An Expat’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

There are days where I wake up and I am so damn grateful to have this expat life. Living abroad means days are full of surprises and new experiences, delicious foods and castles (yes castles!) just sitting there on the side of the road. But there are other days when nothing seems to go right,…

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From Hamburg to the Haupstadt

The other day I looked at the calendar and realized it’s been a month since I moved to Berlin. In that month, a ton of things have happened. To whit: Another move. Since I was 17, I’ve moved 17 times. Which is kind of staggering. But it also makes the moving process a bit ritualistic.…

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Deutschland: Year Eins

Last Saturday marked the start of my second year in Germany. Which seems insane. It feels like I just landed from California (oh wait, because I did…). But in seriousness, I learned a lot in the past year—about myself, about my new country, about people. In truth, I think a lot of things I knew…

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Eating Like an American in Germany

“Tacos.” “Cheez-its.” “Corn on the cob.” “You know what I can’t find here? Pumpkin!” “You looking for pumpkin? I got. You want?” So went a recent conversation with my Ami* amie, Britt. Sharing a post-inauguration drink to drown our sorrows, we were resigned to staying in Germany, but bemoaning four years without our American food…

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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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Before and After 2 – Painted Statements

This post continues where the Before left off. Having come to this country with only the clothes on my back (okay, and two suitcases and four boxes), I also had no furniture. The first night I spent in the place was in a nest of blankets on the floor. While a lack of furniture made everyday…

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Before and After 1 – First Look

I have moved 25 times in the last ten years. And honestly, I don’t know which I find more staggering—that it’s been ten years since I first moved away from home, or that I’ve been such a nomad. Over those years I spent a lot of time fantasizing about what my ideal place would look…

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A Beautiful Day in Hamburg’s Neighborhoods

Let’s play a game. As in San Francisco, I’ve found that one of the first questions people ask here in Hamburg is, “What neighborhood do you live in?” There is the hipster neighborhood (Schanze) and the LGBT neighborhood (St. Georg), the party neighborhood (St. Pauli) and the multicultural neighborhood (Altona), the neighborhood for wealthy old people (Winterhude) and the neighborhood…

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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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