Featured Article on Expat Arrivals!

Hi there,

This is just a friendly reminder that yes, I am still here. Times have been tough between juggling photography, normal life, and writing. Once I have more of a reader-friendly update, I will certainly let you know what has been going on here in the busiest cities of all. As for now, I am just logging in and making sure you won’t forget me.

And even though I have not written on here for a while, I have written elsewhere. Please check out m newest article on “Health insurance in the US” which was published yesterday on Expat Arrivals.

expat arrivals article

I’ll keep you posted about more progress!

Have a lovely Friday!

Published on Expat Arrivals: Another Interview on Life Abroad

A week ago Expat Arrivals asked me if I’d be interested in contributing with an interview to their homepage… Okay, okay, I stand corrected: I actually contacted them but they were nice enough to reply and then publish my extensive journal-like article with elaborate sentences in a timely manner on their web site. Kudos to this!

Click here get the full story and see my answers to some very interesting questions.

published on expat arrivals in january

The article describes my impressions after almost 3 years of New York time and gives newcomers a few tips on what to do when they get here or what to avoid.

Expat Arrivals, as the name indicates, is a web site for expatriates from all over the world. It features further interviews with other individuals to see how comfortable they feel in their new home and it asks them what advice they can offer to other expatriates. The page also has an array of additional topics, such as “expat living,” “overcoming culture shock,” and “working overseas.” What I like about it is that the stories are real – they were written by people who had to learn the hard way before they were able to pass on their experience to other expats through this medium.

It’s a great homepage to check out, in case you have not yet done so, and I will certainly keep them bookmarked for future references on other New York articles. I am also impressed by the guides they offer and which you can simply download in PDF format (who needs a guide book after all, when everything is online now, right?!).

My Trip to Miami in the Middle of January (I)

south beach bird flying in sky

The blistering cold of a New York winter that has finally arrived painfully reminds me how hot and sunny it was only two weeks ago in Florida. It was mid-January, when I joined the flock of New Yorkers who take a trip down to Miami when the City is too cold to endure during those 4 cold winter months.

Flying to Miami from here is convenient. Landing at Fort Lauderdale or Miami airport and soaking in the sun for a couple of days – easily done. The flight is only 3 hours without any time difference, simplifying matters for a mini-vacation.

We booked our flight to and landed in Fort Lauderdale on a chilly Friday morning. With some cool 55 degrees (13 Celsius) blasting at me, I started wondering if I should have packed a jacket or two. Luckily, as the day went by, it turned warmer and warmer, until it reached the mid-70ies almost at midnight (bizarre, isn’t it?).

Since we had booked with a shared-ride company, we were pretty much stuck to see parts of Miami and Miami beach for a total of 1 ½ hours (!) while dropping off a lot of some fellow passengers. Our first impressions were the hotels and then the people entering and exiting these hotels. The boyfriend smirked and let me know that this was exactly what he had expected Miami to be about: The flashy cars and suits, and people trying to act famous. It was a bit of a show, the entire time we were there, I have to admit.

We were glad when we finally arrived at our apartment, booked through airbnb (a site I can highly recommend). In the middle of South Beach we had rented out a lovely studio owned by an Austrian landlord who was eager to show us the hotspots of his adopted home. “I’ve lived here for 17 years” he announced in his strong European accent. “If you want good coffee, go to Las Olas, it has the best breakfast ever!” Oh Austrians and their “good” coffee!

Since it was noon by now, we did not check out this lovely spot but went on to a random Taco Bar, which served some excellent Tex-Mex food. Finding good Mexican food outside of California is always a feat. Miami has many Spanish speakers from Latin country so it was actually not that hard to come across a variety of their restaurants and little food shops.

Finally! Miami Beach!
Finally! Miami Beach!

Next, the beach. Pretty much the only thing we’d been anxiously awaiting since the time we got off the plane. It did not disappoint: Crystal clear water with a clear turquoise tint. White sandy beaches you only see in Florida. The only thing that did disappoint was the weather, of course (think 60 degrees by now). So we gave up on the idea of swimming on our first day here and strolled along the beach.

There is a fair called “The Strip” close to the water, which is most likely the most primitive simple street fair I have seen in a long time. Tents are built up to show off some overpriced random souvenirs you can find in any other beach town. On Saturday, there were old-timers parked on this long road, but other than that I figured there is not really much to see.

Miami Strip Fair
Miami Strip Fair
Hotel pool located close to the beach
Hotel pool located close to the beach

We therefore decided to walk on the wooden roads leading close to the beach but still past the hotels and we got glimpses of their glamorous outdoor pools, their bar areas at the water, and the nice lay-outs you must only see in Miami. An afternoon drink at the Raleigh and a snack at one of the most Southern restaurants you will find in South Beach. The Yardbird is one institution – off the main hotel road, in the middle of the town. It serves peculiar items such as the Yam-hattan and the Cheddar Waffle. Yes, a sweet waffle topped with bourbon syrup, cheddar cheese and home-made pickled relish. Best culinary experience of the entire trip! Indeed, the boyfriend and I were so thrilled to try out their dinner special, that we spend our entire last night here, feasting on other Southern specialties and their locally brewed beers. Oh, and beware: Some dishes do not contain meat!

Best Cheddar Cheese Waffle ever invented!
Best Cheddar Cheese Waffle ever invented!
They don't like vegetarians at the Yardbird...
They don’t like vegetarians at the Yardbird…

[For more pictures on Miami go to Miami Calling (Part I)]

The First Impressions: Back in New York

I know it’s not a big deal. Returning to the city you voluntarily choose to live in for a good amount of time already. But this had been my first time I had left the Big Apple for longer than a week. After more than two weeks, I had already forgotten about some things here. How to use the metro vending machine, for example. How to be patient when talking to JFK employees who are rude to you. Or how to deal with those insane stares these strange men give young girls on a crowded subway.

I’m sure you have gotten the gist of my general opinion from previous writings already. Despite many advantages and cultural events this city has to offer there are some major problems I was hesitating to deal with and which have poked out even more when coming back in September. Don’t get me wrong. I love New York. But I also despise certain aspects. While I had really thought Germany would give me a culture shock when it didn’t, I wouldn’t have imagined it would take me more than one week to adjust back to Manhattan and Brooklyn. I didn’t understand many things when I got off the plane and went through customs. For example, I took the subway, not a cab. On the subway there were these two black girls who were checking each other out and, I felt, competing with each other for something I couldn’t see. All of a sudden their loud attitude, exaggerated demeanor in pushing their way through and their looks made perfect sense to me. I don’t think I had seen two individuals who were more self-conscious than them in a while. And I also got tired of it. All the times I had to deal with these people being rude to me or showing me attitude because they feel bad about themselves. All those many times I had gotten angry about people in the train who were impolite and had almost let them ruin a perfect morning or afternoon to me, all those times I should have seen that the only problem they have is with themselves.

The way the people dress here really got to me, too. I’m not anyone who follows Fashion Week or the latest trend too closely. But Europe and Europeans seem to be well-dressed for a fact, so seeing the difference in attire after only two weeks of abstinence was hurtful. Slung-over baggie pants, torn, stained shirts – some of the clothes people walk around in here who aren’t even homeless. Where is the fashion sense? I feel that you can certainly find the best-dressed folks here but also the worst-dressed, only which one overtakes the general impression is the question.

People are more selfish here than anywhere else
, I believe. My first day, jetlagged, tired, and just wanting to get back home, was filled with thoughts on people I had surrounded myself with throughout the past one and a half years and who I consider not worthy my attention anymore. After being home in Germany, encountering friends who are actually HAPPY to see me and who greeted me in such a warm manner that I couldn’t help but blink my tears away, I sort of expected a different welcome here. I’m starting to wonder not only which path to take but who to take it with.
Only half a year ago, after not being around sane people for a while, I was increasingly blaming myself for these impressions and I had a hard time dealing with the disappointment of never being able to form close friendships here and never being able to trust someone 100 percent other than myself. But in this first week I was back, I saw it all too clear. I saw the dirt of this city, I saw the hideousness of the people’s personality, I saw the way they interact with each other because they consider themselves not worthy. Their projections of this onto yet another person who is supposed to become angry just to satisfy the deeper needs of their inner sadist.

I don’t know. I guess I don’t have too many good things to say about my first impressions in New York. To me, a city is about its people. Now New York might have many opportunities no other place in this world might have, but it can be a very lonely stay here if you decide to take on those opportunities. It’s a constant competition with everything and everyone around you.

And yet, underneath all of the confusion of a culture shock and readjustment to something I should be used to, underneath all of the pre-judgment, these harsh feelings and disappointed thoughts, underneath this all, I do have hope. A glimmer pushing itself through the darkness and desperation towards the surface. I see people being nice to me for now reason. I see people with a heart and a soul when standing in line at Trader Joes. I see the magic of New York’s random encounters when going out at night. I see the beauty of being able to do whatever you want to do. I see the ultimate freedom you can achieve in a city like this.

And so the overall phrase proves to be true once again: New York has the best of people, New York has the worst of people. Time to make my selections of who I want to surround myself with.