Author Archives: Expat chatter

The French revolution you’ve never heard of – in your backyard

France’s national holiday is Bastille Day, July 14th, which sparked a revolution that sent shock....

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Don’t look now, but there’s a shark at your feet

Everybody has their idea of a perfect vacation. I enjoy the ocean, but I don’t....

Munching my way to Munich, one chaotic airport at a time

There’s a lot to be said for approaching challenging situations with the right attitude, which....

The queen turned out to be a football

If all the Germans are rushing with glee to a public viewing, there's no need....

The Umlaut: Two dots that will make or break you

There's nothing quite like the embarrassment of making a major blunder in a foreign language.....

Are you sure that’s what that sign means?

A sign in a foreign country may look like a word you know. But looks....

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The trillions of cicadas last seen by Thomas Jefferson

It’s been over 200 years since these two broods of cicadas hatched at the same....

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Aren’t you glad you got the orange car after all?

One thing Germans hate is a dirty car. But there's no escaping the fine dust....

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The strange cult status of white asparagus 

If you are in Munich and see people jostling for a spot in line at....

Cozy? Let’s sabotage that by opening a window

Once you're comfy and cozy, a German is bound to open the window to air....

The Superbowl is super in Germany, too

Football may be America's favorite sport, but it's gaining ground fast in Germany, too. I....

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Better than bread: The best excuse to fatten up

Germans are now confronting the fact that Christmas is over but winter is just getting....

Talk better—talk like a dog

We train dogs, but they have much to teach us. Babies are fluent in body....

Ring in the New Year and fire the firecrackers

The New Year means more than resolutions. All of Germany sets off firecrackers at midnight....

‘Twas the Night Before Weihnachten

On a trip to a Christmas market in Munich, I was inspired by The Night....

Christmas cookies: Good, better, German

I loved Christmas cookies growing up and thought they were pretty good, but have since....

What happened to Santa Claus?

Santa Claus, St. Nick, or the Christ child? The figure we associate with Christmas takes....

Hot wine and cold toes

Christmas markets are popping up on every corner in Germany, including the medieval town of....

The 37 Days of Christmas

Germans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but they celebrate Christmas half the winter. Starting at the end....

If this is punctuality, my watch is broken

Germans have a reputation for being punctual, but trains are a different story. During a....

What happened to my pumpkin pie?

It's not a holiday without pumpkin pie, but what I bake is a far cry....

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Celebrating St. Martin from the comfort of the couch

Americans celebrate fall with Halloween, but Germans have St. Martin. Children carry lit lanterns in....

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No Halloween? No way. My sneaky and successful plot

Some Germans celebrate Halloween, but not all of them. I was determined to find a....

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The nightmare of motherhood in Germany

School has started, a good moment to consider the burden on mothers with children in....

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The library, the monk, and the sandals

This stunning Baroque library tucked away in a monastery in a Bavarian village is the....

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Germans put the fun in fungi

My experience with mushrooms was confined to cans as a kid. In Germany, collecting them....

‘Tis the season of the Wiesn: The Oktoberfest for locals and tourists

What some probably don’t realize is that while the Oktoberfest is the biggest folk festival....

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Spicing up an e-mail is as easy as 1-2-3

Every language has its peculiarities, which should be respected. But when you translate into another....

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The tiniest stars of the Oktoberfest live in a drawer

The Oktoberfest is synonymous with beer for most people. Yet half of the fairgrounds consists....

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Get those escargots out of my lawnmower

You know Fall has arrived when the leafblowers start blasting through the open window. But....

Protesting technology by battling bikes and coning cars

Munich had a run-in with e-bikes once a few years ago. They successfully battled the....

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Not teaching foreign languages will make America more insular

Do you speak English? This question is often answered with “Yes” all around the world.....

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What’s in a name? More than you think

People’s identities are tied up closely with their names. But even when you are careful....

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Getting lost the old-fashioned way

Those of us who predate GPS know how to get around without using technology. Knowing....

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Germans delight in overengineering, taking helicopter mothering to new heights 

Any foreigner in Germany knows all about the country’s love of overengineering. All it takes....

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Hitchhike to work? You bet – and in the most powerful city in the world

Gridlock is a word often used in connection with legislators in the U.S. Congress, but....