Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Types of Expats

I totally lied to you guys.  I'm so sorry.  I can't help myself. 

I'm not going to stop writing right now.  Mostly because my brain will not shut up and if I don't write this post my brain is going to keep going blah blah blah and I have grad school applying stuff to do.  Why do I do this to myself?  Procrastinating is bad.  Anyway.

In our little blogging community there is a debate about who is and isn't an expat.  I have to say I agree with both bloggers.  I think military expats have perks the rest of us don't get.  I wouldn't go so far as to say they aren't expats but they are not exactly living in Germany the same as everyone else.  Do you know how much money access to US postal service would save my family!?  That got me to thinking about how different all our experiences are.  There are lots of types of expats.  All different but all living abroad for different reasons.  Some only stay for a short time.  Some people (like me!) consider staying indefinitely.  Our experiences overlap and some are not at all the same.  Let's look at who makes up our eclectic group.

1. Tourist visa expats- people who live in a country for a couple of months on a tourist visa.  They stay long enough to soak up the culture but they won't go through the immigration process.  They also don't technically live in the country but they stay for a while so it's fair to include them.

2. Students- I've never been in a foriegn country on a student visa so I have no idea what it's like.  I imagine the university helps them out a little but really, no idea.  It does sound like it wouldn't be too lonely since school is a great place to make friends.

3. Expats for work- if you manage to get to Germany on a work visa then you are lucky!  They don't give out many.  Sometimes this can be the hardest visa because companies don't always help their employees with things like housing, moving, getting kids in school.  Families and singles who come in on work visas usually don't speak German.  Some work visas are only for a couple of months but others are here for the long haul.

4. Expats for love- by far most of the expats I meet are expats here to be with their significant other.  Having a spouse who speaks the language helps but you get to deal with cultural differences in a relationship, foriegn in-laws, and navigating a new culture without any official help.

5. Expats for adventure- some people pack a suitcase, get on a plane and then arrive in Germany hoping to find a job and land a visa.  A lot of my former English teaching colleagues braved the unknown for adventure and managed to thrive in Germany. 

6. Military and government expats- I have only met one or two expats who were here with the US government so I can't comment too much on what they experience.  There are some good posts on them here

7. Hipster expats- you know who you are.

8. Artist and athlete expats

9. Foriegn retirees.

10. Refugees- I knew several refugees when I lived in the US.  I think it's only fair to include them in the expat group since they have lost their homes and go through the immigration process.

11. Trailing spouses. 

That's all I can think of, do you think I missed any?  These categories are fluid.  I find myself to be an expat for love who has also worked in Germany and I hope to go to school here, though I won't be on a student visa.  In a way I am a trailing spouse because we move all around the country for my husband's work.  If I had to pick one identity it would be difficult, but just 'expat' covers everything.

I already talked about the difference between an expat and an immigrant in this post.  Do you think the term expat should be inclusive or exclusive?  Do we have more in common than we have differences?  Please, let me know your thoughts.


P.S. sorry for lying to you.  You have Shannon and Deanna to thank for my speedy return.  I'm a sucker for a good debate :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014


I thought it wouldn't be fair to go dark without an explanation.

I'm taking Nine and Ninety Nine off line in the next week or so.  I've submitted my grad school application.  Committing 40 hours a week to school plus being a mother, a wife, a human and taking care of a small stubborn dog is going to be a lot of work.  I want to spend the Summer focused on my family.  I know I won't have time for anything else once the Semester starts. 

So farewell Internet, it's been fun :)


Friday, April 4, 2014

Everything hurts

Lady Frankenstein
I don't think I would be able to survive without Ibuprofen this week.  I unconsciously clench my jaw when I'm anxious. (I'm trying and failing not to while writing this post.)  This results is some serious neck and shoulder pain, migraines and not being able to move my upper body without wincing.  I tried to yoga the pain away but it's still here.  I can't focus on my breathing because I'm too stressed.  The only thing I find relaxing is good tv.  When I watch something dramatic and engrossing then my brain shuts off for a little while and I stop thinking.  I was so sad that The Walking Dead ended but then I realized it's already April and I get Game of Thrones on Sunday.  Anxiety sucks.  I'm exhausted.

 If given a choice I would rather focus on buying new make up, walking the dog and hanging out with my daughter.  Sophie is a great Starbucks, shopping, park buddy.  She is not so great at sitting quietly and letting me concentrate.  Or allowing me to speak on the phone for very important phone calls. 

I need to take care of some health issues that I've been putting off.  We moved, my husband lost a close family member to cancer, we tried and failed to find a Kita.  Things are getting down to the wire and I feel like I need to start everything now.  Getting things done with an almost two year old is next to impossible.  I should be taking better care of myself.  Instead I find myself skipping meals and running around like a mad woman.   I am worried about my blood sugar again but I can't seem to find many doctors who will take patients on Fridays.  That's the only day my husband gets home at a reasonable hour.  Have you ever tried to go to a doctor appointment with a two year old?  It's almost impossible.  So far all I've managed to schedule are Sophie's check ups and a dentist appointment.  I decided now that the weather is fabulous we should drop her Monday music class.  This will hopefully make our schedule less demanding so I can get things done.  At this point I can only manage one day out, one day down.  More than two activities a week and I start to drown under housework.  Having a messy apartment increases my anxiety.  I have to be organized in order to feel calm. 

I have to find a Kita spot by August, which means Sophie should already be a waiting list but she's not.  I have to get the doctors sorted before we leave for the US in June.  I have a bunch of paperwork to do.  Everything is going to be fine.  Breathe. 

It's not all bad.  Easter will come first, then Sophie's birthday and hopefully a trip to see our friends in Hamburg between that.  Then it will be June and we'll be off the US.  We get back shortly before July when I will have all my answers.  I can finally, finally stop fighting the tide and go with the flow.  I can not wait for things to settle down.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Don't do stupid things (like me)

1. I should not listen to my husband when I know I'm right.  On Friday I was in an overly emotional state and wanted to cancel my hair appointment but he insisted I go.  I ended up rushing out of the salon without my hair styled because it wasn't the color I wanted.  Now that I've calmed down, I see it looks so much better than it did when I went in.  No more Brandenburg village highlights.  But I owe a talented hairstylist an apology because my chances of finding someone else that good seem slim. 

2.  I probably shouldn't have tried to catch the glass jar of night cream as it hit the sink.  I ended up with a hand full of glass.  Ouch. 

3. Do not trust 'how-to' Youtube videos made by 16 year olds.

4. Do  not cut yourself while attempting to shape your brows with a brow razor.  How is it that I'm 32 and I don't know this stuff?

5. I forgot how old I was for like three weeks.  I went around telling people I was 33.  I am not 33!  Still only 32.  I might be an idiot, though.

6. Somehow I got the wheels of the stroller stuck in the gap while getting off the train with Sophie.  I could feel the irritation of 20 Berliners hitting me all at once.  Thankfully one person was nice enough to help me.  Thanks nice person!

7.  I don't think €10 ballet flats from H&M are going to cut it anymore.  Maybe it's time to bite the bullet and get some walking shoes.