"Wine, Women and Song"
by James Kalbach

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hello, Deutschland: “Wine, women and song.” That’s the short answer I tell people when asked how an American ended up in Germany. Either that or “sex, drugs and rock-and-roll.” Both jokes, of course. But it usually brings about a chuckle.

Actually, there were a lot of converging reasons for my coming to Germany and staying there. The most important was meeting my lovely wife. There was also the excitement of living in Europe: Prague, Oslo, Amsterdam, Paris—all a short flight or train ride away. And the European way of life simply appealed to me, particularly their orientation towards time. A saying I once heard sums it up well: in the U.S. you live to work; in Europe you work to live. Who wouldn’t want 30 days of vacation? Compared to the measly 5-10 vacation days you start with in the States, a month and half of paid time off is luxurious.

Work-wise, job prospects kept me in Germany as well. If doors open up, you sometimes have to take the opportunity. So the whole moving-to- Germany thing wasn’t planned at all: it just kind of happened. But in moving to Germany, I also found a career that matched my academic background, experience and skills: information architecture, usability, and, later, user experience.

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