InterNations Featured Blog
Tiffany: No Ordinary Homestead
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Germany, etc.
I’m an American, 30-something mom to a beautiful 3 year old little girl and wife to my soul mate. I’m originally from Texas but met my husband at the University of Miami in 2000. In 2001, right after graduating, my husband was offered a job here in Germany. We decided to go for it, together, and got married shortly thereafter. What we thought would be a 2-3 year stint in Germany quickly became an 11-year journey. And now we’re about to move from our 1830’s farmhouse and country life in the outskirts of Frankfurt to an apartment in the middle of Berlin.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging in 2006, mainly as a way to stay in touch with friends and family who always seemed to be asking the same questions about what was going on in our lives. At the beginning, I wrote several different blogs about the various elements of our lives (from our Newfie to our home renovation to our sustainable living dreams to our travels) but still found myself having even more to say. Which is why I eventually created No Ordinary Homestead, where I now regularly blog about all those things and more!
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours? Please add the URL as well.
Some of my favorite expat posts have been about the differences you’ll find in simple places like a butcher shop when you go from the US to Germany. For example, both beef cuts and pork cuts are totally different over here. I also started a series about moving to Germany.
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?
Life in Germany versus the US differs greatly upon where you’re living in Germany as well as where you’re coming from in the US (or anywhere else on earth). In certain states of Germany, you’ll find the locals to be more abrupt or even downright rude; but you generally shouldn’t take it personally.
Since we moved from the beautiful, sunny climate of Miami to Frankfurt, I think the weather has been one of the toughest things to cope with. With so many grey, rainy days in the forecast, it really makes you want to jump ship. And if you only learn one thing before moving to Germany, make sure it’s how to read a menu and find a few basics in the grocery store. It can definitely get interesting otherwise.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Germany? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Since I’d visited Germany for a few weeks at a time prior to moving here, I already knew a bit about the country and what awaited us. But I think few things can prepare you for moving somewhere that you don’t really speak the language at all. If we’d had more time before moving here, I would have considered learning more German ahead of time. And now with the Internet, you can reach out to people in your area a lot more easily, from other expats to locals, which can definitely help you get adjusted more quickly in your new home.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Germany?
- Learn at least a bit of German before you come (even though a lot of people speak English) so you won’t feel as uncomfortable going out and about on your own.
- Keep an open mind. There will be all sorts of new things to try and experience – so even though something looks or sounds strange, you might really enjoy it.
- Bring your favorite comfort foods. Although it’s gotten better over the years, there are a lot of things you just won’t find in Germany. And if you do, they come with a high price tag. So if you’re addicted to a certain sweet or salty treat, bring it with you to at supply a bit of comfort in your new world.
How is the expat community in Germany? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
There are a lot of communities that allow you to hook up with other expats online – and eventually also in real life. Many events are held each month that bring together expats, as well as women’s or business clubs. And I’ve also met a quite a few other expat bloggers here in Germany at the yearly WEBMU meetups.
Once you start getting out there, you’ll probably find a lot more expats than you realized were there. I actually bumped into someone from Oklahoma in our small town grocery store here in Germany a few weeks ago. Sometimes the world is a lot smaller than you ever realize.
How would you summarize your expat life in Germany in a single, catchy sentence?
You never know where life might take you next, so strap on your helmet and prepare for the ride.