Saturday 5 July 2014

"You are such a German girl!"

Something momentous has happened. Something that was askew just a bit, almost unnoticeable but still present, has righted itself.
It was askew for quite a long time.
You know, like that one picture that you never notice, except when you are lying on the not-so-comfortable-couch (husband took the comfy one, bastard), the movie on TV is boring so your eye wanders, and comes to a screeching halt at that picture? You notice it's just a bit askew, but you are too lazy to get up and right it. 
By the time you finally get up you head straight to bed, and the next day you have long since forgotten about the picture, since you really only ever notice it when lying on the not-so-comfortable-couch (which doesn't happen too often, because you are usually faster than your husband).  

Here is a truth that you may not know: If someone immigrates to a new country out of choice, not necessity (that's the important distinction), they will go through a phase where everything in the new country is great, and everything about the old one sucks. It's a rite of passage, sort of, maybe to make the transition easier? To convince oneself that the right decision has been made?
There are many reasons for it, some complicated, some astonishingly simple.

During those first few years, if I could have, I would have lost my German accent and not talked about my German origins at all. But I couldn't - my accent is very noticeable, and not a day goes by where people don't ask me about it.
And what a blessing it turned out to be. "Be careful what you wish for" is a saying that I think about often, because our desires can be dangerous. We think we know what we want - until we get it, and then we see what fools we have been. 

What I have learnt is that where we come from is deeply ingrained in us. The values, lessons and experiences from childhood stay with us, consciously or subconsciously.
And I am very grateful for that. 

After the first few years of childishly insisting on the black and white version of "Canada-good, Germany-bad", I slowly introduced more and more shades of grey into the picture.
But it wasn't until last week, that I noticed the final shift in my attitude.

We were shooting the breeze at work, talking about smoking cigarettes versus smoking a pipe, when my co-worker exclaimed, after listening to me for a while: "You are such a German girl!" And the very first feeling that hit me was - pride. Wow, hang on a minute - me, being proud of being German? That's so unlike me. Where did that come from?
But yes, that feeling is true, and it flooded me with peace and happiness.
I have finally come to a place where I can appreciate the good and bad about both countries. Where I can see them both for what they are: both flawed, with their individual sets of problems, but both wonderful in their own way.

While I have chosen to live in Canada, and love that country with all my heart, I am also glad that I was born and grew up in Germany. It taught me a lot: a deep appreciation for beer, bratwurst, and dancing on tables;
when in doubt, "oaner geht noch, oaner geht noch nei" (just one more); and the most important one:
Lederhosen are sexy.

Of course, this sudden insight is all because of the worldcup. Sadly, it is not as big a deal here in Canada as it is in other countries, but for us it is a huge deal. Humongous!
We are in the semi finals, and all I can say is this: Go, Germany, go!

What has your country taught you?

Proudly German-Canadian, Miriam

The School of Life

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  1. You are so right about that struggle and sometimes I do feel some kind of guilt over preferring an American or a Swedish thing which is silly but I am sure one day it will all even out, I mean I have just been over here 3 years!

  2. This is wonderful Miriam! I love hearing that it clicked where you feel pride of both!!

  3. Beer, Bratwurst, and Dancing on Tables, sounds like such a fun place to grow up! I've never been to Europe, but when I do head that way Germany is definitely on my list!
    Miche from Buttons and Birdcages

  4. very insightful post, you're right they're are tons of shades of grey between our heritage countries and Canada. Technically I'm Canadian but my dad was born in Jamaica and immigrated here when he was 10. So my extended family and a lot of my parent's friends are from the Caribbean. One thing I have learned from that culture, is it's very food-centric in a different way than here in Canada. Eating and cooking is a social event, and people connect through food. There are obviously many other things but that's the first that comes to mind!

    Very cool to learn about your roots, and glad you're proud of them :)

    Emmett - Hippie Lace

  5. Interesting! I might have this on a VERY much smaller scale with my move from Chicago (north) to Oklahoma (south). Although I think Chicago is awesome and never thought it sucked, so maybe that's actually a terrible example.

  6. I like that you are embracing both!! That's exactly how it should be. And it's good that it was a gradual shift. Now you know that you feel the way you do about each country because it is how YOU feel. Not pressure from family and friends to like or not like a place. I think that happens far too often as well!



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