22 September, 2009

Expat meme

Ian did this meme the other day and since I'm lacking inspiration this morning I decided to jump on the bandwagon.

How long have you lived away from your home country? 17 years! (With one three-year period in which we moved to Michigan with M's job. Which was a funny situation because we lived there as expats and as the wife of a foreigner I was eligible for language lessons and culture training!)

Do you still feel like you’re just visiting? No. In many ways I feel like a foreigner when I'm in the US.

What do you notice the most has changed about your home country when you go back for a visit? The rise in the obesity rate-- it's shocking!

If you were to move again, would it be back to your home country? I wouldn't rule it out, but it's certainly not a goal.

Do you ever get homesick? Not really. We moved around a lot when I was small, and my parents and brother have left Florida, so there's really no place that I can go back to. I miss my family, and Florida's weather, but don't really have a home to get homesick for.

If you read the news, do you read it in your native language or that of your host country? I read the news online in English but that's about it. I see everything else as an opportunity to strengthen language skills, so any kind of literature, magazines, newspapers, etc. I read in either German or Dutch.

What do you like the most about Germany? It's clean and orderly. There's a lot of consideration for the environment. Lots of open spaces and woodland where we live. Abundant farmers' markets and organic produce. I walk or bike almost everywhere-- it's a very green way of living!

What grates you the most? The school system is very frustrating. It's preposterous to think that you can decide at age 9 if a child is capable of studying at a university later on in life.

Did you speak the language of your host country before you arrived? Not at all.

How long did it take before you felt comfortable speaking the language? To be completely comfortable? 1 1/2 years, but I couldn't have done it without intensive language lessons at the Volkshochschule.

If people switch to English when you speak to them in their language, how do you react? I HATE it! It's hard not to take it personally-- people usually only do that when they want to show off that their English is better than my German. Luckily it rarely happens anymore, but when it does I just stubbornly continue to speak in German. I need the practice!

(This has made me a lot more sensitive to this issue, however, and when the shoe is on the other foot I try to be very respectful of people who are trying to practice their English.)

What has been the biggest change you’ve had to make in leaving your home country? Funny, there have been so many spread out over such a long period-- no single one sticks out. Maybe just learning new languages. I've picked up three so far and have no intention of stopping any time soon! :-)

If there were a button to improve anything about your expatriate life, what would it say on the button?
"Cheap flights" It would be nice to visit my folks more often!

6 comments:

Goofball said...

Als je dan toch gewoon bent om in het Nederlands te lezen, kan ik in feite gewoon in het Nederlands antwoorden eh.

Maar dat voelt raar, ik ben gewoon om met jou in het Engels te converseren. Gek eh. Ik had er zelfs nooit bij stilgestaan tot je me zelf een comment liet in het Nederlands op FB.

Betsy said...

Het is inderdaad gek om opeens een andere taal met iemand te spreken als je ze al in een bepaalde taal kent!

Ik heb dat met Michiel-- wij spreken uitsluitend Nederlands met elkaar, maar af en toe als wij bij mijn familie zijn en opeens Engels moeten spreken voelt het dan heel erg raar aan!

In ieder geval, mijn grootste probleem op het moment is dat ik steeds Duits en Nederlands door elkaar haal. Het Duits begint mijn Nederlands sterk te vervuilen en ik baal ervan! :-P

Acedog said...

Good self-interview. I enjoy your perspective on living abroad, and I envy you your language skills.

Betsy said...

Thanks, Greg! It's nice to see you around!

Are you still doing your study program? I'd like to hear how it's going-- drop me a mail if you get a chance!

Margit said...

Dear Betsy,

I stumbled upon the Blog Ness Monster during my online research on expatriates in Germany.

Since you seem to focus quite a bit on the expat experience in Germany, I’d very much like to introduce Internations.org -- a Munich-based global network for people living and working abroad -- to you. Maybe you could recommend it as a resource to your readers.

InterNations.org is the global networking site with over 230 local communities and more than 120,000 members. We'd especially like to point out our live events in ca. 100 cities worldwide, meant to bring expats from all nations and locals together.

For this reason, we believe that your readers might benefit from knowing about us. We’d like to kindly ask you to place a link to our homepage on your blog. Of course, you are cordially invited to register with us and have a look at our network. The registration process is free of charge and will only take a few minutes.

You can get in touch with me via e-mail (m[dot]grobbel[at]internations[dot]org). I’m really looking forward to hearing from you.

Best,
Margit

Margit Grobbel
Senior Content Editor & Corporate Communications
http://www.internations.org

audrey said...

Hello good day to you!

I’ve read your blog and find it very much interesting. Can you do me a favor? Can I ask you to post my link in your blogroll/sidebar? In return with that I’ll write an article for you which are related to your blog. In this way, we both can benefit since there would probably more visitors in your blog and mine as well. It would be my pleasure if you will accept my request. Thanks in advance!

Keyword: Study Languages
URL: http://www.study-languages.com

Best regards,
Audrey Morales