Moving to Germany, 2 years later

Moving to Germany, 2 years later

As many people have asked, and continually do so, I have finally decided to sit down and answer a why German post. Coming from Hawaii to Munich always seems to baffle people in conversation, and when the initial shock is over questions about the expat experience come up.

Where are you originally from?

I was born in California, raised in Hawaii and then moved back to Cali for a couple years for college. I would say Im not from either 100% but a good solid west coast mix.

 

What made you decide to move away from the US?

Have you ever been to California or Hawaii? paradise. ok you got me. However, economically it is a disaster.  At some point I found myself beginning to get trapped under mounds of debt and realized that having no health insurence was not a way I wanted to live my life. I was in dire need of some stability. So I packed my bags and searched for a new home with more opportunities and benefits.

 

How did you decide on settling in Munich?

I initially did some test runs in my search for a new home. I had some time in Geneva, Paris and London, but all the while I had a nack for visiting Munich and eventually fell in love with it.

 

Do you have family or live alone?

Most of my family is gone now ( one of the major reasons I left America) However, I did start out in Munich as an aupair but now I am a full fledged adult and live alone. On occasion I will visit my German family so I cannot say I am entirely out here alone and roughing it.

 

Was it easy making friends or adjusting to the culture?

HAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Oh boy is this the question. I could write a thesis on this bad boy, and have probably verbally done so many times. The German culture – in contrast to American- is a very hard nut to crack. In America it is easy to walk out and talk to any old Joe on the street and build an ever lasting friendship eventually. but no, not here. Germans are very reserved and very exclusive. You meet people basically only through other people and if you cant speak German at all it can be very difficult. I mean I must admit I have heard Munich is extra difficult regarding this and if I was in another city it may be easier..but I chose the hard route. All in all I cannot fully complain though, in a way I really appreciate it a bit more in comparison to the over friendly American style. I find here when you actually can get into a social circle, the friends you make tend to be far more loyal and valuable.

How do you cope with homesickness?

In all honesty I do not have so much homesickness as Munich feels to me more like a home than any other place I have previously lived. Sometimes though, when Ive had a hard day or want to cry from studying the language I will go get a Starbucks. It may be over price, under quality coffee but it does taste the same in every country.

 

How long did it take to learn German?

This is a pretty reletive question. First things first, German is extremely hard. Most expats I have met tend to avoid learning it. They find when everyone here speaks english it doesnt make so much sense but also I takes a loooootttttt of work and investment.  I was lucky. I chose to start my Munich transition as an aupair so I had some good time in between working hours to hunker down and focus on studying. I did sacrfice a lot of my free time to catch up from a life of single language living and many a times cried because learning German grammar is a night mare. Now I am about a B2 ( just under native speaker) my comprehension is about perfect but since I work in english my speaking is not soooo ideal.

 

Do you feel at home yet?

For the most part I can answer this yes. In my first year it was really hard and I often felt very alone and reminded I did not belong. I did not know the city well and was very shocked by the culture. Going into my second year ( and once I learned German) I began to feel more at ease. Now that the second year is nearly over I can say I am very well settled. I have a perfect flat, job, my language skills are blooming, the social situation is..almost solved.. all in all I am just about as cozy and content as an expat could be. I’ve come to find that calling somewhere home is not about being happy because everything alway being perfect, its about feeling happy when nothing is going right. It is always a struggle in some way or other to make it here but at the end of the day I find it always works out well for me. Some way or another.

Playing about Paris

Playing about Paris

What better way to begin your first eurotrip than with a trip to Paris?

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and no no, I’m no spring chicken when it comes to the euro game, but my Californian cousin S sure is. She planned to finally get out of the country with a three week trip to stay with me, and naturally we had to plan to do some traveling elsewhere.

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As  I have ( or havent) previously mentioned, I used to live in Paris. So for me, it was more of a revisiting my youth.

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but onward to the trip. It started out great, we even made a friend on the plane

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When we arrived in Paris it was sunny and divine. We met up with my friend N from London

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Pose pit stop

and headed straight to the Parisian Paradise that is Ladurée

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my happy place

We had a marvelous afternoon tea and were in Macaron heaven

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take away treasures

We unfortunately were only in Paris for two days, so the rest of the time we ran around doing all the splendid touristy things and sight seeing.

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We ran around all the major monuments,

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Notre Dames

strolled by the Sein

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a little pop by the Moulin Rouge

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and ate in far too many cafes

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So many decisions, so little time

I must admit, I really do love the culture in that city. It can be very difficult at times(a reason I didnt stay) but as a visitor its nice to see how everyone moves so casually and in their own way. They seem to do what they want, when they want and dont care otherwise. The cafe life is much different as well.

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late nights in Montmartre

Going out is about spending time with people, not a focus on the eating itself. You enjoy your company, the view, the time. Theres no pressure or rush to do anything else but enjoy yourself.

Although our trip was brief, it was grand. And the perfect european introduction for S.

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Paris 101: Bread is life

As for me, I will be back very soon… as my macaron stash is getting low

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Laduree all day

 

 

Abroad to America

Abroad to America

Sorry for the post abscence, but my year has started off quite stressed. I had to go to America spontaneously for, unfortunately, a funeral. I had to go to my grandparents home in Alabama. It started out with a completely complicated flight but

Three countries and three layovers later

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I just get the feeling they are always trying to overcompensate for something…

I arrived in the home of the brave… on Inauguration day

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Definetly a yuge culture shock.

but luckily for me in my third layover I was greeted by a happy and familiar face

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Dallas welcome comittee

I got to visit some family during my Texas layover and got to take some off grandma’s fresh baked bread along to my final destination..

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“Please sir, its only banana, my grandma just baked it” -Aspen in airport detainment January 20, 2017

FYI dont ever take bread through TSA, they had a hay day,

but I was let go in time for my flight

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Dear DFW, Its been real, and its been good. but hasnt quite been real good

I arrived in Birmingham shortly after, and the events began.

To be honest. I am not the best with loss, and it was a very hard week. I am beyond thankful I am a runner, it was the best coping method I could have had to fall back on.

My grandma passed away and it brought up so many feelings from previous losses. My family is not so big and going back has always been hard. Luckily for me there was a great running track near my grandfathers house I was able to escape to in between runs around the neighborhood

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aka Shin splint city

I think I got in a good 28 km that week. It would have been more except for crazy southern thunderstorms. but I tried my best to get out whenever  the sky was moderately clear

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The trip as  whole was a good time for getting the closure I think I ultimately desired. My mind is still a bit distracted, but now that I am back in Munich I am my most happiest. I am so thankful I have found a place to call home and above all feel home.I can hop away to the mountains on the weekend or run around the city and work my way back up after a fall.

Whenever life gets hard, its good to be able to just go home.For me this is Munich.

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We never quite get over our losses. But I do believe we tend to absorb them and they carve us into different, often kinder creatures

 

 

Perusing about Prague

Perusing about Prague

” Youth is happy because it has had the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old”

Franz Kafka

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I have read so many posts about how “magical” Prague is. Many people write about its “fairytale feeling”

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Guards at the entrance of Pražsky Hrad ( the castle)

I must admit, that even in a frosty snowy wonderland of weather, the city failed to give me these feelings.It was a bit of something else.

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FYI dear readers Praha is Czech for Prague

Prague stood out to me most due to its history. Dealing with the Nazi occupation of WWII and still coming out with most of it medieval old town still intact is a very impressive site to see.

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Famous Charles Bridge, connection old town to new

The city’s architecture mixture alone was one aspect I was pleased about; Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque

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designs are mixed together with a high dose of Parisian feel.

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Mainstreet New Town

Some areas of the city were a visual splendour

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Old Town under the castle

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and some provided the cozy atmosphere I so crave in my travel down time.

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La Bohéme Café in New Town

but as per usual I chose to admire all the river and rooftop views I could

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Superb sunrise on the Vltava river

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lucky for us, we arrived on the very last day of the Christmas markets

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With a massive decorate glimmering tree

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and even some sweet little furry friends

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With all these sweet views, came the sweet tourist trap that is

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Trdelník

A sweet pastry that is made from dough wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with a sugar and walnut mixture. It has a distinct wood and smoke flavour.Not entirely sweet but if you choose the modern version I did with nutella, its a pretty good taste combination.

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Modern takes on the treat include ice cream and other fun filling options

In the end to me Prague had a feeling of sweet melancholy.

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The tall building created endless hallways. The new was well mixed in with the old and the poor with the rich

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The culture and history does not hide.It endured generations of foriegn domination-the Nazi occupation and Communist rule. Once the Iron curtain cracked it became one of the first Central and East European countries to embrace the western culture.However with this came naturally the party seekers and their drunken exploits, tacky tourist shops and Tescos galour.

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Puppet shops in every corner

but the marvelous part was how enduring the character of Prague stayed. This city pushes to create a good integration of the old and the new. Making it unlike anyone I have ever been before.

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Central New Town sites

Even though it has these cultural and historical marvels I admire, I must admit it was not my favourite city. Perhaps because I enjoy lighter atmospheres, the food was not to my taste palette or I am too biased by previous experiences, I am not entirely certain. It was a good experience but I will choose to continue to head on to new places and most likely not head back too soon

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