„I really appreciate the work-life-balance in Germany“ – Expat Interview with Dana from Wanted Adventure

Expat Interview with Dana from Wanted Adventure

Today I would like to introduce you to Dana Newman. I met Dana a couple of weeks ago at the Expat in the City fair in Munich where Dana hosted our blogger event. When I checked out her YouTube channel “Wanted Adventure”, I knew that I wanted to meet her in person and talk to her about cultural differences, the German way of life, and, of course, videos! So at the beginning of the week we met for coffee and tea at Café Lotti in Munich. The result? This inspiring interview! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Dana, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am someone who LOVES to laugh. That doesn’t mean I’m laughing all the time, of course. But I really do appreciate and enjoy those moments of belly-clutching laughter in life.

I am also a writer and video host. On my YouTube channel Wanted Adventure I create videos about my experience living abroad, the culture in Germany, and looking at the German vs. American culture. But I also work with the Bayerischer Rundfunk making English-language videos. Right now, for example, about every-other week a short English-language tip video I’ve made goes out on the Telekolleg Facebook page.

You are an American expat living in Munich, Germany. How long have you been in Munich? What brought you here in the first place? What made you stay?
I have been living in Munich for 7 years now, and before that one year in Prague, Czech Republic. After college in the U.S. something was pulling me to Europe. I’d grown up learning about my Czech heritage, and something inside me just said I needed to move there! So I sold everything at a yard sale and bought a plane ticket to Prague, with no idea what would happen from there.

Long story short: I ended up living in Prague for a year, and at one point I took a trip to Munich where I met a lovely German man. Who is now my husband, and the guy I refer to in my videos as Mr. German Man!

Did you know any German before you moved to Munich?
Not very much. In the months leading up to moving to Germany, I taught myself as much of the basics as I could, but then right when I moved to Munich I signed up for two back-to-back month-long intensive courses, and those really helped a lot.

What do you love about living in Germany?
So many things of course. I love living in a city with public transportation and also many things within walking distance. I love the architecture here in Germany, and also just in Europe in general. Also cobblestone streets. We went to Aschaffenburg last year, and it was Fachwerkhäuser and cobblestone streets all over the place!! I loved it.

I also love being in the center of Europe, surrounded by so many other countries and cultures to learn about. And I really appreciate the work-life balance here — that employees are expected to take ALL their vacation days, and when you’re sick you get told to stay home and get better.

What will you never get used to?
I’ve really struggled over the years with the directness. Direct questions and also direct, honest statements. I won’t say I’ll *never* get used to it, but it’s a challenge for me. When I first moved to Germany, I had a tendency to take direct statements to heart and thought the person was just being mean. Now I’ve gotten more used to it, but I still don’t know quite how to react.

When I talked about the directness with my German mother-in-law, she asked me: So that means you wouldn’t tell me if a skirt looks bad on me? I told her that I would tell her, of course, but in a nice way. So for example, I would say that another color or fit would suit her better. My mother-in-law, though, would probably just tell me directly whether she likes my outfit or not… whether I asked for her opinion on it in the first place or not ;)

What do you miss?
I miss the customer service in the U.S. and the small talk. Oh and BBQ food like baby back ribs :) Yummmy

When you go back to the US, do people tell you that you have become “so German”?
Not really. I think I hide it pretty well ;) haha just kidding. But really, no. The closest I’ve gotten to this is one time I wore some clothes I had bought in Germany and my mom said I “look European.” Whatever that means lol :D

Your YouTube channel “Wanted Adventure” is very popular. When and why did you start it? Why did you choose video content over the written word?
It started as a written blog, actually! I began the blog when I was moving from Prague to Munich as a way to document my experiences and share them with others.

A few months into blogging I decided to start making videos as well, but they weren’t regular, and they were mostly about my travels rather than living abroad. After a few years of writing I decided to publish my last post and sign off from the blog, but then I decided to concentrate more on the YouTube channel and start making regular videos, which is when I began the Living Abroad series, and now I also have the Ask An American series, where I answer questions I get about the USA. What I really love about YouTube is that you don’t have to wait until your videos are perfect to start creating. You can learn as you go — that’s just part of the YouTube-culture!

So I didn’t really choose videos over written word… I’ve done both and right now this is simply the medium I’m working in and enjoying very much.

Where do you shoot your videos?
I mainly shoot my videos at home where I have two different set-ups: one in the living room and another with a blue background. From time to time I go outside and do a city video, but these outside videos are much more time-consuming. A “normal” home video takes me about 8 hours. That’s already a whole day. When I’m out and about, though, I usually need a whole day for filming plus at least another day for editing and publishing.

Where do you see yourself and your channel in a year from today?
Ooooh wow, great question and very tricky to answer. It’s YouTube and it’s online, so things are changing every day, most of the time in ways I can’t expect or plan for. I would like to continue growing and expanding my content, but when it comes to working on the internet, I never really know what direction that will take me! For example: When I started the YouTube channel and the Living Abroad series, I had no plans for an Ask An American series, but after seeing the kinds of questions I was getting, I decided to start making those videos too.

What is the most popular video on your channel?
It’s this video about “7 things that you don’t do in Germany,” like never walking in the bike lane, for example.

What are 3 pieces of advice that you would give other expats who are about to take the leap of moving to Munich?

  1. Learn (basic) German. You don’t always need German on a day-to-day basis in Munich, you can often get by in English. But there are still many important and interesting things that are only written in German (government forms, for one!). I’ve also found being able to at least start the conversation in German helps go a long way with people. You don’t have to be 100% fluent or have perfect grammar, but the effort is appreciated.
  2. As you probably already know if you’re reading this, there are so many great blogs and resources online to gather information! Check them out and also use them to find out what fun stuff is going on in the city that you can take part in.
  3. Go to meetups and meet new people! For me, making friends was a big part of feeling at home in the new city.

Do you think you will ever move back to the United States?
I really don’t know. Right now I’m very happy here in Germany and in Munich in particular. But I’m not going to pretend to know where life will take me!

If you want to learn more about Dana, please visit her on YouTube where you can enjoy a new video every Wednesday and Sunday. You can also connect with Dana on Facebook and Twitter. Would you like to know more about expat life? Then click here for more interviews.

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