InterNations Featured Blog
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Germany, etc.
My name is Chad, and I am originally from North Carolina USA. My wife’s name is Amanda, and she is originally from upstate New York. We moved to Germany on 31 December, 2012 from Randolph, New Jersey USA with our dog-child Barney. We both work for the same multi-national company and will be in Germany at least three years.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
This work assignment is the first time that either Amanda or I have lived outside of the United States. On both sides of our family, they have never travelled too much, and I started the blog as a way to share our experiences in travelling with them. I started the blog before moving to Germany since we were doing a lot of travel in the US, but then our world totally changed once we became Expats. So, what started out as a hobby has become a somewhat of an obsession for me now.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
We have done quite a bit of travelling during our time in Germany, and I have many favorites from Greece, Italy, and Iceland. But, my favorite place in Germany and therefore one of my favorite blog entries is regarding Neuschwanstein Castle.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Germany differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Before moving to Germany, we both took some German language lessons and read some information online about the area of Germany we were moving to. But, nothing can really prepare you for the actual being there and living in the moment. So, we were prepared about the cultural differences, and had visited multiple times beforehand with work. Therefore, we did not experience culture shock per se, but there have been times where we both look at each other and just shake our heads at why certain things are what they are.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Germany? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Can anyone be truly fully prepared to move 4,000 miles and 6 time zones away? We were prepared as best as we could, and are very fortunate that our company provides resources and a person to help get us settled into our city, handling paperwork, etc. If we could have changed something... hmmm... the only thing that comes to mind is we really needed more electrical adaptors for our American electric plugs. It is really amazing how many electronic items you have!!
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
After four months here, I went to walk our dog while my wife started cooking dinner. When I came back inside, I told her that I had a real conversation with someone about our dog and it was completely in German (no English). Then, I told her that it was the best conversation that I had ever had… with a 6 year old!! That is when I realized at what level my German abilities were!!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Germany?
- First, expect to be out of your comfort zone almost all day until you get use to your surroundings. For both my wife and me, for the first few months we would come home completely exhausted, mentally from having to listen and watch things so closely.
- Second, do not focus on the differences and things that you miss, as this will cause a sense of homesickness. Instead, focus on the positive and the newness, and accept that there are differences and that you are not going to change a culture.
- Third, enjoy it! I mean, look. You are living in Germany, in places with hundreds & in some areas thousands of years of history. Places we Americans have only seen or read about in movies or books. Try to experience and see as much of things as you can, have fun, and don’t be so American about things.
How is the expat community in Germany? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Thankfully, for us, our company is very large, and we have fellow expats within the company that are here. So, this has helped us tremendously. We do not have children, but our expat friends who do have made expat friends through the various international schools, and as such, we have made friends with their friends in this way.
How would you summarize your expat life in Germany in a single, catchy sentence?
Though we may speak different languages and have different backgrounds, we (Americans, Germans, and other nationalities living in Germany) are fundamentally all the same, wishing the best for each other and trying to do the best for themselves and their families.