Why did you move to Germany?
My husband and I married in 2006, and since then we had been living on separate continents. Our plan from the start was for me to stay in the U.S. until my kids graduated from high school, and then I would move here when they started college. When the kids were settled, I moved.
Where did you live in the U.S.?
I grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and most recently lived in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The state of Wisconsin is one of the northern states of the section of the U.S. called "the Midwest." North of Chicago. :-)
Did your kids move with you?
No, they are both still in the U.S.. My daughter is a social worker and lives in Philly, and my son recently moved to a town near Pittsburgh. Happily they're in the same state, but that's still 6 hours apart by car!
How long have you lived in Germany?
I moved here in September, 2012.
Your German is pretty good for only living here less than two years.
Thanks, that's nice to hear. But I taught German in a Wisconsin high school for 13 years, so I feel like my German should be better than it is. There are still things I can't say, and it's frustrating. I get by well enough, though.
Is your husband in the military?
No. He is a German (and British) citizen. He was born and raised in Esslingen, Germany, and has lived in the state of Baden-Württemberg all his life. The draft was still in effect here when he graduated from high school, so he did his required year of training and service in the Bundeswehr (German army).
How did you two meet?
Although that is a very long story, the simple version is that we met because we were both involved in the same exchange program (People to People International) when we were in high school. I spent 5½ months in Esslingen, and a few years later he spent 5½ months in Sheboygan. His mother was the coordinator of the program in Esslingen, so I got to know her first. He stayed with a couple who were - and still are - close friends with my parents. Sixteen years later we got married on the Isle of Mull in Scotland.
Why did you get married in Scotland?
The last family vacation my husband's family took together before his father passed away was on Mull, so the place held special memories for him. He wanted to return, I wanted to go there, and we decided to see if we could get married there. Sure enough, despite tons of paperwork, we were able to get married right on the castle grounds where the family had vacationed.
|We wore the McDougall tartan, |
because Martin is a descendant of this clan.
Did your families come for the wedding?
No, this ceremony was just for us. We asked my husband's mother's cousin and his wife, who live near Edinburgh, to pop over and be our witnesses. No pomp, no circumstance, no stress - just us.
Do you speak mostly German together?
I wish I could say yes. We established our friendship 27+ years ago in English, and it's the easiest for both of us. He grew up bilingual (his mother is from northern England), so his second language is as natural for him as his first. Sadly, that not the case with me - yet!
Do your children speak German?
My daughter majored in German and spent a semester studying abroad in Berlin. She speaks German very well. My son learned German in high school for three years and can understand well enough. When they were young I sang German children's songs with them and read them German storybooks, so they've been exposed to German most of their lives.
What do you do for a living?
In Wisconsin I was a teacher, but here so far I am fortunate enough to not have to work. For three years I volunteered at a school for students with learning disabilities twice a week teaching English, and in 2016 I started teaching beginning German to a group of refugees from Syrian and Eritrea. I also have taught integration courses at the local community college and conversational English once a week at my husband's company.
Beyond those activities I am spending my time writing and learning. I started with this blog, but I am also finally writing a book, which has been a lifelong dream of mine. I've done some translations, typed a 350-page transcription from a journal written (in German, with some French and English) in 1962, and I've given several city tours. So mainly at this point I'm free-lancing and doing my own writing.
What does your husband do for a living?
He and his business partner own a software development company. They write custom software programs for clients who need programs to do things that aren't available on the market.
Do you have any regrets about leaving the U.S. and moving to Germany?
Not at all.
What do you miss from "back home"?
I miss "my people." I enjoyed spending time with my parents, who only lived 45 minutes from me, being with my children regularly, and hanging out with my few close friends. I thoroughly enjoyed and valued the time I spent with them during the last 6+ years knowing that this would come to an end. My husband and I learned how to live apart but keep our relationship alive and healthy, and now I'm doing that with "my people back home." We email frequently, we use Facebook, and we talk on the phone.
The only thing I miss is a garbage disposal. They would be illegal here, but they make kitchen clean-up so very easy... Oh, and string cheese!
Do you Skype?
Nope. Never have. I don't think I would like video-chatting.
Why did you start writing your blog?
Shortly after I moved here I realized I was sending the same info to various people via email, and I decided to check into the blog-writing thing although I wasn't even sure at that point what a blog was. I'm fumbling my way through this, but I enjoy writing it!
Do you think you'll ever move back to the U.S.?
I am not planning on it. There is too much about Germany that I would miss, and my husband's company is here.
How often do you return to Wisconsin?
Within the first year I returned three times (my grandfather's funeral, my son's high school graduation, chaperoning a group of students from Esslingen on a 3-week exchange), but I imagine it will usually be once a year. In 2014 we flew to Tennessee for a week to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary, but we didn't include a stop in Wisconsin.
What is the best thing about living in Germany?
Besides being with my husband every day (duh), the best thing is being constantly exposed to and surrounded by my second language and being given daily opportunities to improve my language skills. I love the German language, I love the fact that I'm constantly challenged, and I love the fact that I'll never be finished learning German!
Here are a few more facts for the curious.