Tag Archives: Travel

InterNations: An American Expat Answers Questions About Living in Germany

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Life as an American Expat in Germany, an Interview
with Oh God, My Wife Is German.

Conducted by InterNations
October, 2014

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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Germany, etc.

I am an American expat from Portland, Oregon, now living in Hannover, Germany. I moved here in September of 2012 in order to be with my wife, who is just German as all hell.

New Town Hall, Hannover, Germany

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I’ve attempted to maintain one blog or another since 2001. None of them lasted because I just didn’t have the motivation, but this all changed when I met my wife. I thought she was hilarious – whether she meant to be or not – and I made a habit of writing down her more memorable “denglish” quotes. I had no idea I would ever share these things with the world. When it all started, I just thought I was collecting little inside jokes for she and I to laugh about in bed while we farted under the covers. Her quotes soon became the inspiration for the blog and — much to my surprise — readers seemed to enjoy them as much as we did. (The quotes, I mean. Not the farts.)

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

You know, I’ve never understood what makes one post more popular than another. Some of my absolute favorite posts have tanked, while weaker ones have gone on to be reblogged and republished in numerous places. But there is one fairly recent post which amused me more than the rest: How to Convince Your Neighbors You Are A Thief and An Alcoholic (In One Simple Gesture)

vodka bottle in germany

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?

For me, the single biggest difference between life back in the States and life as an expat in Germany is boredom. That is to say, boredom no longer exists. Every day is different, especially as I attempt to live using a second language. And as for culture shock, oh my yes, I have a whole blog category relating my experiences in this arena. Here is just one post of many: Culture Shock 15: The Batshit Insane Ways in Which Germans Tell Time (And Why I Hate Them For It)

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Germany? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

There is no way anyone can fully prepare for a life change like this. You do the best you can – learning as much of the language, culture and history as possible – then dive in headfirst. Where do you find a job? An apartment? Friends? Forget it; these things will take care of themselves. And no matter if the transition goes smoothly or not, I guarantee you it will be hilarious.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

This is precisely what my blog is all about, from my wife’s time in America, to my time here in Germany. One anecdote does come to mind, however, but it has long since been lost in the archives of my blog. I think like 12 people read it at the time. It was called, New York Liaison: A Tale of Love and Projectile Vomiting in the Big Apple

New York Liaison: A Tale of Love and Projectile Voliting in New York City

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Germany?

1: Learn the language.

2: Bring certified, notarized copies of everything.

3: Watch out for bikes.

How is the expat community in Germany? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

The expat community here is great. There are groups meeting up all the time – English-speaking ones, especially. My biggest problem is bothering to go at all. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s that I’m lazy and awkward. Socializing makes me tired. What I really want to do is watch the latest season of Game of Thrones with my wife, drink a couple of brew doggies and pass out on the couch.

 How would you summarize your expat life in Germany in a single, catchy sentence?

“Tearless grief bleeds inwardly.”

– Christian Nevell Bovee

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Check out InterNations for great expat networking and social opportunities at www.internations.org

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: Culture Shock 5: Five Things That Suck About Living in Germany


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German-American Couple Visits the North Sea, Denmark and a Whole Hell of a Lot of Sheep

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“Stop. Stop. Stop.”

In mid-August, my German wife and I boarded a train which took us from Hannover to the North Sea of Germany. We met my wife’s family in Husum and stayed with them on the Nordstrand peninsula — in the tiniest, most 1970s bed and breakfast you’ve ever seen. Outside, we were surrounded by giant wind turbines, rolling green pastures and sheep. Oh God… so many sheep.

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Why are we all wearing socks, you ask? Oh, just the rocks and razor-sharp clam shells hidden beneath the mud…

We went for a walk through the Nordstrand mudflats during low tide (Wattwanderung) and visited the Hallig of Nordstrandischmoor. A hallig is an undyked islet, which means it’s basically just a little hill that becomes isolated by the ocean during high tide, and sometimes for several weeks at a time during winter. 27 people live on Nordstrandischmoor, and it is common knowledge that one of them is pregnant. (A real concern, when their only connection to the mainland is a rusty old construction railway.) The very thought of being trapped on this hallig for any length of time had me nervously checking the tide schedules and eyeballing the nearest sheep, wondering about its capacity to serve as a floatation device. “Mother of God, the ocean is closing in! C’mere you little shit…” *BAAA-A-A-AHHHG*

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That’s a church AND a school. “Welcome to 1st Grade, sinners!”

We also took a day trip to Denmark and visited the city of Sønderborg. I was super excited about this, as I am whenever I get to cross a border into a different country. It always feels a little naughty, like I’m getting away with something. Like I’m a drug mule with a colon full of heroin balloons, and my puckering anus is the only thing between me and a life sentence. I was disappointed when we didn’t have to stop for customs or border patrol — we didn’t even have to show our visas or anything! Oh European Union… you are awesome, but you are boring.

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“Where’s the civilian border patrol? Why is no one shooting at us?”

One the way back from Denmark, we stopped by Flensburg, which is the northernmost town on the German mainland. There, we ran into some kind of festival down by the water, where my brother-in-law and I poured shots of vodka into our Flensburger pilsners and named them “Titty Pils.” (My mother-in-law was not amused.)

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“I’m sorry, Schwiegermutter, but I am not the angel you thought I was.”

The next day, the whole family got on a ferry and rode out to another hallig, this one called Gröde. It is the smallest German voting district, with a whopping total of 17 inhabitants. They have a church, a cemetery and an elementary school in which two students are enrolled. Two. You can imagine what prom will be like when they’re older:

“Would you like to dance, Grizelda?”

“I’m sorry, Orbert, but Papa says dancing gives vigor to the Devil’s loins.”

…and then they just sit there, gazing out the window at the tallest hill on the island, at the peak of which are two sheep enjoying the most violent, wool-slapping sheep sex on earth.

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Oh yes, those people laying in the grass in boots and full raincoats are “sunbathing.”

I can’t really do justice to all the things we saw at the North Sea and in Denmark, so I’ve put this little video together. It summarizes the whole trip in about 60 seconds:

***WARNING*** Video contains a lot of annoying wind noises and more than a few swear words. *To clarify that last bit, I wanted to take a picture of the ocean, not record a video. You feel me, iPhone 4 users?

And of course, here’s a picture gallery. I took 90% of these pictures, but the ones that aren’t completely awful were taken by my wife. Please click one to begin the slideshow.

Thank you for reading our blog and have a wonderful day!

American Expat in Germany Nearly Killed by an Acorn, Vents His Shame upon the Biggest Spider in the Universe

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I just discovered something you have all long suspected — I am a huge pussy. An American pussy, to be precise, but one who enjoys each and every day spent living here in Hannover, Germany. I love it here! I can handle the cold, hard slap of culture shock, and I am slowly (though painfully) learning the German language, but the simple challenges presented by the changing of the seasons continue to test my mettle.

Today started with the usual routine: I got up, got dressed, and retrieved my bike from the garage so I could ride it to the gym. However, I failed to notice the staggering number of acorns covering the street and sidewalk in front of our house. It is Fall as I write this post, and there is a giant oak tree looming over our roof. Every time I go out the front door, I hear the crack of an acorn as it strikes the pavement, reminding me that every year, a certain number of people actually die because of falling coconuts hitting them on the brain.

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Though smaller and less threatening, acorns are not the adorable comedic fodder we’ve been led to believe by the Ice Age movie franchise and its clearly retarded squirrel character. No, these little sons of bitches are rock hard and impossibly smooth, so you can imagine how a thin bicycle tire might interact with one at high speed.

After getting on my bike and pushing off, I descended the slope of our driveway and began to make a right turn as I entered the street. My front tire bounced off an acorn and turned my handlebars even more to the right, nearly sending me over the top as I struggled to keep it from going perpendicular. Of course a car was passing by at that moment, but I wasn’t in any real danger of being hit; the car was simply there so the passengers inside could witness the expression of sheer terror on my face and mock me for it accordingly.

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I got my bike under control, pulled over to the curb and looked back over my shoulder. There were so many acorns in the street I felt like I’d just unwittingly navigated a minefield during wartime. “6th Division, Charlie Company, Landmine Detection Unit. We just run right through that shit with blindfolds on. 97% success rate. Best record in the Corps.”

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I’m joking right now, but at that moment, I was pissed off. I walked my bike back to the garage, opened the door and practically tossed it inside. Determined to clear the street of every last acorn, I reached for one of the brooms leaning against the wall and saw something move from the corner of my eye. Oh yes, it was the largest spider in Germany.

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As you can see, I managed to snap a few pictures of the spider after coaxing my scrotum back out of its hiding place. That other thing in the picture, my friends, is a €1 euro coin. When I tossed the coin on the ground, the spider started to shake really hard, as if scared. Then I realized it wasn’t scared at all; it was shaking its web in order to better snare whatever doomed creature had fallen into it. Isn’t that just awful? And isn’t that a perfectly legitimate reason to leave the coin there forever, spider or no, so it will never be touched by human fingers again? Christ, just telling this story makes me feel like I’m covered in bugs. I’ll need 2 milligrams of Xanax and 6 ounces of Jameson if I hope to stand a snowball’s chance in hell of falling asleep tonight.

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Since this spider was obviously too huge to live, I grabbed a garden hoe and — using the flat side downward like a piston — smashed that motherfucker with enough force to cause an earthquake on the other side of the planet. I did this repeatedly, and also while screaming like a little girl. Speaking of little girls, there’s a kindergarten right next to our house and the garage door was wide open, so the kids who were walking home from school that day heard, “AAAAAAAA*clang* *clang* *clang*AAAHHHGG!” while seeing a grown man employ a level of violence so profoundly unnecessary it was probably illegal.

I bet those little kids are scarred for life, crying themselves to sleep every night after begging their parents to explain why their new American neighbor hates living in Germany so badly he beats the very soil beneath his feet.

“Wait, the bad man was doing what now?” soothes the parent. “Screaming? And then he started crying, you say? Oh, go back to sleep, Klaus — you were just having another one of your silly little nightmares.”

 


 

German Woman Explains ‘Disc Parking’ to Her American Husband

German-Parking-Disc-Parkuhr

“Parking discs are like little time machines fueled by guilt.” — Photo Credit: “Zeichen 291″ — Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zeichen_291.svg#mediaviewer/File:Zeichen_291.svg

Back in February of 2013, my German wife and I were driving through a small village in Niedersachsen when we decided to stop and take a look around (which obviously means she made us stop so she could do some window shopping.) And as usual, my wife was behind the wheel because, A: just looking at the Autobahn gives me a panic attack, and B: I haven’t driven a stick shift since I was 16 years old, so the clutch would probably detonate the moment my foot touched it.

As she parked the car, I noticed my wife reaching for something under the seat; a rectangular piece of paperboard with a rotating dial on the front indicating the time of day. She spun the dial and set it on the dashboard facing outward. I climbed out of the passenger seat, looked through the windshield and saw she’d set the dial to the exact time we’d arrived.

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“Honey, I know you’re a good person and all, but now is not the time for honesty.”

Now, there were absolutely no other cars to be seen. No people around either. In fact, the whole place seemed to be asleep. (Asleep or dead. It’s hard to tell with these village Germans.) I couldn’t understand why it would matter how long we parked there, or if some parking inspector would actually be dick enough to check our dial and ticket us for staying too long. Furthermore, I could not understand my wife’s reluctance to take full advantage of a rule system so naive it actually bases itself on trust. Holy shit, I wanted to spin that dial so hard it would say we got there tomorrow.

Anyway, I pointed to the dashboard and said to my wife, “Why not just crank that thing super late, so if you’re asked, you can say, ‘I’m just a silly little German. I made a mistake.’ “

Without even looking, she dropped her keys in her purse, stepped up onto the sidewalk and said, “Germans don’t make mistakes.”

 


 

American Expat Celebrates 2nd Year Living in Germany

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“Every party has its casualties.”

Holy monkey! It’s been 2 years since I packed up all my crap and flew to Germany. Honestly, I thought I’d been here for 3 years, but my German wife reminded me it only feels that way. Anyway, to celebrate last night, we made a pizza, uncorked a bottle of wine and watched a movie. (Which actually means we tossed some extra onions on a frozen pizza, unscrewed a €2 euro bottle of Merlot while the movie started playing and then passed right the fuck out.)

Early the next morning, my wife interrupted my precious Earl Grey time by attempting to show me how I would be cleaning the house after she starts teaching again next week. She pushed a broom around the living room, explaining how I would actually need to lift the furniture in order to sweep beneath it. That’s when she knocked the broom handle into one of our empty wine glasses from the night before. *DONG, smash!* The sound it made as it shattered was like music to my ears.

“HAW HAW!” I laughed, pointing. “Do you realize if I had done that, you would be all super pissed right now? But look at me! I don’t even care! Please learn from my example.” That earned a grudging smile and a quiet chuckle from my wife as she continued sweeping, albeit without the verbal instruction. (Gentlemen readers, I ask you to examine the picture above. Notice how perfectly the glass shattered, yet retained its overall shape? This is the most beautiful example of household justice you will ever see.)

The past 24 months here in Hannover, Germany, have been filled with moments like this; funny occurrences, jam-packed with adorable Denglish quotes and mortifying culture shock encounters. I can honestly say I have yet to experience even one dull moment in this fine country. Every day brought something new. There was that mandatory integration class to deal with, a terribly frustrating visit to the dentist, a surprise delivery from the mailman, the omnipresence of our evil old neighbors, and two memorable trips to the zoo. These are just a few of the adventures described here at Oh God, My Wife Is German, and you, my awesome readers, have been so gracious as to share them with us.

Thank you for reading and for always being so supportive. You’re just the best audience ever, and I look forward to (attempting) to make you laugh for years to come.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

– OGM

NOTE: If you have been reading this blog and commenting on our posts for a long time, please send me an email and let me know, because I would like to make sure I have a link to the blog or website of your choice in the sidebar section titled OUR FRIENDS.


 

An American Man in Germany Finally Sits Down to Pee

man-on-toilet-funny-sitting-to-pee

“Quick honey, take a picture, for I have finally achieved my finest moment.” — Photo Credit: Gabriel Cabral — Subject to copyright — Image cropped from original size — https://www.flickr.com/photos/120663298@N03/

I have never been the sort of man who sits down when he pees. Quite the contrary, in fact. I have always taken great pride in my ability to remain standing while exorcising my bladder demons: the stance, the posture, the sigh and inevitable piss shiver… it’s all manly as hell. And if I ever had trouble starting the flow, I would chant a little mantra, saying, “And now I become… Urinatus” — and then imagine myself as a triumphant gladiator in ancient Rome, looming over a fallen enemy. I whip out my sweaty hog, salute Emperor Commodus and then piss all over my foe’s lifeless corpse. Ahhh, sweet victory.

As an upright urinater, I enthusiastically teased every single one of my friends who admitted to squatting when they make water. They claimed it “feels better,” or that it was “just more comfortable.” Hogwash! I’d say. Sitting down to pee is the white flag of the henpecked husband. It is the dying gasp of the masculine spirit. It is that final moment before a man’s testicles drop off and his penis withdraws back up into the visceral cavity, leaving behind a soft pink dimple which will soon blossom into a fully functioning vagina.

These are the things I would say, that is, before my German wife found us a house in which to live. We left our old apartment with its epically horrible neighbors and found ourselves a new home outside the city of Hannover in a nice, quiet, suburban neighborhood. Our new place is glorious. It’s all white, with big rooms and lots of light, and it has that perpetually clean look some houses just seem to retain. It looks so clean, in fact, I cannot bring myself to sully its ivory brilliance. I also cannot bring myself to clean this giant son of a bitch, especially because our new house has 3 separate bathrooms. Do you like getting your face right down next to the toilet bowl so you can scrub it? I sure as hell don’t, and that brings us to the point of this particular blog post.

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“Look out toilet seat, here comes the hurricane!” — Photo Credit: dirtyboxface — Subject to copyright — Image adjusted for contrast — https://www.flickr.com/photos/dirtyboxface/

You see, even I must admit that when a man pees standing up, there is an inevitable amount of splash back. Even if he keeps his urine stream right in the middle of the water in the bottom of the bowl — you know, where God intended — little droplets will unavoidably find their way out and splatter all over the place: the rim, the floor, the walls… after just a few tinkles, all of these things will be colored a fine shade of urethra gold. And they’ll be sticky too, so you gotta clean everything up regularly. (Unless your wife goes out of town for a week. Then you can mark your territory like a filthy dog right up until she gets home, when you clean everything in a frenzied panic 5 minutes before she steps through the door.) But I have decided to avoid this scenario entirely; I have chosen to sit down when I pee.

I am proud to say I have never once urinated while standing up in any of the bathrooms in our new house. The toilets and surrounding areas have remained spotless, and my wife and I are very pleased. Oh sure, it took some getting used to. For one thing, it takes a lot longer to piss when you gotta drop trow completely. I mean, you gotta put some effort into it — a little planning and forethought, am I right, ladies? Gone are the days when I could just snare my junk like a frightened rabbit and aim it at the big white hole, make it cough and then stuff it back before the flush cycle is over. I get it now. And to all those friends I mocked in the past? I am sorry. I too am a squatter, and I am proud to join your bare-assed ranks.


 

American Expat in Germany Moves to the Suburbs and Promptly Drinks the Kool-Aid

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“German boxes on the hillside, German boxes made of ticky tacky…” — Photo Credit: futureatlas.com — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/87913776@N00/

I’ve done a lot of complaining about the horrible neighbors in our apartment building here in Hannover, Germany, but not anymore! My German wife found us a sweet house to rent, located in the suburbs outside the city. Have you ever seen The Stepford Wives? What about The ‘Burbs or Poltergeist? Our new neighborhood is exactly like that; so perfect — so pretty, quiet and squeaky clean — something is clearly amiss.

I went jogging the other day and saw a police officer casually directing traffic (exactly 2 cars) to allow a line of children to pass safely on their bikes. He was even smiling and high-fiving the kids as they went by. He didn’t arrest a single one of them. Didn’t even ask for identification, and not a single sobriety test was performed. Amazing! Maybe I’m just a jaded American accustomed to the omnipresent threat of police intervention, but I just wasn’t buying it.

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“None of this is real…” — Photo Credit: Newtown grafitti — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/newtown_grafitti/

On my way home, I saw two women chatting on the sidewalk, both of whom were pushing strollers with fresh babies inside. They actually waved to me and said hello. As I unlocked our front door, one of our next-door neighbors greeted me warmly as well. The man even smiled. Where’s the famous ‘cold shoulder‘ stereotype everyone likes to slap the Germans with? Where did all the pushy, impatient, off-putting sons of bitches go? Oh, that’s right; they’re in the city.

I guess I just didn’t realize I was a suburbanite at heart. After leaving the city, I can already feel my testosterone levels dropping. My testicles are shriveling up like salty raisins. My gut is growing and my soft white man-tits can finally fill a B cup. This is it — the real deal; I’m growing up. The next obvious step is to get a dog, name him after a famous composer with a contrived twist, like Fetchtwig van Barksoften or Wolf-fang Pottychaos Notsmart, and get used to the sensation of picking up his shit at the park. After that comes the requisite baby, minivan and total frontal lobotomy. “Take both lobes, Doc — I don’t want a single one of my former aspirations to wake me from my slumber.”

I’m just kidding. There’s nothing wrong with suburban life or having kids. Hell, if my German wife ever decides she wants to make little half-breed Teutons, I’ll be singing a very different tune. But until then? You’ll find us at the beer garden, because the hedonistic gods ruling our zero-responsibility lifestyle demand a pilsner sacrifice.

Beer on the Maschsee

Hey, if you’ve got a sec, you can read more about my expat adventures in Germany here. Thank you for stopping by and have an awesome summer!