Monthly Archives: June 2012

Stereotypes are fun, ja

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Germans are neat, always punctual, like bratwurst and sauerkraut and wear their lederhosen even to bed.

Canadians are laid back, peaceful, all love to hunt, wear flannel a lot and say “eh” all the time.

Fun, isn’t it. Anyone who has ever visited my house (without two days notice) will know that I am nowhere near neat. I crave a certain creative chaos when I’m working (and I am always working on something) and my life philosophy is that laundry can wait a day, life can not. But maybe that’s why I don’t fit in? Maybe.

These past days have been filled with farewells. One of my favorite people in the world, I consider her more of a sister than a friend actually, visited me last weekend and in spite of Germany playing the soccer (yawn) we dared to go out and have tons of fun. And yesterday my kid had a farewell party with his kindergarten group, they do that every year to say goodbye to those kids that will go to school. One of the teachers officially announced that we’re moving to Canada because today is his last day and I brought breakfast and cupcakes for everyone (which, apparently, is outrageous in itself). We live in a small town and, seriously, everybody KNEW. And after that announcement, they were flocking to me, asking all kinds of questions and making me wish I had prepared cur cards to just have them read for themselves.

No, we’re not moving to Mallorca. Yes, I actually speak English (a little, as you might have noticed). No, there will be no TV cameras following us around. No, the husband and I didn’t split up because he ran off with some hot Canadian chick (he does however speak fondly of steaks and burgers, I am a little worried).

To understand why I was so, pardon my french, pissed off about it let me explain something. We live in a small village. Everybody knows everything about everyone, or they at least like to think that. And if you haven’t been born and raised here? You are nothing but scum. At first I thought it was because we looked different and don’t exactly partake in local activites like binge-drinking while handling guns, or doing shots with the old ladies from the red cross. But I talked to anothe family yesterday. Sweet people, the dad a hard working man in construction, I could relate. Normal people (aside from a wicked sense of humor). They moved here five years ago and people still don’t talk to them no matter what. I did all kinds of things for the kids, built a doll house for my kid’s group, always volunteered to drive whenever I could, baking, spending hours at bake sales so they could buy new toys, helping set up the annual flea market with my husband, talking to the mayor and city officials about adding another group to the place so all kids had a chance to get a spot, all of that shit. I just don’t want to sit down with people that look down on me anyway and try my best to get their approval. Most likely by buying everybody shots.

Most of these people haven’t even said “Hello” once in three years. And now that they are curious they suddenly can talk? It’s a miracle, ladies and gentlemen!

Other scenario: In ’07 I moved to Canada with my husband. A relatively large town, an apartment building, anonymous or so I thought. Foreign country, foreign everything. We had nothing but two bags of clothes and the first thing we did was buy a bed. Boughtt groceries, hauled them upstairs not even four hours after we received the key. While we looked at the apartment earlier that day we met our future neighbor from across the hall and the landlady told her we had just moved in from Germany. She was over that same day, offering a spare bed and some other things that were just gathering dust at her place, and she wasn’t the only one. We were invited to barbecues, people offered a few very helpful hints (where to buy a car, where we really shouldn’t get our truck fixed because the guy is perpetually drunk and uses duct tape and a hammer…), organized used furniture so we at least had some things, we just felt welcomed. Nobody said anything about my pink hair, about tattoos, about us not being Canadians. Of course I’ve had some less than pleasant encounters over the years, especially while working (and 80% of that? Immigrants from Germany. I am not kidding!). But all in all I can say that country stereotypes have to come from somewhere, because as much as some people would like to deny it, Canadians are friendlier. They are more welcoming. And I don’t think that is a bad thing.

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Progress

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I had my wisdom tooth pulled yesterday, which is vital information for this blog simply because I enjoyed it so much more than all the paperwork that needs to be done. I’ve had nightmares about blue validate-buttons and every time I see a .pdf somewhere I start crying. BUT!

We’re almost done.

My husband will leave early tomorrow and has a lovely 20h flight ahead of him. One could think he’ll be flying to New Zealand (please, no! They’re driving on the wrong side of the street.), but he will make all kinds of lovely stops in between, including four hours in… was it Chicago or Seattle? Really, I can’t be bothere with details. All I know is that he’ll leave tomorrow, fly to Edmonton (anyone got a good truck for sale? Just asking) and will head on home from there.

It’s strange because in the seven years we’ve been together we have never been apart for much longer than a week. Well, I think I was in Finland for ten days once. And now it’s a month without seeing his grumpy mug every day. We even behaved like an almost normal couple today. Straight out of Twilight Zone.

Anywho. I need to translate my resume because for some reason or other I have to have it handy upon arrival. Can’t say I’m looking forward to spending time at Immigration, last time I’ve been there I was pregnant and almost passed out. Ah, the memories.

Police records have been collected (don’t mean to brag, but I never got caught. Just kidding.), birth certificates have been copied, all kinds of documents including our marriage certificate had to be translated, too. And once we’re in Canada our lawyer will start filing for Permenant Resident Status. For some reason they want six pictures of each of us, I have considered sending them a set card or something. Seriously, six? Then there’s the police records and all that junk. And let me tell you now that I just know I will regret not applying for an international driver’s license. Because for that I had to drive all the way to our county’s capital to apply for a new license… Because I still have my old one with my maiden name on it, which is valid here since the license is not a piece of ID in itself, so you are not required to get it updated. Well, too bad because for the international license? You need the updated version. I already see myself standing in the office in B.C. pulling my hair out. But you will hear all about that in due time.

Did I mention that I’m supposed to use only one suitcase? Ahahahaha.

Seriously. That’s not even enough for my shoes. The important ones.

Canada 2.0 – this time I mean business

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Leaving Germany is somewhat of a trend these days. Every time you turn on your TV (and I strongly advise you don’t) you see some sort of show about people moving, or wanting to move, to the States, to Spain (Mallorca, those imbeciles) or some other country they think they can live in without working much, earning tons of money and living the dream. Now, while I fully understand how one could be fed up with this country, with the job market and the lack of perspective for oh so many professions…

Emigrating ain’t easy.

And I have to know it. Been there, done that, didn’t even get a lousy T-Shirt. We’ve made an attempt in ’05. I met this guy in May, we got together in June, and in November I was in Canada, waiting for my work permit to go through. We did so much wrong back then, but we still managed to stay in Beautiful British Columbia (it says so on their license plates so it’s the gospel truth, folks) for a little over two years, until my husband’s permit didn’t get another extension and we had to leave rather… quickly. If you ever had to pack up an entire household, list everything including it’s value, get three cats chipped and ready for a long flight and dealt with a cranky toddler and an equally cranky guy, you know why I said I didn’t want to go back. Ever.

But guess what? We’re going back.

It’s been a long time coming. My husband has been working 14-hour shifts every day, 5 to 6 days a week, with a ridiculously low pay that didn’t allow us to pay for all our bills. I started an apprenticeship, went to vocational college along with it, but the pay I got was just enough to cover gas. In a situation like that, if you know you could earn what you make in a month now in two weeks if you just move to another country… you’d be extra stupid if you didn’t take the chance.

This time we were smarter…ish. We hired an immigration lawyer, one of my favorite people on this planet right now. We still had to fill out more applications than you need to adopt a gang of children form Africa (please do list your employers of the past ten years, your addresses of residence of the past ten years and hey, while you’re at it, fill out a personal form. Four times. And let’s not talk about obtaining a passport for a Canadian child living in Germany), but our new friend made sure it was all filled out the right way – please submit that form again, your signature is touching the border, it will be declared void. You can’t write it like that, it sounds better if you fill it in like this… And who knew that using another term to describe your job would heighten your chances of gaining the so highly sought after work permit? Not to mention the fact that this woman knows more about the entire process than you as a mere mortal will ever be able to figure out on your own. It was a huge relief and definitely worth all the money. She even coached my husband’s future and ex employer for an interview some government official or other wanted to do with him. Don’t get me wrong, but the guy is Austrian. My German friends will most likely have a certain picture in their head, painted with colorful sterotypes. And yes, all that.

And now here we are. The fussband, as I always like to refer to him, will leave next week. The kid and I will follow him a month after that. Am I excited? Hell yes. Am I sad to leave? Sort of. Ever since we came back I missed Canada. All of it. The people, the landscape, the general… canadianness (that is a word). While I was in Canada I missed my friends in Germany. I’m not someone who generally gets attached to living creatures unless they are furry, but I do have a few friends I value and that I will miss terribly. I’ll miss our ventures, the incredibly stimulating conversations about all kinds of topics (bikers, food, kittens, knitting, music, TV Shows, musicians, stupid people (men), palm trees, noses, Slayer (TM)… all in the course of an hour), the fact that they made me feel like I’m not the only one completely bewildered by everyone else. Everyone else is crazy, you know. And they don’t laugh about my weird eating habits. Yes, I will miss them.

Maybe one day I’ll write about the farm we bought to grow veggies, raise our own bacon and breed alpacas. My husband refers to it as “Camp Serial Killer”… If I could I’d pack up those three people I’m thinking of right now and take them with me… Then life definitely would be perfect.