Europe, Expat Living, Germany, Munich

Expat Living: Dana Newman in Munich, Germany.

November 9, 2014
Dana Newman at Oktoberfest

The latest addition to my Expat Living interview series is the super fun and talented vlogger, Dana Newman. Originally from the United States, Dana now lives in the beautiful Munich, Germany.

She talks about expat living and joins the ranks of other expats in Germany like Charmaine Kedmedec in Berlin and Christopher Allen in Munich.

All About Dana Newman.

Dana Newman at Oktoberfest

Dana Newman is an expat YouTube vlogger and writer whose debut novel, entitled Found in Prague, is based loosely on her experiences living in the Czech Republic when she first moved to Europe in search of her roots.

For the inside scoop on expat life (such as Oktoberfest tips and tricks and the secret of the “magical” European diet) as well as travel videos from around the world, check out and subscribe to her Wanted an Adventure YouTube channel.

Where are you from?

South Florida by way of Connecticut, in the United States.

Where are you living now and how long have you been there?

Currently living in Munich, Germany. I’ve been here for 4 years – no wait *recalculating, recalculating* – 5 years now.

Castle in Germany Dana Newman

Have you lived anywhere else around the world?

When I first made “the big move”,  it was to Prague in the Czech Republic, where I lived for a year before moving to Germany.

Do you plan to stay in your current location or move somewhere else in the future?

I’ve finally gotten to a point where I feel comfortable and confident speaking German, so I at least plan to stick around this country a while longer.

Whether it’s in Munich or somewhere else, things are still open. I love Munich, but wouldn’t be opposed to moving somewhere else in Germany for the right reasons.

What’s your personal story? What made you decide to take the big leap and leave home?

Dana Newman in Czech Republic Long story super short …

My heritage is Czech and my mother was the first generation to be born in America after my grandparents were forced to leave their homeland in 1949 (during the Communist occupation) due to my grandfather’s political involvement.

I grew up learning about my Czech roots and always being fascinated by them. After college I didn’t know what I wanted to do “when I grew up,” but something pulled me toward Europe.

So I sold everything and bought a one-way ticket to Prague, thinking I would settle down there.

However, several months into my life in the Czech Republic, I was sent to Munich to file my visa paperwork and while there I wandered into an Irish Pub, where I met the German man who would go on to become my husband.

It didn’t take long for me to relocate to Munich to be with him.

Do you ever miss home? What do you do to cope?

At this point Munich has become my home, so I find myself missing Florida less and less.

The one thing I still miss is the food! Tex-mex, American-style Chinese take-out, BBQ ribs …

But 3 years ago when I still missed Florida a lot, I did the following to help myself cope every time I felt myself missing home – I’d remind myself of all the reasons why living in Europe was so great! This helped keep me here and get me to this point.

How do you blend in and be accepted by locals?

Hiking in Germany with Dana Newman

That’s tricky.

I don’t know if I  really blend in, but as far as being accepted, you have to start by accepting them.

Every culture has their quirks and Germany is no exception. If you want Germans to accept you and your cultural quirks, you’ve got to accept theirs.

Also, learning the language is a huge part. Even if you can get by speaking English and  if the conversation moves into English at some point, at least starting the conversation off in German shows you respect the country and culture enough to try and speak their language.

Did you have to learn a new language? If yes, what? How did you go about learning the language and how long did it take you to become fluent?

When I moved to Prague I spent the first 6 months learning Czech. Then I met my future German husband in Munich and within a few weeks switched gears entirely and started on German.

I taught myself the first level before moving to Germany and then spent my first two months there taking intensive courses.

I think what helped me learn the language the most was my attitude. I didn’t go into it thinking “I will try to learn the language,” I went into it assuming I’d come out the other end, at some point, fluent.

I’d say it took me a good 3 years to feel really, truly inside and out confident in all situations.

What has been the most shocking thing you learned about the local culture?

I don’t know if this is the most shocking, but it really amused me.

Jaywalking is a big deal no-no here in Germany. There are signs on many crosswalk lights reminding people not to cross on red, thereby setting a good example for the children.

Here’s the funny story bit. I noticed this when I first moved to Prague, and for some reason assumed it was just a Czech thing, maybe something left over from Communist time.

Then I went to Munich and met Mr. German Man. On our second date, we were walking down the street at night, and things were pretty much deserted. We neared the crosswalk, and I decided I’d tell him about the hilarious Czechs that actually stop at the red light and wait even if there are no cars anywhere in sight.

“Ha ha, isn’t that hilarious?”

I saw his facial expression immediately change and as we neared the red crosswalk he got increasingly more uncomfortable, and all of a sudden I realized I’d put my foot in my mouth, as the Germans do it too!  I felt horrible.

We got to the light and he stopped for a moment, but then I guess he wanted to show off, so he looked both ways and then oh-so-brazenly led me over the read. What a risk taker!

What is your number one tip about how to live life as an ex-pat?

Dana Newman in the Alps

Don’t spend too much time dwelling on the negatives of the place and culture where you live.

You probably won’t love every single quirk of your new home. That’s okay as no one is asking you to.

And it’s okay to lament about it from time to time – grouse about the horrible bureaucracy, the weird eating habits or whatever’s got you irked etc. to your expat roommate or friends, but don’t take your frustrations out on the locals.

It was you, after all, who chose to move there.

While a little grumbling to an empathetic ear can be cathartic, going on and on too much can leave you with a sour taste in your mouth, so best to keep it short and sweet, then move on to talking about what you do love about your new home.

What do you love most about living abroad?

Things certainly don’t ever get boring.

Living in Europe means that I’m close geographically to so many different countries and cultures. Not only does it make traveling easy, but living here I meet people from other places on a daily basis.

I love learning about other cultures, so it’s perfect for me.

Did you make the move solo? Or are you with a spouse or significant other, other members of your family, or friend(s)?

Dana Newman Wedding

I made the first move to Prague solo and then when I moved to Munich it was also alone, but I had Mr. German Man waiting here for me.

What do you do work wise? Did you have a job before you arrived or did you look for work when you got there? If you didn’t have a job, how did (or do) you land work?

Ah, the work question.

When I arrived in Prague I took a TEFL course and used that in Munich to teach English for three years.

In Prague, my native English skills landed me a job at a computer helpdesk call center, which is what got me my very first visa to stay living long-term in Europe.

I’ve written and published a book and am currently working on the second one. I also host a YouTube channel about travel and expat life in Germany. I also do proofreading, editing and German to English translation.

Find Dana

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/WantedAdventure
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wantedadventure
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WantedAdventure

Expat Living Information

If you like these expat interviews and my personal tips on living abroad, check out my Expat Living section. Read fun articles like Things That Seem Weird About Toronto After You’ve Lived in Berlin or more practical ones like how to send your bags abroad

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12 Comments

  • Reply Cynthia November 10, 2014 at 1:53 am

    Great interview! I love Dana’s story… it’s like a modern day expat fairy-tale 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Howard November 10, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Hey Cynthia –

      Thanks for your kind comment! Dana’s story is great and I think I’m going to be addicted to her videos now.

      Cheryl

  • Reply Dana November 10, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Thanks so much for having me! 🙂 Love how you arranged the photos–really gives the article a great flow.

  • Reply Cheryl Howard November 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks for taking part Dana! Your photos are great. 🙂

  • Reply Walter January 4, 2017 at 12:33 am

    Hi “Expats”

    Although I have been living in both worlds for the past 20 years myself, I find Dana’s stories reassuring and refreshing every time I follow through on them. Great Job!
    When I get some time, I will gladly compile some of my personal experiences and observations to contribute.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard January 4, 2017 at 10:14 am

      Hey Walter! Thanks for your comment. Will be glad to hear your story as well!

      • Reply Walter January 5, 2017 at 1:24 am

        Hello from the USA to Germany –

        I think that it might make sense to start sharing my story from its early beginnings (and also as my personal retrospect and memo) – even if your younger audience may not be able to relate to such a long gone past directly. After all – every “history” provides a wider picture and helps support a deeper understanding of many present relations and conditions.

        I have been hanging with American military folks (GIs and families) in Germany as early as my teenage years in the late fifties and early sixties (now you can guess how old I am ;-).

        I was just about overwhelmed by their generally outgoing kindness, tact, respect, courtesy, and often their almost child-like mindset. And to this day, I still LOVE just about all American music from back then – foremost C&W legends, R&B, Doo Wop, Rock’nRoll, Gospel, Jazz, Blues – the huge and colorful classic cars, and much much more.

        In those years – speaking of postwar Germany – one could identify an American in Germany from a mile away – their hair cut, the way they dressed, their overall clean-cut appearance.
        With the exception of some apparently more permanent characteristics – such as the way the “stereotype” American walks, as well as certain gestures – many such things have widely assimilated over the decades as with the help of America, Germany became affluent, and the world got “smaller”.

        However, though, in many if not most cases, I can still tell American citizens from Europeans (as well as most Europeans among themselves) from facial features and expressions, even mimics. I.e., the language one speaks is somehow reflected in one’s mouth formation; even the expression of one’s eyes appears to be impacted differently in a wide open country, as opposed to a narrowly structured landscape which is typical of most areas in Western Europe.
        When Germans or any other nationalities, who once immigrated to America, return after decades to Germany – or to their respective country of origin – who could ever deny the signals of their degree of “progressed americanization” – both, appearance, as well as mindset?

        Without going into greater detail here – paramount for much of the classic “American” physiognomy would seem to be associated with the original Anglo-Saxon and Irish ethnicity in a wide cross-section of the American people. And the natural melting pot in this country has most obviously contributed to the unfolding its very own, specifically visual, national characteristics.

        A bit more about former clothing differences: In the fifties, American GI’s were not allowed to pass through the gate of their post without wearing a coat and tie. More often than not, they wore heavily starched shirts, neckties with fanciful motives, and sometimes a huge tie bar with an eagle, horse head, carved stone, or any other knickknacks on it. Striped neckties were usually designed in the way the American flag is supposed to be positioned: the stripes were lined from the upper left on down to the lower right (there may be a better way to describe this).
        Even men’s socks often displayed colorful motives.
        As opposed to the very simple post-war styles in Germany, “typical American” in this regard was the somewhat baggy “rockabilly style”, and oftentimes light beige/light blue, or off-white and/or mottled, half-lined wool suits and single or double vented coats with creased sleeves.
        Only the left seat pocket of the slacks was to be buttoned (to prevent pocket pickers from reaching for a fat wallet after payday…:-)), while the right seat pocket was without a button (for emergency access to the nicely folded white handkerchief – although usually hanging out of the pocket anyway).

        Personal remark: Would this not seem to be politically incorrect by today’s standards – namely being discriminative against left-handed men….?

        Americans wore so-called penny loafers, or spit-shined black dress shoes – the size of which made some Germans wonder if Americans had larger feet than they!?

        American women were usually skinny, with lots of lipstick and makeup, fanciful flower hats and/or veils, butterfly-shaped eyeglasses, white bobby socks and sneakers. Often they went shopping with curlers in their hair.

        Frankly, I have been missing much of what would – strictly from a stereotype European taste – sometimes tends to be seen as “eccentric” American appearance. This includes certain mannerisms (such as hands in your pockets, rather than on your back; chewing gum in church and with an open mouth; yawning without holding your hand before your mouth, etc..
        I copied ALL of this in my younger years with enthusiasm. And I was just as eager to become as friendly, positive, and relaxed (often with ony limited success….); all of which used to – and still does – identify most Americans abroad almost instantly. Even their handwriting “did it” to me….

        About today’s demand of “political correctness”, does anyone in this probably much younger audience, remember the cartoon in American newspapers “The Katzenjammer Kids” – making fun of the German accent, old-days German mentality, and how disrespectful children were spanked by their uncles? All of this is a NO-NO today!!!
        In the seventies, there was a widely anti-authoritarian tendency in Germany, while many American parents, evidently out of fear their kids could become monsters, seemed to have gone the other extreme….

        A quite humorous contribution about the “typical American appearance”, as seen by a European living in America in the sixties, would be found in the Austrian cartoonist Erich Sokol’s illustrated book “American Natives”. This marvel can still be found on the Intenet, ordered in some libraries, or perhaps be purchased from Amazon. This is a “must see” for anyone who is fascinated by diversity and national/cultural characteristics – or simply by “just being people”!
        Being somewhat artistically inclined, and long before I encountered Sokol, I drew similar sketches in my younger years of both, Germans and Americans. I might post them as soon as I get around to digging them out from under piles of clutter in the attic.

        Having spent the major part of my work life with the U.S. Forces in Germany, my observations of, and experiences with practical everyday issues while being employed in “Little America” in Germany, could probably fill a whole book. As much as I’d like to pack it all in – I can post only a few highlights at a time.
        Before I send you more, however, please tell me – have I been getting too analytical here???
        And please feel free to delete what would not blend in with your preferred Wanted Adventure posts.

        Wishing y’all good digestion of today’s “food for thought” –

        Walter – your Bicultural Contemporary

  • Reply Walter January 5, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Hi Cheryl / Dana –

    In case you have not come across the “usarundbrief” (in German), I thought that you might be interested in at least knowing, that there is something like a “counterpart” of yours here in the U.S.!
    The publisher, Angelika and Michael “Mike” Schilly, is a German couple living in San Francisco. Although they have no video clips, this newsletter supports Germans who live in America with a lot of helpful hints, information, personal experience, any topics similar to the ones you present to Americans in Germany, and more.
    It seems there is a lot of common ground to communicate…?

    Best,
    Walter

    • Reply Cheryl Howard January 9, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      Hello Walter –

      Thanks for this info! Do you have a website for this German couple that you can post here? This might be of interest for other readers.

      Cheryl

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