I left my native Germany in 1985 to study oceanography in North Wales. I returned in 2018 as an American Professor of polar oceanography.
Much has changed in 33 years. For one, the divided country that I left is no more. The largely peaceful unification of Germany and Europe removed barbed wires, concrete walls, and shoot-to-kill orders along a violent border. The Cold War was over, I saw the scenes of joy on TV in a bar in Newark, Delaware more than 4100 miles (5600 km) away:
I experienced the “new” Germany for the first time when sailing aboard Germany’s icebreaker R/V Polarstern in 2014 to deploy ocean moorings. At the time I counted four distinct German cultures.
Today is a national holiday that celebrates the “Tag der Deutschen Einheit” or “Day of German Unity.” It is very much work in progress as Germany is becoming more diverse with its over 10 Million people born in countries other than Germany. Turkey (1.5 Mil), Poland (0.9 Mil), and Syria (0.7 Mil) field the most foreign-born people as of 2017. From my American perspective Germany has become a more normal country with its recent politics, troubles, inconveniences, and strengths that these diverse backgrounds entail.
Dragonfly and I arrived in Bremerhaven three months ago to live and work here for at least a year. It took us two days to get bicycles and another two days to find a well-furnished apartment. My parents visited the second weekend and we became Bremerhaven tourists for two days. We purchased the required catastrophic health insurance from a credible company for about €550/year each, but after 3 months we are still waiting for the installation of an internet connection at our home, but we are hopeful that this may change soon.
Nice for you to be back ‘home’, Andreas. Is your wife German too?
I actually may have to go to Bremerhaven 1-2 years from now, because that’s where an electric car I ordered is said to be delivered. If you’re still there by then, I’ll come looking for you. 🙂
I am trying to get back into the writing … there have been 3 expeditions the last 12 months plus teaching three graduate-level classes this spring and the move to Germany. There is so much to work and write about, hopefully, all will settle down now during the remaining 10 months of my sabbatical leave from my home institution, the University of Delaware.
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