Culture Shock #5: It’s (Unapologetically) Christmastime

Americans know better than to wish each other a Merry Christmas. Issue it with the best of intentions, and you’re likely to receive a lecture on political correctness. Holiday decorations have to be kept to generic winter themes, and even the traditional red, green, and white is often tweaked for inclusivity. Not everyone celebrates Christmas.…

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Oktoberfest an der Alster: Celebrating Hamburg-Style

I had really hoped to get down to Bavaria to celebrate my first Oktoberfest in Germany—but with a packed work schedule, coordinating with visiting friends, and the rest of real life, somehow time got away from me. Should I also blame in on the common conviction that Oktoberfest is held in October? Sure! Machen wir…

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Culture Shock #4: Take Your Own Beverage

“Feierabend,” Tim tells me, “is the most important German word.” Literally translated into, “Party night,” it’s the phrase Germans use to denote the end of the workday—roughly the equivalent of “Happy hour”. And on my commute home, I usually see groups of coworkers standing outside or walking down the street. It’s not a party in…

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Culture Shock #3: A Post about the Post

Germans are stereotyped the world for many things, but their efficiency, meticulousness, and desire for order might be the best-known. Elaborate filing systems, with their own naming devices, color-coding, and dates, are things I’m no stranger to (and in fact, I might be known as well for being a little OCD about tracking my documents).…

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Culture Shock #1: Your Money’s No Good Here

People have asked me how I’m settling in here, and the truth is—it’s been quite easy. Unlike living in Thailand, which was for the first few months so unsettlingly foreign and where almost everything seemed like a struggle, getting my start in Germany has been virtually seamless…though unlike in Thailand, adjusting to the weather is infinitely…

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Black, Gold, and Red Tape: Getting Started in Germany

The past few weeks have been an bit of gnarly snarl. Like with any international move, there’s a lot of moving parts, bureaucratic processes, and exhaustive red tape. In my experience, however, the “moving parts” in this move to Germany have been less of a logical Domino effect (first you need > then you need), and more of an interlocking web of gears (consider it a cuckoo-clock of chaos). Case in point? My “Moving to Germany as a non-EU citizen” flowchart, exhibit A…

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HH is for Home

HH is for Hansestadt Hamburg, or the Hanseatic City of Hamburg, or my new hometown. It’s been a busy few weeks since leaving San Francisco. Once the jetlag subsided, real life began—in some instances, a little quicker than I’d anticipated. Here’s the bulk of what I’ve been doing since touchdown: Look for an apartment Currently…

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Terezin, and all it meant

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. In honor of it, I wanted to share a look back at my visit to Theresienstadt Concentration Camp and what it taught me. Terezin, Czech Republic – 2009 I grew up without exposure to the Jewish community. I spent kindergarten through high school in Catholic schools, the first with a predominantly…

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The “Super Cool” German Supermarket

When I was studying abroad in the Netherlands, one of my favorite things to do was explore the local SPAR market. There were all kinds of nifty snacks, a wide assortment of strange candies, and plenty of 2 euro wines, which kept me well-fed for the entirety of my time there. I feel like you…

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