Happy San Franniversary!

Six years ago today, I left my home, my family and friends and got on a plane to America. With me I had two bags and a work visa. I didn’t have a place to live, had no idea what a Social Security Number is and didn’t know anyone besides a few co-workers I had met once during a short business trip.

Now, I am married, have a super baby and am applying for my U.S. citizenship.

Thank you, Lord, for calling me to this country. It is so obvious that I belong here and I love celebrating my San Franniversary every year.

Top 15 Reasons Why I Love America :: My Life Abroad

Here is my Top 15 of things I love about America…not to be taken too seriously and in no particular order.

  1. Complimentary toilet seat covers in (nearly) every public restroom.
  2. Movies coming to theaters on their actual release date.
  3. People picking up their dog poop. (I’m not naming a country I recently visited where it seems to be common to just walk away without removing your dog’s stinky business.)
  4. Drive-thru’s.
  5. Chilled tab water served as soon as you sit down in a restaurant (slices of lemon, orange or cucumber optional).
  6. Free refills.
  7. Bottled water: I love being able to get a bottle of water at nearly every single store in the entire United States.
  8. 24/7 opening hours: In Germany, I could easily starve on a Sunday due to the lack of food in my fridge and no open grocery store to save me.
  9. Bagging groceries at the store: “Need any help out, Ma’m?” “Sure, why not.”
  10. The position of traffic lights: You can see them way better from your low-riding sports car if they are positioned across the street/intersection from where you stopped.
  11. Right turn at a red light (unless stated otherwise).
  12. Acceptance of debit cards anywhere for any amount: Ok, the (ab)use of credit cards has brought America into this financial mess but if you’re responsible and stay within your financial means, the accepted use of plastic as payment is quite nice.
  13. The One-Dollar bill: Coins are just clutter in your wallet.
  14. Advanced use and offers available on the internet: Forget privacy issues, I want free shipping, free returns and easy check out processes.
  15. In God We Trust – the official motto of the United States of America.

Now tell me, what are your favorite things about America?

 

Home Is Where The Heart Is :: My Life Abroad

(This post is dedicated to my Mama, my sister Meike, my Oma and my faithful friends Philipp, Mobbel, Anabel, Diana, Wiebke & Wiebke and Antje.)

The Germans have a wonderful word to describe “home” or the “feeling of home”. It’s called “Heimat”.

Heimat is a German word that has no simple English translation. It is often expressed with terms such as home or homeland, but these English counterparts fail to encapsulate the true meaning of the word.

“Heimat” is a German concept. People are bound to their ‘heimat’ by their birth, their childhood, their language and their earliest experiences.
Source: Wikipedia


My recent trip ‘back home’ to Germany brought up this question again: What is my ‘Heimat’? Is it my new home – the United States of America? Or my home country – Germany?

After over 5 years of living abroad, miles away from family, friends and childhood memories, I can finally say that my ‘Heimat’ is…America.

During our last trip to Germany, I actually got home sick. As in, I missed America. In all its glory and imperfection. That was a first. Don’t get me wrong, I still love and dearly miss my family and the few remaining, faithful friends I have in my home country but I can now say that my new ‘Heimat’ is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 

"What do we leave behind?" from the exhibition at the Emigration Museum Hamburg.

‘Heimat’ is not only a place, ‘Heimat’ is simply the place where one feels home. But what creates that feeling? Even after all these years living in a foreign country, I have these moments where I get really excited about my immigrant life. I call them my ‘America moments’. I stand still for a second and remind myself of my journey and all those who supported it. I look around and think about how my life has changed. I smile. I have come so far (literally) and have accomplished so much (with the help of many).

So I guess the feeling of ‘achievement’ plays a big role. And then there’s the change in me which plays an even bigger role. In Germany, I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted, where I should go. I was depressed, angry and felt empty. In England where I lived for almost two years, I remained restless and searching for something better. In America, I found Jesus and therefore answers to all those questions. I’ve become a new person and left the old Wiebke behind – at least the bad stuff, the junk, the baggage. That void inside of me was finally filled.

Thesaurus offers another word for ‘achievement’ – arrival.

Maybe that’s what makes me love America so much? Maybe it’s not only about friends, family or things? Maybe it’s more about the change in me and the peace I’ve found? Maybe I have finally arrived?

But then, if ‘Heimat’ is all about feelings, emotions, peace, then this all makes perfect sense. Doesn’t it?

Happy San Franniversary!

(This post is dedicated to my Mama who always supports my crazy dreams, believes in me and loves me for who I am.)

Five years ago, I arrived in San Francisco with nothing more than two large suitcases and no place to live. Little did I know that God had an intense plan for me.

My suitcase was packed with dreams, expectations and hope. I can’t say what exactly I was hoping for but I had this dream of a new life in California. Someone said ‘California is not a state. It’s a state of mind.’. This pretty much sums up my idea of the Golden State. I was hopelessly in love with the romantic idea of emigrating and finding whatever I was searching for in America.

I moved across the pond – 5514.31 miles (8874.18 kilometers) away from home – leaving friends and family behind to embark on a new adventure that turned out to be so much bigger than I could ever imagine.

I was definitely searching for something. I just couldn’t define what it was?! For some reason I thought that moving further away from home and all things familiar to me, would allow me start over. Was I secretly running away from myself? My past is (was) paved with regrets. Failed relationships, fall outs with close friends, trouble with the family, and the worst: an empty heart.

I guess a life thousands of miles away from home, would appear to others as brave, romantic and inspiring. Though all it was for me was an escape. There is a beautiful word in German that describes this feeling perfectly – ‘Fernweh‘.

So here I was in San Francisco. Meanwhile, I had found an adorable studio in San Francisco’s Marina neighborhood, I had settled into my new job and started making friends. Nonetheless I struggled with this emptiness I just couldn’t explain. I was truly lost, slightly depressed and looking for purpose in all the wrong places.

That’s when God started calling me. Believe it or not, He sent an angel to come and rescue me. And since God has a sense of humor, He introduced me to my angel at a bar.

Fast forward.

I have now been married to my angel for over three years, found my salvation and God-given purpose, raised a rescue puppy, started my own business, moved into a house and am now expecting a baby.

I am indeed living my dream.

Photos taken at the Emigration Museum in Hamburg, Germany.