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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

IKEA, Marriage, Winter in Berlin and Tropical Islands

I'm about to reach an important juncture in my life as an expat, or quasi-expat, or pseudo-expat, or immigrant, or whatever the heck I am. I'm about to finish my integration courses. When an auslander like me wants to live in Germany, he must get a residency/working permit, which I was able to get because my wife is a German citizen. But even in my situation, the visa is contingent on me completing a full array of so-called integration courses: 600 hours of German language, plus 45 hours of instruction on politics, history and culture. Thanks to four years of German in high school (many, many years ago), I was able to skip 400 hours of language instruction. I began my German classes here at level B.1, which was way too high for me, but with extra studying, I was able to make it through. Now I'm in the culture, history, politics section, which is super interesting.

When I finish, in just two weeks, the family and I are heading to Rome for a week. And when we get back, I have no good excuse anymore: I've got to find a real job, or at least enough freelance work to keep me from joining the ranks of the 8 a.m. subway beer guzzlers. Seriously. In other words, I'm aching for some freelance assignments, and I'm piling up ideas r.e.: integration, immigration, renewable energy, low budget travel with slightly crazy family in tow, searching for the perfect Negroni in Rome, etc. In the meantime, I've been writing about IKEA and the way it wrecks marriages and the Berlin winter and how I've survived it by visiting an indoor tropical island theme park. Read it all at my gin & gelato blog.

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