Monday, August 31, 2015

The German Chicago Expat Group

Recently, The Frau was interviewing a researcher who studies repatriation and her advice to struggling repatriates is 1. To find a way to continue their language skills and 2. To join expat groups related to their former countries.

The Frau is already doing both. 

See, The Frau went to an outdoor concert in Burr Ridge on Friday evening. She did not attend for the music (it was the kind of concert where old white men in the audience played air guitar to the tunes); she attended for the opportunity to speak German with a group of expats from Germany who have a lot of Geduld for her Deutsch.

Bad American music, but good
German conversation.  The Frau with her
Chicago-based German friends.
It may or may not make sense, but as an eternal expat at heart, The Frau feels most comfortable when surrounded by some level of challenge or discomfort. So she seeks out situations where she can continue her fish out of water existence. Meeting up with Chicago’s unofficial west suburban German expat group is one way to continue both her language skills and the strange sense of enjoyment she finds from feeling like an outsider.

Anyway. The outdoor concert in Burr Ridge was amazing because people were allowed to drink wine and beer. As one may or may not know, Americans cannot just crack open a can of beer when and where the spirit moves them. The Frau’s German friends were laughing because while beer and wine were acceptable at this outdoor American concert, smoking cigarettes was not.

To smoke, one had to set their beer on their lawn chair and go to the parking lot.

Parking lots are the new American smoking lounges.

You can’t smoke in American restaurants and bars—even in outdoor seating areas. And you can’t smoke at the local outdoor swimming pool either. Nor can you smoke directly outside the door to a public place—you must smoke at least 15 feet away from that door.

So in most public American places, you must leave the outdoors to smoke outdoors. The Frau can’t say she minds, as it is refreshing to be able to breathe after almost a decade spent holding her breath in Switzerland, but it is an interesting cultural phenomenon, especially when viewed through the eyes of The Frau’s German expat group.


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