9: Ask San Anything Vol.1

I am doing NaBloPoMo this month. 30 blog posts in 30 days. Come join me. #nablopomo2022

In my first NaBloPoMo post, I asked you to submit any questions you might have for me and this is volume 1 of Ask San Anything. You guys had A LOT of questions and I will break things up into a couple of more digestible posts. I hope you don’t mind. I tried to group your questions a bit by topic.

From NGS: How did you meet your husband?

I came to the US for an exchange semester in 2001. Jon and I randomly crossed paths on campus one evening, only three short weeks after I had arrived in California. I was heading to the freshman party with some other exchange students when he saw “the most beautiful girl in the world” (his words). He apparently also heard me speak German with another student, so he followed me into the Rec Hall and introduced himself in German (which is pretty good now, but was rudimentary back then. He was just about to start German classes in college.)

If you want the longer version, I blogged a bit more in detail about how I met Jon in October last year (because it was our 20th meet-aversary, gasp).

Our first photo together (grainy and low-resolution. Those were the days before cell phones + amazing cameras at your fingertips.)

From Elisabeth: If you could have glimpsed into the current reality of your life back when you were 15, what would you have found most surprising about your “now”?

The most surprising thing honestly would have been to imagine that I would be where I am today – in California, 6000 miles from where I grew up. I was a very shy and timid kid and nobody – least of all me – would have thought that I would ever up and move to another country. Not temporarily, much less indefinitely. I still have days where it’s utterly mind-boggling to me that I made that leap and that I am living my life abroad.

From Tobia: What do you miss most about Germany (besides family and friends)?

I know this is cliché, but I really miss German bread (and the variety and quality of some German food in general) and having bakeries on every other corner. It’s just not the same here. The quality of bread and baked goods has come a long way in recent years (and as you know, I’ve started baking my own bread regularly which has been a gamer changer), but it still does not compare.

From Lisa: Would you and J ever move back to Germany?

Never say never. We currently have no plans to move (although it’s always been an option in the back of my mind, and was a real consideration during the Trump years – not that things haven’t been dire ever since). Jon and I have always talked about the possibility of moving to Germany since this is what we first thought we would do when I met Jon. But then one thing or another kept us here for “just a little longer” and now it’s been almost 20 years and there’s a lot to consider now. First and foremost, if I could find a job in my field in Germany. I have a permanent position now and I find this is really hard to give up. Also, I do love my job and my life in California quite a bit. It’s a dilemma.

From Kae: If I were to plan a trip to Germany, where should I go??

I definitely hope you’ll plan a trip to Germany next time you go to Europe. There are a lot of beautiful places, but I’d definitely suggest you visit Köln (Cologne) in the Rhineland. Well, I am obviously biased because I grew up on the outskirts of Köln, but it really is a great, diverse city to visit. It’s one of the largest cities in Germany and it is a really vibrant cultural area within the Rhineland.

Köln has a great “old town” area with lots of long-established breweries, the Belgian Quarter is known for its amazing restaurant and bar scene, and there are tons of great museums (e.g. a Chocolate Museum). And if you went in the winter, you’d be able to visit some of the most amazing Christmas markets anywhere in Germany.

People from my area are also considered the most open and friendly, if that may sway you. Ha. You should check out Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode about Cologne. I thought it was well done.

This is the Hohenzollern Bridge (with the beautiful Cologne Cathedral in the background). It’s a train and pedestrian bridge over the Rhine river. Do you see all the love locks that people have attached to it?

You can submit more questions through my brand-new Ask San Anything-Google Form or in the comments.

  1. I love these posts. I’ve only started following a lot of blogs relatively recently and I find myself wondering “How did she end up here? Where in Germany is she from?” I love hearing people’s stories. And the story of how you met your husband is so sweet. I’ve been to Cologne! It was a long time ago.

    1. You’ve been to Cologne! How wonderful. Makes me feel instantly closer to you :)

  2. Isn’t it funny how sometimes the most unlikely things happen in life? Back in school no one would have expected me to end up in the US one day ever either ;)

    1. Well, I guess we surprised a lot of people then :)

  3. Love this! Making note of your recommendations… and bookmarking that Anthony Bourdain episode! :) I would loooooove to see the German Christmas markets!! Adding that to my bucket list of trips. I am Christmas obsessed and those markets seem incredibly quaint and beautiful and adorable and I know I would just love them.

    1. German Christmas markets are really the best – and I am saying that completely unbiased :)

  4. I love these sorts of posts – and it was fun to be reminded of how you and Jon met. <3

    1. Thank you, Elisabeth ;)

  5. Always fun to read along. However by now after so many years of reading along I could have answered most and guess the rest of these questions. Isn’t that fun?

    1. Yes, I love that you pretty much knew the answer to all these questions already… proof that you’ve been around for a while ;)

  6. This is so great! I love reading about people’s life journeys.

  7. I am really enjoying the AMA posts for NaBloPoMo. It’s so fun to see what questions people ask and how people answer them. I think it’s sweet that you met your husband when you were so young!! What fun memories and I think it’s wonderful that you have a “first photo.” I’m not sure what our first photo together was.

    1. I am loving these AMA posts, too. So fun to learn things that otherwise might not have come up on the blog/or in conversation.

  8. Now I really want to visit Cologne!!!

    1. Put it on your bucket list :)

  9. I’m new to reading your blog through Elisabeth’s blog. This is a great way to get to read a bit about your journey. I travelled to Germany in 1999 and was there during the “Y2K” concerns. I went to Frankfurt, Erfurt and Berlin but now I wish I had gone to Cologne!

    1. Welcome Shelly, thanks for stopping by :) So happy to hear that you had the opportunity to travel to Germany. I hope you had a great time… and if you haven’t seen Cologne, you might have to go back :)

  10. It is pretty mind boggling that “where you were supposed to be” is 6,000 miles from where you were born. Cali is gorgeous though. I haven’t been there in a long time and I really want to go back. I also want to go to Europe. For now I’ll have to make do with living vicariously through you and Anthony Bourdain.

    1. I miss Anthony Bourdain. He had a great way to introduce far away places to people in such an authentic way.

  11. YESSS to German Bread and Koeln of course! ;) Loved this post. Thanks for sharing

    1. Glad to see you’re still following along :)

  12. I love reading these answers! I kind of figured you weren’t likely to have plans to move to Germany but it’s good to have in your back pocket as an option!

    I was in Germany in late Nov/early Dec so got to see the wonder that is your Christmas markets! I went with my best friend – we flew into Berlin, spent a few days there, then went to Prague for a few days and then to Munich. So we saw the Christmas markets in Munich (and Prague) and were absolutely charmed by them!

    1. I am so excited that you got to experience the Christmas Markets in Germany (and Prague) and that you found them to be so charming. I don’t know how to explain it, but they’re just different from markets I’ve been to in other places.

  13. I love these AMA posts. They are fun to read! And I feel a little proud that I knew most of these answers already, since I’ve been reading your blog for so long!

  14. I actually knew most of these, too, despite the fact that I haven’t been reading that long. (Or… maybe it’s been longer than I think??)
    I have not been to Cologne, but you make it sound irresistible. I’ve been to Mannheim (stayed with a friend’s parents), and Heidelberg (that castle) and Frankfurt. Loved it but goodness, it was 20+ years ago. Time to go back!

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