A few weeks ago Deutsch, Bitte nominated me for a chain mail blog award called the Liebster and though I’ve done this before, it’s always fun to talk about myself so I’m doing it again — this time answering all sorts of questions about the expat life. Besides, DB said my writing is very smart so I have to prove it and I don’t talk enough about my life in Germany, I guess. Here goes:
1) How exactly did you end up in Germany? Do you plan on staying forever?
My ex-husband is half-German so we visited the country together in 1999 and I decided I had to live in Europe. Germany was “easiest” for me to get to at the time (read: spousal visa) and so I spent the next six years working my ass off to get a Fulbright grant to do research on the rape of German women at the end of World War II. For my sanity, the research project had to die and after a year I was ready to move to Barcelona or Berlin and party but my ex wanted to stay here so I did. The first year, of course, was the hardest and I’m glad I didn’t give in to my quitter tendencies because four years later, I chose Germany over California and am very happy with that decision. I may not stay forever (Denmark is highly appealing) but I’m not going back to the US.
2) What is your favorite word in the German language, and why?
Schlappschwanz. Til Schweiger taught me.
3) What single item do you miss the most from back home?
Nothing. Though I did just make my sister dig through three boxes looking for a story I wrote eight years ago so I guess that one story?
4) Lots of things here (parental leave, health insurance, etc.) are arguably better than in the States/Canada. What’s one thing you think North America does better (in the “standard of living” department) than Germany?
Politeness. Even if it is disguised passive-aggressiveness.
5) What city or area of Germany are you most eager to explore?
Going to Ost Friesland next month and can.not.wait. Would love to canoe the Mecklenbergische Seenplatte. The Grand Budapest Hotel has me *very* interested in seeing the Sachsische Schweiz. And of course the Alps near Garmisch.
6) If you were never allowed to return to Germany, where would you live?
Denmark. Sweden. Portugal.
7) Which is worse: Finanzamt, Ausländerbehorde, Bürgeramt, Standesamt, insert your choice here?
Have never had any problems with any of ’em. Then again I have a ridiculously awesome accountant who’s done all my Finanzamt dirty work and stepped in recently with the Foreigner’s Office when they were giving me shit about my Niederlassungserlaubnis.
8) What aspect of German life is so engrained in your routine that you can’t believe you ever lived without it before coming here?
Fresh bread in the mornings. Doctor visits without worrying about how broke I am.
9) When family and friends visit, what are the most important things to do and show them in your city?
Most important thing to do is find a nice hotel on the other side of the city so I can save my sanity. Lesson learned after eight years. But they seem to prefer the Cathedral, the love-locks bridge, Museum Ludwig and its contemporary art collection along with the El-De Haus, which details Cologne during the lead-up to World War II and is a great history lesson for Amis.
10) What’s your preferred method of travel (this is very open-ended, so interpret as you will)?
If I didn’t freak out on planes, planes for their convenience. I used to love trains. Now I’m addicted to my bike.
11) If you could spend a day with one member of the Deutsche Nationalmannschaft, who would you choose?
Day or night? Mats Hummels.
So now on to the next group…. who wants to be nominated? I’ll send you the questions if you leave me a comment.