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Laurel Robbins

Columnists > Laurel Robbins

Laurel Robbins

Making Friends – Expat Style

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday March 06, 2012 (21:20:40)   (3272 Reads)

Laurel Robbins

Having a few close friends is one of the key factors that determine how happy I am in my new host country. I have learned this after being an expat in S. Korea, Thailand now Germany. I’ve also learned that meeting new people is easy, but finding close friends? Not so easy, but possible with a lot of work.

Accept that Making New Friends Will be Awkward at Times – It’s simple fact that you’re not going to click with everyone you meet, no matter how much you want to, how hard you try or how nice you both are. Friend chemistry can be an unpredictable thing, so expect some awkward encounters along the way and don’t be discouraged when they inevitably creep into your friend making efforts.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Friend Basket – It can be tempting when you meet someone that you click with to focus solely on that person, but don’t.    more ...


Columnists > Laurel Robbins

Laurel Robbins

Chasing Away the Winter Blues

Posted by: Carole on Monday February 06, 2012 (19:16:32)   (2583 Reads)

Laurel Robbins

I used to hate February. It’s cold, gray, and winter feels like it will never end. There’s also that awful holiday of Valentines Day plucked right in the middle that seems to make more people miserable than lovey-dovey regardless of their relationship status.

Then I moved to Germany and February became one of my favorite months of the year. It’s still cold and dreary but excitement is in the air, and my social calendar is filled with silliness….Carnival has arrived!

Although Carnival is officially only a seven day event in February, parades, local festivities, parties for children and masquerade balls for adults are held throughout the month until the end of Carnival. Carnival celebrations are world famous in Cologne and Dusseldorf, but there are literally hundreds of Carnival celebrations held in Germany, each with their own local flair.    more ...


Columnists > Laurel Robbins

Laurel Robbins

My Expat New Year’s Resolution

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday January 10, 2012 (23:22:17)   (3111 Reads)

Laurel Robbins

I’ve always been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. They give you a chance to reflect on the past year and evaluate what is working well in your life and what areas could use a little improvement. This year I have just one New Year’s Resolution. It is a big one, but achieving it would transform my life in Germany. I’m likely not alone in this resolution as it’s a common one for expats – Learn the language once and for all!

We all know the benefits of learning the language of the country you’re living in and although I have an intermediate grasp of the German language, having taken eight months of intensive German classes, I struggle to take it to the next level. You always hear that it’s easy to learn the language by living in a country where they speak it. I don’t agree with that.    more ...


Columnists > Laurel Robbins

Laurel Robbins

Experience German Christmas Markets Like a Local

Posted by: Jamie on Wednesday January 04, 2012 (15:11:27)   (2687 Reads)

Laurel Robbins

Christmas Markets in Germany are a huge hit with tourists and locals alike, but the tourist and the local experience can be quite different.

Tourists tend to flock to the larger, well known Christmas Markets while locals prefer the smaller lesser-known ones. Last weekend I attended the Nuremberg Christmas Market, the largest one in Germany that attracts over two million visitors each year. I heard just as much English being spoken as German and while it was nice, I don’t think it deserves the honor of being Germany’s most famous Christmas Market. Despite being just an hour and a half drive from Munich, many of my German friends living in Munich have never been and have no desire to go since they think it’s too touristy. Many of these friends also favor the smaller Christmas Markets in Munich such as the one at the Munich Residenz over the touristy one at Marienplatz. My personal favorite Christmas Market is the medieval one in Esslingen, near Stuttgart. It is not well known outside of the local area, but is very unique.    more ...