Tag Archives: Expat

How One American Expat Celebrates the 4th of July Outside the United States

Team-Frankreich-Intermède-Hannover-Internationalen Feuerwerkswettbewerb

“Wait, what day is it again?

How One American Expat Celebrates the 4th of July Outside the United States


An interview with the author of ‘Oh God, My Wife Is German,’ conducted by ParcelHero.com

Parcel Hero – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1. Why are you a resident in Germany? Where in the US are you from originally?

I am originally from Portland, Oregon, but I moved to Hannover, Germany, in order to be with my wife; a beautiful, smart and (unintentionally) hilarious German woman. With her adorable linguistic mixture of Deutsch and English — better known as Denglish — she often says things like:

“Why does our time on earth have to be limitated?”

“But maybe I can spend money. I am the bread maker now.”

…or…

“It is time to get out of the bathtub now… my fingers are getting schrinkled.”

2. How will you be celebrating the 4th of July this year?

To be perfectly honest with you, I generally forget about the 4th of July every year, much like I forget most holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. However, if I should remember it this year, I will spend the evening worrying about the house we own in the States — and the likelihood that it will be swiftly burned to the ground by some mouth-breathing neighbor kid with a popsicle in one hand and a Roman candle in the other.

3. Where will you be celebrating it? (eg: a specific restaurant, party, etc.)

After calling my rental agency and confirming our house has not, in fact, been reduced to smoldering ashes, my wife and I will probably watch A Game of Thrones while eating a pizza and then pass right the fuck out.

4. What do you miss most about ‘home’ on the 4th of July?

I’ll miss the heat. July is generally pretty warm in Portland, but here in northern Germany? You just never know. It could be warm, but it could also be cold or windy — even rainy — because the weather here is always threatening an early return to winter… as if it were designed by Mother Nature herself to gently crush all joy from the German soul, keeping it focused upon the robotic task of producing the world’s finest automobile components.

— Oh God, My Wife Is German.
www.ohgodmywifeisgerman.com

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Expats around the world should check out ParcelHero for international delivery, collected from your door, by the couriers you trust, at www.parcelhero.com

And if you’d like to find out more about life as an American expat in Germany, check out some of our other posts, like this one: Five Things That Suck About Living in Germany


Twitching Eyelid: American Expat in Germany Suffers Two Months of Ocular Mortification

eye scared close up Twitching-Eyelid-Spasm-Eye-Funny-Pictures

“For the love of all that is good and holy, please HOLD STILL.”

For over two months, my upper right eyelid twitched all day, every day, and made me look like a man on the verge of an explosive emotional breakdown. Now, I’m not talking about the harmless little ticks and occasional spasms of the eyelid we all experience from time to time — the ones no one else can really see — I’m talking about violent contractions of the muscles above my eye, obvious enough to cause my wife to laugh at me and my German language classmates to recoil from my very presence in fear and confusion.

According to every masochistic Google health search I performed, the main causes of twitching eyelids are:

  1. Stress
  2. Eye Strain
  3. Tiredness
  4. Caffeine
  5. Alcohol
  6. Allergies
  7. Dry Eyes
  8. Debris Beneath the Eyelid
  9. Nutritional Imbalances

So that pretty much covers everything! I mean, as a freelance graphic designer, I am always stressed about where my next paycheck is coming from, and I spend all day straining my eyes in front of my computer monitor. I get up early and hit the gym every day, so I’m often very tired. I drink a fat mug of instant coffee every morning — at least two scoops — so my heart runs double-time. I drink heroic amounts of German beer on the weekends because German beer is awesome. I have powerful pollen allergies, which cause dry, itchy eyes and no-doubt pack all kinds of filthy shit beneath my eyelids. And as for nutritional imbalances? Well, I do eat a lot of disgusting German meat products.

zungenwurst-tongue-sausage-german-food-deli

“Taste the horror.”

When my wife and I visited the United States for Spring Break, we went to a huge party filled with doctors and medical professionals of all kinds. (It was an older crowd, but we still partied our asses off.) Anyway, I ran into my optometrist — a man I’d known my entire life — and showed him my freakish eye problem. Here’s how our conversation went, word for word:

ME: *Beer in hand* “See?! Did you see that?!”

DOCTOR: “Yes. That’s called ‘myokymia.’ It’s harmless.”

ME: “But it’s been going on for months now. Oh God, it’s a brain tumor, isn’t it.

DOCTOR: *Laughing* “No, no — it’s very common. Persistent twitching like that can last hours, days, months… sometimes even years.”

ME: “Years?! Holy Christ. But you’re absolutely sure it’s not a brain tumor, right?”

DOCTOR: “Right. It’s not a tumor.”

ME: *Eyeing him suspiciously and taking another swig of beer* “You’re sure?”

DOCTOR: “Yes. I’m sure”

headache funny kid with sword through head

“Oh good. I feel much better now.” — Image courtesy of Wapster (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wapster/) – Subject to CC 2.0 Generic Copyright

A week later, we returned to our home in Hannover, Germany, and my twitching eyelid continued to embarrass me like a dog licking his butt hole at a cocktail party. At a loss for any real solutions or cures, I began keeping track of my problem and its progress. Here are the complete, unabridged entries from my journal:

  • March 6th: Upper right eyelid began twitching very hard, off and on, throughout the day. Especially from mid-morning through early evening.
  • March 20th: Still twitching.
  • April 15th: Still twitching.
  • April 27th: Still twitching, but the twitches are weaker. I have been using allergy eye drops every day the last few weeks. Could be the answer!
  • May 5th: Nope. Eyelid is still twitching hard as fuck.
  • May 6th: Twitching has been going on for exactly 2 months now.
  • May 14th: Still twitching. Out of desperation, I have stopped drinking instant coffee and switched to black tea.
  • May 21st: Oh holy Christ on rice, my eyelid hasn’t twitched at all for a week!
  • May 31st: Apparently cutting out the absurdly strong instant coffee was the answer. I am a complete and total moron.
Folgers-Instant-Coffee-Jars-Cans

“Wait, is this too much?” — Image Credit: Mike Mozart (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/) — Subject to CC 2.0 Generic Copyright

Wow. So just cutting back on caffeine was the answer? Clearly I am the smartest man alive. So, overall, I have to rate my experience with eyelid twitching — and my own complete disregard for its most obvious solution — with 1 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

Merkel-Diamonds-1-of-5

If you liked this post, there’s a solid chance you’ll dig this one too: My German Wife Attempts to Reheat A Soft Boiled Egg in the Microwave

 


 

Expat Life in Germany: Taking Day Trips to Hamburg

Hamburg-Germany-Harbor-with-Faxe-Beer

“Danish beer at the Hamburg Harbor? Clearly we are going to hell.”

Last weekend, my German wife and I took another one of our day trips to Hamburg, Germany. Like a big boy, I boarded the Metronom train all on my own in Hannover, switched trains in Uelzen, then met The Wife in Lüneburg. (And I didn’t get lost once!) Lüneburg is a super cute town, so we strolled around and ate lunch before continuing on to Hamburg. What follows is a 2.5 minute video of the journey, including lots of beer, rain, and one terribly deformed homeless person.

*** WARNING ***
Video contains a lot of swearing. You might want to cover your delicate little baby ears.

If you would like to check out another one of our posts about Hamburg, check out: American Man Speaks with Prostitute in Hamburg, Germany

Moving from an Apartment to a House in Hannover, Germany: My Wife Exemplifies the Classiest Exit Strategy Possible

moving-to-germany-house-apartment-hannover

…upgrading our living conditions SO hard. — Photo Credit: Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon (https://www.flickr.com/photos/payitforwardphotos/) — Subject to CC 2.0 Generic Copyright

As you know, my wife and I live in Hannover, Germany. She is a native German citizen — bright, beautiful and freakishly enthusiastic about her work as a Gymnasium teacher — and I am an American expat; dark and introverted, spinning graphic design projects from my home office like a funnel-web spider tending to its silken trip-lines: “Oh yes, my pretties… come closer. Let me sink my venomous logo into your fledgling business enterprise…”

So normally I’m the hateful side of our little German-American relationship, and my wife is the loving side; she genuinely enjoys people and always looks for the good in them. But after living in a questionable apartment building with psychotic inhabitants and an apathetic management company for two years (See: Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane), even she was ready to burn the place to the ground and piss on the ashes.

She checked the house rental listings every night for months until finally she found the perfect opening: A little house in a quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of the city, still close enough to commute to work, but far enough away we wouldn’t be tempted to climb on top of our new roof and pick off our former neighbors like a couple of wildly underqualified Marine snipers.

We got the news our rental application had been approved, and then we started packing like mad. We boxed everything up, hired a moving company and got the hell out of that apartment. As we drove away, gazing at the building as it receded from view, my wife stuck her hands out the window — both middle fingers held high in the air — and shouted, “Adios Amigos!”

Of course, with her adorable German accent, what actually came out was:

“Ahh-Dee-Yahs, Ahh-Mee-Gahs!”

If you would like to read another classic Denglish quote, check this one out: My German Wife Is A Huge Fan of HBO’s A Game of Thrones

The German Accent: Ain’t No Place for the English “T-H”

english-th-sound-tongue-between-teeth-german

“You just put your lips together and… blow.” — Image Credit: tiffany terry (https://www.flickr.com/photos/35168673@N03/) — Subject to CC Generic 2.0 Copyright.

I love my wife’s accent. It’s cute — sort of ambiguously European — with a rare subtlety which likely stems from so much time spent in the United States and her years of being married to me; an American book nerd who experiences heart palpitations whenever someone misuses the homophones “there” and “their.”

But who doesn’t enjoy a good foreign accent? They sound cool and unique. More attractive, even. (Except for that God-awful Cockney English accent. Holy shit.) So I cherish what precious little remains of my wife’s German accent, and record it whenever she lets fly with a real zinger. Yes, her mispronunciations make me laugh out loud, but I do not mean to mock her; I truly enjoy the linguistic differences. (And this road goes both ways, I’ll have you know: My wife laughs her sweet ass off whenever I try to say “ice cubes” in German. The word is “Eiswürfel,” pronounced, “Ice-vuhr-fell,” but I can’t stop saying “Ice-TZWUHR-fell.” Makes her lose her shit every time.)

One remnant of my wife’s accent is still going strong, however, and that is her total disregard for the English <th> sound, as in “theater,” “weather” or “Thor, God of Thunder.” (And yes, I am a comic book dork, as well as a fantasy nerd and sci-fi geek. I loved the movie Prometheus. It rocked so hard I’ve been hassling my wife to watch it with me since 2012.) So it was with much glee that I wrote down my wife’s quote the other day, after she came home from a particularly arduous day at work and demanded immediate relaxation, saying:

“I want to watch a movie so hard. We could even watch a sci-fi. We could even watch your ‘Pro-mee-toys.’ “

If you would like to read another classic mispronunciation post, check this one out: My German Wife Gets Stuck in Traffic, Struggles Adorably to Pronounce the English Letter ‘J’

Visiting Portland, Oregon: An American Expat and His German Wife Return to the States for Spring Break

16-mount-tabor-view-of-portland

Welcome to Portland: City of beer, beards and reefer buds.

My wife is a smokin’ hot, full-blooded German woman with a killer smile and a wildly unpredictable sense of humor. I am an American expat built from the lesser parts of cyborg nerds and dragon jockeys. Together, we live in Hannover, Germany, and this blog is an ongoing account of our shared misadventures.

Now, we hadn’t visited my hometown of Portland, Oregon, since late 2013, so it was a pretty big deal for us to see our friends and family members this year. What follows is a picture gallery depicting our trip from beginning to end, complete with an epic pub crawl, a visit to the very site where I asked my wife to marry me, and everything else which makes me proud to call myself a Portlander. Or a Portlandite. Portlandian? Portlandonian! I COME FROM THE LAND OF PORTS.

 Click one of the thumbnails below to start the slideshow and read the captions:

 


 

If you would like to read another post regarding my hometown, check this one out: My German Wife’s First Encounter with ‘Kitchen Kaboodle’ in Portland, Oregon

Culture Shock in Germany: An American Expat Is Horrified by His Discovery of German ‘Schreber Gardens’

German-Schreber-Gardens-Schrebergarten-Deutschland-Gardening

“And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod…” — Photo Credit: Patrik Tschudin (https://www.flickr.com/photos/patsch/) — Subject to CC 2.0 Generic Copyright.

Dear Germany,

I have a confession to make.

When I first arrived at the Hannover airport back in 2012, my wife met me at the security gate, we picked up my luggage and boarded the S5 train on our way toward our new home. About a mile or two outside the city, I saw a vast wasteland of the most depressing houses on earth; tiny little shacks — too small even to hold a car — complete with miniature windows, flagpoles, chain-link fences, yards and gardens.

“My God,” I whispered to my wife, barely containing the tear which threatened to spill from my eye, “those poor, poor people…”

I marveled at the thought of living in such a confined space. Would the toilet be right next to your head as you slept at night? What about running water? A kitchen? Heat during winter? Holy Christ, are people raising children in those things?

I was disgusted by the idea a city like Hannover could thrive within spitting distance of such wretched slums. What sort of mayor allows a cesspool of humanity like this to decay in his own back yard? A sick one, that’s who. And then I took a closer look at these little nightmare shanties, all huddled together for warmth like derelicts around a burning car tire…

“You know, for a bunch of filthy untouchables, these Germans bums sure decorate the shit out of their huts.”

And it was true: Each little house was manicured with tender, loving care. Like dollhouses for God’s sullied children. They were freshly painted, complete with trim and decorations on the front door. They even had tiny chimneys and gutters. The yards were immaculate and the gardens were actually growing real, live, fruits and vegetables. I even saw a miniature trellis supporting a beautiful red climbing rose… like a single wish of hope in an otherwise hellish quagmire of despair.

“These are the best hobos ever!” I declared loudly, not only for my wife, but for the rest of the train car to hear as well.

“Those are Schreber gardens,” said my wife. “We call them ‘Schrebergärten.’ People who live in the city rent them so they can garden on the weekends. When I was a kid, I used to have sleepovers with my friend in her family’s Schreber garden.”

She was right. Apparently, the “Schreber Movement” started in Leipzig, Germany, in 1864. European industrialization in the 19th century brought tons of people into German cities, and most of them were very poor. As a way to improve their lives and put more food on the table, they used these little plots of land outside the city to garden, work outside in the fresh air and have a place for their children to play. These days, Schreber gardens are more of a hobby than a necessity, and though I’m sure there are some young people who continue to enjoy them, all I’ve seen are super old people with their hands in the dirt and their asses to the sky.

And so, Dear Germany, I must apologize; I am sorry for assuming so many of your citizens were living in abject squalor. I just didn’t know! I mean, I own a house in the States and I hate yard work — I couldn’t imagine paying someone for the chance to weed my own vegetable garden. That’s just crazy talk. But you go ahead and do your thing, Germany.

Do it real good.

 


 

If you would like to read another post regarding my adjustment to life in a new country, check this one out: American Expat Receives Terrifying Haircut at Turkish Hairdresser in Germany