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From Chicago to Germany: Courtney the Ami

26 May, 2014 10:18  Erin Erin

Courtney the Ami My name is Courtney, and I am an American from Chicago that has been living in Germany for about a year now.

1. Why did you move abroad?
After always wanting to study abroad, I finally found the opportunity to during my senior year of college. Since I had been studying German for 5 years, Germany was my country of choice. When my semester abroad came to an end, however, all I could think about was going back. So about one year after graduation, that is just what I did.

2. How do you make a living?
I work as a freelance writer for some American websites, and as an indecisive 20-something, this is the perfect job for me right now. I have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, and I make my own schedule.

3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I can call the U.S. as much as I want with my German landline, which is perfect for communicating with technologically-impaired parents. Otherwise, I skype with my friends whenever our schedules happen to align.

4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Germany?
The best thing is learning something new everyday. If I had stayed in Chicago, I would likely just be working a dull office job, doing the same thing day after day. In Germany, even if I am just going shopping for groceries, I can always learn or discover something new.

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Germany?

Checking out at the grocery store. Only Germans can make such a simple task so stressful.

Did you leave more than one foot of space between you and the person in front of you in line? Then you can expect to get angry stares from the people behind you. Didn’t place all of your items tightly together on the conveyor belt? Angry stares. Didn’t set down a divider for the next person to put their items on the belt?  More angry stares. Can’t bag your items as quickly as the cashier can scan them (which is incredibly fast)? Even more angry stares.

6. What do you miss most?
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, wearing sweatpants in public, and (of course) my family.

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I met my boyfriend when I first came to Germany to study abroad. So, I was lucky to already have a lot of connections and friends through him when I decided to move here. Otherwise, I have also made friends through the language classes I have taken.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Germany is quite old-fashioned in some regards, and it has taken a lot of getting used to. For example, stores close around 7-8 p.m. Monday through Friday and even earlier on Saturday. Want to shop on Sunday? Forget about it. There have been several instances of me getting ready to go grocery shopping on Sunday and my German boyfriend having to stop me at the door to remind me that everything is closed.

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?

Anything in regards to German patriotism. As an American, I have innate pride in my country that I cannot really explain. I also have the tendency to speak using “we” when I talk about the U.S. In Germany, however, it is quite taboo to show any kind of German pride, and you will never hear a German speak for their country using “we.”

A further example of this is when I learned that the German equivalent of Independence Day (Tag der deutschen Einheit) was coming up. I was ready to hang a German flag from the balcony, set off some fireworks, and paint my face with black, red, and gold until my German boyfriend told me that nobody does this. Instead, Germans like to pretend the day is not even happening. Hang a German flag outside during any time other than the World Cup, and other Germans will probably assume you are a nazi (which is very negative).

10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living is slightly higher in Germany, but it is very comparable overall. Unfortunately, however, the conversion rate between U.S. dollars and Euros is not so great, which makes working for American companies that pay me in USD a drag.

11. What advice would you give other expats?

Immerse yourself in every way you can: learn the language, eat the food, and date the natives.

12. When and why did you start your blog? Courtney the Ami
I started my blog, Courtney the Ami, as a way for my friends and family to read about my experiences in Germany. It also helps serve as a journal for me to look back on the journey I have made.

Blog LinkCourtney's blog, Courtney the Ami

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