Is there such a thing as the “ordinary” expat story? We have featured many different bloggers and their various reasons for going abroad. For Kae Lani, the main reason was love. She has been documenting her road to fulfillment, and sometimes also Germany’s culinary peculiarities, on her blog A Travel Broad.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Germany, etc.
I’m a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States of America. I moved over to Heidelberg, Germany for school in 2010 and reunited with a friend of mine, Jan, from high school. He was a German from Hamburg who spent several years in America and was required to return to Germany during our junior year. I still kept in touch, which resulted in arguably the most adventurous long distance relationship ever! We’ve spent two years meeting each other throughout different parts of Germany and America. As of May 2012, we will no longer be long distance, as I will be moving permanently to Northern Germany (we are trying to decide if we want to spend some time in Flensburg, Germany or live our days in Hamburg).
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I began my blog the day before I went to Germany for the first time. It was a way for me to keep in touch with my family so they could experience all of the joys of travel with me. Eventually, the blog grew in popularity, and became a means of launching my career as a freelance writer, photographer, and even graphic designer!
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favorite blog entries are most certainly the educational ones. Because I am a history nerd I love looking back at “Deutsche Bahn”, “Currywurst”, “Ohlsdorf Friedhof: Where the Dead Know How to Live”, and “Lüneburg: A City of Salt”.
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?
Everyday is a new adventure and, yes, there is culture shock, but I’m happy to say that it is not negative. Everyone seems to be very understanding and excited to teach me about their lives and the intricacies of their culture. The more time I spend in Germany, the more accustomed I become to the German culture, and the more I take on their attributes. Little things, like getting annoyed when the train is not exactly on time, makes my friends laugh and say that I “become more German everyday”.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Germany? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I was kind of prepared. For months, I had spent almost every night reading up on everything I could about Germany. But there are some things that need to be learned through experience. Like when ordering water you should specify whether you want it to be Leitungswasser (from the tap), Stilleswasser (non-bubbly water), or Sprudelwasser/Mineralwasser/Selter (bubbly water of which the title varies by region).
To be honest, the only thing I would change about traveling to Germany is doing it earlier!
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Sure! My friends never let me live this one down. When I first ventured over to Germany, I was embarrassed with my German speaking abilities and would follow up every sentence with “Ich lerne – Ich lerne”. According to my friends, I apparently bobbed my head every time I said it.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Germany?
How is the expat community in Germany? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I went to an American school in Germany near the army base in Heidelberg. So I was able to find a lot of fellow Americans, most of which were ironically from the same area I was from! Also, before going to Germany, I was able to meet many of my fellow students online. All of that made the transition easier.
How would you summarize your expat life in Germany in a single, catchy sentence?
Just when I think I’ve gotten used to Germany, she surprises me with a new adventure.