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Dear Germany: Eine Amerikanerin in Deutschland September 5, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, German culture, Random musings.

I am reading the most fantastic book, which I received as a birthday gift from one of my best friends in Germany. Dear Germany: Eine Amerikanerin in Deutschland by Carol Kloeppel could have been written by me! If you are an American who has lived in Germany (or Austria or Switzerland for that matter) for any length of time or are thinking about moving to Germany, you need to order this book right now. She talks about the little things that made me scratch my head and some things that I simply didn’t register but wholeheartedly accepted because that was just the way it was. For example, the German beds and Bettwäsche [bedding] or the practice of riding your bike everywhere even in business attire. I can’t wait to read what she has to say about the small refrigerators.

The chapter this morning entitled Fahrvernügen und Führerscheinhölle [Driving Pleasure and Driver’s License Hell] made me almost fall out of bed because I was laughing so hard and then cry because I could totally relate. It brought back all those memories of getting a ticket for driving the wrong way on a one-way street and having an ungültige Fahrerlaubnis [invalid driver’s license]. I had to jump through a ton of hoops and spend a lot of money to get my German driver’s license, but it was all worth it. I consider passing the written portion of the test – in German no less – with no errors (five are allowed) on the first try to be one of my greatest accomplishments.

Carol Kloeppel is just a few years older than me (born in Minnesota in 1963). She has a degree in communication science and worked as a journalist and producer for various television broadcasters in the U.S. She met German television journalist Peter Kloeppel in New York in 1990 and moved to Germany to be with him. They lived in Cologne and later moved to Bonn. I keep wondering if I saw her on the streets of Bonn or if she was a member of my American Women’s Club of Cologne or the International Women’s Connection in Bonn. The book is really well-written and entertaining, and her translator, Claudia Geng, should be commended for a job well-done!

I can’t wait to read more, and I’m ordering a copy for my friend Jane right now.



1. antonio - September 5, 2008

If you ask for a test for your driving license in any other language they provide you with one.

2. jillsommer - September 5, 2008

Hi Antonio, I realize that, but my study material was in German so it was easier to take the test in German. Carol mentions in her book that the English in the written driving test was British English, which would have meant it was also a foreign language for me 🙂

3. Sonja - September 5, 2008

Actually my mother attempted to do her driving test in her mother tongue, back in the late 80s. Unfortunately it turned out that the test was very badly translated, and after two attempts she switchted to German and finally passed it.

4. juliette - September 23, 2008

you have to pay extra for a non-German test. good for you for passing it!

5. Sarah - October 26, 2008

Great book, just got it…

Getting a driver’s license here is easy these days though. Cost me 30 euros for the paperwork, and 50 for a translation and then I had my license. No tests, just two photos (just like for a passport) and the translation. My license is from illinois though, and when you turn it over to a german license, you dont have to take any writen/practical tests. So cool because the german license is for life!

6. Christa Hebel - November 17, 2008

Does Dear Germany has an English version??
Please answer.

7. jillsommer - November 17, 2008

@Christa – Not as far as I know. I assume Carol wrote her manuscript in English and it was translated into German for the German market, but as far as I know it has not been published here in the U.S. or in England. Her publisher is German. You may want to write them and ask (Verlagsgruppe Lübbe – http://www.luebbe.de).

8. Kevin Lossner - January 23, 2009

Sounds like a great book; I’ll have to get a copy. You’ve got me beat on the German test, Jill – I missed an obscure question on the inspection intervals for diesel engines. Or maybe it was oil change intervals. Something like that. In any case, the English study materials I saw were absolute garbage (pseudo-British), and I had no idea what the content meant, whereas the German was perfectly understandable. When I showed up to take the test, I had a long argument with some idiot who insisted that I should take the English version “because that’s what all the Brits and Americans do”. I told him that I’m an “alter Geizkragen” and, since the German test was cheaper, I would insist on taking it.

9. Patricia - April 25, 2009

Does anyone know if this book has been published in English?? I really wanna read it but my German is not good enough. Pls let me know…

10. Margo - June 23, 2010

I grew up in Germany and all I can say, thank God I’m outta there. The rudeness, the lack of service and the feeling of inconveniencing the sales people and waiters, the idiotic rule of recycling.(I have great respect for their love of their environment, though). The school system, the noise restrictions and the Kleiderschraenke. My sister had a frog in a property she was renting out. Someone complained about frog noise, the police came and they decided, that the frog needs to be quiet between 1pm and 3pm. I hope they all stayed serious during this event. I love noise, especially from children and frogs. I love to live in this country

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