Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Munich, etc.
I’m originally from California. I was born and raised in L.A. and lived for over 10 years in the San Francisco Bay Area before moving to Munich. I studied design and was working as a web designer during the first dotcom boom when I moved to Munich in 1999.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
For several reasons. I walk a lot, and over my years living in Munich, discovered a lot just by getting around on foot (or bike) all the time. I also realized that by being a local so long, I started to have a real body of knowledge about the city, and I wanted to start cataloguing it. Also, whenever friends or colleagues would visit, I’d get the same email "What should we see while we’re there?” There is so much more to Munich than the Hofbräu Haus or Marienplatz, now I can just send them links from my blog and they’re on their way.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Americans will appreciate this post about Thanksgiving; expat life in Munich, back in the day; We live around the corner from Mariahilfplatz, so a bit about the Auer Dult; how a California Girl learned to love bicycles; Kraftwerk; little known facts about Donna Summer and Munich; the side of Oktoberfest you usually don’t see; and this post which caught the attention of a Journalist from Jetzt.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Munich differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Well it’s not so new anymore (I’ve been here for about thirteen years) I remember only experiencing culture shock about a year in. At first everything was just new, European and exciting. After a while though, the famous Bavarian gruffness started to get on my nerves. There was probably about a year and a half where I really didn’t like Munich. I thought it was provincial. However, after working for a summer in London, I found myself relieved to come back to the easy, breezy pace of life here.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Munich? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I would have tried to immerse myself in German culture more thoroughly and quickly. Maybe lived in a WG. I spent the first few years living in an expat bubble. It was very much fun, but improving my German and building friendships with Germans really deepened and changed my experience.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences.
Sometime during my second year in Munich, a Canadian colleague of Chinese descent and I met up at Oktoberfest to meet up with the rest of our colleagues. As he in his Lederhosen and me in my Dirndl walked onto the Wiesn he said “Eleanor, you and I look very odd right now, but we have Halloween costumes for life!”
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Munich?
- If you know you’re staying for more than two years, do whatever you can to learn German.
- Even if you think you don’t like riding a bicycle, get one and ride it.
- If you don’t already know how, learn to ski, it really helps take the edge off of the long winters.
How is the expat community in Munich? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
It’s too good! You can live your entire life here in an expat bubble!
How would you summarize your expat life in Munich in a single, catchy sentence?
Learning to let go, genieß life and give in to the gemutlichkeit!