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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:37 pm 
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Seagull of the PPK
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OMG my international bank card FINALLY WORKED TODAY. it was like the miracle of miracles. i was trying to explain to my mother why i have such stupid bank problems ("but HSBC is HSBC!" "not really mom....") and it is just ludicrous how complicated it is.

in other news, the brazilian economy looks like it's set to go right over the cliff any day now, just in time for me to go back home. hehe.

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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 9:25 pm 
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I moved this year, with no plans/wish to return to the country where I grew up.
I never felt at home where I grew up, so it's nice to finally live in a place that feels right.
The hard part is not speaking the language, I go to German classes, I can read a lot, understand some spoken but can't speak myself...very frustrating, even though I know it's just a matter of time.

Most non-German people I've met are just here to party for six months and then go home. They are almost shocked that I go to German classes not just for the lolz, but because I need to learn the language since I live here, you know...
Seriously haven't met a single expat who plans to stay.
Sure I don't know if I'll always live here, but I do know that the country I grew up in is not for me, if I move it would be to another country where I would also be an expat. Berlin feels like home.
It makes me not try to meet people, what's the point when they're leaving again, and all the do is talk about how drunk they got at the last party.
While I have my cosy little everyday life with learning German, filling out paperwork/practical things, grocery shopping and going to the vet's (people can't understand how/where I have my adopted furries...are your animals back home?? Eh, Berlin is my home...not whatever country I happened to be squeezed out in).


When I told people I was moving they also thought it would just be for some time, and then I'll return "home". It's funny because I don't have any family or friends left there, have been on my own for the last 10 years, absolutely nothing keeps me there. I feel very unwelcome, people are narrowminded, everything costs a fortune, people are hostile towards you if you dare to eat a chickpea. Not a place I call home.


Oh and EVERYONE asked me "Did you meet someone??" when I told them I was moving.
Thanks for assuming I'm so co-dependent that the only reason I would ever move was if I "met someone". Thanks a lot, ha. But it says more about the people asking.


Hi ppk'ers!


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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 6:24 am 
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Berlinerin wrote:
Hi ppk'ers!

hi!

Berlinerin wrote:
I moved this year, with no plans/wish to return to the country where I grew up.
I never felt at home where I grew up, so it's nice to finally live in a place that feels right.

welcome! I got to Berlin about 6 weeks ago! so far, it feels more right than anywhere else I lived since leaving Oz. wee!

Berlinerin wrote:
Seriously haven't met a single expat who plans to stay.
[...]
It makes me not try to meet people, what's the point when they're leaving again, and all the do is talk about how drunk they got at the last party.

I can't promise that I'll stay here forever, but I think I'd be happy to stay here for a while. let's see how miserable winter is first ;) but I can promise you there's at least one person around that won't tell you about being drunk at a party, if we ever cross paths.

Berlinerin wrote:
Oh and EVERYONE asked me "Did you meet someone??" when I told them I was moving.
Thanks for assuming I'm so co-dependent that the only reason I would ever move was if I "met someone". Thanks a lot, ha. But it says more about the people asking.

to be fair, you don't need to be codependent to move having met someone. people just like to pry and ask questions. and if you had met someone? great! you're exploring a life that you might be able to share together (free of co-dependence) that you didn't stumble on where you were living previously. that's something to celebrate!

one day we might get our act together enough to organise a meetup around here. there are at least three of us in Berlin (maybe more, and others not super far away). or if you just want to high-five and get a hot chocolate (and then go to a party and get wicked drunk so we have something to talk about the next week...), then hit me up!

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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:02 am 
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I'd be all for a Berlin meetup! I need a few weeks' notice though.

Berlinerin wrote:
Most non-German people I've met are just here to party for six months and then go home. They are almost shocked that I go to German classes not just for the lolz, but because I need to learn the language since I live here, you know...
Seriously haven't met a single expat who plans to stay.
Sure I don't know if I'll always live here, but I do know that the country I grew up in is not for me, if I move it would be to another country where I would also be an expat. Berlin feels like home.
It makes me not try to meet people, what's the point when they're leaving again, and all the do is talk about how drunk they got at the last party.


This is very true, and it's hard.
I have met a few more lifers in Germany than any of the countries I've lived in before (it's hard to imagine staying in Asia forever if you are not born there, both because of the culture and the difficult immigration process). That said, lifers don't tend to mingle with expat circles, they have their own friends and often a local spouse / partner. And I totally hear you, it's a bummer to try and make friends with people who will be gone in 6 months or a year anyway.

There's also a bias in what type of people tend to live abroad - I think many people see a gig abroad as a sort of "year off", so for them it makes sense to be all about the parties and casual relationships before going back to normal at home. But for me it's not a hiatus, it's real life. There is no other normal.

In other news, I have been here for a year and a half now, working for a year, and it's the first country towards which I feel completely... neutral? I mean that in a good way. It's familiar enough that I can go along with the general population without being permanently culture-shocked or feeling like an outsider. It's different enough that I don't feel personally invested in national politics or problematic aspects of the culture. I didn't have grand expectations towards Germany, so Germany cannot disappoint me. I think part of it is that my expat status is not currently thrust in my face or threatened by visa issues, so I can relax and not have to have an emotional attachment to it. I didn't realize until recently how exhausting this unavoidable emotional attachment had been.


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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:14 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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hello new berlinite!
aelle wrote:
lifers don't tend to mingle with expat circles, they have their own friends and often a local spouse / partner. And I totally hear you, it's a bummer to try and make friends with people who will be gone in 6 months or a year anyway.

i think this is really true. i got frustrated with the party/beach/cruising for ladeez/what can you give me short-term types. it took a while for me to find some other lifers. in Brazil because of the visa issues most people are connected to a spouse or anchored somehow but very few are long-term.
now that i guess i can call myself a lifer, i can say that there are times that the last thing i want to do is to hear about how it's sooooooo haaaaaaard to live without starbucks and all that and i would rather go hang out with any random group of toothless old farts in a bar because at least there i can talk football and enjoy myself. So i guess we may be kind of undercover.

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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:35 am 
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torque wrote:
cruising for ladeez


Gah, Torque, expat wives groups are the worst. We have this group here that is so obnoxious. I tried going to a couple of events that started as "let's go somewhere and drink" and turned into "let's make it a wine tasting class, a steal at just 120 euros per person! Also incompatible with normal working hours." Bleh. The funny thing is I have made a few friends out of the group renegades. We bond over the ridiculousness of their FB page where people need to be held by the hand to find an apartment with a budget of 3,000 euros a month.


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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 8:32 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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oh, i stay FAR away from those International Women's Groups for a million reasons. (999,995 involve snobbery)

can i also just say, i get grumpy about people who dislike the "appropriation of the term expat", claiming that expat is only for people on an expat international transfer package, and the rest of us poor mustards are basically just steerage people who are dirtying up the place. (i wonder if this is only Brazil. the first time I heard that I didn't know if I'd be able to get my jaw shut again, ever)

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I'm just a drunk who likes fruit. -- Desdemona


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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 8:48 am 
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Oh that's too funny, I totally heard this differentiation in Malaysia - but it was the local contracts who didn't want to be mistaken for those bourgeois/colonialist/capitalist arm dealer international transfer expat pigs who couldn't find their own asparagus without a chauffeur and the help of their embassy.

Local contracts and international transfers moved in different social circles, for sure, because the salaries and lifestyle were different by 1 or 2 orders of magnitude. I shared a flat with a local contract who had a gig as a hallway supervisor thingy at the Lycee Francais, and his salary was less than most of his students' allowance.

Never heard the distinction in Europe or East Asia.


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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:23 am 
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Hi, Berlinerin, I'd totally be up for a Berlin meeting, too :)

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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:57 pm 
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Tofu Pup

Joined: Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:33 pm
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Nice to "meet" you other ppkers here in Berlin :)


The last 2 days I've had 2 simplistic phone conversations in German without switching to comfortable English... yay!
I only have A1 level, but I need to start speaking a bit though. I'm taking a brain break (and saving €€€) from classes atm so I need to write down a plan for December (ex. read 1 short story a day + at least one page in grammar practise book + 1 episode of tv series etc).
I have to order more books, German tv series and films.

Anybody who wants to share how their learning process was, if learning a new language was necessary?
The good and the bad.

English is also not my native language, so I don't feel "bad" for speaking English all the time, I think; hey it's not my language either, so I don't feel rude.
(does that make sense?) but yeah it hinders the learning process that I don't even order a soyalatte in German. Now that I know quite a lot of grammar it's even more scary since I'm painfully aware of mistakes...
I like German a lot and I hope I can speak it some day.


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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:33 pm 
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Seagull of the PPK
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if you have A1, and you are on the phone, yay for you. No matter how simple the convos were.
can i suggest duolingo? many people find it great and it's free.

reading is great but it sounds like you need to do something oral. two things that have really helped me (since my reading and writing in portuguese is significantly better than my oral output, which is pretty normal, so I need to actively work on it, even though I may be pushing the C range) are:
1) find a language source that is appropriate to your gender/age/desired image (so you don't sound daft when you talk), and watch/listen and REPEAT out loud. I listen to a news station and will often find myself repeating phrases and entire sentences. this may be a bit advanced for A1 level but once you get enough vocabulary it's very effective, and when you find yourself speaking without preparation you may have these phrases to call upon in speech.
2) read materials out loud. find a blog, essay, news story, and practice reading it out loud with your mouth. it makes such a difference in speaking when your mouth makes the motions and you actually say it. if you can, read out loud after listening if you're not sure about pronunciation (BBC's german page has audio and text)

(i'll take off my language teacher hat now)

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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 4:02 am 
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Level 7 Vegan
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Berlinerin wrote:
Nice to "meet" you other ppkers here in Berlin :)


The last 2 days I've had 2 simplistic phone conversations in German without switching to comfortable English... yay!
I only have A1 level, but I need to start speaking a bit though. I'm taking a brain break (and saving €€€) from classes atm so I need to write down a plan for December (ex. read 1 short story a day + at least one page in grammar practise book + 1 episode of tv series etc).
I have to order more books, German tv series and films.

Anybody who wants to share how their learning process was, if learning a new language was necessary?
The good and the bad.

English is also not my native language, so I don't feel "bad" for speaking English all the time, I think; hey it's not my language either, so I don't feel rude.
(does that make sense?) but yeah it hinders the learning process that I don't even order a soyalatte in German. Now that I know quite a lot of grammar it's even more scary since I'm painfully aware of mistakes...
I like German a lot and I hope I can speak it some day.


I'm German myself. If you feel like it we could meet up, so you could also practice a bit German?

I'm trying to hopefully start teaching private language lessons soon (not German, I think) & I'm always fascinated by how other people learn languages because lately I realized, i think, that I'm much better at studying languages than on teaching other people a language, especially if they process stuff differently. Like, do you need grammar work? Are you the person who needs tons of phrases to talk comfortably, etc.

If you don't feel like talking to people much directly yet, i'd recommend writing. Either a German message board, a diary, something like that. So you're forced to actively use the language. At least when I write I hear the sentences in my head, too.

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ashley wrote:
I have never thought "This coffee is okay, but it would be better if it were oily."


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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 7:56 am 
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Berlinerin:
I learned to speak french pretty well in 6 months. The first 5 months I had 3 hours of french classes 5x/week + about 1-2 hours of homework every day. The last month I had 8,5 hours of french 5x/week + 1-2 hours of homework every day. I watched A LOT of french movies with french subtitles, and listened to french music every morning and we played a lot of board games in french. I have a bunch of french novels that I need to get started on, before I travel to Paris and Nice in the Spring! (I live in Copenhagen and had the classes here).

I never spoke french before I started those classes, but I was amazed at how much I could learn in 6 months. It was absolutely EXHAUSTING and took a lot of dedication and getting past feeling uncomfortable about it, but besides from that it was just lots and lots of practice. Obviously my french is not flawless, but it is definitely a good base.

My point is that it sounds like you're doing the right thing by forcing yourself to not speak english. Where are you from if I may ask?


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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 7:57 am 
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Oh, and YES, you should totally become a member of a message board in german and read german newspapers! The articles are much less intimidating than short stories and you get exposed to everyday german!


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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:05 pm 
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Holidays are continuously weird. I don't really "get" the local ones, and the ones I do know don't quite fit. They were never a big deal for me in the US (where I loathed their commerciality) but I miss the chance to be "at home" here.

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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 7:01 pm 
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i am in the US for my favorite holiday (Thanx) right now, and it was not nearly as awesome as most thanxes past (abroad). oh well!!

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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 12:27 pm 
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Berlinerin: torque also hooked me up with livemocha.com. I liked it because during the lessons you record yourself speaking, and then native speakers can comment on how you did. Some of it was just cheerleading, but I received some excellent criticism as well.

I use duolingo now just for fun though, and I really like it, too. There's a bit of a speaking element, but no feed back.

Best of luck to you!

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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:00 pm 
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I'm going to move to Berlin in just over a year because I'm learning German as part of my degree. I'm really, really excited.


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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:25 pm 
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I'm totally the expat who never hangs out with other expats! I tried once and it was awkward. Not my kind of people for sure. All hoity toity rich mothers hubbard.


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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:52 am 
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Dr Bronners, MD
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Fork taxes. I did not do enough research when I moved abroad in 2007. I only had US income until 2010, so grandma did my taxes as if I were local and I didn't think twice. Since then, I've had "world income" (which is taxed by my new home) and have filed a US return but had NO IDEA California expected me to do the same until now. I wish moving abroad came with an instant booklet --- I assumed residency elsewhere = no more CA residency, and no. Google assures me I'm not the only one to've made that mistake, but fork.

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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:14 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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but if i recall, on the bright side, california lets you do a power of attorney with like no bullcrap at all (small consolation, i'm sure) whereas New Jersey effectively requires that everyone actually be present in NJ at the time the POA is signed, which sort of defeats the purpose of a power of attorney (spouse who can't go to NJ to close bank account).
[ETA: obviously, who gives a shiitake, because you have to do your taxes every year for CA. you have my sympathies!]

I have to wait to do my Brazilian taxes before I can do the US ones. Part of me says, man, I did my taxes last year, I shouldn't have to do them again this year. waaaaaaaaaah

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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:36 am 
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I ... don't do my US taxes. I think I did them when I was at uni since otherwise I wouldn't have gotten any funding. But I haven't done them since. Part of me thinks I should, just in case I get money back (since more than 1/3 of my income goes to paying off my student loans). But the other part of me thinks, fork that, I don't live there or make money there, so why should I pay taxes there when I'm already paying taxes here.

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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:28 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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i would not give the smallest shiitake about it except for on the off chance that the kid wants to go to college in the US, I may have to present tax records. Like you, I'm also paying (a ridiculous amount of) income tax here (and getting precious little in return).

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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:17 am 
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Yeah. I don't know what I would need it for, but the idea of being audited for not doing a required thing scares me more than paying taxes infuriates me.

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 Post subject: Re: Expat PPKers
PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:40 pm 
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Seagull of the PPK
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this past year i caught up on my taxes (as i have shared with a few people privately, i don't think i put it out there before) after 7 years of neglect. law required 3, so that's what i did, it turned out to be relatively easy as long as i didn't think about it all too much (i.e. i am a freelancer here but don't need to file as a freelancer in the us, etc etc). filed in maybe september.
got back to Brazil January 1, January 5 I get a thin letter from the IRS. I nearly pooped my pants. I opened it up and it is a nice letter saying that I should redo my taxes because I probably would get money back if I claimed X tax credit (I paid taxes in Brazil so the US isn't going to give me anything). but it is funny how ingrained our fear of the IRS is.... at least my fear...

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