Elle is making a fresh start
Elle is that kind of cool girl you want to simultaneously *BE* and be friends with. She’s cool, kind, funny, and smart. (I know this to be true because she’s a personal friend of mine.)
She’s a scorpio with a passion for singing (badly), online shopping, looking at her pores in a magnifying mirror, and conducting social experiments by way of Instagram. On the weekends, you might find her having a threesome…with Ben and Jerry, that is. And there’s a good chance that Love Island UK will be on in the background. She’s been in Hamburg/Germany for the past 3.5 years and has been working as a teacher at a Kita (preschool), but the time has come for her next adventure. Keep reading to find out what she has loved about Hamburg and Germany, but why she has decided it’s time to make the next big move and try something new.
Find her on social media here. 🙂 @_elleohelle_
What initially brought you to Germany? And is it why you stayed?
Initially I wanted to leave Trump’s America. I felt disgusted by the government and politics back home. I’d also always wanted to live abroad and experience a way of life different to the one I knew. So, after finishing college and not feeling any desire to give my life to corporate America, I decided to apply to become an Au Pair. I didn’t care where I would be placed – my only criteria was that it be in Europe and have a foreign language… because I wanted to *challenge myself.* I ended up getting placed with a lunatic family in Hamburg and only lasted three out of twelve months. I didn’t want that lame experience to be the only thing I did abroad so I ended up moving into the home of a famous German actor who is a family friend and applying to loads of jobs. Once I got a job, I moved into my own flat, tricked some poor boy into falling in love with me and decided to really give Hamburg a chance.
What do you love most about living in Hamburg/Germany?
One of my absolute favorite things about Hamburg is the architecture and history. So many of the houses and buildings of flats are breathtakingly beautiful and hold so much important history in their foundations. I’m often in awe of just how gorgeous this city can be.
Let’s talk about your German language-learning journey. How did you start, how has the process been, how do you feel about your abilities now, etc.
I moved here not knowing any German… I know, bad American! I started using duolingo which actually was really helpful but I didn’t feel like it was helping my social German skills much. I took four intensive courses as well – A1.1, A1.2, A2.1 and A2.2. I didn’t do it one right after the other though and that definitely held me back. German has been extremely difficult for me. It took me 2.5 years before I was confident enough to do simple things in German such as ordering food. Most of my friends are native English speakers, my job was completely in English and the German people that are/were in my life have been very enthusiastic about speaking English so learning German on a native level never really felt super necessary to me. I guess I always just thought it would kind of come with time – that the longer I stayed here the better my German would get. Which has been true. But, it’s been a slow process for me. At present moment I’m proud of myself for how far I have come with my German, but I do wish I had been a bit more strict with myself when I first started learning.
Do you have any favorite German word(s) or expression(s)? Why do you like it?
I say “Schade” (that’s too bad) and “Stimmt” (agreed) all the livelong day. I also really like the word “Quatschkopf” (bullshitter) because it’s just so fun to say.
I know you were working in a bilingual Kita for quite some time. What was that experience like?
To quote the great Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” That was a physically taxing, sometimes mind numbing but definitely rewarding job. Many of my coworkers didn’t speak English so the first year was very frustrating for everyone involved. I did however become extremely close to many of the kids… watching them grow from barely walking or talking to full blown little people who could speak a little bit of English because of me was really exciting. Some of the children though would literally just scream-cry the whole day and it took everything in me to not scream-cry alongside them. I got shat on, peed on, sneezed and snotted on, coughed on and bit. But I do miss those crazy little ones.
Let’s take a hard left now and talk about the series you started on social media. A while back, you started a series on your social media where you dive into sex-related topics and get the public’s opinion. Where did this idea come from?
Yes! My Hump Day Series (:
I guess you could say the taboo has always interested me. I find things like sex, sexuality, love, abuse, relationships and self worth relating to those topics fascinating. There are so many things we keep to ourselves out of fear of judgement from our peers and I think that’s so unfortunate. I wanted to give people a space to open up about some of those more taboo topics that they may not otherwise talk about in a safe and anonymous space. I wanted to show people that we are all much more alike than we are different – and I hoped that knowledge would bring solace to those struggling. There is also a ton of misinformation out there, and as someone who studied ethical journalism I felt like this was a really good opportunity to use my journalistic skills to inform, teach and collect data about things that I’m passionate about. Everything about this is right up my alley and it’s something I look forward to doing every Wednesday.
Do you hope to build anything bigger out of this series? If so, how do you see it developing in the future?
I am currently working on a blog for this series. Up until now it’s something I’ve only done on my IG Stories, but with all the positive feedback I’ve gotten, I have realized that I’ve outgrown using only instagram. I will continue to do weekly segments where I introduce the topic and get the conversation started on my stories – but now I will start to write weekly blog posts that go much further into detail and really examine the answers and results gathered on instagram. I would love to continue growing my series beyond this but I am taking one step at a time and am already so grateful for how well it’s going.
You’ll be leaving Germany soon and moving to a new country. Can you talk a bit about how you came to this decision that Germany is not the right place for you (at least at this point in your life)?
Some say I am moving to England for love. Haters say I’m moving to England for English. Others say I’m moving to England for breakfast and curry. But the people who know me best know that I am leaving Germany for all those reasons. In all seriousness though, I feel like my time in Hamburg has come to a natural end. I don’t feel like there’s anything really left for me here. This city will always hold such a special place in my heart but presently it is no longer serving me, so I must go. I’ve grown and learned so much in the last 3.5 years and I am so proud of myself and my bravery for moving to a foreign country by myself. I am ecstatic for my next adventure, and I thank Hamburg for pushing me toward my next destination.
Do you have any words of advice you would share with people who are also debating whether Germany is the right place for them?
I think my advice is valid for anywhere in the world you may be debating on staying or leaving. You must ask yourself if this place is still serving you. And you must answer honestly. Don’t stay somewhere just because you’re comfortable or because you’ve already devoted so much of your time and your life to making it work. If it’s no longer bringing you happiness in most of the parts in your life, it’s probably time to consider making your next move. I’m comfortable here, I have a flat, friends and a job. But living here no longer aligns with my higher purpose – I feel a bit stunted here and I want to go somewhere I can grow. That place was once Hamburg but unfortunately, it’s not anymore. I’m leaving with so much respect and fond memories of this place and I’m afraid if I continued to live here, knowing I’m not meeting my potential, I would start resenting this place. It is definitely my time to go.
Finally, in your opinion, what makes you a Power Frau?
I am a Power Frau because I’m killing it at life. Well, 6/10 killing it at life but I’ve got gusto. I may not be a boss babe but I am a babe so that must count for something. I’m not afraid to be me though and I think that makes me quite powerful.