Let me be honest: I love my job, but I am struggling! 

IMG_20170608_201017.jpg

I guess they call this culture shock

It has not been four weeks since I landed in Frankfurt. Usually there is a period of enthusiasm, then the most threaded valley of tears, and then you cope. While my period of enthusiasm for my new role at Zeiss, content planning and analysis for digital corporate communications (first results will be visible very soon) is unbroken, my enthusiasm for this country has stopped with the bike shop owner in Aalen telling me that he isn`t sure whether road biking really is for woman.

Before I begin my vent: A disclaimer (My complaints are the results of high expectations)

Before I will be sharing many of my observations over the next couple of days, let me disclaim this: I was born & raised in Germany. This means that I am expecting to feel home in my home country. When in the US, or in Spain, in India, in Dubai things seemed weird, people awkward, chauvinistic, politics insane, I vented, but really it did not affect me emotionally, because – at least that’s what I thought – the motherland is sane and well. And while this country is stunningly beautiful, which I haven’t really appreciated as much beforehand, there are many things I am observing that make me feel very much not at home, not belonging. And that sucks for me right now. But, I guess, at least all of you will learn a lot about Germany through my lens.

Let’s jump right in: There is no separation of church & state in this country and all of a sudden this really bothers me! 

I just saw on my first paycheck that I am paying taxes to the church. YES, I was christened and confirmed in the protestant church and that means that I am paying eight (8!!!) percent of my income tax to the church. A church that still refuses same rights for all marriages. You can opt out of the church. However, opting out of church costs a fee and can only be done in person at municipal community where you are registered. Obviously, as we know – most likely a global phenomenon – municipal communities are open pretty much three hours a day, their employees – in Germany lifetime employees of the state – are not the most enthusiastic workers and the three hours collide with every normal person’s working hours.

If you are opting out of the church there are severe consequences

Maybe not severe as in the clergy will hunt you through the streets and declare you evil, but modern world severe as in: You will not be able to get married in a house of god nor will you be able to have your child christened. Yes, now it is time for me to face these questions: How important are these things to me after all? I do not know yet.

Sunday – Funday

Since I already touched upon the churchy subject, let me get my thoughts about sundays out of my system. You cannot do anything on sundays! No supermarket, no shop, no mall, no nothing. Granted, the Southern German region is different than Berlin. However, most shops here close their doors on saturdays around 2pm. That is has become a little bit of an issue for me, since I am so used to starting my weekend with a longer bike ride saturday mornings. Obviously, the sunday is a German tradition.  Often have I told Pouya how much I miss sunday afternoon “Kaffeetrinken” / coffee and cake with the family. For a moderately busy person the leisure sundays seem quite constraining.

Speaking of fundays: The beer nation with no beer variety

Countless times have Americans told me how much they dig German beer. While it certainly is an acquired taste I really have fallen for strong, hoppy IPAs (Sip of Sunshine, my American Northeastern friends) or really tart Sour beers. While Germany has uphold the rule of the Reinheitsgebot (beer purity law: beer is only beer if it is brewed in a certain way with certain ingredients) that limits the choices you have. Hefeweizen, Lager, unfiltered. That is it. Sure, there are a thousand Hefeweizens, Lagers and unfiltereds. Still, though, that’s pretty much it. Funny how this nation remains on the global beer throne; reputation is king, I guess.

Complaints are not all I have to share with you

My self help “The How of Happiness” book which I can truly recommend to anyone states that the determinants of happiness are fairly easy: 40% is genetic predisposition (yap, you’re either born a clown or a grumpy cat), 50% is your inner attitude and 10% is outer circumstance. The 10% basically suggests that you will not be happier with 10lbs less, living in a mansion or retired, at least not permanently. The 50% are the interesting part. And that is what I want to finish with.

I am here

I am living with my colleague Petra (the apartment search will be subject of another post, too good to spoil it…), I was welcomed back with a bouquet of flowers, lots of hugs and kisses at work and at home, I have not once had a tummy ache since I have arrived (thank you, EU), and I have most likely produced 10times less trash on an average day because Germans prefer real glasses, silverware and ceramic instead of plastic or paper everything. I refuse to state that I have returned, that I am settling, that I am back. I am here! Working on a job opportunity I have never dreamed of, accompanied by a partner who will most likely develop a Swabian German accent (oh boy!) once he starts learning German in August, six weeks of paid vacation, a company that values work-life-balance and family time and lots of stories to tell.

IMG_20170624_124152

My first soy cafe latte in Germany. Würzburg has a vibrant hipster scene. From what I have heard an oatmilk chai is a favorite here…

IMG_20170624_130427

And for lunch: Milkrice with cinnamon and sugar 😉

IMG_20170624_160232_090

The view from Würzburg’s Marienbridge: a good destination for sunday fundays where a glass of wine costs 3dollars.

IMG_20170624_113631

Würzburg’s streets

IMG_20170606_110146

My flowers and new desk (and, more Swag)

 

 

 

 

A cross-country ski marathon…because “why not”?

Cross-country skiing plus shooting – Biathlon – is one of my favorite winter sports to watch. I always wanted to cross-country ski, but every time I am close to mountains downhill just seemed so much more appealing.

A couple of weeks ago, after I walked my marathon and realized how much I love long weekend training sessions, I decided to sign up for a cross-country ski race. Not just any race, the “American Birkie“, the US version of the Norwegian Birkebeinerrennet, a cross-country ski marathon.

The only – not really logical – reason for me signing up for a ski marathon is: Why not? It will be a great motivator to go out and explore the beautiful North-East more, we have a great group of grad school friends  all doing it and a good story never started with “I don’t think I can do that.”

My first time on skate skis

As you can imagine I am awaiting snow this year more than ever. While you can train endurance and stability in the gym it does make sense to ski as often as possible. Last weekend I was finally able to put on skate-skis for the first time in my life. I should mention that my first challenge was to attach the skis to my boots, but once that was taken care of and I started skating, I realized: this is not as easy as I thought it would be. But it is a lot of fun! Especially if you find yourself in the middle of the forrest on a beautiful sunny sunday, skating alongside your boyfriend (who was crazy enough to sign up as well).

waterville_cx

Whether I’ll be able to actually ski 50km at the end of February does not really matter at this point. What matters is that I finally did what I have always wanted to do and I am learning something new. I will for sure keep you posted.

What a month: A perfect New England late summer

Fall has definitely arrived in Boston.Rain, cold winds, hot cocoa time. For me the start of fall also comes with a desire for reflection. I was feeling pretty tired and worn out yesterday and as I was scrolling through my September/early October pictures it is no wonder I am a little exhausted. Late summer is my favorite time of the year, and these last weeks have been as eventful as can be with my parents visiting from Germany and many other splendid moments.

Still learning a lot about myself. Everyday. And instead of complaining, here is my reflection shared with you in pictures.

lighthouse

In early September my Mom was here for my birthday and we did a roadtrip to Maine. This is the picturesque Nubble Lighthouse. Looks more romantic than it is.

 

mama

My mom had not been to the US for a while and although she loved Maine the trip made her realize how much more she appreciates Germany now 😉

uss-constitution

One of my all-time favorite spots: The USS Constitution

century-ride

During one of those “why not”-moments I signed up for the Tufts century ride. The University invites all alumni & students to ride at the beginning of each academic year. It was a beautiful experience…

tufts-century-ride

…with lots of unhealthy food afterwards 😉

jimmy-fund

A week after the bike ride I walked the Jimmy Fund marathon & raised money for cancer research. Not only do cancer survivors walk with you, the Jimmy Fund Walk brought out amazing people…

jimmy-fund_2

…like these two: If you take a closer look at his shirt, it says “20 years and still slicing”. They stood at the famous Heartbreak Hill and provided everyone with sliced oranges, having a blast.

mrb

September was also a long good-bye/see you later for me and Maria Rita. I have grown so used to having many close friends in Boston, but given our hunger for adventure eventually we’ll all move on. Maria Rita is the first to leave to spend four months in South East Asia. I am hoping to meet her in India early next year. This was her good-bye dinner party.

walden_pond

September also brought a lot of magical and romantic moments. This is the sunrise over Walden Pond. Waking up to go swim in a cold-ish lake before 6AM, yup: It was one of the best dates I have ever had.

hidden_concert

Just like this one: I was taken to one of Boston’s “Hidden concerts”. Although you have to get the ticket months in advance, you only learn about the artist & the location 24hours beforehand. 

persian-breakfast

Speaking of magical moments: I was introduced to Persian breakfast: The triangle shaped pieces on the plate are eggs with lots of herbs and this is called kookoo sabzi. If you like omelette, turmeric and herbs, you will love this dish. 

fall_nh

Last week, my Dad was here and we took a roadtrip to New Hampshire to enjoy fall foliage.

papa_hike

This is one of the selfies at the beginning of our hike at Mount Lafayette in the Franconia Notch

mt-lafayette

This is the view into the Franconia Ridge. 

welch-dickey

The Welch-Dickey trail gifts you this beautiful view on a clear day.