I love that even the fountains in Munich’s lovely Viktualienmarkt get extra seasonal decorations. On a gray November day, every extra bit of color helps!
When a lake is as picturesque as the Weitsee…
Sunday Snapshots becomes a two-picture affair.
The first time we visited Reit im Winkl was more or less out of desperation. Since then, it’s become one of my favorite easy weekend escapes. If you want a chance of a day like this though, you had best go early in November. I just checked the village webcams and it is looking distinctly white these days…
Nürnberg has such a pretty and walkable Altstadt that very rarely do I opt to follow the ring round around town. For whatever reason though, on this day I did, and managed to get this picture out of it. Not a bad day.
Coincidentally, this was the day that I accidentally learned that the iPhone could do panoramas. This came in extremely handy in the Pergamon Museum, which is full of very large, very impressive things to take panorama pictures of. I highly recommend a visit, with or without a camera (phone).
If you are in a place as lovely as the English Garden in Munich on a fall day, get yourself off of the Internet immediately and go for a walk. Do it.
When I ran across this Q&A post earlier today on the very enjoyable blogs of Bev and Ami, I thought “that sounds like a good topic for a rainy day.” Turns out, it was a rather lovely day here but I’m home alone and have watched everything new… so there’s no time like the present!
Some people call me an expat, some may call me an immigrant, but either way I’m an American in a place that isn’t the United States. Let’s talk about it, shall we?
1. WHERE WERE YOU BORN, WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?
I was born in Menomonee Falls, WI, lived in Milwaukee until I was seven, then we moved to Eagle, WI. Eagle is mostly known for its smiley-faced water tower, and that’s about it. After a stint in Prague, I moved to Nuremberg in 2011, and eventually here to the ze Dorf outside Nuremberg in 2013.
2. WHAT MADE YOU LEAVE YOUR HOME COUNTRY
Floating in a sea of “what now?” post-college, I decided that my best bet to travel while still making money was to get a TEFL certification and try to teach English. I had no idea how long I wanted to do it for, and where I would end up going, but nearly nine years on I guess it has worked out okay for me.
3. WHAT TYPE OF REACTIONS DO YOU GET WHEN YOU MEET NEW PEOPLE AND TELL THEM WHERE YOU ARE FROM?
This has definitely shifted in the last year and change. It used to be an “okay, cool, where in the U.S.?” and now it’s a decidedly less relaxed conversation, thanks to 45. Germans have been pretty used to an American presence in most places since the end of the Second World War, so we aren’t really anything that new and exciting here. I do find the reactions of military-affiliated Americans funny sometimes, in that they’re confused by what I’m doing here of my own volition.
4. WHAT WAS THE EASIEST/HARDEST PART IN ADJUSTING TO YOUR NEW COUNTRY?
After coming from Prague, a lot of things seemed really easy. The paperwork had some sense of order to it, whether or not everything was being done correctly, was something I wouldn’t get into trouble with for a couple years though. The hardest part was not being surrounded by a group of built-in friends right from the get-go. I’ve found people here but it took some time, and if you’re not the most outgoing, social person in the world (introverts unite! Separately!) making friends here can be tricky. The good news is that once you are friends with someone here, they are sticking around. To me, that’s invaluable.
5. IMAGES, WORDS OR SOUNDS THAT SUM UP THE EXPAT EXPERIENCE YOU’VE HAD SO FAR.
In Prague it was the sound of the tram. My bedroom window overlooked a stop where six trams stopped during the day and four at night. The drivers ring the bell every time they start so that sound is inextricably linked with Prague in my brain. In Germany, it’s a lot of things… Red trains. Red trains for days. Alpine bells, or the sound of the rooster next door crowing. The smell of roasted almonds at the summer festivals, or that smell mingling with the scent of Glühwein at the Christmas markets.
6. YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD OR DRINK ITEM IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY
Käsespätzle is life. Not to mention a frosty glass of whatever local beer is on tap (minus Tucher, that is).
7. WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU SAID “YES” TO IN YOUR NEW CITY THAT YOU WOULDN’T SAY “YES” TO, BACK HOME?
Probably spending as much time on public transportation as I do here. First of all, where I grew up there was no public transportation. If I wanted to find a public bus, I’d have to drive 30 minutes in Waukesha, and get on a bus there. Doesn’t make much sense, really. I took a Greyhound one time in college and that was enough to freak me out on the Greyhound experience. The only times I can remember taking anything like public transportation was a shuttle bus down to the Milwaukee lakefront for Summerfest, a Brewer game, or some other sort of special event. Otherwise it was all cars, all the time.
8. ARE THERE ANY CULTURAL NORMS/PHRASES IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY WHICH YOU CANNOT STAND?
Sometimes I’m amazed that Germans are able to get anything done when they spend half of their lives shaking hands. I now know that if BV and I have to leave a family gathering, it’s necessary to start that process about an hour before we actually plan to leave, especially if we have to catch a train. Give me an “Irish Exit” any day of the week, because to me, that’s better than demanding people’s attention, interrupting conversations, etc. in order to have a formal goodbye.
Additionally, I’ve found that since a good deal of my classes have taken place in more technically-oriented companies, I’ve had to hear a fair amount of “women be shopping” sort of jokes (or half-jokes) from my mostly male groups. My usual strategy is to laugh it off and give them a bit of shit for that attitude, but I’m really not a fan. I have also tried out the tactic of switching the discussion to their hobbies because guess what? All that specialized sporting equipment, all those electronic toys and gadgets you have at home? Those are not cheap, buddy. Just because you only have two pairs of shoes does not mean you are a supreme example of fiscal responsibility. Most of these guys would say that women and men are equal in their companies, and in Germany as a whole, but they have a long way to go on a lot of things here.*
9. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST DOING IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY?
Any frequent readers of this blog can answer this one, I think. Get me south to the Alps and I am a happy camper.
10. DO YOU THINK YOU WILL EVER MOVE HOME FOR GOOD?
That is a question that I have a hard time answering. Never say never is usually a good philosophy for me, but the chaotic way that things seem to be unraveling at the moment makes me lean towards no way. If something should happen that means I do have to go “home” for a period of time, that’s one thing. But after nearly nine years gone? In those nine years, I think I’ve seen enough of this way of life to make me confident that this is what I want, and what fits the life I want to live best.
*Not that the U.S. is doing much better at the moment.
Deer stands and warnings for hunters are a fairly common sight when out and about in the forests of Franconia. But this was a new one… I guess the hunters around here wanted to ensure that people kept quiet when in their territory. 🙂
If you love a gourd, look no further than typical cafe decor at this time of year. If you want to bedeck your own doorway, it’s easy enough around here. Just drive out of any town and you’ll find farm fields with wagons of green, yellow, and orange Kürbisse ready to come home with you. Most of these places operate on the honor system though, so don’t you forget to put some cash into the box!
Over hills and across water, another epic drive led BV and I into Bergen for our third road trip stop. We had booked a very sweet condo on Airbnb, which, while lacking a primo location (20-minute bus ride to the center and overlooking a fairly industrial area), it compensated with a real bed (not bunk beds), and a washer/dryer. This was a strategic choice on our part.
We figured on having two nights to explore the city, but after our morning in Vik and the long drive that followed, we were too wiped to do much on our first night besides enjoy some home comforts, do laundry, and watch bad movies on Norwegian cable. No regrets there.
Refreshed and relaxed the next morning we watched the bus to the city appear promptly at the bus stop visible from the apartment every 10 minutes without fail. Our hosts had left us tips on what ticket to buy, as well as a few sights to check out in the city, and armed with that information we were off.
Despite this riot of color, this was one of the less-colorful things that happened during the epic and ridiculous weekend that I spent in Krakow in 2010. If you haven’t read that post, I recommend catching up on it. It was a doozy.