From Germany to Texas: Country Skipper
Hey! My name is Sabrina and I am from Germany. For a while I moved around a lot between Egypt, Germany, France, and the US. For the past seven years I’ve lived in Texas. I have family all over the world, so my blog, www.countryskipper.com, is a mix between a travel and an expat blog.
1. Why did you move abroad?
Wanderlust maybe? I really just like experiencing different cultures and getting to see new places. I like warm weather. And I like meeting other expats. When I moved to Egypt after high school it was because I wanted to do something fun before starting college. And fun it was! I got to work in a scuba diving center, be at the Red Sea, enjoy the sun every day, and go out a lot. In college I studied International Business and that included a semester in France and another one in Texas. After that I finished my degree in Germany and moved back to Texas where I still live with the Italian guy I met on my exchange semester here. So, make that wanderlust paired with love?
2. How do you make a living (working? Tell us about your experience)?
It’s not easy to find a job as a foreigner in the US. Lots of visa regulations to deal with and immigration paperwork to fill out. But it did work out and I found a job with a university here.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Lots! I love Skype and use it to talk to my family quite a bit. I probably speak to them at least two, three times a week. When I don’t have my computer with me, I use international calling cards to call them. To stay in touch with my friends, I rely on Facebook and email. I prefer Facebook though because it makes it so easy to share pictures, send little blurbs about what you’re doing. It’s more interactive than an email.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in America?
I don’t think I can boil it down to one ? I love the weather here in West Texas. I have gotten used to expecting a blue sky every morning when I leave the house. And I really like that I can go to the pool, swim, and lay in the sun as early as April. I also appreciate the friendliness in people here. It might not always mean something, but it sure makes for a nice atmosphere. And of course I like all the friends that I was able to make here who I would have never met if I had stayed in my small town in Germany.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in America?
That’s easy... being so far away from family and friends in Germany. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that. Skype, phone calls, and frequent visits back home help though.
6. What do you miss most?
Of course I miss family and friends. I also miss little things like good bread (doesn’t every German say that when they’re abroad?!), foreign cheeses, cheap sparkling water, and restaurants and cafes where everybody sits outside enjoying the good weather. Sometimes I miss directness. People here can be hard to read at times.
7. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Good question. I lived here for so long that I don’t even notice many things anymore. What I haven’t gotten used to is that religion is much more public in Texas than in Germany. It’s such a big part of live here. You can’t meet on Wednesdays and Sundays because people go to church. People who work together frequently go to the same church. It really freaked me out at the beginning when people at work would mention something about Sunday’s sermon... It still makes me feel uncomfortable, but I sort of got used to it.
8. What is a myth about your adopted country?
A myth? Well, people don’t ride to class or work on their horses. People actually asked me that when I moved here. But on the other hand, there are many real life cowboys everywhere. And by cowboys I mean the guys who wear the trinity of boots, buckle, and hat. I’ve seen them in airports, going to class, shopping, ...
9. What advice would you give other expats?
Don’t expect to get everything right! Even if you understand the language, you might not be able to get the little subtleties for a long time. Even if you mean well, you’ll step on a few toes because you didn’t know any better. Even if you know most of the local customs, you’re sure to miss a few in the process of everyday life. Happens to me even after seven years here. That’s when you get to pull the foreigner card ?
10. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog a little less than a year ago. Travelling to see family, friends, and new places is such a big part of my life. I don’t know why it took me so long to start a blog in the first place.
I really enjoy writing about my trips through the world and funny/weird things I encounter in Texas because it makes me take more pictures and see things with a different perspective. Writing a blog also introduced me to a lot of other expats who document their adventures. It’s a fun community!