid is still a baby. I guess, this will be a new subject for us when the time comes that she’ll go to Kindergarten. But I think, consistency, tolerance and curiosity are the three magic words. I will try to exemplify these three things to my child and hope that she’ll adopts to it in her own way.

Do you consider yourself German? Does nationality play a role for you?

Yes and no. When I’m in a foreign country I do see a lot of German parts in me. When I am in Germany I don’t really feel German but feel much more connected to the South American culture of my husband. Nationality doesn’t play any role in how I feel.

How important is the concept of nationality in raising your children?

The concept of nationality for me is a pure political and artificial one.

Of course it would be great if my children could have as many nationalities as possible but this is only important for traveling comfort and legal rights. To me, nationality doesn’t make any difference in how we raise our children. When my kids will ask me what they are – German or Paraguayan – I will answer: Both and what you make out of it.

Does Germany seem multicultural to you? 

There are many different nationalities and cultures represented in Germany but still I wouldn’t say that Germany is represented by a multicultural society. To really settle place in Germany one needs to be “integrated”. But what does “integrated” mean in Germany? I feel that in Germany, integration doesn’t work as in the States. Neither is it a “salad bowl” (all cultures live together but don’t mix), nor a “melting pot” (all cultures get mixed up). In Germany integration rather works like a “dish au gratin”. What do I mean by this? Any culture (“dish”) is accepted and can be lived in Germany as long as it is covered with the German culture (“au gratin”). The most obvious is the German language. If you don’t speak German you are just not integrated. As long as you have a foreign accent people will treat you different. Sometimes better sometimes worse – depends on your accent and from where it comes. I could go very deep into this but this would exceed this article…

How important was integration for you when you were living abroad? What did you do to feel yourself part of the society?

As you can imagine, it was very important for me. I think the most important part was the language. Learning the language helped me to take the first step in understanding the culture and the way people think. For Spanish this worked quite well as I learned it very fast and the Latin American culture also makes it very easy to feel home in the society. In Japan this was slightly different and therefore also much more interesting. I did reflect a lot on what I’ve learned in Japan and I invite German readers to read more in my book “Schonungslos Japanisch: Ein High School-Jahr zwischen Moderne, Tradition, Gastfamilie und Manga” (published in 2012, traveldiary). Although I learned the language (more or less) and lived every day in a pure Japanese environment, I never really felt integrated and comfortable. Maybe one year in Japan was too short to feel part of the society but well, Japan was never famous for making it easy for foreigners to integrate… In the UK on the other hand I felt part of the society from the very moment. This might be because I was already fluent in English and I didn’t perceive the British culture as much different from the German. Here, I felt integration came with learning about the British legal systems and aspects of social life (like famous TV shows, political debates and other things people like to speak about).

Advice to a new expat moving to Germany? 😉

Don’t get disappointed or frustrated by the slightly frosty behaviour of some Germans. In most cases it’s not because they don’t like you but yes, we need a lot of time to feel comfortable with someone. Until we totally feel that we can trust someone, Germans often react a bit shy, which can be misinterpreted as “cold”. Also, try to learn German and don’t feel ashamed to speak it. Without speaking and (obviously) making mistakes, you’ll never learn it! Last but not least: Stay curious, always!


Adventures of La Mari in Germany

My name is Marisa but I go by La Mari in the blogging world. It’s my nickname in my Latin family and I am quite fond of it. I currently blog about my adventures of living in Germany (as well as trying to document photographically the adventures I have with my pug, Abner, who I have brought with me from the States.

What brings you to Germany?

A boy, honestly. I met him in Chicago in April 2013 when he came to my company for a business trip. We originally started contacting each other because I ended being his (as well as another German’s) guide around the Windy City. We started talking and never stopped. Fortunately, the company I work for has its headquarters in Germany, so when T and I decided to try and see if our relationship could work then I asked for a transfer and here I am!

How does you like your life in Germany in comparison to your home country?

I definitely find more similarities than differences. I think that is because the major ethnic group to migrate to my homestate of Indiana were Germans and much of their culture was passed down to the current generation of Hoosiers living there. But the thing I do miss the most is the food. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the food here but the region I live in is somewhat lacking in Peruvian cuisine as well as the more outlandish Sushi that you would find in a big city like Chicago (though you can find those things in the larger German cities like Frankfurt or Munich – just not close to where I live).

Could you tell me a few words about your blog

I started the blog in 2011 when I was planning a trip to the UK. I was traveling by myself and I knew that my (very large) family had some reservations and were nervous about my trekking alone. So I created the blog as a way for them to keep up with my adventures. When I decided to make the big move to Germany, I started it back up again with the same idea in mind. My goal is to educate the folks back home about Germany as well as show my German readers what their country looks like through the eyes of an American. But honestly, it has been turning more into a showcase of my dog’s modeling abilities. He has turned into my own Flat Stanley – my souvenir during our travels. I have a lot of fun taking photos of him at various famous sites and I can’t wait to make more. It’s a game for him (because he gets a lot of treats for each photo I take) so I am sure he won’t mind.

Do you feel yourself integrated? 

I do. Besides the language barrier, so much of culture has been so inviting that I do feel integrated. I have found that between my husband’s friends and my friends at work – I have so many people rooting for me and helping me because they want me to feel both welcome and one of them.

Does Germany look multicultural to you?

To be honest, compared to the US, no.  But that’s not to say that Germany isn’t becoming more multicultural. Germany sits almost exactly in the middle of Europe and plenty of people of many different cultures have definitely left their footprint there. With the coming of more refugees from Syria as well as other immigrants from Africa and Eastern Europe flooding in –

the cultural horizon of the country is going to change dramatically over this next generation.

Fortunately, I have found the Germans mostly embracing this change and going out of their way to help these fresh off the boat immigrants get integrated into Germany as quickly as possible. It is a refreshing change compared to the current views of certain American politicians on the same group of immigrants.

What would you like “import” from Germany to your country?

With the current political climate, I wish to import Germans open mindedness to the Syrian crisis. Of course, not all of Germany is happy with the situation but it is nowhere near as heated as back in the States. I would also love to import the Germans love for the outdoors. As Americans, we tend to stay in our homes and most barely even know their own neighbors. In Germany, even if there is a bit of sun, you will find people outside getting a little fresh air.  I think it helps them stay healthier than the Americans.

5 discoveries in Germany?

I would call this the top five places to visit while in (Southern) Germany:

  1. Neuschwanstein
  2. Hohentwiel/Hohenkrähen
  3. Kelheim
  4. Rothenburg ob der Tauber
  5. Insel Mainau – also known as The Flower Island

What is the first thing you do when you go back?

Whenever I go back to the States, I organize meet up with the few friends who are still in my hometown and usually try to coordinate it with certain restaurants that I also want to visit before heading back to Germany.

What does 2016 look like for you?

Very busy. I got married in October 2014 but it was the normal German civil wedding. We are having our church wedding June 2016 and there is a lot of preparation between organizing a tri-cultural wedding and helping my family plan their trip. The first half of 2016 will mainly consist of that. The second half will be our planning our honeymoon as well as a trip back to the States for Christmas!

We both call Berlin home

I’m Aimee Gonzales, and I’m originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. I left my entire life behind me and moved to Halle-Saale in February 2012. Since then, I’ve made a life in Germany, I’ve moved 6 times, got a second degree, worked, got married and started an online business with my husband selling care packages filled with American food to all of Germany. I completed my MA in July 2015 in Chemnitz. I studied Communications and German during my Bachelor’s, and Literature and Sociology during my Master’s. I was a waitress, a tutor, a translator and for the last 3 years, I worked part time as a blogger and Community Manager in startups. I’ve been working full time at the startup accelerator program called Techstars since summer 2015. I am very passionate about entrepreneurship, travel, culture, writing, and FOOD!

I first came to Germany in 2009 for a study abroad year. My first 6 weeks in Germany were spent in Horb am Neckar, a village in Baden-Wuertemburg. I lived with a German family there and learned Swaebisch. 🙂 Afterwards, I studied Germanistik at Uni Tuebingen for two semesters. During my time abroad, I fell in love with Germany and Europe and developed a strong passion for travel. I tried to see as many places as I could during my time off/vacations. While in Tuebingen, I also fell in love with my German neighbor in the student dorms, Tom. We started dating during my second semester. 🙂

Nothing in particular brought me to Germany the first time. I decided to study abroad for my third year of college. I had never been outside the U.S. and I knew wanted to study somewhere where English wasn’t the first language. After a natural process of elimination, Germany just worked out! And I am so grateful it did because it changed my life forever. I moved back to Germany after I finished my undergrad studies at Sonoma State in California for love. Tom and I decided we both wanted to continue studying and we realized Europe was the best place for us to be able to do this together. After 8 months in Halle (Tom’s hometown) we had gotten accepted to a few universities in Germany. Chemnitz just seemed like the best choice at the time. In the end, Chemnitz was quite the experience, but not the right place for us. After 3 semesters of studying, we chose to relocate to Berlin to finish up our degrees from here. We’ve been here for two years and we love it.

We both call Berlin home.

 My 2009-2010 year abroad was an incredible adventure. For a long time, I called it the best year of my life. 2015 may have just topped it though. I also did an internship and language course in Berlin during the summer of 2011. That was also a unique learning experience. When I permanently moved to Germany in Feb 2012 I didn’t know what to expect. I loved Germany and Europe, but I was scared and lonely. I had Tom, his family and his friends when I was in Halle figuring where we would study, they were always there for me when I needed them, but I needed to make my own life here too. Halle was fun, but I was often homesick. And Chemnitz…well Chemnitz was a default decision, we waited too long to apply schools outside of Germany, and then Germany was strict about accepting me to MA programs that weren’t Communications (the subject I studied during my undergrad), so we ended up taking what we got- and that was the opportunity to live and study in the old Eastern city- still gray and lacking charm- Chemnitz. It was a difficult year and a half. It was cold, that includes the weather, the university and the people. I have to say that I wasn’t happy. I couldn’t wait to leave, and I often thought about how great it would be to move back to the US. We got through it though…. together! It was hard, but we made the most of it. On the positive side, I’ve always appreciated the security I have in Germany. I have health insurance here. I didn’t have that back home. I can rely on affordable food, housing, and transportation here. I couldn’t do that at home. My life has changed so much since I moved here. I feel safer. I feel taken care of. I have also changed so much. When we moved to Berlin, I was skeptical of how it would change my feelings about staying here. I loved the city already, but 2 year struggling to make friends and feel like I was home was just so hard to deal with. But Berlin changed everything. After getting settled here, I felt like a whole new person. I fell in love with my life! The energy, the atmosphere of the big city- it reminded me of San Francisco, it fed me the vibe I needed to feel like myself. I love the multi-culturalness of Berlin and how something is happening all the time, everywhere. And my quality of life is outstanding. I have to say that I currently love my life in Germany.

Has your lifestyle changed when you moved to Germany?

My lifestyle has changed in so many ways! I walk and take public transportation everywhere. I am so confused when American friends ask if I have a car. It makes no sense to me. And when I am in Cali. and I drive- I HATE IT. I literally cry sitting in traffic. The US’s lack of public transportation is mind boggling!! I care more about what goes into my body here. I became an avid cooker and someone who really tries to understand the harm in processed food and food that contains chemicals and additives. I feel lighter here even though I probably eat a ton more bread than I used to. I am more open to the way Europeans do things. Like how they approach health care, gun violence, politics, immigration, the environment, etc. I am more open in general. I see things as the way people just do things because it’s THEIR WAY and not as if they’re doing something wrong because it’s different the way I know or prefer. I call my friends more on their birthdays instead of just writing them because that’s what German’s have shown me is a great and better way to show a friend you care and love them. My English has also gotten worse, I need to work on that. 🙂

What is the first thing you do when you go back to the USA?

When I go to the US, the first thing I try to do is rest. I love travel, but I hate flying. Odd right? But yeah, I never sleep well on planes and I am super sensitive to jet lag. In Germany, we’re 9 hours ahead of Calif. Then I try to see friends and family as soon and as much as possible while also doing things I missed like eat In-N-Out burger and visit the store Target. I lay in the sun as much as I can because I miss the sun! I order tap water because I CAN FOR FREE at restaurants and everywhere. I drink from all the water fountains and use restrooms for free! I order an iced coffee from Starbucks. I say please, excuse me and thank you a million times because in the US, it’s important to be very polite all the time to everyone.

And then I smile about it. I compliment stranger’s cute clothes and nice hair cut because that’s also something we just do.

I go to the beach, I drive along the coast, and I visit grocery stores because I love grocery stores.  

Does Germany seem multicultural if you compare it to the USA?

Germany does seem multicultural to me. And it’s definitely becoming more and more multi-kulti. One example is when I studied abroad for 1 year in Tuebingen. Because of the attractiveness to study in Germany (low-cost, great education, and English options), people from all over the world are drawn to university towns to either do exchange years or their entire degrees. Tuebingen was extremely diverse and I know that not all German unis are that way, but cities with large universities do draw a multicultural crowd. One of the first things I noticed too about Germany was the Turkish population here. I remember thinking it was super interesting and compared this to how California has many immigrants from Mexico and Mexican-Americans who’s parents are from Mexico, but they grew up in America. It helped me understand that yes many people from Turkey are here, but they are German, they have a layered identity and should be celebrated for both their cultures.

I feel integrated in Germany. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I speak German though. I also had my exchange year to learn how to be more open and interested in new cultures. I remember thinking so often that Germany did things “weird” or “wrong”. Like how they use celcius and military time instead of fahrenheit and am/pm. Or how they eat cold cuts for breakfast. Once I realized that my way wasn’t the right way and just ONE WAY to tell time, the weather and eat breakfast- I could appreciate Germany’s culture and make up my own mind about how I wanted to live my life. Over time, I have learned now only about Germany culture, but why German culture is the way it is. So things make more sense now. Since things make sense I appreciate the way of life here so much and have adopted many cultural ticks and ways. While I often hear about how surprising it is to them that I am this way or can speak German, Germans appreciate this and are quicker to make me feel like I am a part of society here.

Now that I don’t struggle at the doctors, Finanzamt and post office- I feel integrated. 

There will always be degrees of segregation, discrimination and racism in society, but this does not mean a multicultural society cannot exist. People feel pride when they can relate to others and unite/bond with people are similar to them. It makes them feel less alone in this big, crazy world. This will drive separation. But the world is naturally getting smaller with globalization and the spread of westernization and Americanization. This means where people study, work, make friends and marry will often happen more and more outside people’s birthplaces. The digital world and cheaper travel costs have allowed this to happen. And with this, places will remain and continue to be more diverse. This is a good thing! I love how multicultural Berlin is. In fact, since I am leaving this city in two weeks, this is what I will miss the absolute most! The energy of different cultures functioning at the same time in one place is incredible. It’s a great atmosphere to live in.

Have you experienced any cases of discrimination here?

I’ve been made fun of for being American, often times by people who didn’t know me well though. I am often asked about guns, our politicians and crime. I am just as bewildered as the people here about what goes on in my country. I knows so much about it is backwards. But I also come from a liberal state of FIFTY STATES. The US is huge and it’s unintelligent to stereotype the entire country. I also find it hypocritical of Germans or Europeans to judge a country based on a certain group of people or ideas, especially because what Americans are so often criticized for is being egoistic and judgmental which is exactly what that type of thinking is. I hear jokes about how we’re all fat, fake and stupid, but I don’t care much. I know what sucks about living in my home country and I know what’s amazing about it. Same goes for life in Germany. In terms of experiencing other forms of racism, I’ve personally not seen it much. I see what people on the news say and do, I hear about protests and behavior, but I haven’t encountered it much myself.

Advice to a new comer?

Learn the language, even if it’s just casual conversational language. Meet people outside of your home country. Don’t judge too quickly. Try new things as much as you can. Give an effort to understand a behavior that you don’t like or confuses you. Get involved in something like a craft, sport, or group. Take it slow and have fun!

I think integration is a process…

Hi! I am Judee Bendiola. I grew up in the Philippines, but I have lived in different countries. I graduated cum laude with Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. I worked as a freelance host, actress, and a media practitioner in the Philippines and as a public relations executive in Singapore. I am currently doing my Master’s in North American Studies in Marburg, Germany.

Why Germany?

I wanted to pursue a Degree in Europe that would help me grow professionally. Initially, I started applying to various countries: Australia, the USA and the UK, but the tuition fees are very expensive there, and then Germany came to my mind. I actually knew that Germany does not have tuition fees, just a semester contribution… and I met my boyfriend (now my fiancé) in Singapore and he happened to be German.

Could you tell us a few words about your blog?

I started my blog about a year ago to share my experiences and things I have learned and also to give some tips for Asians in Germany or thinking of coming to Germany. I first started blogging in the Filipino language, but then realized that many of my new readers don’t speak my native language, so little by little I completely switched to English!

with fiancé in France

What were the initial difficulties for you?

First and foremost there is a language barrier at the beginning! It takes time to learn the German language. I want people to understand that if you are not competent in a foreign language, it does not mean you are not intelligent or you are not capable of thinking!

It took me a long time to have a good student job simply because most companies prefer to employ a native speaker (even for a simple admin job).

Germans like to speak their minds directly, they say things right away…and for us Asians (laughing –ed.) it takes a while to get used to it. You know, if there is something we don’t like, we will find a very nice, indirect way of saying it. We always choose the right words 😉

Do you feel yourself integrated?

I think integration is a process… I am on the right track, but I still need to learn, accept, and understand a lot of things…

Let me paraphrase the question. Do you feel accepted by the German society?

Interesting question. In which standard do you measure acceptance? As I mentioned earlier, Germans are very direct and straightforward and if I measure that characteristics according to the Asian standard, then I might feel Germans judge me, they don’t accept me here… if I measure that in the German way, then yes! I am on my right track to being integrated. I, however, often need my fiancé to help me understand how some things work here.

Does Germany seem multicultural?

Most German cities are multicultural… it is easier to integrate and be accepted in cities, people are more open…

There are, however, many small town /villages where the people there are really conservative, specially on their perceptions or acceptance to “foreigners”. I attended a typical German wedding, one German lady came to me and touched my skin! That was the first time, she saw an Asian woman with tanned skin.

I am aware that there are people that don’t travel much, they don’t want to know much about other countries… some people live in little villages their whole lives and they are happy and very comfortable there, some don’t even want to work in a different village. 😉

Judee's first time in Berlin

What is the first thing you’d do when you go back to the Philippines?

I want to meet my friends and family and eat something together. I miss our food a lot…

Do you like German food?

I was really shocked! At first, it is really hard for me to eat cold cuts or dishes but I am getting used to it right now. I am eating healthier, specially “bio” food now and I am open to try new German or other European foods!

 What would you like to import from Germany to the Philippines?

Punctuality, discipline (Germans are very organized) and the responsibility or accountability of the government- I think these might be helpful for Philippines’ progress.

Check out Judee’s social presence on:

FacebookTwitter and Instagram


Soccer Girl Playin’ Around the World

Hi! Hola! Hallo! Bonjour! I am 29-years-old from California and have been living in various cities in Germany since 2011. I graduated last year with an MBA from Arizona State University and started a blog called Kicks & Chronicles. I love cuisine, traveling, exploring and finding new adventures that life and the world has to offer.

What brings you to Germany?

In late 2010, I contacted a soccer agent because I wanted to play professionally abroad. Shortly thereafter, an agent offered me a contract to play in Cloppenburg, by Bremen in the north, and I’ve been playing in this country ever since.

How do you like your life in Germany in comparison to your home country?

There are definitely advantages and disadvantages of living here, but here are some major ones:

Likes of Living in Germany:

  • Food: although we have German food in California, nothing beats fresh and authentic Schnitzel, Käsespätzle (cheese egg noodles) and Eintopf (stew).
  • Cost of living: it is cheaper, but you usually have to buy or bring every appliance and furniture piece with you
  • Apartments: I love having no closed closet like in the USA because you have more room and you can buy whichever closet system you like
  • Freeway (Autobahn): driving safely at 200 kmh is so freeing and fun
  • Culture: Oktoberfest, Christmas Markets, Stadtfest and Beer gardens – enough said!
  • Location: You are smack dab in the middle of Europe and have short travel times to major European cities


  • Social culture: people are blunt and somewhat rude, so elbows out as they say!
  • Doctors: everyone has health insurance, which is great, but you feel like just a number and unimportant at the doctor’s office
  • Payments: many businesses do not accept credit or debit cards (some only take German chip cards)
  • Grocery stores: when stores are a little packed, everyone goes into a frenzy
  • Weather: coming from California, it is extremely difficult not to see the sun and be so cold


  • Social culture: You have to be patient with some, but voice your thoughts when someone is being rude or demeaning. For me, there are still many cultural and social surprises after 5 years of being in Germany, but you learn to laugh them off after awhile.
  • Doctors: search for good doctors on websites and voice your needs on your first appointment to your doctor. You will be able to weed out the good from the bad.
  • Payments: sign up for a German chip card (debit card) from your bank or keep a safe at home with some extra cash
  • Grocery stores: be patient and voice when you are being disrespected. Some will not change, so you have to deal with it.
  • Weather: buying a lightbox or red lamp from a drugstore will help with winter blues and weather sadness. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real thing!

Could you tell me a few words about your blog?

Kicks & Chronicles is for kicks on the soccer field and chronicles for the countless stories of life. A “Soccer Girl Playin’ Around the World” is, well, because that is what I do 😉 I came up with the slogan with my aunt and uncle. I want to share my life and story because I know a lot of girls want to play overseas, but have hesitancies, angst, worries and anxiety. I also want to show that it is also possible to play while achieving your educational or career goals. On a more general level, anyone who loves traveling, cuisine or fitness will find Kicks & Chronicles relevant to them.


How does Germany fit into your success?

Everything is a stepping-stone. For my soccer career, I definitely know it will end in Germany. Playing in the world’s top division is a dream come true – considering where I started, all of the injuries along the way and other circumstances I came across. I want to start on my business career, of course, but I also feel my body has played 25 years of the beautiful game.

Oddly enough, just the other day, I came to the peace and tranquility of actually starting the next chapter in my life. It only now makes me happy to know I can live in Europe as an American and experience more than I did before (e.g. traveling).

I always had to give 100% in all aspects of life – school, soccer, friends, family and hobbies. When my soccer career is over, I can give that extra energy to my other career. I feel I will be starting a second life in a way. Part of that “business” life will start here within the next two years to get my feet wet and then find a more permanent position in the USA.

Could you compare briefly soccer scenes in the USA and Germany? Which one suits you better?

I love how the USA puts value on being physically fit. Only when a player is in top form can they play to the best of their technical ability. As you could see in the women’s World Cup 2015, Americans have amazing skills and it is only getting better year-by-year. However, I also love how German soccer emphasizes a more technical and tactical game. Every pass must be accurately timed, placed, played to the correct foot and in a position telling the next player what they should do with the ball.


I’ve seen on your blog that you give advice and tips on healthy lifestyle… would you say German cuisine is a healthy one?  😉

I would say it is easy in any country to indulge and lose sight of a healthy lifestyle, but living in Europe, I have noticed the sugar and salt content of foods is greatly less than it is in the USA. I prefer the cakes and sweets here now much more than when I have them in California.

German food is typically heavy, meaty and saucy, but delicious! I must admit, I cannot eat it every day and it’s even harder to eat in warmer temperatures, but I do crave sauerkraut, schnitzel, knödels and käsespätzle! One of my favorite restaurants is Spatenhaus in Munich. They have traditional food, but it is so fine and delicately made. Of course, you also need a tall Weizen to wash it all down!

Is the concept of “nationality” important to a soccer player and to you personally?

Of course, I am proud to be a Puerto Rican-American playing abroad, but once I am on the field, the only thing that matters is the team. With my current club, 10 different nationalities are represented on the field! I have also had teammates from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Croatia, Czech Republic, Puerto Rico, China, Bulgaria, Poland, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Haiti, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, Spain and Austria teammates. It is a very unique and special thing to share on and off the field. I have learned so many different cultures that I cannot imagine my life without a “Multi-coolty” (multicultural) mix.

What is the first thing you do when you go back?

First thing – hug my entire family. Second – buy an organic, cold-pressed coconut milk and green juice from Erewhon. Third – eat some real Mexican tacos. Fourth – play ball at the beach with my family’s dog, Carl.

What does 2016 look like for you?

Other than deciding on the future of my soccer career, I would like to grow my blog to reach and connect with as many people as possible. I will also be studying for my German fluency certificate (C2) test in May. Toward the end of spring, I will start researching for a future career in marketing or license merchandising.


Ten years later, my ambition is still the same!

Driven by my passion for discovering new cultures, and as an expatriate myself for several years, I launched the Expat Blog project in 2005. At this time, I was looking for information on the Internet about living and working abroad, especially in the UK and in Spain. I realized that very few websites were dealing with real life abroad. Content was limited to formal or institutional data. To fill this void, expatriates from all over the world were starting talking about their own experience abroad, but their visibility on the web was limited. I had the idea to gather all those blogs around the world on a unique platform: Expat blog was born! In the space of a few years, expat-blog became very popular. The traffic kept growing, month after month. I decided to do this hobby as a job. Today, employs around 20 persons and has become the reference participative site for expats and soon to be expats.


Ten years later, my ambition is still the same: putting forth and promoting the experiences of the ones living or wishing to live abroad.

We have noticed that has recently become…

After 10 years of services, has indeed become to better address expats’ needs. This is much more than a simple relooking 😉 We strived to transform the site, so that it becomes the ultimate tool to succeed your expatriation. is today more appealing and looks more professional. We continuously improve the user experience and aim at offering more and more features to our members. The brand should also help us better reflect who we truly are: the world largest participative network dedicated to expats. From a directory of expatriates’ blogs, we have evolved into a real social network for those who live or wish to live abroad. It is an important turning point as with

What are the newest features on

We help our members throughout their project, whether you are about to relocate or already living in your host country. To help them, we offer a range of tools for the country they are interested in: discussion forums, expat guides, jobs and housing sections, business directory, classifieds, photo album, social network, blog directory, and expats interviews. offers a new design, but also 2 new major features:

  1. Events: members can participate or create an event to meet up with other members.
  2. Improved private messaging system: members can create private discussion groups.

I wanted to give the project a new dimension, to offer more services, more content dedicated to expatriates and to keep doing my best so that we, as expats, have our own help and support network.

I sincerely hope you will like our new design by the way!