Derek Twiss

Grüße! I’m Derek from Connecticut and I’m 28 years young. I first started studying here in Karlsruhe in 2016 when I began the Introductory College Prep Program (Studienkolleg). After completing the year-long introductory year, I was able to begin my bachelors in Intercultural Management and Communication.

Student life here has been very interesting and engaging with participation in student council (StuV), many practical business projects to add to your CV and various events throughout the semester. Studying with people from all over the world makes it easy to learn different languages and offers various points of view (which will be increasingly important in a global economy).

While moving to Germany was a big life decision, it has proven to be one the most exciting and enlightening moves I’ve made yet! The sense of community as well as support networks in place here made my move almost seamless. Settling into a new city of course takes time, but with the help of my job in an Irish pub, making friends within the community with similar interests, such as going to concerts and playing music, has become a reality for me. The city of Karlsruhe, which is situated very conveniently for travel, in the center of Europe, offers various sports programs and extracurricular activities and always has something going on for it’s citizens, so tell me about your interests and maybe I can send you in the right direction!

I am looking forward to providing you with more content in my feed so that you can get an idea of student life here in DE, as well as getting in touch with you to help you in the process of getting over here to study in such a great little city. I would be happy to email or message or make an appointment to talk on the phone or Skype.

„While leaving the US might seem like the impossible, the sense of community and collaborative spirit here at the Karls is sure to support you in achieving your degree and what lies beyond.“
2020/03/18
Barcelona, ES

Barcelona! What a great city! I wish I could go back in time and be there again with the relatively perfect weather, warm and open-minded people and great sights, food and gastro spots. Here is a picture I took in front of the daunting Sagrada Familia on a beautiful but windy day. Here I thought that there is ever only ever construction in Germany!? Anyway, I was lucky enough to beat the outbreak of Covid19 and my trip went seamlessly. However, at the moment, most of us are camped out inside, as most people back in the US are. As I’ve been working since age 16, I always think that with too much free time, I’ll end up with cabin-fever and go insane. After not having much to do a few summers ago apart from work, I realized that boredom can be the pathway to creativity and discovery. As I’ve also learned in quite a few snowstorms, being shut inside with friends and family can sometimes drive us crazy, but we can also enjoy intimate times together playing card games, listening to music or podcasts gathered around the fireplace. Whether you have a fireplace or not (and I’m missing mine), I hope that everyone is able to make the best of an unfortunate turn of events and most importantly, I wish you and yours health and safety in these trying times. As always, feel free to message me with any questions you have about Karlsruhe, Karlshochschule or if you’d just like to have a chat!

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2020/03/06
Diversity of Food in Germany - Karlsruhe

Bubble tea! It might not be for everyone, but I’m sure there’s one Asian restaurant in Karlsruhe that you’ll enjoy! When you consider the waves of immigration to Germany, it’s not a surprise that there’s tons of great Asian, Syrian and Turkish restaurants and grocery stores to be discovered. Instead of going out for a Schnitzel and Apfelschorle (sparkling apple juice), why not change it up and discover something new with one of the other options in Karlsruhe!? Of course, this comes with fewer Jamaican and Mexican and Central/South American options which I always miss, but after a semester or internship abroad, you might find yourself missing at least one of the restaurants in Karlsruhe, like I did. Be sure to contact me or one of the other KarlsAmbassadors if you are curious about the local restaurants and tasty spots in Karlsruhe! I look forward to hearing from you!

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2020/02/03
Karl's Market Place - Karlshochschule

That’s me at the Karl’s Semester Abroad Market Place! I was happy to participate despite the ongoing, somewhat hectic search for an internship! It was great to talk to a few of the Foundation Year, 1st and 3rd semester students not only about Lithuania, but also about how I came to decide on Lithuania. While I had visited quite a few of the western European countries, I had my curiosities about the lifestyle and values in some of the northern and eastern countries, perhaps since I come from the northeast of my country!? It has been great to regroup with a few fellow Karl’s students, discussing exciting prospects of internships, interesting experiences during semester abroad as well as where we’ll work and live, after studies (eventually) finish up. Now is when everything we have learned in class starts to manifest into reality and gradually carry over into our daily work lives. Not only has my experience at Karl’s influenced my work life, but also the decision to stay in Europe (at least for the near future) and has further shaped my worldview. Education has always been an ongoing journey, one that I don’t plan to stop after graduation and Karl’s has fuelled my thirst for adventure and exploration, especially of different theories and cultures. Stay tuned as I delve into my sixth semester!

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2020/01/23
Being an Expat in DE and LT(part 3)

Finally, back to Germany to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, well I guess not any blood family, for that matter, but it feels like my home-base/family in Europe. I was anxious to get back and see everyone for the holiday and to continue on the same topic of being an American in Europe, in this case, Germany specifically, I wanted to talk a bit about the holidays here.

This year, I had the pleasure and privilege of celebrating the holiday with my girlfriends family, which made for a genuine Badisch cultural experience! Since it’s generally tradition in many Catholic regions to eat fish on Christmas eve, Baden-Wurttemberg being one of them, we had salmon and then some traditional meat dishes such as duck and roulade(pickle and bacon rolled up in beef slabs and then broiled) on the following two days of Christmas. In Germany, both the 25th and 26th are Christmas days. Christmas gifts are generally opened on Christmas Eve as in most of Europe (to my knowledge). Quite a few people asked me how I liked the holidays in Germany, and I found it pretty similar to the US, since there is plenty of good food and games and it’s a great time to relax with family. Of course, not everyone celebrates Christmas, but even if you don’t, some of the traditions can be curious to learn about!

For New Years eve, there is of course bubbly to drink, normally raclette at the table and fireworks fill the streets!

Enough of the holiday, back to the complexities of being an American in Germany! While there is definitely a level of entitlement from the American corner, as the current German constitution took some direction from the American Constitution and the US was in charge of helping a section of Germany to get back on its feet after the war, the general attitude of both nationalities is pretty friendly and welcoming on both soils, regardless what each might think of one another’s culture or politicians. Of course, in every population, there’s always people who aren’t quite so well-read and blindly use stereotypes as a blanket statement.

Another complexity in Germany is the language. In the inner-city, most people can speak high German and/or English, but there are many regional dialects and if the people can’t speak even a bit of high German, communication can get complicated. As much as people might tell you to just focus on learning high German, learning a few of the regional greetings and sayings can put a smile on peoples face and show them that you are making an effort to integrate.

If you still have questions about other areas of daily life here, are concerned about paperwork or just flat-out disagree with what I have to say, please drop me a line or a letter! I’m anxious to hear from you! Otherwise, Happy New Year!

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2020/03/18
Barcelona, ES

Barcelona! What a great city! I wish I could go back in time and be there again with the relatively perfect weather, warm and open-minded people and great sights, food and gastro spots. Here is a picture I took in front of the daunting Sagrada Familia on a beautiful but windy day. Here I thought that there is ever only ever construction in Germany!? Anyway, I was lucky enough to beat the outbreak of Covid19 and my trip went seamlessly. However, at the moment, most of us are camped out inside, as most people back in the US are. As I’ve been working since age 16, I always think that with too much free time, I’ll end up with cabin-fever and go insane. After not having much to do a few summers ago apart from work, I realized that boredom can be the pathway to creativity and discovery. As I’ve also learned in quite a few snowstorms, being shut inside with friends and family can sometimes drive us crazy, but we can also enjoy intimate times together playing card games, listening to music or podcasts gathered around the fireplace. Whether you have a fireplace or not (and I’m missing mine), I hope that everyone is able to make the best of an unfortunate turn of events and most importantly, I wish you and yours health and safety in these trying times. As always, feel free to message me with any questions you have about Karlsruhe, Karlshochschule or if you’d just like to have a chat!

ctrl-down
2020/01/23
Being an Expat in DE and LT(part 3)

Finally, back to Germany to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, well I guess not any blood family, for that matter, but it feels like my home-base/family in Europe. I was anxious to get back and see everyone for the holiday and to continue on the same topic of being an American in Europe, in this case, Germany specifically, I wanted to talk a bit about the holidays here.

This year, I had the pleasure and privilege of celebrating the holiday with my girlfriends family, which made for a genuine Badisch cultural experience! Since it’s generally tradition in many Catholic regions to eat fish on Christmas eve, Baden-Wurttemberg being one of them, we had salmon and then some traditional meat dishes such as duck and roulade(pickle and bacon rolled up in beef slabs and then broiled) on the following two days of Christmas. In Germany, both the 25th and 26th are Christmas days. Christmas gifts are generally opened on Christmas Eve as in most of Europe (to my knowledge). Quite a few people asked me how I liked the holidays in Germany, and I found it pretty similar to the US, since there is plenty of good food and games and it’s a great time to relax with family. Of course, not everyone celebrates Christmas, but even if you don’t, some of the traditions can be curious to learn about!

For New Years eve, there is of course bubbly to drink, normally raclette at the table and fireworks fill the streets!

Enough of the holiday, back to the complexities of being an American in Germany! While there is definitely a level of entitlement from the American corner, as the current German constitution took some direction from the American Constitution and the US was in charge of helping a section of Germany to get back on its feet after the war, the general attitude of both nationalities is pretty friendly and welcoming on both soils, regardless what each might think of one another’s culture or politicians. Of course, in every population, there’s always people who aren’t quite so well-read and blindly use stereotypes as a blanket statement.

Another complexity in Germany is the language. In the inner-city, most people can speak high German and/or English, but there are many regional dialects and if the people can’t speak even a bit of high German, communication can get complicated. As much as people might tell you to just focus on learning high German, learning a few of the regional greetings and sayings can put a smile on peoples face and show them that you are making an effort to integrate.

If you still have questions about other areas of daily life here, are concerned about paperwork or just flat-out disagree with what I have to say, please drop me a line or a letter! I’m anxious to hear from you! Otherwise, Happy New Year!

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2019/12/05
Being an expat in LT and DE (part 2)

Being an American expat in Lithuania has been much different from my experience in Germany.
Seeing how Germany is the country with the most American expats in the world, there has
already been a chance for a very strong stereotype of Americans to take hold. America’s role
regarding international relations also plays a large role in how people in Lithuania regard
Americans.

After the end of USSR occupation in Lithuania, the US served as a sort of role model as to how
a modern and current western country could look or be like. While the culture quickly changed
to pursuing “freedom” and the American dream of buying your own house on your own land with
a big SUV to drive, the social culture in Lithuania remains what foreigners would describe as
“cold” or “reserved”. However, it isn’t just foreigners that would describe it this way, I have also
heard my teachers describe how they prefer a culture where you aren’t required to smile at
people you don’t know or talk to the person ringing out your groceries, as they find this
expectation exhausting. At times, or at least at first, it’s difficult not to take these standoffish
interactions personally, but if you take a second to consider the motivation and culture driving
these gestures, you realize you might be just as tired as they are of (at times) forcing a smile.

When I tell someone that I’m American, their general reaction is to ask where I’m from and they
tell me where they’ve been or where they have relatives in the states. People are generally
distrusting or suspicious of their neighbor in Lithuania, and reasonably so, having undergone a
long occupation by the USSR, but once they hear where I’m from they’re generally warm and
welcoming, trying to relate and asking what brings me to their quaint little country.

Being a smaller country that is underrepresented, people are much more likely to want to be
friends and make connections and also are quite reserved. These observations are of course
based on my own perceptions and interactions, where I’ve mainly only spent time in the city of
Vilnius and I’m sure my perception would be different were I spending more time in the country
where there are next to no foreign people visiting or living.

I hope this answers some questions about my experience and if you get the chance, definitely
come up to the Baltics and make some friends! Please write me if you have further questions or
disagree with my opinions! =)

Picture is at the Vilnius Christmas Market!

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2019/12/05
Being an Expat in DE and LT - Riga,LV

“You’re cool, for an American!” “Did you vote for Trump?” The list of interesting and sometimes upsetting things people say to you all over the world, even in your own country for that matter, grows longer every day, doesn’t it? The concept of being an American outside of the US, an “expat”, as it were, raises many questions from fellow Americans as well as just about every person I get the chance to converse with. 

While we could all just ignore the fact that we were brought up in different contexts with different beliefs in different settings, social and otherwise, seemingly ignorant questions about living abroad and each other’s cultures in general, always come to surface in some way or another.  

It’s great to tackle these questions head on and educate ourselves about other people’s cultures, however there are sometimes pitfalls to being open and curious. With the best of intentions, you also run the risk of offending others or might feel insulted by the direct nature of people asking you questions or even pressured to properly answer questions as a sort of ambassador for your country, even if for a small number of people. It might seem like nothing can ever go right within the intercultural context, but through interactions and conversations with others, I have come to some realizations and learned a lot about different perspectives. 

Living in the US, you learn a lot about the US’ role in the world and about American views on other countries. There is a lot of speculation about how citizens of other countries feel about the US, but I guarantee you that you will be surprised about what some people have to say, whether the dialogue is in support or criticism of the US or other countries. People that are willing to discuss such in-depth topics with you are generally willing to listen to what you have to say and very respectful of your point of view. 

In the following two posts, I will be discussing my experiences as an American in Lithuania as well as in Germany, covering experiences both in talking about the US and it’s culture as well as trying to learn about other countries.  

Picture is from my recent trip to Riga, which was a bit colder than Vilnius, in front of the House of the Blackheads.

 

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2020/03/18
Barcelona, ES

Barcelona! What a great city! I wish I could go back in time and be there again with the relatively perfect weather, warm and open-minded people and great sights, food and gastro spots. Here is a picture I took in front of the daunting Sagrada Familia on a beautiful but windy day. Here I thought that there is ever only ever construction in Germany!? Anyway, I was lucky enough to beat the outbreak of Covid19 and my trip went seamlessly. However, at the moment, most of us are camped out inside, as most people back in the US are. As I’ve been working since age 16, I always think that with too much free time, I’ll end up with cabin-fever and go insane. After not having much to do a few summers ago apart from work, I realized that boredom can be the pathway to creativity and discovery. As I’ve also learned in quite a few snowstorms, being shut inside with friends and family can sometimes drive us crazy, but we can also enjoy intimate times together playing card games, listening to music or podcasts gathered around the fireplace. Whether you have a fireplace or not (and I’m missing mine), I hope that everyone is able to make the best of an unfortunate turn of events and most importantly, I wish you and yours health and safety in these trying times. As always, feel free to message me with any questions you have about Karlsruhe, Karlshochschule or if you’d just like to have a chat!

ctrl-down
2020/03/06
Diversity of Food in Germany - Karlsruhe

Bubble tea! It might not be for everyone, but I’m sure there’s one Asian restaurant in Karlsruhe that you’ll enjoy! When you consider the waves of immigration to Germany, it’s not a surprise that there’s tons of great Asian, Syrian and Turkish restaurants and grocery stores to be discovered. Instead of going out for a Schnitzel and Apfelschorle (sparkling apple juice), why not change it up and discover something new with one of the other options in Karlsruhe!? Of course, this comes with fewer Jamaican and Mexican and Central/South American options which I always miss, but after a semester or internship abroad, you might find yourself missing at least one of the restaurants in Karlsruhe, like I did. Be sure to contact me or one of the other KarlsAmbassadors if you are curious about the local restaurants and tasty spots in Karlsruhe! I look forward to hearing from you!

ctrl-down
2020/02/03
Karl's Market Place - Karlshochschule

That’s me at the Karl’s Semester Abroad Market Place! I was happy to participate despite the ongoing, somewhat hectic search for an internship! It was great to talk to a few of the Foundation Year, 1st and 3rd semester students not only about Lithuania, but also about how I came to decide on Lithuania. While I had visited quite a few of the western European countries, I had my curiosities about the lifestyle and values in some of the northern and eastern countries, perhaps since I come from the northeast of my country!? It has been great to regroup with a few fellow Karl’s students, discussing exciting prospects of internships, interesting experiences during semester abroad as well as where we’ll work and live, after studies (eventually) finish up. Now is when everything we have learned in class starts to manifest into reality and gradually carry over into our daily work lives. Not only has my experience at Karl’s influenced my work life, but also the decision to stay in Europe (at least for the near future) and has further shaped my worldview. Education has always been an ongoing journey, one that I don’t plan to stop after graduation and Karl’s has fuelled my thirst for adventure and exploration, especially of different theories and cultures. Stay tuned as I delve into my sixth semester!

ctrl-down
2019/12/05
Being an expat in LT and DE (part 2)

Being an American expat in Lithuania has been much different from my experience in Germany.
Seeing how Germany is the country with the most American expats in the world, there has
already been a chance for a very strong stereotype of Americans to take hold. America’s role
regarding international relations also plays a large role in how people in Lithuania regard
Americans.

After the end of USSR occupation in Lithuania, the US served as a sort of role model as to how
a modern and current western country could look or be like. While the culture quickly changed
to pursuing “freedom” and the American dream of buying your own house on your own land with
a big SUV to drive, the social culture in Lithuania remains what foreigners would describe as
“cold” or “reserved”. However, it isn’t just foreigners that would describe it this way, I have also
heard my teachers describe how they prefer a culture where you aren’t required to smile at
people you don’t know or talk to the person ringing out your groceries, as they find this
expectation exhausting. At times, or at least at first, it’s difficult not to take these standoffish
interactions personally, but if you take a second to consider the motivation and culture driving
these gestures, you realize you might be just as tired as they are of (at times) forcing a smile.

When I tell someone that I’m American, their general reaction is to ask where I’m from and they
tell me where they’ve been or where they have relatives in the states. People are generally
distrusting or suspicious of their neighbor in Lithuania, and reasonably so, having undergone a
long occupation by the USSR, but once they hear where I’m from they’re generally warm and
welcoming, trying to relate and asking what brings me to their quaint little country.

Being a smaller country that is underrepresented, people are much more likely to want to be
friends and make connections and also are quite reserved. These observations are of course
based on my own perceptions and interactions, where I’ve mainly only spent time in the city of
Vilnius and I’m sure my perception would be different were I spending more time in the country
where there are next to no foreign people visiting or living.

I hope this answers some questions about my experience and if you get the chance, definitely
come up to the Baltics and make some friends! Please write me if you have further questions or
disagree with my opinions! =)

Picture is at the Vilnius Christmas Market!

ctrl-down
2020/03/06
Diversity of Food in Germany - Karlsruhe

Bubble tea! It might not be for everyone, but I’m sure there’s one Asian restaurant in Karlsruhe that you’ll enjoy! When you consider the waves of immigration to Germany, it’s not a surprise that there’s tons of great Asian, Syrian and Turkish restaurants and grocery stores to be discovered. Instead of going out for a Schnitzel and Apfelschorle (sparkling apple juice), why not change it up and discover something new with one of the other options in Karlsruhe!? Of course, this comes with fewer Jamaican and Mexican and Central/South American options which I always miss, but after a semester or internship abroad, you might find yourself missing at least one of the restaurants in Karlsruhe, like I did. Be sure to contact me or one of the other KarlsAmbassadors if you are curious about the local restaurants and tasty spots in Karlsruhe! I look forward to hearing from you!

ctrl-down
2020/02/03
Karl's Market Place - Karlshochschule

That’s me at the Karl’s Semester Abroad Market Place! I was happy to participate despite the ongoing, somewhat hectic search for an internship! It was great to talk to a few of the Foundation Year, 1st and 3rd semester students not only about Lithuania, but also about how I came to decide on Lithuania. While I had visited quite a few of the western European countries, I had my curiosities about the lifestyle and values in some of the northern and eastern countries, perhaps since I come from the northeast of my country!? It has been great to regroup with a few fellow Karl’s students, discussing exciting prospects of internships, interesting experiences during semester abroad as well as where we’ll work and live, after studies (eventually) finish up. Now is when everything we have learned in class starts to manifest into reality and gradually carry over into our daily work lives. Not only has my experience at Karl’s influenced my work life, but also the decision to stay in Europe (at least for the near future) and has further shaped my worldview. Education has always been an ongoing journey, one that I don’t plan to stop after graduation and Karl’s has fuelled my thirst for adventure and exploration, especially of different theories and cultures. Stay tuned as I delve into my sixth semester!

ctrl-down
2020/01/23
Being an Expat in DE and LT(part 3)

Finally, back to Germany to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, well I guess not any blood family, for that matter, but it feels like my home-base/family in Europe. I was anxious to get back and see everyone for the holiday and to continue on the same topic of being an American in Europe, in this case, Germany specifically, I wanted to talk a bit about the holidays here.

This year, I had the pleasure and privilege of celebrating the holiday with my girlfriends family, which made for a genuine Badisch cultural experience! Since it’s generally tradition in many Catholic regions to eat fish on Christmas eve, Baden-Wurttemberg being one of them, we had salmon and then some traditional meat dishes such as duck and roulade(pickle and bacon rolled up in beef slabs and then broiled) on the following two days of Christmas. In Germany, both the 25th and 26th are Christmas days. Christmas gifts are generally opened on Christmas Eve as in most of Europe (to my knowledge). Quite a few people asked me how I liked the holidays in Germany, and I found it pretty similar to the US, since there is plenty of good food and games and it’s a great time to relax with family. Of course, not everyone celebrates Christmas, but even if you don’t, some of the traditions can be curious to learn about!

For New Years eve, there is of course bubbly to drink, normally raclette at the table and fireworks fill the streets!

Enough of the holiday, back to the complexities of being an American in Germany! While there is definitely a level of entitlement from the American corner, as the current German constitution took some direction from the American Constitution and the US was in charge of helping a section of Germany to get back on its feet after the war, the general attitude of both nationalities is pretty friendly and welcoming on both soils, regardless what each might think of one another’s culture or politicians. Of course, in every population, there’s always people who aren’t quite so well-read and blindly use stereotypes as a blanket statement.

Another complexity in Germany is the language. In the inner-city, most people can speak high German and/or English, but there are many regional dialects and if the people can’t speak even a bit of high German, communication can get complicated. As much as people might tell you to just focus on learning high German, learning a few of the regional greetings and sayings can put a smile on peoples face and show them that you are making an effort to integrate.

If you still have questions about other areas of daily life here, are concerned about paperwork or just flat-out disagree with what I have to say, please drop me a line or a letter! I’m anxious to hear from you! Otherwise, Happy New Year!

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2019/10/25
Trakai Castle - LT

Trakai Island Castle! While tourists don’t necessarily bother taking a tour of the inside of the castle, taking a quiet stroll around the island outside the castle walls is a great breath of fresh air from the city. Only 20 minutes by car or 45 minutes by public transport, the village of Trakai is a great day (or evening) trip idea from Vilnius. Many have said that one of the greatest things about Vilnius is leaving it, and once you see the nature and countryside of Lithuania, you will surely agree. There’s a good reason why so many Lithuanian last names have to do with nature! I’m certainly learning more about the country, thanks especially to my ‘Lithuania and Lithuanians Today: Sociocultural Issues’ class, for which I will be completing a research project about the role of music from pre- to post USSR occupation. I’m really looking forward to conducting interviews and learning something new about this area of Europe! More content to come! 

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2020/02/03
Karl's Market Place - Karlshochschule

That’s me at the Karl’s Semester Abroad Market Place! I was happy to participate despite the ongoing, somewhat hectic search for an internship! It was great to talk to a few of the Foundation Year, 1st and 3rd semester students not only about Lithuania, but also about how I came to decide on Lithuania. While I had visited quite a few of the western European countries, I had my curiosities about the lifestyle and values in some of the northern and eastern countries, perhaps since I come from the northeast of my country!? It has been great to regroup with a few fellow Karl’s students, discussing exciting prospects of internships, interesting experiences during semester abroad as well as where we’ll work and live, after studies (eventually) finish up. Now is when everything we have learned in class starts to manifest into reality and gradually carry over into our daily work lives. Not only has my experience at Karl’s influenced my work life, but also the decision to stay in Europe (at least for the near future) and has further shaped my worldview. Education has always been an ongoing journey, one that I don’t plan to stop after graduation and Karl’s has fuelled my thirst for adventure and exploration, especially of different theories and cultures. Stay tuned as I delve into my sixth semester!

ctrl-down
2020/01/23
Being an Expat in DE and LT(part 3)

Finally, back to Germany to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, well I guess not any blood family, for that matter, but it feels like my home-base/family in Europe. I was anxious to get back and see everyone for the holiday and to continue on the same topic of being an American in Europe, in this case, Germany specifically, I wanted to talk a bit about the holidays here.

This year, I had the pleasure and privilege of celebrating the holiday with my girlfriends family, which made for a genuine Badisch cultural experience! Since it’s generally tradition in many Catholic regions to eat fish on Christmas eve, Baden-Wurttemberg being one of them, we had salmon and then some traditional meat dishes such as duck and roulade(pickle and bacon rolled up in beef slabs and then broiled) on the following two days of Christmas. In Germany, both the 25th and 26th are Christmas days. Christmas gifts are generally opened on Christmas Eve as in most of Europe (to my knowledge). Quite a few people asked me how I liked the holidays in Germany, and I found it pretty similar to the US, since there is plenty of good food and games and it’s a great time to relax with family. Of course, not everyone celebrates Christmas, but even if you don’t, some of the traditions can be curious to learn about!

For New Years eve, there is of course bubbly to drink, normally raclette at the table and fireworks fill the streets!

Enough of the holiday, back to the complexities of being an American in Germany! While there is definitely a level of entitlement from the American corner, as the current German constitution took some direction from the American Constitution and the US was in charge of helping a section of Germany to get back on its feet after the war, the general attitude of both nationalities is pretty friendly and welcoming on both soils, regardless what each might think of one another’s culture or politicians. Of course, in every population, there’s always people who aren’t quite so well-read and blindly use stereotypes as a blanket statement.

Another complexity in Germany is the language. In the inner-city, most people can speak high German and/or English, but there are many regional dialects and if the people can’t speak even a bit of high German, communication can get complicated. As much as people might tell you to just focus on learning high German, learning a few of the regional greetings and sayings can put a smile on peoples face and show them that you are making an effort to integrate.

If you still have questions about other areas of daily life here, are concerned about paperwork or just flat-out disagree with what I have to say, please drop me a line or a letter! I’m anxious to hear from you! Otherwise, Happy New Year!

ctrl-down
2019/12/05
Being an expat in LT and DE (part 2)

Being an American expat in Lithuania has been much different from my experience in Germany.
Seeing how Germany is the country with the most American expats in the world, there has
already been a chance for a very strong stereotype of Americans to take hold. America’s role
regarding international relations also plays a large role in how people in Lithuania regard
Americans.

After the end of USSR occupation in Lithuania, the US served as a sort of role model as to how
a modern and current western country could look or be like. While the culture quickly changed
to pursuing “freedom” and the American dream of buying your own house on your own land with
a big SUV to drive, the social culture in Lithuania remains what foreigners would describe as
“cold” or “reserved”. However, it isn’t just foreigners that would describe it this way, I have also
heard my teachers describe how they prefer a culture where you aren’t required to smile at
people you don’t know or talk to the person ringing out your groceries, as they find this
expectation exhausting. At times, or at least at first, it’s difficult not to take these standoffish
interactions personally, but if you take a second to consider the motivation and culture driving
these gestures, you realize you might be just as tired as they are of (at times) forcing a smile.

When I tell someone that I’m American, their general reaction is to ask where I’m from and they
tell me where they’ve been or where they have relatives in the states. People are generally
distrusting or suspicious of their neighbor in Lithuania, and reasonably so, having undergone a
long occupation by the USSR, but once they hear where I’m from they’re generally warm and
welcoming, trying to relate and asking what brings me to their quaint little country.

Being a smaller country that is underrepresented, people are much more likely to want to be
friends and make connections and also are quite reserved. These observations are of course
based on my own perceptions and interactions, where I’ve mainly only spent time in the city of
Vilnius and I’m sure my perception would be different were I spending more time in the country
where there are next to no foreign people visiting or living.

I hope this answers some questions about my experience and if you get the chance, definitely
come up to the Baltics and make some friends! Please write me if you have further questions or
disagree with my opinions! =)

Picture is at the Vilnius Christmas Market!

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2019/10/25
Trakai Castle - LT

Trakai Island Castle! While tourists don’t necessarily bother taking a tour of the inside of the castle, taking a quiet stroll around the island outside the castle walls is a great breath of fresh air from the city. Only 20 minutes by car or 45 minutes by public transport, the village of Trakai is a great day (or evening) trip idea from Vilnius. Many have said that one of the greatest things about Vilnius is leaving it, and once you see the nature and countryside of Lithuania, you will surely agree. There’s a good reason why so many Lithuanian last names have to do with nature! I’m certainly learning more about the country, thanks especially to my ‘Lithuania and Lithuanians Today: Sociocultural Issues’ class, for which I will be completing a research project about the role of music from pre- to post USSR occupation. I’m really looking forward to conducting interviews and learning something new about this area of Europe! More content to come! 

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The Karls-People

In Germany, students call each other ‘Kommilitonen’ – this is based on a Latin term that means something like ‘fellow combatants’. And that’s exactly how it really is: At Karls, I feel like I'm surrounded by people who are working for the same things and want to stand up for what’s right together. The professors, staff and other students are inspired by the idea of creating something bigger – committed to the environment, sustainability and a better world. That's why I don’t feel like there are any hierarchies here. I can chat with my professors as easily as with my roommate. I can confidently say: The people here are the ones who have made Karlsruhe a second home for me.

The Karls-Philosophy

Karls has developed its own constructivist philosophy and didactics. The exact wording can be found on karlshochschule.de. But I can tell you in my own words how this philosophy feels to me and how it has become tangible in my life. Put briefly: At Karls, I can let myself and my ideas blossom. I can incorporate my knowledge, my ideals and my expectations and deepen them in a lively dialogue with my fellow students. My ideas are taken seriously here – I learn from my professors, of course, but my professors also learn from me. Instead of a strict curriculum and tons of theoretical knowledge, at Karls, I am given a wide range of information that I can structure however I want, and many opportunities to try it out in practice.

The Karls-Education

When I arrive at Karls in the morning, I overhear scraps of conversation between my classmates in English, German, French, Spanish and many other languages. It is precisely this open intercultural exchange that also shapes the experience of studying at Karls. Here, it’s totally normal for your course of study to cross the boundaries between disciplines. For example, it’s simply a matter of course for economists to be concerned with topics such as sustainability, environmental conservation and social justice. Conversely, sociologists at Karls are developing business models that will change the way we understand management. There’s no question that the idea of a language barrier is unimportant at the Karlshochschule. Most of the courses take place in English, and learning German is on the curriculum from day one.

Management

What should our future look like? How do we want to manage tomorrow? In the Management degree program, you will learn to take responsibility for a complex world in which negotiating skills are just as important as understanding and empathy. The pop-up menu gives you more information about your specialization options.

International Business

If you do not want to conceive of economics merely as a game of numbers, but instead want to understand and apply economic questions in an intercultural context, then you’ve come to the right place. You can design your own course of studies and specialize in three different areas.

Society

The world needs not only doers, but also thinkers. People who write the rules of the future and act as protagonists on the international political and economic stage. In these four courses of study in the field of ‘Society’, you’ll get exactly the know-how you need.

Management (M.A.)

The reality of economics and business is negotiated again and again between those involved in it. There are no universal truths, but rather well-functioning viewpoints. This is exactly what the course of studies conveys: Here, students and teachers work together on cultural and social science topics and apply them to management practice.

Spezialisierungen

Would you like to enter the creative industry or set up your own start-up? Do you want to make a difference in the political system of your country or, as the person in charge of an NGO, foster social change? Whatever your vision is: The Master's program offers you six different specializations from which you can choose two – so you can tailor your studies to your exact goals.

„The interconnectedness of modules within and across semesters is stunning. This Master’s is definitively about ‚Rethinking Management‘ and requires engagement on the brink of my comfort zone.“

Mischa Burmester,

Alumnus Master of Management

Conditions

At Karls, we know that grades are not everything. Here, what counts above all is a person’s commitment and the values that define them – and that cannot be measured. The most important thing about your online application is therefore your letter of motivation. This is your chance to show us who you are and why you are a good fit for Karls. Karls is an officially accredited university and must adhere to the rules of the German registration authorities in the application process: Therefore, another prerequisite is a recognized secondary-school degree in Germany.

Help Center

I've put together a bunch of PDFs for most countries on the South American continent. Here you will find a step-by-step checklist for your journey to Karls – from your letter of motivation to how to apply for grants and scholarships and even the application form for a visa. Also, the exact requirements for your education are in the PDF for your country or your region. In addition, you will find in the PDF the contact details of the most important contact persons, e.g. your consulate or embassy. If at any point you feel unsure – don’t worry: I'm here for you.

Download PDF
International Foundation Year

Are you thinking ‘Karls is exactly what I want for my life’, but unfortunately are missing the appropriate degree? Maybe you also have a very good school diploma, but it is not recognized by the German registration authorities? Don’t despair! Many of my fellow students once felt the same way. The solution for you might be the Foundation Year: Within a year, you will learn all the necessary content and then take an exam. This means you’ll meet the admission requirements and can enrol at Karls. Wondering if a Foundation Year is also for you? Write to me and I'll explain everything else, including where and when you can do it.

Do you have further questions about Karls or your studies? Then just write me. I will be at your side with words and deeds and look forward to hear from you.

Karls-FAQ

https://karlshochschule.de/en/faq/

Ambassador (by me)

While German is always useful, you can easily get away without speaking German. All bachelors students are required to take German, but for Master’s students, it isn’t compulsory(but highly recommended!).

There are many different expat clubs in Karlsruhe to meet and network with people. I would be happy to recommend cafes and pubs that are especially international and friendly.

The student visa allows you to work a maximum of 120 full days or 240 half days a year. In Germany, there are mini jobs which pay 450€ per month, untaxed, normally at 16 hours per week, depending on the job. If you earn more than 450€, you will need to pay taxes on the amount that exceeds 450€, a part of which you will be able to get back at the end of your studies by filing.

Try to network as much as possible and keep an open mind regarding a job. It’s relatively easy to find a job as a bike courier whereas it might be a bit more difficult to find a job as a bartender or waiter/waitress. Most of these jobs require service industry level German, which is quite easy to pick up. From my personal standpoint, I would add that I have made a lot of friends outside of university through my job, so it's a great way to branch out into the community. 

From Karlsruhe, which is basically smack dab in the center of Europe, there are many means of transportation to get you wherever you wish. With budget airlines offering flights as low as 5€, trains leading everywhere, budget bus lines and carsharing apps, it makes it easy to travel and meet family and friends in Europe. Most other students are also interested in traveling and can usually recommend cheap and easy ways to get just about anywhere. To get an idea, Karlsruhe is 45 minutes from the Black Forest, 15 minutes from the french border and here is a short list of distances to nearest major cities:

 

From

Cities

Distance (km)

Time by Train

Karlsruhe

Stuttgart

80

40 minutes

Karlsruhe

Frankfurt

142

1 hour 15 minutes

Karlsruhe

Luxembourg (Luxembourg)

235

2 hours 45 minutes

Karlsruhe

Zurich 

270

3 hours

Karlsruhe

Munchen (Munich)

291

3 hours

Karlsruhe

Paris 

556

5 hours