The German World – through His Eyes

Be careful what you wish for: When Pouya and I decided to relocate to Germany we were telling our friends that it would be an adventure. It’s surely been adventurous, but maybe not the adventure that we had associated.

  • Schorle!

The first word he perfected was “Schorle”, that is the German’s drink of choice: Juice mixed with sparkling water (that kind of sparkling that makes you burp immediately). After a few weeks in the country of Schorle, he was “Schorle’d out” and now we have been trying to order tab water – something that still seems to be an offense in German restaurants, which is funny given that German water is pretty clean on a world scale.

  • Amt!

The first world within the German world he detected was “Amt”, the public administration. When he registered in the town of Aalen the lady behind the counter asked him if he had already registered for “GOA”. He was a little confused since we will be traveling to Goa, India later this year and he was wondering how that lady possibly knew that. Goa, however, is the local trash agency, also called the trash-mafia. Trash is a serious matter in Swabia.

  • Wochenmarkt-Bag

Last weekend he came home in the morning from the baker. Since we’re living in the middle of town we can watch the crowds walk towards the local produce market on saturdays. He dragged me to the window and told me that he has a hypothesis: You are only an eligible member in the Aalen weekly market when you are carrying a wood braided basket. And he was right, every one was carrying the same bags.

  • No!

No, there is no good customer service here. No you cannot return something after 2weeks. No, there is no services that offer convenience services. No, the concept of good enough is not present: You do or you do not and if it is not built to last forever it shall not be build at all.

We are currently in Canada. At Thanksgiving dinner a family member asked Pouya what he thinks is so different about Germany, how this small country is able to compete on so many levels globally. And he told a fascinating and complex story of a nation that values work-live-balance, efficiency and incremental improvement.

The adventure in my head has little to do with what reality currently provides. Administrative craziness knows no boundaries and I have no more conniption fits to give. Yet, there are also wonderful things: weekends with friends from school, great healthy food, enough time for sports&family

It has been five years in the United States and I slowly understand I have hit a point of no return: I am the one who has changed and now experience the country with a different mindset. It is hard to discuss this with Germans that have not left as they think I am pissing on my home turf or think of myself as deserving more when openly admitting that I am struggling with being in Germany. The concept of home is something many of my international Fletcher friends have redefined for themselves and I am currently doing the same. It certainly helps to do this with Pouya whose eyes are open to the small things that I am sometimes not able to appreciate anymore.

This is us last week at the Munich Marathon where we both ran a 10k race – at freezing temperatures.



It’s a beautiful country, after all

Last week I was walking through my Boston, feeling bestranged. Noticing, maybe more than ever, how much I am not American, sensitized towards differences. Factually, nothing has changed really after the election of Donald Trump, at least not yet. And not for me anyways – as a white Western European. My feeling has, though.

Last week my feeling towards this country has been deeply challenged. I have known for a while now that my appreciation for the United States stems from the fact that it presents me with great career opportunities and a way of going about life that is harder to find in Germany. Settling in a part of town that could easily be mistaken for a European city, spending my leisure time with other immigrants, and ultimately dating an immigrant enables me to be very much European in the America.

Last week I was, once again, amazed by the beautiful landscape & hospitality this country has to offer. Driving through the states of New York and Vermont, tasting Pinot Noirs, hiking Green Mountain trails, replenishing.

I have long accepted the fact that while Germany is my home, it is not the place where I am home. Yet last week it became very clear that I also do not belong to the US. And that is ok. Ok for now, especially after such wonderful fall memories of 2016:



The Head of the Charles Regatta. Don’t let the sun fool you, it was bitter cold!


This is a shot from the Mystic Fells, just north of Boston


What a sunrise. I still get up every morning and admire the beautiful skies Boston suprises me with


If it rains, it rains…But November has this power of creating a mystic mood. 


This is my colleague on Halloween. He eventually realized that working in this will be hard…


German “Abendbrot” with Eliza for the last presidential debate…who would have thought…


After New Hampshire’s White Mountains, we discovered Vermont’s Green Mountains last weekend. It was just the right temperature, and as always, a beautiful sunny day. 


Wine Tasting at a lonely winery in upstate New York. Lots of fun!