|Photo by Okello Dunkley|
Occasionally I get an email, comment or tweet asking how I landed in Germany. There are tons of Americans who want to live abroad and they are just dying to know my secret tobeing a black expat living in Germany. Some are genuinely curious and othersare outright intrusive, either way I need to invest in a frequentlyasked questions section. #lightbulbmoment
Funnily enough, men right off the batask if I am in the military? Now, I don’t like to make assumptionsabout the intelligence of strangers but I think anyone should be ableto deduce that a person of my physique would not be permitted inanyone’s military. Even border patrol officials who also have toadhere to strict weight and fitness requirements ask if I am in theservice and I just give them the side-eye.
Many women assume I am a trailingspouse. A trailing spouse is someone whosehusband (usually) has an overseas assignment. Outside of the armedforces, companies with an international presence transfer peoplearound the globe and pay for their families to move with them. I havehad numerous American women at expatriate events come straight out and ask “Sowhich company does your hubbie work for?” This assumption offendsme on various levels and I usually reply with some snarky responselike, “ Since my husband lives in the future and I haven’t met himyet, I have no idea who he works for.” humph!
(I have nothing against trailing spouses, I just resent the fact that because of my gender people assume that I couldn’t take the big scary leap on my own)
Okay okay, enough sass, let’s get downto some questions and answers!
So what do you do, dammit ? Youmean aside from freelance writing, blogging and traveling? I have aproper day job. I am employed by a German company who sponsors myresidency here. I am not on a company transfer, I do not work for theState Department or any other Stateside agency. My employment is nottemporary. I am not an artistor an entertainer, I have a fulltime job and I am notashamed of that.( in the city of the casually employed, workingfulltime or being considered corporate is almost as bad a leprosy)
Do you speak German? Not well. My employer although Germanis quite international, about 50% of the company is German and therest is made up of internationals from all over the world,. Thecompany and its partners are so diverse that English is the unifyinglanguage amongst us all. You have to speak English to work where Iwork, which cheeses a few locals off.
Do you get paid in Euros or Dollars? I get paid in Euros, I get taxedjust like any other citizen of Germany and have to fill out US taxes. I contribute to the social benefitssystems and have public health insurance. I don’t get Americanholidays off but I do get 5 weeks vacation (some people get 6), so ifit meant that much for me to go home for Thanksgiving weekend, Icould probably pull it off.
Can you legally work in Germany? I sure hope so! There are a few waysthat Americans can legally work in Germany. I have a residency permitthat is tied to my specific job with my specific employer. In orderto get this, my company had to prove to the German government that noother German or EU citizen could fulfill my role. Even after I gotthe job offer and accepted, the job office listed my job descriptionon the public job board to make sure my company didn’t miss anyone intheir search.
What area do you work in? I workin a niche industry. The niche is so specific that I wouldn’tdisclose it on my blog for privacy reasons. People be crazy.
Can you give me a hint? You’re one of those crazy people aren’tyou?
Whatever you do, it must pay well because you travelso much. Not as well as anAmerican would think. There is some urban legend out there that tiesliving overseas with unlimited wealth. This legend has also convincedpeople that you have to be rolling like Rockefeller in order totravel. In Berlin specifically, the price of living is not expensivecompared to other capital cities. A person can maintain a high livingstandard on a relatively low salary. In regards to travel, travelfrom Europe and within Europe is affordable. Other European countriesare next door and you can throw a rock and hit certain parts of Asiaand Africa.
Lastly, Germans areknown around the world as travelers, if there is a plane route youwill most likely find German’s there. Because of their willingness totravel and to travel seriously, many service providers offerattractive packages from Germany.
How did you find your job? I googled, I’mbeing totally serious.
So people there isno real big secret, I hope I didn’t lose some of my mystique :/ I’mnot in the military nor am I a spy. I have no spouse to trail and Ididn’t win the lottery. I work a 9 to 5 and then some, just likeeveryone else, but my geographic location is different than mycountry of citizenship. I moved abroad because I had the opportunityto and I continue to I live here because I enjoy my quality of life,the relationships I have built and I truly believe Berlin is thecoolest city on the planet. I dig my job, I am satisfied with thesocial health care system, and even though it stung a bit to seealmost half of my check be taken away in taxes, I see the benefitsthat my contributions lend to the greater welfare of Germany….andGreece (grrrrrr!!)
Do you guys have anymore questions? I promise to answer, no snark, cross my heart
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