Being “Normal”

Tonight I had dinner with a friend who has been living here in Germany for about as long as I have. We first met virtually through a Facebook post of a mutual friend and discovered we were both in Heidelberg. The commonalities continued when we talked on the phone for the first time. She was pregnant with twins and basically immobile, so we had time to chat. She had spent her high school years in my home town, went to the rival high school, attended the same university I did at the same time, and studied at the same university in England at the same time as my best friend. She also had a German husband and her son was close to Olivia’s age. Whenever we meet up, which due to our busy lives is not as often as I would like, it feels a bit like I found someone who “gets” me.

After years and years abroad you tend to forget what it is like to talk to someone with the same or similar background to you, not only in the sense of being American, but also speaking to someone who grew up around the same time and has the same pop cultural references, for example. K. gets the jokes about Sesame Street and Schoolhouse Rock. She knows what a Trapper Keeper is. These may seem like small things, but no matter how long you live in a particular country, you will never have that same history with the people who grew up there.  Continue reading

Four reasons to live in a WG in Germany

A WG in Lövenich (Köln) Photo: Jay Malone

I’ve spent approximately four years of my life in Germany all told, and (almost) everywhere I’ve lived has been incredible. In Berlin, I lived in a massive Kreuzberg loft, with 5 meter tall ceilings and a common room big enough to stage operas, which a few friends of mine actually did once. In Heidelberg, I found myself living in a vacation home, sleeping on one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever been fortunate to lay down upon. In Lueneburg, I lived with a family who had their own sauna, which I partook of more than twice.

All of these experiences predated the start of my life as a full-time student here in Germany and my first Wohngemeinschaft (shared flat or “WG” for short). And even though I loved my experiences in Berlin, Lueneburg and Heidelberg, I’ve found since that WG living beats them all.

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