No real change in how I’ve been feeling (pretty lousy), except you can add killer heartburn that often keeps me up half the night to my symptoms. The plan is still that I’ll be induced in 1-2 weeks. Until then, I thought I’d finally get around to answering some more questions.
Michael M. wrote:
I’m a Ph.D student in engineering in the states, and I am thinking of moving to Germany after I finish. I’m fluent in German, and I’ve worked there before and enjoyed it. However, I was wondering if you think, as a foreigner, it would be difficult or impossible for me to be promoted over time to a higher-level position in a German company, as I would in a company back here? Would I always be the foreigner, and never really get anywhere?
My work experience is limited to science and pharmaceuticals, but I don’t think you would have a problem advancing in the workplace as a foreigner. My boss three levels up in the pharmaceutical company was Indian-British. I think the more important factor is how well you can adjust to German work culture and customs. Are you adaptable enough to play the game their way, rather than the American way? If you are, you should be fine.
That being said, there are a lot of engineers in Germany, whereas statisticians (my field) are in high demand, so I don’t know how that might affect your prospects. Maybe some of my other readers have more insight into the field of engineering. Anyone else have an opinion on this?
Alex M. asked:
Comparing yourself with other (white) American Expats in Germany that you talked to, what differences in your experiences, your treatment or the general attitude towards you, based on the fact that you are Asian American, did you ever encounter?
I’m really curious about that one, since it’s a fact that there aren’t as many people of asian descent in Germany and that hence people aren’t as used to seeing asians (or also blacks) as they might be in the US. It’s a question of even more relevance to me, since my girlfriend is Asian American, and I was wondering, what problems she might face if she’d ever decide to live in Germany.
Another one: Are there maybe even differences in treatment depending on which state/region an American Expat in Germany is from (East Coast, West Coast, South, Midwest)???
When I lived in the former East (the first 5 years I lived in Germany were spent living in Berlin, Rostock and Potsdam), I felt I was definitely treated differently because I was Asian/mixed-race. Even with well-meaning Germans, when I was asked where I was from and I replied, “I’m from America” or “I’m American,” they would often say, while raising their voices because clearly I was confused by the original question, “No, what country in the Americas are you from?” or “No, I meant where were you born?” It got to the point that I started answering the “Where are you from?” question with, “I’m a US-American” (that is, “Ich bin US-Amerikanerin”).
I was never threatened physically, but in Berlin, I had a Japanese friend who was chased through Alexanderplatz in the afternoon by a group of teenage boys who yelled and threw apples at her and no one intervened. I also knew a Korean man in one of my German classes who was harassed by a group of middle-aged men who threw lit firecrackers at him (and it wasn’t New Years Eve).
In Potsdam, while walking our dog, I was stopped and asked on several occasions where I lived/whether I lived in that neighborhood (we lived in a middle/upper-middle class neighborhood next door to government housing). There were people who would cross to the other side of the street when they saw me coming (they’d cross back after I passed, so it was pretty obvious what was going on), some even hid! I very much felt unwelcome there. These weren’t “former East Germans” who were giving me trouble either. This was a Berlin commuter community that was built in the 90s, so the residents were mostly “West Germans” who had relocated since the fall of the Wall, to the Berlin/Potsdam area. Here’s a post I made about my feelings at the time.
I found a pig nose once in my garden in Rostock and someone in our neighborhood in Potsdam was leaving poisoned meat outside our door in an attempt to poison our dog. Charlie was chronically ill the whole time we lived there and we spent a fortune in vet bills. I would go out and check the area in front of our door before taking him out and didn’t ever see him eat anything, but as soon as we moved to Bavaria, his health problems disappeared. Just to clarify, I kept him on-leash and scooped his poop, unlike most of the neighbors with dogs.
Now, I don’t know how much of this stuff was just a couple of rotten neighbors and how much was “German/Prussian mentality,” but I’ve been very happy in the Regensburg area and haven’t felt treated any differently here. I’ve reverted back to answering the “Where are you from?” question with just saying, “I’m American,” and have never once been questioned on that. In fact, many people guess I’m American first and ask where in the US I’m from, just based on my accent.
I was never really happy living in the former East, although I was adjusting to it, but I almost immediately fell in love with Bavaria. I don’t have a lot of experience with other areas of Germany, except for the Eifel, Mosel Valley and Rhineland, where my in-laws live, which also seem fine, so I don’t know how I would feel about living in northwest or southwest Germany.
As far as whether Americans from different regions are treated differently here, I really don’t think so.
But that’s just my experiences. Does anyone else have stories or opinions on this you’d like to share?