21
Sep
09

Questions I never got asked

Are memes dead? If yes, hooray! It’s safe to go blogging again.

I took part in memes once or twice, but cringed while doing so.

Not because I think they sucked like so many chain letters that promised good luck if passed along and eternal damnation if you didn’t, but because the questions posed either didn’t interest or didn’t apply to me. Many were aimed at 16- to 30-year-olds living in some suburb somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA and packed with questions about tattoos, the local mall, school, dating, your parents, God, baseball, and your last holiday in Jamaica. In other words, written with a separate species in mind.

So here’s a meme I never took part in, because it never arrived my way. An expat meme, with questions I might have answered had anyone bothered to ask them. Now it’s too late.

ian in hamburg city sculpture near buxtehude

How long have you lived away from your home country? Going on 20 years.

Do you still feel like you’re just visiting? All the time. I’m serious.

What do you notice the most has changed about your home country when you go back for a visit? More American influence in media, language and culture in general.

If you were to move again, would it be back to your home country? Without a doubt.

Do you ever get homesick? Only in the run-up to a holiday back home. You can tell right here because I start to write memory-laden posts about the old days.

If you read the news, do you read it in your native language or that of your host country? English mostly, but German and French as well.

What do you like the most about Germany? The amount of free time I have. It’s something I value very highly. That and no Sunday shopping. One day a week where consumerism has to hit the brakes.

What grates you the most? Whiners who bitch and moan about Germany but refuse to leave, offering up a dozen excuses for not doing so. Get the hell out if you don’t like it. What are you waiting for? Someone to decide for you?

Did you speak the language of your host country before you arrived? Not a bit.

How long did it take before you felt comfortable speaking the language? I’m still not completely comfortable unless I’ve had a couple glasses of beer.

If people switch to English when you speak to them in their language, how do you react? I like it! It means they’re reaching out for a connection, which is good, so I usually say something back in English to see how far it will go.

What has been the biggest change you’ve had to make in leaving your home country? In Hamburg, I can’t go hiking in the mountains.   There’s no skiing or mountain biking worth getting excited about for a thousand km, and I can’t just drop by a tennis court anytime and start playing.

If there were a button to improve anything about your expatriate life, what would it say on the button? For free flights home, press here.

**So, that’s it.  You are not required to pass this on.  You may, however, look closely at that photo and tell me what’s weird about it.  Aside from the guy on the right.


25 Responses to “Questions I never got asked”


  1. 1 Cat
    September 21, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    One of them is made out of stone?

    /points out the obvious

  2. September 21, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Now that’s a meme worth reading! Will definitely add that to my “future posts” list…

  3. 4 lilalia
    September 21, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Liked the questions and found the answers interesting… might answer the questions myself. At least inwardly, as I make my way to work tomorrow. Can’t see the reflection other than it is a yellow building… is it the print above your left arm?

  4. September 22, 2009 at 4:39 am

    It’s been so long I’d forgotten about “no shopping on Sunday”. Gas stations were exempted, and perhaps grocery stores, but everything else was shuttered tight. Even the movie theatre was closed. Everything stopped on Sunday – people went to church, ate and visited. Sometimes we went fishing, or for a car ride and then home for ice cream.

    Good gosh.

    As for the photo – it’s the reflection, which either is missing behind you or there partially but at an odd angle, as though the light’s coming from two directions. I can’t quite tell if the shadow just over your shoulder’s reflection or something inside.

    Hmmmm…. It’s like a spookier version of Where’s Waldo? – Where’s Ian’s Shadow?

  5. September 22, 2009 at 7:05 am

    “Whiners who bitch and moan about Germany but refuse to leave, offering up a dozen excuses for not doing so. Get the hell out if you don’t like it. What are you waiting for? Someone to decide for you?”

    Right on.

  6. 8 G
    September 22, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Hey, I can moan and bitch about Germany as much as I like. I do the same about my home country as well.We came here for some specific reasons, think there are many wonderful things about Germany, but good gosh- there are also some bad ones. And some that, even if not bad to others, are bad to us. I retain my inalienable right to moan as long as I can still breath. I’ve been thinking I should start maintaining lists of plusses and minuses and I have been making a deliberate attempt to talk about the former as much as the latter,because we have, after all, chosen to stay here for an indefinitely longer time than when we arrived: clearly we think there are positives to being here.

    But I discuss my home negatives for the same reasons I discuss those I see here: because I expect more from both the US and Germany in certain areas.

    I think I’ll grab your meme and answer it later today, because I haven’t been feeling the posting urge and perhaps this will help me to organize some thoughts.

  7. September 22, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    If you want to have some fun, send a meme to someone with multiple personality disorder.

    I agree with the sunday shopping statement. You come to appreciate the time where you know you cannot go shopping, even if you wanted to.

  8. 10 Michele J
    September 22, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    For authenticity, I wrote down my initial guesses before reading the comments:
    The ground is not littered with cigarette buts but no one has bothered to clean up the dead leaves.
    You can’t smoke sunglasses, I’ve tried.
    The blinds in the building behind you are OPEN.
    Something weird about the reflections.

    After reading the comments:
    You are a vampire (already spotted by shoreacres).
    Someone has allowed an Edeka Kaufhaus to be built in Hamburg.

    Great expat questionnaire BTW, I might post it on FB.

  9. 11 Michele J
    September 22, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Or cigarette *butts*, as they are more commonly known… sigh.

  10. September 22, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I’m going with the vampire angle as well. If it’s something to do with the sign, my eyes are too crappy to catch it. I can NEVER figure out your puzzles!

    P.S. Yesterday we booked our flight to you-know-where for June 2010. :-)

  11. 14 Michele J
    September 23, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    You’re right, words in a mirror are normally flipped/unreadable, aren’t they? Is it a reflection of a reflection, i.e. the sign is above you, it is reflecting off a window on the building opposite you, and then showing up properly in the reflection behind you? Or you mirrored it in Photoshop or something? I tried playing with contrast and saturation but I’m still not sure what it says – Katus? Krauss? Klaus + a number?

    • September 23, 2009 at 2:16 pm

      Right! The Edeka sign is reflected in the window, but it’s not in mirror image. The photo is horizontally flipped. The original had me and metal man both looking off to the left off the page, which is not good. :)

  12. September 24, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    I’ve been living in Australia for 30 years now and I don’t miss New Zealand one bit

  13. 17 Michele J
    September 24, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    What do a win? A big smile?

  14. 18 Michele J
    September 24, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    My god, it’s like I can’t post here without making a spelling/grammar error.

  15. September 24, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    @nursemyra ~ I love it when I get a laugh to go with my coffee ;-)

  16. 21 Manny
    September 28, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I liked the meme. I agree on most points (not about Sunday shopping though…sorry, guess I’m that “other” generation).

    On the bitching about Germany…I agree with you to a point. I think people bitch about everything everwhere they are, some more vocally than others. But there is a limit to it. If you hate the country you are in, and I mean seriously hate it, why stay? I don’t think I could ever feel at home here, thats not saying anything against the country, more about how attached I am to Canada. I’m on a timer, but the leaving is still un-scheduled, can’t wait to get back…*sigh*

    Nice meme.

    p.s. if you know of a way to convince an in-law to move to another country, let me know

    • September 28, 2009 at 3:26 pm

      Hi Manny,
      Uh-oh… the in-laws! I guess once you leave that problem will take care of itself, won’t it? :)

      About Sunday shopping: I know it’s more convenient to have everything open 24/7, but the “feel” of Sunday is lost. Compare the drop in traffic noise and the unhurried pace of life on that day with what you have to endure the rest of the week, and you’ll see what I mean. That’s what I want preserved.

  17. 23 Anonymous
    September 30, 2009 at 7:53 am

    I enjoyed this, and decided to answer the expat meme questions myself (which rather made it a commentary about Germany in reverse!)


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