Diaspora Blues

Diaspora Blues

By Ijeoma Umebinyuo


here you are

too foreign for home

too foreign for here.

never enough for both.

It cannot be denied that we who have walked those formative years in foreign lands may find that we are a bit foreign no matter where we are. (Full post here)

More alienated than ever before I am living my life in Munich. Moving to Munich was a good idea: I started learning Farsi, people are on the streets after 8pm, and in my office there are many internationals. On the streets of Munich one hears predominantly English, it makes me feel at home.

I posted the “Diaspora Blues” on Facebook the other day and a German friend who married an American and now lives in the states texted me that I am in reverse culture shock. Within the first year of being in Germany I would have agreed. It has been longer, though, and I simply think that this is not my home anymore, it is the country where I was born and raised. Ultimately, there are more things that I find despicable.

Maybe Expectations play a big role when it comes to my relationship with Germany: I expect a country with such a history to be better than it is. I am noticing that I have lost touch to “the German” – the one that votes for right populists, the one that thinks that state is responsible for pension, the one that washes his car every saturday, has a tidy garden with little garden dolls, and everything in order. The one that, to me, is so scared of loosing that he will also never gain.

Lately, I have found myself in so many situations that left me in anger and disbelief that I have decided to write it down, and take all the criticism from Germans I might get:

This is the way it is in Germany

Today I had a phone call with an employee of the department of taxes. I had inquired about a common tax statement for married couples. She answered that there is no common tax statement, there is a man’s tax statement and he can allow his wife to be part of it.I asked her: “Why?” She answered that this is the way it is in Germany. Solid answer. My answer is that it is about time things change in Germany!


I have multiple times now overheard statements from professional people that refer to other nations as “ching chang chungs” or “Raj’s”. Believe me, having worked in a jewish start-up in the states, we have had some politically incorrect jokes. But this is different: This is open racism. And these people are not aware of it and this is where I have issues. In a country in which an openly racist and Hitler-loving party is now in every state’s parliament, this is not ok!

I am not yet decided how to position myself. Shall I be a guest, shall I be an advocate of my beliefs and speak up? Overcoming my constant anger is the first step, I guess.

2 responses to “Diaspora Blues”

  1. Elizabeth Ernst Waterman Keegan Avatar
    Elizabeth Ernst Waterman Keegan

    Hi Fran! I’ve never left a comment on a Blog before–so happy yours is my first! A couple of weeks ago, I met a German guy who is married to an American woman. As you know I love to do, I asked him a lot about culture and living between cultures. A couple of things he said about Germans that I thought were interesting is that there isn’t as much of a culture of change, and Germans don’t change things (laws in his example) unless it becomes a problem. His example was gay marriage, the law changed because it became enough of a problem in society that it needed to be changed. The idea was that change only happens if it is practical. I thought of this as I was reading your paragraph on the common tax statement. Do you think this is an accurate cultural observation? Love, E

    1. Hi E,
      that is accurate in my opinion. Basically, you have to escalate things so much so they will change. However, that costs a lot of energy…
      See You soon in Boston!

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