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From Russia to Pittsburgh to Frankfurt: Knorr Family Adventures

03 July, 2017 12:55  Erin Erin

Knorr Family Adventure Frankfurt My name is Maria.  Originally I was born and raised in Russia, but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA as a teenager with my parents and my younger brother.  I definitely call Pittsburgh home.  Two years ago, my family (husband and 3 kids) moved to Frankfurt, Germany. 

1.    Why did you move abroad?
Even before my husband and I got married, we talked about living abroad since we both enjoy traveling.  After we got married, we started having kids and settling in our American suburban life (house, 2 cars including a minivan , etc.) thinking that a stint abroad would be nice but is somewhere in a very distant future.  Then, when our boys were 2, 5 and 7 respectively, a job opportunity for my husband came up in Frankfurt, Germany, and we decided to take it.

2.    How do you make a living?
I am a stay-at-home mom.  I used to work at a bank and the experience I have would not transfer to German bank system.  As a stay-at-home mom, I stay fairly busy with a lot of mundane stuff – the refrigerators are smaller here so I go to the supermarket at least 2 times a week, my kids have MANY medical appointments which are of course all during the working hours, and I am currently taking some online classes as well as German language classes (off and on throughout last year).  I love being able to stay home and take care of my family.

3.    How often do you communicate with home and how?
I use Skype, What’s App and regular old phone on very regular basis.

4.    What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Germany?
The life style of where we live is great. We can (and we do) walk to school, doctor offices, pool, and supermarkets.  It was not possible to do that where we lived in the States. And of course access to the rest of Europe is great from where we live (right outside of Frankfurt)- that is truly the best part.  The ability to easily travel around Europe.

5.    What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Germany?
It’s usually the little things that can make life difficult.  The big hurdle is bureaucracy which includes the crazy amount of paper that needs to be shuffled around from place to place.  For example, doctor referrals as well as prescriptions are all done via paper and the patient is the one responsible for getting it all done.  We got really used to having everything done electronically back home so it was hard to think about those things in the beginning.  Also, some cultural things are pretty different - warming up a car is frowned up by our neighbors, figuring out the 5 different garbage cans …

6.    What do you miss most?
Friends and family; the ease of communication.

7.    What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
We met most of our friends through kids and their schools and activities.  Most people we spend time with are not German.

8.    What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
The idea that you need to trim your plants by going into other people's backyards. The lack of pesticide for killing weeds between bricks in our driveway - use of a flame torch instead.

9.    What is a myth about your adopted country?
That autobahn has no speed limits.  In fact many parts do and you will get a speeding ticket when going too fast.

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 food and alcohol is significantly lower in Germany than in Pittsburgh; however, the cost of housing and utilities is significantly higher.  Our old house had a huge backyard and while it was possible to find larger yards here, we decided to choose a location partially based on the commute for my husband and a large yard was something we had to give up to be in our little town.

11.    What advice would you give other expats?
Be open to new ideas and new adventures.  Make sure that you and your family/kids take the new experiences as they come – good and bad!   My younger son had several stays in German hospitals – yep, definitely eye opening experiences! 

12.    When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog a long time ago but never did much with it until we moved to Germany.  After the move, I decided that blog is a good platform to keep a diary of sorts that my children can read when they get older.  The expat experience is not something that everybody does so keeping track of our experiences is important to have them understand why they might be a bit different.

It is also one of the ways to keep our friends and family updated about our life and some of the differences between United States and Germany.  I’ve always enjoyed reading about expats “regular life,” so I try to write on that.  Of course, we travel a lot so that’s also something I write about as well. Unfortunately, I do not always have time to write as much as I want but I am trying to improve upon that.

Blog LinkMaria's blog, Knorr Family Adventures

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