Expat Voices: Abador von Katzbach on living in Germany
American expat Abador von Katzbach loves Berlin’s international outlook and emphasis on culture but hates being told what to do.
Name: Abador Barnaby Centennial von Katzbach
City of residence: Berlin
Date of birth: 1983
Civil status: It’s complicated
Occupation: Companion, guard, assistant
Reason for moving to Germany: Accompanying partner
What was your first impression of Germany?
Great! Interesting and historic cities (especially Berlin), very international and lots of culture.
What do you think of the food?
Nice variety and cheap (in Berlin). Going high-end, one can dine well, there’s real value for money.
What do you think of the shopping in Germany?
It sucks – poor customer service, utter lack of helpfulness and friendliness in shops and there’s not a lot of variety, especially in textiles.
What do you appreciate about living in Germany?
Access to the rest of the world, especially France, Denmark and Poland. I also appreciate that people here actually read magazines, newspapers and yes, books.
What do you find most frustrating about living in Germany?
I don’t like being told what to do, which is something Germans excel at – this special brand of righteous indignation. I hate the customer service, the narrow aisles in supermarkets and the inability to find what you want. The weather is particularly awful, too.
What puzzles you about German culture and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
I’m puzzled by why people have to be so grumpy in Berlin. I miss the chattiness of folks at home, the interest they take in others. I also dislike how people often compete to be ‘smarter’ than everyone else, how they have to lecture others about what they know, sometimes just talking to hear themselves talk and to seem intellectual.
How does the quality of life in Germany compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
It rates very high because of the inexpensive cost of living, the access to other countries, the international flavour of Berlin and the emphasis put on socializing and taking in culture.
If you could change anything about Germany, what would it be?
The narrowness and how closed off people here are to new ideas. The mentality of resigned acceptance of things as they are and the culture of envy.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Learn the language.
Is there anything that you like to add, which we haven’t addressed in the questionnaire?
The questions somehow led to negative answers. But there is a lot to like about living here in Berlin: the freshness of food, especially fruit and vegetables; the attention toward being environmentally friendly; the priorities placed on family, friends and social events; the strengths of friendships; the emphasis placed on learning, free time, culture and travel. There is a lot on offer and a lot to love.
If you would like to share your perspective about life in Germany and contribute to Expat Voices, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Please send me an Expat Voices questionnaire' in the subject line.
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