Ellie: Ellie Moves to Deutschland
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Germany, etc.
Hello, my name is Ellie. I’m a pastry chef, librarian, preschool teacher, food writer, and daydreamer. I’m from Boston, MA, but I’ve lived in NYC, Tampa and Providence, RI. I moved to Germany to be with my now fiancé about a year ago. I love reading, writing, definitely not arithmetic, traveling and eating. I love new projects and learning new things, and I’m constantly laughing about something or another.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I love blogging and writing, and I have a food blog already. Writing about moving to Germany felt like a good idea before moving because I think the subject is something people want to do, will do, need to know how to do. I wanted to share my experiences with everyone, so I made my own blog a few months before I left. I wrote about my packing, my preparations, my life before Germany. Now I’m here and it still makes sense to share my point of view with people. Sometimes it helps to have a voice and have it heard even it’s across the world in a coffee shop by someone who was thinking about moving to Germany.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
One of my favorites: Why I cannot imagine moving back home.
It’s really fun to share with people my reasons for not moving home, even if it feels like the most comfortable thing to do.
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?
Ahhh! Moving from New York City to Nürnberg was an interesting experience. Everyone who lived in or visits NYC will tell you that you feel like you are in the center of the world; so much is happening, so many people are there from around the world and you feel like you can do literally anything whenever you want. In Nürnberg, everything closes at 8 p.m., there is no shopping on Sundays, you feel secluded in a lot of ways. It’s not bad, just different. When I got here, I was really excited to be abroad and experience a new culture and way of life, a few months in and I felt lost. I just couldn’t adjust. Now as I reach my 1-year Germanniversary, I’m beginning to settle into my new life and get used to this culture. But yes, expect culture shock, confusion and homesickness to ensue following a giant leap.
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 think the months leading up to you moving are crucial to how long it is going to take to get abroad. I mentally prepared for what was ahead of me, and that made my initial reaction to being here much easier to handle. But I wish I had packed my things better, I wish I had taken all of the little things I thought I didn’t need…. But on that same note, there is not much you can do to prepare making such a big move. You have to trust yourself to get through it and find out who you are in a foreign country.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Ha! Let’s see. I accidentally bought gigantic bio bags that you could fit an entire person into for our Thanksgiving dinner here. I’m not used to reading sizes in liters, so those were quite laughable standing in the corner at my dinner party. And I read somewhere that if someone sneezes three times, instead of saying Gesundheit you say Schönheit. I said this to my future mother-in-law and ending up calling her ugly. Whoops! I flooded a bathroom, fell into a pond, knocked over a stand and a small child at the Christmas markets, a table at a café in the Hauptbahnhof my first day here…. I’m a mess.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Germany?
- Don’t be hard on yourself. Yes it will be hard at first to understand the culture, to go shopping, to not feel so alone. But you will adjust.
- People tell you all the time that Germans are not the most friendly, that this culture is difficult. Sure it can be, but here’s the thing, people will be nice and will smile if you do. Smile even if you incur some terrible looks because sometimes they smile back.
- Prepare yourself for a culture that thrives on beer and pretzels, and buy some larger clothes for the first year here!
How is the expat community in Germany? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I met some expats here, some fit my personality and some, naturally don’t. But using or browsing toytown and InterNations makes you feel less lonely for sure. There are so many expats here and the ball really falls in your court when it comes to connecting to them. I can be incredibly shy and nervous, especially since I’m not entirely comfortable here yet, so I feel less inclined to do the meet-ups and group meetings just yet. But I’ll get there!
How would you summarize your expat life in Germany in a single, catchy sentence?
Clumsily stumbling through my German adventure!