NaBloPoMo # 30

Words for 2017

 

Drumroll please…. This is the final post of the NaBloPoMo 2016!! The first one I participated in. Some of these days it was challenging to write a post. And I’m not pleased with every single one of my 30 posts, but who cares, I did it. I’m proud and grateful for the support from people around me and foremost from my family. They listened to my ideas and even came up with some themselves.

For the final post I use the writing prompt of Julie Ross Godar and want to say thank you for her work and always liking our posts in the Facebook Blogher Writing Lab😉 The prompt is:

Have you chosen a word of the year for yourself for 2017?

What is it? If not, what words would you consider?

After thinking about it for a while today I’m going to choose two words for the year 2017: One for me personally and one for all of us.

My own word for 2017 will be peace of mind  (free of worries).

And then I read that Dictionary.com has named “xenophobia” its 2016 Word of the Year. Its definition: “Fear or hatred of foreigners.” And the Oxford Dictionaries just announced “post-truth” as word of the year 2016. Terrible words! I don’t want to live in a world where  “xenophobia” is the word that has been used so often that it becomes that kind of attention. I want to live in a world where people from all cultures, religions and color treat each other with kindness and respect. That’s why I strongly believe that next year’s word should be xenophile which means  “a person who is attracted to foreign peoples, cultures, or customs”I love the difference of people, foreign places and cultures. And to make it even stronger, I added some love to it.

XENOPHILovE

This post is a the last part of a series called NaBloPoMo 2016 hosted by BlogHer. NaBloPoMo is short for National Blog Posting Month and it challenges writers and creatives to post on their blogs once a day (at least) for the month of November. You can find all my posts on my blogher page, too. Stay tuned!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you loved what you read feel free to share!

 

The Culture of Friendship

Or: friendship in different cultures.

Friends are very important to me. I need them like a plant needs water and sunlight and I consider myself very lucky to call some wonderful people my friends. Friends are not only the people you share a mutual interest with or you like to do the same activity with. I know many people who are creative or like to run, that doesn’t mean they are all necessarily my friends. Friendship is based on mutual trust, respect and affection, sometimes unity of interests, too. There are different kinds of friendship though and different kinds of friends. I found this interesting article about 10 types of friendships on waitbutwhy.com.

Friendship is a relationship of people based on mutual affection,                                            characterized by sympathy and trust.

Some friends are very close to you on many levels, others are more an acquaintance you meet for the occasional lunch or meet for a mutual workout. Over the years living here in the US I noticed quite some differences between my American and my German or non-American friends. My friends in Germany are long-time friends I made in school, University or even later in life. I met one of my best friends at an open house in Cologne when I was 29 years old.  Here in California I have some really good friends, too, but I think way more people I’d rather call acquaintance than friend. That may be due to the life we live here. In order to find friends at the beginning of our expat life, it’s crucial to meet many new people. You started meeting a couple times and soon both sides knew if this was something that could become a friendship or not. Over the years we met many people and naturally not all of them stayed with us. And for me it is not really important how many friends you have, it’s more important that you have a few really good ones. Did you see this video “Medea’s friendship advice”? I love it and I think it is spot on. “Let them go.”  You should watch it!

The biggest difference between my American and my German friends is probably that I feel Americans generally like to know lots of people and call lots of people their friends. “The more the merrier.” (Something I never really heard before and I don’t think it’s always true.) They like to have a big pool of people to choose from. They have people they just play golf with, they have friends in their book club, mom friends, friends at the dog park, friends to shop with and so on. My German and other European friends seem to have a group of close friends and these are the people they spend most of their quality time with. Not the activity or the occasion determines the people you hang out with, but the people find things they can do together. I didn’t do my first and only orienteering event because I always wanted to try orienteering, I basically tried it because I love the people that asked me to try it with them.

You can distinguish a good friend from a fake one. Fake friends are like a shadow. On a sunny day you cannot get rid of them. When it is cloudy you cannot find them, no matter how much effort you make. ∞  Abai Qunanbaiuli

Today I had a two phone calls with dear friends in Germany. They keep listening to all my shit over these years and this distance, still call and they get me. One of them said something that made me cry because it was so true, but I never could see it this way myself. Her words stayed with me all day and I was so grateful for her saying them. I didn’t really know where this post was supposed to go, I just read the daily prompt and was thinking about friends, so I guess my bottomline is: Take good care of the people you love, the true friends, the roots of your tree. They will be always there, even on a cloudy day.

daily post: culture

This post is a part of a series called NaBloPoMo 2016 hosted by BlogHer. NaBloPoMo is short for National Blog Posting Month and it challenges writers and creatives to post on their blogs once a day (at least) for the month of November. You can find all my posts on my blogher page, too. Stay tuned!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you loved what you read feel free to share!

 

22 things you can try while on an H4 visa

When we moved to the US, more than 8 years ago, we came on a J-Visa which included a work permit (EAD) for husband and myself. My youngest was just 1 year old and there were so many things that needed to be learned and to be done that I really could not work. After six months we enrolled the lil’ one in an excellent preschool that became like a second home for us and I could go to West Valley College to improve my English. It was fun going back to school, improving my proficiency in English and my listening skills. I had a great teacher who had lived in Germany for a few years and we exchanged our knowledge about the two different cultures and I was introduced to Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”.

The older the kids got, the more I wanted to do something else than being the family CEO.  I then very slowly entered the working world in the US: I started teaching German lessons for other bilingual German American children and I became a teacher aide at a local Elementary school. For the first time ever I opened my own business and turned my German classes into an official After School Care with camps in the summer. Soon after that I started working part-time at the German International School of Silicon Valley and I was hoping that could turn into a long-term position. But that was after already more than 4 years in the US and since the J-Visa was about to expire, we had to switch to the H visa because you cannot apply for a Green Card when you’re on the J-visa status. Stupid American immigration laws – I can tell you! And now with the new president-elect this is probably not going to get better!

Anyway, we flew to Germany to visit the Consulate of the US of A for the third time, came back with a brand new visa, but witout a valid work permit for me anymore. I can tell you, that sucks when you already could work and you were just about to start your career again and then someone tells you: “Too bad, you’re just a housewife, we don’t want your work force anymore!” So for the last 3 and a half years I couldn’t work in a real job anymore.

That’s when you have to get creative. There are things you can do, some of which I’ve done, some of which I wish I had done. Nobody is perfect and there is no ideal solution if you really miss your profession/career, but you might want to try some of these ideas what to do while living in the US without a work permit:

  1. Sit down and make a list of everything you like to do or always wanted to do. Because this is the time! Explore your true interests and hobbies. Make the best of it and enjoy the freedom!
  2. Don’t feel bad about yourself, but rather embrace the time given to you. I didn’t do that enough and I wish I wouldn’t have dwelled so much on everything I could not do, but just enjoy the things I could do.
  3. Enjoy the time with your kids! Do fun things together. Living abroad can bring your family closer together.
  4. You can use this time for self-improvement and life coaching.
  5. There will be times when you feel unsatisfied, maybe bored, frustrated or even worthless. Try not to! It is not your fault that got you into this position and you should definitely not feel bad about yourself.
  6. Find out about international wives or newcomers clubs. You can find kindred souls and share the ups and downs.
  7. Do not slouch. Get up in the morning, get dressed and make a list for the day/week. Write down people you will call or email and things you want to accomplish. Even if the volume seems low, you are being proactive.
  8. Explore the area you live in. Do day trips or just walk through your city/town and discover everything that’s new and different from your home country.
  9. Take a class at the Community Center.
  10. Go to College or University. Improve your language skills or just take a class that sounds interesting.
  11. Learn about the American history/culture.
  12. Work on your resume/CV for the future.
  13. Find out how your degree will be honored and update your qualifications to US standard for the time you will have a work permit.
  14. Network in your professional field.
  15. You can try to find a job that sponsors an H-1b visa for yourself.
  16. Get a gym membership.
  17. Try a new sport and/or sign up for a race.
  18. Volunteer: in school, for local organizations, at church, … or join a charity. There are endless opportunities.
  19. Learn or improve your cooking.
  20. Learn an instrument or join a choir.
  21. Start a blog. Write or post pictures for family and friends or for the whole world and mostly for yourself. Share your experiences, because you are not alone.
  22. You can write a book and publish it in a different country. The royalties are considered “passive income”. Read more about 6 legal ways to earn money in the US without a work permit.

Here you can find some information about what you can and can not do with an H-4 visa. Since May 2015, certain H-4 visa holder can apply for an EAD. You can read more about that here. I also found this post about 5 things to boost your career when on the H-4 visa.

With my own experience, good and bad, that’s just my twentytwo pennies’ worth and I hope it’ll be a help for the one or the other out there.

 

This post is a part of a series called NaBloPoMo 2016 hosted by BlogHer. NaBloPoMo is short for National Blog Posting Month and it challenges writers and creatives to post on their blogs once a day (at least) for the month of November. You can find all my posts on my blogher page, too. Stay tuned!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you loved what you read feel free to share!

 

My weekly ramble

A day in Solana Beach

If you are traveling in Southern California or if you are in San Diego County for another reason, Solana Beach is a great alternative to some of the busier beach towns like Encinitas or Oceanside. We stayed here for 5 days and I’d like to share a perfect day in Solana Beach with you.

First, check out downtown, walk up and down South Cedros Avenue and grab a delicious coffee and a bite at Solana Beach Café/Lofty Coffee company.

img_7205-2fullsizerender-308fullsizerender-304

The Cedros Avenue Design District offers a wide variety of Art & Photography galleries, apparel, jewelry, home & décor  stores and some restaurants. I particularly loved  “Leaping Lotus” which has over 120 merchants under its roof and where you can peruse for hours and find lots of original things.

img_7211-2fullsizerender-305

Walking down this street you can also find some cool Art pieces: mosaics,  sculptures, Art utility boxes, Art on the street and so on.

fullsizerender-303fullsizerender-310fullsizerender-302img_7202img_7204

Second, walk Annie’s Canyon Trail. It is a very short and fun hike for the whole family.

img_0058

Even though they call it moderate it strenuous, it is really not. You should be able to climb a bit though. Looking at the pictures you’ll see what I mean. If you have kids 4 or 5-years and up, this is really fun! And you can take great shots. There are two trailheads. We rode our bikes to the Solana Hills Road trailhead, where the ride up to the start of the trail was already pretty steep. Besides, the beginning of the trail goes along I-5 which is not particularly romantic.

img_0049img_0054

Way easier and definitely the prettier way is to start from North Rios Ave trailhead. The distance to the trail is the same (0.6 miles but from the lagoon it’s pretty much flat). The Canyon trail itself is only a quarter mile with a great lookout.

img_0070fullsizerender-320img_0061img_0062img_0067img_0068

Third, go to the beach!

fullsizerender-316fullsizerender-321

We stayed across the street from the Tide Park Beach stairs and it was the perfect location. It is way less crowded than Fletcher Cove. At low tide you can walk all the way down to Del Mar and probably up until Moonlight Beach in Leucadia if you’re up for a 5 miler.

The perfect roundup of this day is to watch the sunset.

fullsizerender-318

You gotta  fullsizerender-306 California! 

 

This post is linked up with Jo’s Monday walks.

walking-logo     You can check out her beautiful rambles here.

 

And this post is a part of a series called NaBloPoMo 2016 hosted by BlogHer. NaBloPoMo is short for National Blog Posting Month and it challenges writers and creatives to post on their blogs once a day (at least) for the month of November. You can find all my posts on my blogher page, too. Stay tuned!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you loved what you read feel free to share!

Z is for…

My A to Z of California

This is a series I’ve been wanting to start for a while and I saved this draft a while ago. Since it is 11.58 pm now and we just got home after driving 10 hours from SoCal back home, this is just thrown out here and I’ll get back to the fine tune tomorrow. I hope you understand!

The California Zephyr is a passenger train operated by Amtrak runs daily between Chicago and San Francisco, coursing through the plains of Nebraska to Denver, with views of the upper Colorado River Valley, across the Rockies to Salt Lake City, and then through Reno, the Sierra Nevada and Sacramento into Emeryville/San Francisco. At 2,438 miles (3,924 km) it is Amtrak’s second longest route.Experienced travelers say the California Zephyr is one of the most beautiful train trips in all of North America. As you climb through the heart of the Rockies, and further west through the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas, you may find it hard to disagree.

Zip codes: 14 out of the 20 most expensive zip codes in the United States are in California. The most expensive zip code here is Atherton 94027, followed by Beverly Hills (90210), Santa Monica (90402) and Palo Alto (94301). That’s what I keep telling my friends back home in Germany. We do not live only in the US, we live in California and not only in California, but in the Silicon Valley. It is one crazy place here. A place where you can make more money than you even thought you could, but you still feel like a poor fella.

Zinfandel (also known as Primitivo) is a variety of black-skinned wine grape. The variety is grown in over 10 percent of California vineyards. DNA fingerprinting has revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grapes Crljenak Kaštelanski and Tribidrag, as well as to the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in Apulia (the “heel” of Italy), where it was introduced in the 18th century. The grape found its way to the United States in the mid-19th century, where it became known by variations of the name “Zinfandel”, a name which is probably of Austrian origin.

Zayante  Road is a very steep, but gorgeous road in the Santa Cruz Mountains which I partially rode up with my husband once. It’s a great ride. Zayante is actually a census-designated place with a population of 705 (I didn’t know that before). “The Zayantes, a local tribe of the Ohlone people, originally inhabited the area.”

picture on top © by zinfandel.org

This post is a part of a series called NaBloPoMo 2016 hosted by BlogHer. NaBloPoMo is short for National Blog Posting Month and it challenges writers and creatives to post on their blogs once a day (at least) for the month of November. You can find all my posts on my blogher page, too. Stay tuned!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you loved what you read feel free to share!

It’s Not This Time of Year Without…

an Adventskranz,

img_8010

an Adventskalender,

img_2485

making cookies,

fullsizeoutput_a0f6

some arts projects,

fullsizeoutput_a0f4

and decorating the Christmas tree.

fullsizeoutput_a0f5

img_7833

 

Weekly photo challenge “It’s Not This Time of Year Without…”

This post is a part of a series called NaBloPoMo 2016 hosted by BlogHer. NaBloPoMo is short for National Blog Posting Month and it challenges writers and creatives to post on their blogs once a day (at least) for the month of November. You can find all my posts on my blogher page, too. Stay tuned!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you loved what you read feel free to share!

 

Three Word Thursday

An acrostic poem

Telling each other what we’re thankful for is something that we started in our first year in the US. It’s implemented in preschools and schools and we like this custom. It is important to talk about all the good things in your life and to be grateful. Tonight my 9-year old and I came up with the idea to write an acrostic poem for Thanksgiving. Here’s what we came up with:

img_0152fullsizerender-301fullsizerender-299img_0154

It was fun to write these poems together! We shared all the things we love, so this might become our new family tradition.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

 

This post is a part of a series called NaBloPoMo 2016 hosted by BlogHer. NaBloPoMo is short for National Blog Posting Month and it challenges writers and creatives to post on their blogs once a day (at least) for the month of November. You can find all my posts on my blogher page, too. Stay tuned!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you loved what you read feel free to share!

Gilmore Girls

This is day 23 of my first National Blog Posting Month and during these last few days it has been quite challenging for me to write a post each day. We’re on vacation and I don’t always feel like taking the time to post. I also realized that this November 2016 might have been more challenging than any other month of this year. I was very motivated at the beginning of the month and then we had to deal with the election and its outcome. I still feel numb and being in denial every time I read the news. The profanity of planning my birthday actually lightened the mood a bit as going on this trip to SoCal, but on the other hand it made me thinking about moving (again) and these last couple weeks after November 9th have been mentally and emotionally exhausting.

A while ago I started watching one of my all time favorite TV Shows “Gilmore Girls” with my two girls and in the last weeks it helped me a bit to distract me of  these heavy thoughts. It feels good to dive into this small town world and the life of mother and daughter Lorelai/Rory Gilmore. So today is the first day of this NaBloPoMo that I’m actually using one of the official writing prompt. Yesterday’s prompt was:

What TV show are you obsessed with? Share 10 reasons it’s better than the other shows.

Gilmore Girls

  1. Lorelai Gilmore is a strong character and Lauren Graham is a beautiful actress who plays this non-stop talking woman in her thirties very well. Sometimes you don’t know if you want to love her because she’s so witty or if you want to slap her in the face so she will stop talking.
  2. Stars Hollow is the little town everyone wants to live and be home. It has so many quirky characters and you will find at least one or two you can identify with or want to be friends with.
  3. Luke is the guy who is always there for you. He might be only a diner owner, but he can fix everything that’s broken and serves you coffee and a burger. He’s a dream.
  4. There is a Kirk. He is the guy that is unpleasantly annoying, but also immensely persevering.  We might despise him most of the time, but he always provides a twist and is good for a fun story. We need more Kirks in this world.
  5. I love to watch this show with my girls because it has strong female leading roles of up to four generations. Thank you, Amy Sherman-Palladino for strong, educated and quick-witted girls and women.
  6. This is the third time I’m watching the whole show. I started watching it back in Germany and then I saw it on TV in the US and bought all the DVD’s for little money at Costco. In 2008 I watched the whole show with subtitles and I actually improved my English while watching it. I heard words that I didn’t know before and looked them up while watching. I still relate the word “preposterous” with Emily Gilmore aka Kelly Bishop.
  7. It predicted the future: The series finale in 2008 showed Rory moving to follow the presidential campaign of an up-and-coming senator named Barack Obama. Didn’t that work out well?
  8. My husband watched almost the complete show with me (the second time I watched it). He had a thing for Lauren Graham but he actually enjoyed the funny dialogues as much as I did. Now watching it for the second time with our girls, he’s kind of over it and just wants to watching something masculine like boxing.
  9. Gilmore Girls is more than a show, it’s a lifestyle. We all want to have this rapid-fast, hilarious conversations with our sixteen year old daughter. All mothers and daughters can project themselves onto the Gilmore relationship.
  10. Gilmore Girls teaches you everything you need to know about Love and Life with the best punchlines and metaphors:
    • Michel: People are particularly stupid today. I can’t talk to any more of them.
    • Lorelai: If you gonna throw your life away, he’d better have a motorcycle. 
    • Rory: I’m gonna have to quit drinking coffee, and I love coffee. 
    • Sookie: This makes me so mad. And sad. I’m smad. 
    • Rory: Nothing excites me before 11.00 am.
    • Richard: Only prostitutes have two glasses of wine at lunch. 
    • Emily: Well, then buy me a boa and drive me to Reno because I’m open for business. 
    • Lorelai: I don’t like problems. I avoid them when I can and I don’t like people pointing them out to me.

 

This post is a part of a series called NaBloPoMo 2016 hosted by BlogHer. NaBloPoMo is short for National Blog Posting Month and it challenges writers and creatives to post on their blogs once a day (at least) for the month of November. You can find all my posts on my blogher page, too. Stay tuned!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you loved what you read feel free to share!

thankful

img_0515-jpg

It was a beautiful day today and it ended with an amazing sunset. It made me realize that not only at this time of the year, but all year round we should appreciate these small moments of happiness for they are so important. Be thankful for what you have.

Enjoy every sunset. Look forward to every sunrise.

This post is a part of a series called NaBloPoMo 2016 hosted by BlogHer. NaBloPoMo is short for National Blog Posting Month and it challenges writers and creatives to post on their blogs once a day (at least) for the month of November. You can find all my posts on my blogher page, too. Stay tuned!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you loved what you read feel free to share!

ALDI

I’ve had the ultimate German grocery shopping experience today! The first time in more than eight years and I got to shop “ALDI” in California. OMG! I was in heaven.

fullsizerender-282

Just so you know, ALDI is one of the biggest discounter supermarkets in Germany. Every village or bigger community has at least one Aldi. Aldi consists of two companies: Aldi-Nord and Aldi-Süd (North and South) are wholly owned by  family foundations.fullsizerender-276

The two brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht each founded one of the two foundations and today Theo Albrecht Junior is the only member of the Albrecht family, who is still actively in the discounter group. Aldi-Nord and Aldi-Süd are run exclusively by family-oriented managers. If you want to read more about Aldi and you know German, check out the Wikipedia page here. And did you know that Trader Joe’s is owned by Aldi Nord?

We’re on vacation in SoCal right now and after two days i a hotel we’re moving on to a vacation rental. We had to get groceries anyway and it was the perfect excuse to go to ALDI!

So, what do I love about ALDI in Germany? They have high quality groceries, many of them organic for very small prices since ALDI hardly offers any customer service. There is no hidden tiger for the kids like at TJ’s.

I took lots of pictures and I found these things ALDI Germany and       ALDI US have in common:

  • The shopping carts require a deposit and you get it back if you return it to the right place (without the help of any employee). But it’s only 25 ¢, so I’m sure some people won’t do it.
  • You don’t get any help taking your stuff out of the cart and onto the conveyor belt and nobody is going to bag your groceries. You’re expected to do so (and schnell) while the seated cashier is ringing you up. You might just push everything back in your cart and sort it into your bags in the designated bagging areas.
  • Everything is in boxes.

fullsizerender-296

  • They offer plastic, paper and reusable bags.
  • For many products ALDI offers their own house brand. For expample: You can either get the more expensive “Mission” tortillas or tacos or you can choose the house brand “Pueblo Lindo”.
  • They sell some of our favorite Germany chocolate products.
  • They offer decent, affordable wines.
  • Weekly specials and seasonal products.
  • They sell flowers.

fullsizerender-291

Pleasant surprises:

  • They offer “Christmas Stollen”, “Spekulatius” and “Lebkuchen”.

These things I found different:

  • You won’t find any palm trees in front of a German ALDI.

fullsizerender-273

  • We couldn’t find most of our favorite German products like “Krabben in Dillsauce”, “Schupfnudeln” or “Milchreis”.
  • Way more decorations and fancy signs that praise ALDI’s products and prices.

There are 31 ALDI stores in Southern California. If you’re down here, go check one out – it’s a truly German experience.

This post is a part of a series called NaBloPoMo 2016 hosted by BlogHer. NaBloPoMo is short for National Blog Posting Month and it challenges writers and creatives to post on their blogs once a day (at least) for the month of November. You can find all my posts on my blogher page, too. Stay tuned!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you loved what you read feel free to share!