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Independence Day: calling all American expats!

by Plutonium Page Mon Jul 4th, 2005 at 09:49:51 AM EST

I know there have been a number of "introduce yourself" diaries here, but since today's Independence Day in the U.S., I thought I'd invite all the American expats here at EuroTrib to tell a little about yourself (or a lot, it's up to you).  This is sort of a roll-call as well.

Also, if you're American and you're visiting EuroTrib, please comment as well.

About me

Ok, this is lame.  I hate talking about myself, yet I am posting this diary... but I'll do my best.

I'm in the first phase of my move to Amsterdam.  I haven't sold my home in Albuquerque, New Mexico yet, because we have to do a bunch of "home improvement" sort of things to our new place in Amsterdam.  The place is wonderful, but for some unknown reason, the former owners had hideous linoleum flooring in all the rooms, so we'll be replacing that among other things.  Also, if you come help us paint, we'll pay you in beer ;-)

I'll move all my stuff over here in August.  I also have to get our kitties over here, which will be interesting, to say the least.  The huge one, who is about 11.5 kg, has to go in the special pet air cargo.  The two girl kitties are small enough to carry in the cabin (in kitty carriers, of course).

I'm a chemist by training, but I'm really tired of working in labs, since I've been doing that since I was 13 years old (I'm almost 36 now).  I'd love to work for Greenpeace, whose international HQ is here in A'dam, but I won't have a work permit until January or so.  I'll work on my Dutch in the meantime.

I'll truly miss New Mexico, but I really, really love Amsterdam, and feel very much at home here.  We'll visit my family in NM at least once a year, so I won't get too homesick.

I didn't know about blogs until I got involved in Howard Dean's campaign back in June 2003.  I moved on from Blog for America when it started getting weird (spring 2004), and started posting on dailyKos then.  The rest is history, and many thanks to Jérôme  et al. for the European Tribune.  What a great place to hang out.

Ok, now it's your turn.

It's not as hard as you think!  Admit it, you love to talk about yourself...

. is lovely and fantastic 10%
. sucks 30%
. is only good for the hallway in my old high school 30%
. Call the Fab 5, honey! 30%

Votes: 10
Results | Other Polls
Okay, I'm in. I moved over to Switzerland last August to be with my new wife...after we found out that it would take 8 to 18 months for her to get a visa to come to the states (and she's a Swiss!?!?)...and THEN have to wait longer for her to get a work permit. So I came here and had a visa and work permit in two weeks (exactly on the date they said it would come, gotta love those Swiss). I'm most recently a psychologist by trade, though as I've mentioned elsewhere was a landscape gardener and farmer in Hawaii and California before that. I'm working to get my psychologist credentials established here, took some intensive German classes (though those stopped for a couple of reasons: 1. when the teacher started teaching us about the use of dativ and akkusitiv verbs, and 2. because the Swiss don't speak German, but Swiss German...oh, everyone tells you to learn Hoch Deutsch, but they all speak Swiss...which is not written...so I'm still studying, but on my own). Anyway, I digress, I also have been spending the last 6 months intensely "pounding the pavement" for work, and just landed a job as a research analyst (researching the use of sports as a psychosocial intervention for youth in humanitarian crises situations), which I spent the last 3 months writing proposals on to get the funding. So I'm psyched about that. I'm real happy that I chose to come here, though I do really miss my beloved San Francisco Bay area, my dear ol' friends, and such inane enjoyments as baseball, (Laura Scudders chunky) peanut butter and good tequila...not to mention the fact that it was a lot of work to get a job here. I've discovered that the process of becoming an expat can, at moments, be a very emotional and difficult transition...hey, we're foreigners...and as I've met other Americans here, found that they too have experienced the same. At my ripe young age (53), its not so easy to re-establish the deep friendships that I have back on the coast...but people here have been real friendly and welcoming, and thank god for email, phones, blogs and the internet. But it is also a great adventure being here, and my wife and I are doing lots of exploring...the quality of life here is SO much better. It was weird to wake up this morning and realize it was the 4th of July, and there be NO hoopla (or sales) like there would be back home. Very quiet...that will change on Oct 1st, though (Swiss day!). There you have the gist of my little story!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jul 4th, 2005 at 10:39:15 AM EST
I have a silly question, but is your username based on the movie?  I thought that was a hilarious movie - Bill Murray can be pretty funny.

I've been to San Francisco a couple of times, and loved it.  I haven't been to Switzerland yet, but my husband and his family went there a lot as he was growing up, so he loves it.  We're probably going to go there in a year or so.  No expensive vacations for us after this house purchase/fix-up!

You're very lucky to have gotten your work permit and visa so quickly.  It's going to take a while for me, obviously.  They have to approve our marriage here;  my husband is Dutch, but (as you know) we got married in the U.S.  After that, they'll start the work permit process.  What a pain.

Anyway, we probably need to have some sort of European Tribune blog nerd gathering someday, don't you think?

by Plutonium Page (page dot vlinders at gmail dot com) on Mon Jul 4th, 2005 at 11:09:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A lawyer told us to get married here...and it proved to be very good advice...it took some time up front, but quick after. And a European Tribune blog nerd gathering sounds great! (though we should come up with a catchier title).

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jul 4th, 2005 at 12:34:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
oh yea, "what about bob"...I was exactly thinking of that movie...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jul 4th, 2005 at 12:38:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
if you ever should desire to become a Swiss citizen better memorize the date of the Swiss national holiday correctly, it's the - 1st of August ! :-)
by Fran on Mon Jul 4th, 2005 at 11:23:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well, I was thinking August 1st (honest!!!), because its the birthday of an old rock n roll hero of mine, but I typed October. I'm in trouble now...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jul 4th, 2005 at 12:23:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There aren't so many Dutchies on ET yet, so ...

The choice to make between 2 diaries wasn't so difficult:
-1- Since when did the Bush care ...? or Independence Day.

Choice beer in Amsterdam is more challenging. When, where or what and we have a date. I'm no good in color schemes or interior decorating except tearing and pasting wall paper, but will do anything for a beer ...
and to help you out. Do-it-yourself for plumbing, ducts or central heating and I can be of some assistance.

USA WELCOME: Make Yourself Known @BooMan Tribune and add some cheers!

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Jul 4th, 2005 at 04:28:03 PM EST
Hopefully we won't need to do anything that complicated.  The two inspections went very well;  it's a relatively "young" building (late 1800s, but the canal it's on is from 1650), and was re-done in the late 1980s.  The centralized heating system was installed in the last 5 years.

Mostly it's just cosmetic stuff.  The floor is truly nasty.  It's functional, but that's about it.  The people who owned the place lived there for maybe 3-4 months a year, and apparently didn't mind the paint not being in great shape, or the kitchen being pretty ugly (but functional), or the carpet on the stairs being very worn.  It'll be expensive to fix, but it'll be worth it.

As for beer, Frank has been doing extensive "research" on that for years ;-)  There's heavenly stuff around, as I'm sure you know.

BTW, it's your turn.  You're an expat.  You get to talk about yourself too.

by Plutonium Page (page dot vlinders at gmail dot com) on Mon Jul 4th, 2005 at 04:53:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Complete biography published these past few weeks @BooMan -
RQF additional information and it truly turns into fiction!

Start with Great Adventure '57-'58 followed by information via User ID link and the USA WELCOME links to a diary, continue thru Créve Coeur, MO.

Only info missing is on SLU Billikens.

      That's All Folks

USA WELCOME: Make Yourself Known @BooMan Tribune and add some cheers!

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Jul 4th, 2005 at 06:22:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not sure if I'll be considered an expat or not.  I recently accepted a temporary (2 yr with possible 1 or 2 yr extension) position in France.  I'm already hoping to be there at least three years, though.  I've been living in the reddest of the red states for nearly ten years and am really looking forward to leaving.  Assuming all the paperwork goes smoothly, I'm supposed to start for Oct. 1.  I don't speak French yet but I'm trying to learn enough to get by before I leave (I've been told I have a good accent).  Not much else.  I came here by way of dailyKos and am usually a lurker at both places, although I've recently tried to buck up the courage to comment more.  So, yeah, that's my expat two euro cents.  
by notableabsence (notableabsence@yahoo.com) on Mon Jul 4th, 2005 at 05:20:26 PM EST
If you are living and working outside of the US (or whatever your home country is), whether you intend to stay long or not, then you are considered an "expat". So...welcome to the club!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Jul 5th, 2005 at 04:21:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
despite being French (and worse - Parisian) to the max, I can claim also to be American, of the Latin kind, as my mother is from Venezuela (came to study in Paris, met young man, et voilà, still here forty years later, still unhappy with the cold weather - especially in chilly Strasbourg).

So American, and also an expatriate - when I moved from Strasbourg (one of the capitals of Europe) to Paris, I felt I had really changed countries - from Europe to France, really.

So do I qualify? Being French is a state of mind. Being an American expat is also a state of mind, isn't it?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jul 4th, 2005 at 06:43:58 PM EST
Here's my story. My husband and I moved to the Netherlands in 1995. He took his 2nd post-doc at the University of Leiden. I had a great time, studied dutch, made some great friends and had my first child. We moved to Munich 3 years later when my son was only 6 weeks old and have lived here ever since.

I was planning on finding a job here after my son started Kindergarten but ran into a few obstacles. I got pregnant again just a year after arriving and then discovered that my first son was not quite normal. After reading many books regarding children's health problems and many visits to the Kinderzentrum, we discovered that my beautiful boy had autism.  It has been quite devastating but in the same breath, we have been quite lucky in that Munich is really one of the best places to live when facing a crisis such as this. Our public health insurance pays for all of his medical costs and his special Kindergarten "Heilpaedagosischen Tagesstaette" is free. When Matthew was three, he spent his first year of Kindergarten in a Waldkindergarten with "normal" children. I thought that to be best because I was hoping his behaviour would change being around "normal" children and most of all, he loves the outdoors and I thought he would learn more by playing outdoors all day in the Englischer Garten and he would learn more about nature.

Anyway, I later discovered that my second son also has autism but not as severe. His behaviour is much more normal and his speech is not as bad but he is still way behind most children at his age.

I found politics and reading blogs a great escape from my problems at home. Actually, it started with genealogy and then turned to politics when I joined the Democrats Abroad group here in Munich. I have  been spending a lot of time putting a database together for all of the local election officials contact information to help Americans living overseas and the military to vote in the 2006 election.  

I have not travelled much since I have been in Munich. It is very difficult to take the children anywhere and my husband travels all the time so he is burnt out when it comes to travel.

I loved living in the Netherlands but I also love it here in Germany. I honestly cannot think of a place that I lived that I didn't like with the exception of Ohio. I was born and raised there and although the people are rather nice, it was extremely boring.

by Hausfrau on Tue Jul 5th, 2005 at 02:37:23 AM EST
Whenever or wherever I can help with support ...
I joined the Democrats Abroad group here in Munich. I have been spending a lot of time putting a database together for all of the local election officials contact information to help Americans living overseas and the military to vote in the 2006 election.

Activism is best part of the blogging community.

USA WELCOME: Make Yourself Known @BooMan Tribune and add some cheers!

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Jul 5th, 2005 at 03:01:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I will send you an email later on today. I still have quite a few states left and two of my volunteers do not have much time so I definitely need help!

I am off now to buy a new bicycle. My old one was a 2nd hand bicycle that I bought in Hollland ten years ago and I have been putting this off for five years. Wish me luck!

by Hausfrau on Tue Jul 5th, 2005 at 04:45:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I love teaching.  I love the theater, Cinema, live music, even the opera now that I can finally understand the ones in Russian and German.  Oh, and I can't forget The Flaming Carrot comics.  Art museums for me are great on a rainy Saturday afternoon, so is having a glass of wine and a discussion at the local philosophy club.  Of course I love getting stuck too from my favorite piercer.  To ease stress and get away from it all, I truly love x-country skiing through a snowy birch forest (and a sauna afterwards).  Musically, everything from the Clash and Rage Against The Machine to Miles Davis, Cuban jazz, and the great classical geniuses.  I guess because I study literature and culture through the eyes of Marxist and Critical Theory, I love seeing events of the same movement through different media, such as seeing an Expressionist art exhibit, watching an Expressionist film afterwards, then listening to Stravinsky or something to really put the pieces together.

About me - where to begin?  I'm 39 and grew up mostly in Sioux Falls, SD.  Spent quite a few years as enlisted in the Army then as a Naval officer.  I attended the University of Michigan and majored in Russian and Eastern European Studies and Creative Writing.  I spent my junior year abroad in Moscow from '94-'95.  In between active and reserve time I sold drugs for Bristol-Myers Squibb where I really felt like a prostitute.

 Now I am a PhD candidate at the University of Virginia in Germanic Languages and Literature.  This year is an exchange year and I am teaching comparative literature at the University of Dortmund, Germany.  My first class was titled Pornography and Literature: Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Sacher-Masoch, and Vladimir Nabokov.  Something that I have an interest in, what is the difference, if any, between porn and art, can we truly define the two in distinct categories, etc.  My second course Collision of the Avant Garde looked at modernist and "post- modernist" theater from Dada to Bertolt Brecht, Antonin Artaud, to Heiner Müller.  I plan on moving to Germany permantly in the fall to conduct research and write my dissertation.  Plus I really grok Europe, it's too cool and soooo laid back (except for a few neo-Nazi assholes in the area).

 My dissertation will be over Aesthetics and Ideology in Revolutionary Theater: Bertolt Brecht, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Federico Garcia Lorca.  I hope to contribute through my work to the understanding of how aesthetics are used to propagate ideology to the theater audience and how it is received; I will look at semiotics involved as well.  I guess I am a theater guy.  I just love it and it's very inexpensive here in Germany.  I've also swung pretty far left in my personal political views, so Germany seems to be a good place for me to live.  If I can't work in academia, then I also have the option of dramaturgy in the theater scene.  My creativity was unleashed in this society here where everything seems to be so laid back.  It sparked my interest in body mods and in the last six months I've become pretty heavily pierced but other than my earring, you wouldn't be able to see them ;-).  So I guess that's a little about me.

Marrying my girlfriend from the last time I was here and I hope to get a second MA in Theaterwissenschaft from Uni-Bochum, just to give me some German credentials.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Tue Jul 5th, 2005 at 10:49:16 AM EST
Not an expat, just dropping in to read a bit about all of you and the local areas/culture you describe.  Through you and others here is the only way for me to get any kind of first hand 'traveling' in and am envious of all of you.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal
by chocolate ink on Thu Jul 7th, 2005 at 03:41:37 PM EST

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