Christine Louise Hohlbaum
March 18 2007
-Where were you born?
Ogdensburg, New York, USA
-In which country and city are you living now?
Near Munich, Germany
-Are you living alone or with your family?
I am living with my German husband and two children (5 & 7).
-How long have you been living in Germany?
Since January 2003
-What is your age?
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Germany?
My husband was unexpectedly laid off from a promising job in the biotech industry in Cambridge, MA. We were in rather dire straits for a while until he found several positions in the Munich area. He has been with the same biotech firm in Freising, Germany, since February 2003.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
I had to wait three years to get my permanent residence visa. When I did, I called my husband from the Landratsamt in Freising and said “You’re stuck with me now for good, honey!” It was a very liberating feeling.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
I was insured through my husband. It was an easy process, though I understand for some who are not married to a native that it can be difficult.
-How do you make your living in Germany? Do you have any type of income generated?
I am having the time of my life. The Internet has been a saving grace. As both an author and a PR consultant, I telecommute daily. I work for a US-based PR firm called Wasabi Publicity. They’re great fun, and I enjoy connecting with US media members. It makes me feel as if I am home.
-Do you speak German and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
Yes, I am fluent in German. Again, it might be harder for people who don’t know the language, so I always encourage people to reach at least rudimentary level in their host country’s language.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
I discovered yoga in Germany! It’s fantastic. Also, Nordic Walking. I do miss my family, but I have my own family now, and they sure do keep me busy!
-Do you have other plans for the future?
I would love to travel more. As the kids get older, it is more and more fun as they love to explore new things as much as we do. I plan on continuing to write books and articles. Freelancing is the best as you can make your own schedule. It’s rather reminiscent of the times when I was in grad school at the University of Constance in Germany!
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
We rent – ca. 1,100€ per month.
-What is the cost of living in Germany?
In some ways, it is lower. The health care system is quite good and organic food is readily available and not nearly as pricey as in the US. The lifestyle here is so much more humane than in the US. People actually take vacations!
-What do you think about the Germans?
I prescribe to the “When in Rome” school of thought. It took me four years, but I finally bought a dirndel! I realized it is a way of honoring the tradition. The Bavarians are the jolliest of all Germans – it’s a great place to live.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Germany?
Germans can be very stoic, and very opinionated. While they may not be as upbeat as Americans, they honor a lifestyle that resonates with me. Holistic medicine is much more integrated into the way of life here. Heck, our vet even gave our guinea pig some homeopathic medicine for its leg!
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Germany?
Take a language course before you come. Learn as much as you can about the culture and interview others who have lived here. Remember moving is one of the most stressful experiences in life. Be prepared, then bring along a great sense of humor. The rest will fall into place.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Germany?
My main Web site, http://www.diaryofamother.com, also has some information on it. While my book, SAHM I Am: Tales of a Stay-at-Home Mom in Europe, mentions Europe, it’s not a how-to on how to survive here. It’s more of an introspective look at the universality of motherhood.