1. Culture Flows Both Ways » Grounded Traveler
    May 4, 2012 @ 8:56 am

    […] although the American culture is fairly well known in movies and TV shows, the details are not. The interplay between expats and locals is complex sometimes and it is nice to be able to share back as […]

  2. Sabrina
    December 18, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

    Good point. I sometimes wonder if expats ever become truly local… tend to think we can get very close, but never quite there. And I think I wouldn’t want to either. Even after so many years in Texas, I want to feel like a German. I’ve started changing a little and probably have become more American (or just Southern?) in the sense that I am more chatty with strangers and have an easy smile that might not actually mean anything other than trying to be nice. I love the exploring aspect and in fact I have noticed after 7 years in West Texas, I am now the one the locals come to for advice on where to spend a weekend in the area 🙂

    • Andrew
      December 19, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

      That was the point I was trying to make. I think expats definitely become locals, but never native. I have a kiwi friend who has been here for 18 years and knows more about town than most natives I have met. And yet she is very definitely a kiwi. Locals are people that know their area and usually are enthusiastic about showing it off. Given this definition, i totally think you qualify as a West Texas local. This distinction does not remove your german-ness, but adds to it.

  3. Grrrl Traveler | Christine
    December 9, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

    After a year in Korea, I started to get more familiar with aspects of the culture because I’d travel a lot on the weekends. But I wish my survival Korean worked better for conversation. I found it hard to make Korean friends. The language barrier is a frustrating thing cause you can only go to a certain point in your relationship and then take a U-turn to head back. My neighborhood grocery store folk and sidewalk food stands got to know me and it helped me to feel a part of the neighborhood community. Sometimes you can eek thru with broken bits of language but it really helps to know so much more! Oh well, I guess I’ll keep trying!

    • Andrew
      December 10, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

      Yeah, in Germany at least English is very common. They all take it in school to one extent or another. And the difference between German and English isn’t as wide as to Korean. So I guess sometimes the barriers can be so big that it alters the dynamic.

      Indeed keep trying. Having the neighborhood community know you sounds good. Even with a few words and a smile, connections are built.

  4. Laurel
    December 9, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

    I also love exploring and do it on a regular basis. My local friends tease me that I know more about the off-beat places than they do. I also agree that having a routine is a great way to meet locals. I used to go to the same coffee shop on my break from German class and the barista started teaching me a new word in Germany everyday and quizzing me on the previous words she had taught me. Seeing her friendly face everyday was incredibly comforting and thanks to her I learned “zu mit nehmen” “to go” a very important phrase when ordering coffee.

    • Andrew
      December 10, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

      This may be one of those differences between a native local and a foreign local. That phrase of “you live here all your life and you never really see certain things until someone comes to visit.” I hear it often in relation to New Yorkers never going to the touristy things. Foreign locals have that urge and need to explore, so do so and learn from it.
      That is so cool with the barista teaching you things. BTW how is your locals post coming?

  5. Jarmo
    December 8, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

    I suppose it depends a lot on the place on how long it takes to “become a local”. I’ve lived only some four years in London now and I feel like a local to some extended, more so than in many of the other places I’ve lived. True, I don’t feel like one of those proper old Londoners who’ve been going to the same pub for the last fifty years, but local in the more wider definition of London… if that makes sense

    • Andrew
      December 10, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

      This is why I tried to make a distinction between a native and a local. Those guys that have been going to that pub for 50 years probably know some great things, but more in depth than breadth, I would imagine anyway. Maybe there are degrees to “localness”. Four years though should be enough to feel a perfect local in your area. London though is so wide, I can’t imagine anyone really feels a local in ALL of it.

  6. Frieda
    December 8, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

    Fun read! Exploring and experiencing a new environment without only seeing the “tourist stuff” can be a tough thing to do. Going to the same places on and on again is actually something I did for a long time in Berlin as well. Doesn’t always help though… I went to buy bread at the same bakery for about 1 and 1/2 years and the lady behind the counter kept on pretending she didn’t know me. Oh well.
    I think it’s the “locals know stuff” where the magic happens…

    • Andrew
      December 10, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

      Indeed, “locals know stuff.” Maybe I’ll get t-shirts with that.
      The trick with avoiding the tourist stuff, I think is time. The first few days is definitely time for touristy. Maybe even a few weeks if you do one thing every few days. By spending time and getting out of the vacation mindset the daily thigns that have to be done, that is daily life; sets in. Eating without it being overly special, laundry and other things as such just have to be done, so you get into contact with the environment more.

      The routine is something that has to be changed every so often. Weird about the bread lady though.

  7. Tiffany @ No Ordinary Homestead
    December 8, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

    After being in Germany for 10 years (and in our little town for 5 of those), I still have trouble feeling like a local sometimes — but I also think that’s a problem of Hessen in general. The people here are often really terrible when it comes to customer service — to the point that you think they should just close the place down since it’s clearly an inconvenience to them to run it. 😉

    But there are few things like starting to feel like you belong somewhere and knowing that people recognize you on the street or when you go in your favorite shops. That’s part of the reason I appreciate our small town of 2,000 people versus the hustle and bustle of a city like Frankfurt.

    • Andrew
      December 10, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

      Yeah, that “small enough to be recognized” is a nice thing. I like that Freiburg is big enough to be able to sit and watch new people and not be watched by all the same ones. We also get enough tourists that are funny in their own right. That is so weird about the customer service. I have seen such a wide range of it here. From like you say, so bad they should just close, to really friendly talkative people. Is that general in small-town Hessen or Hessen in general, do you think? I can imagine in a small town that there isn’t competition so they can “get away with it”. Or maybe it isn’t so unfriendly, just seems so to us.