liebling

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About liebling

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  • Location Heidelberg
  • Nationality USA
  • Gender Female
  • Interests kids, research, sleep, food, current affairs and a bunch of other stuff I'm too tired to recall just now.

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  1. Could you do an MA in American Studies at a German institution? They are Anglophone programs that admit students from a wide range of undergrad disciplines but are especially history friendly.  AFAIK they will accept students who haven't already specialized in US history per se, so you might find a place there even if your BA was in European, Latin American or Southeast Asian history (I might have missed where you mentioned the focus of your history BA, if it had one).  You could do an MA thesis focused on your future aims (i.e. the law, poli sci/public policy) rather than historical studies you don't find  the latter interesting. Ones like Heidelberg's Center for American Studies charge tuition, but it's at a much lower rate than the Hertie program you mentioned, so maybe they're below your cost threshold? (A quick search finds that Hertie's tuition is €8125/semester; HCA's is €1500.)   I read in your post a frustration similar to what I felt when I came to Germany years ago. I came with BA, MA and doctoral degrees, all from universities consistently ranked in the global top 10. I had a German partner and wanted to stay in Germany for a while in the first instance, but found hardly any point of entry into the German employment market, let alone into academia. I then spent more time in the States in order to hone my CV and skills in a way that they would be more attractive to German employers. (Note that getting more credentials can actually be a hindrance at a certain point; it is easy to be overqualified here, too, and thus precluded from jobs or other opportunities that might be available to those less qualified.)     In my case, the job situation eventually worked out (mostly) to my satisfaction but it was a long, humbling and character-building road paved with lots of hard-earned intercultural competence. In order for it to work I had to keep one foot heavily in US and international professional networks (where my interdisciplinary credentials and achievements mean much more). It was also really helpful to connect with alumni from my alma maters here Germany, whether as Germans or expats; if your US alma mater has an alumni network here, you should use it!     Good luck.
  2. Children. Smartphone. What age?

    WhatsApp's minimum age of use is 16, and even if 'everyone else is doing it', I would not support my 10- or 11-year-olds kids lying in order to get their own accounts. Likewise, I would find it highly questionable if a teacher or school were to encourage under-16s to breach the rules of use and sign up with their own accounts, even for academic purposes. I let my kids use WhatsApp via my account, on my phone and I don't have any moral qualms about checking how they use it.   And even if they were just to play innocent, non-social learning games or send text-messages to family members on their phones during down-time while out of the house: I want them to have their wits about them while they're out in the world alone, whether walking or on public transport or wherever. If their head's down and their attention is on their phone for minutes on end (like so many kids I see), they will have no idea that they're missing their tram stop, or their bag's being pick-pocketed, or that an old friend has just waved from the street, or there's a new shop in the neighbourhood, or even that it's raining and that there's a here and now where they are and that they should be part of. It's worth a lot to me that my kids get out and about independently and can act responsibly and get where they need to be and get home again - mostly on time and without incident - without having a phone and by paying attention to the world and people around them. In our family situation as it is now, the benefits of the kids being without phones (of any kind) seem to outweigh the benefits of having them.
  3. Children. Smartphone. What age?

    My kids (age 10+) haven't got phones yet and although they'd would like to have them they are ok with the fact that they don't. We have explained our reasons (they don't need them for communication, it's a big responsibility to keep track of a phone and their record of carelessness with other possessions suggests they may not be up to it quite yet, etc.). They accept these reasons, so we're leaving it at that for now, although we're open to reviewing the situation on an ongoing basis. They can use a family tablet and a family PC but only under close supervision (and they mostly use them offline anyway). We talk a lot about responsible device and internet use, and potential dangers, and come upon and discuss all sorts of examples to be wary of, whether ads and memes on Facebook (their clubs post event information there), on a sports-team-organization app used by one of their Vereine which in theory allows unmediated private messages between individual coaches, parents, and child-players, or on YouTube.    In the meantime, we get lots of admiration from parents of our 12-year-old's classmates when they hear that our kids haven't got phones.  Almost to a family other parents wish they hadn't gotten their child a smartphone when they did (mostly at the start of school year 5). For some it's because they neglected to educate their child about using it responsibly and/or decided not to monitor the software, security, and their child's use adequately, so they didn't notice there was a problem until their kid got into trouble with it (addiction, bullying, porn and sexting, worrying online interactions with strangers, access to age-inappropriate games/apps, loss or theft of phone, upskirting photos, etc.). For many families, a kid having a phone means lots of headaches for parents. And if it's not their own kid who has a problem, it's other kids' problems that affect their kids through social media use (as an unwilling recipient of dodgy photos, or whatever), phone-related deception, etc.     Other parents who discuss their kids' phones with regret are fastidiously engaged in educating their kid in using their phone responsibly and in an age-appropriate way, and they find it takes a huge amount of effort, more than they reckoned when starting out. Most who started off wanting to trust their child instead of monitoring their child have had to monitor their child's online life anyway (viewing WhatsApp exchanges, social media profiles, Tik Tok videos, checking the phone's photo and video files), to stay one step ahead of whatever's out there all the time, to defend their child from (accusations from) others, etc. The whole situation can be so fraught, especially when kids are not mature and responsible enough to recognize (let alone resist) temptations. My kids have seen so much trouble among their classmates related to phones that they're relieved not to be involved in any of that just yet. They don't get bullied by classmates about not having a phone because at any given time a good few of their classmates have had their phones taken away by frustrated parents or confiscated by the school, so they don't actually have phones either.  As my oldest says, 'Suckas!"
  4. Does your child speak German, or is she open to learning it? Several of the Weinheim sports clubs offer "Kinderturnen" (toddler movement/sports) programs, if you're looking for something organized on a regular basis. Musikalische Früherziehung (early music enrichment) is also very popular around these parts for ages 18 months to 3 or 4 years; music schools and other organizations (even the Volkshoschschule) offer groups that meet on a regular basis to clap out rhythms, sing and dance (with parent or without). Kinderyoga (yoga for children) might also be an option. There are German-language puppet theaters around, too, such as Plappermaul.  
  5. Hairdresser in Heidelberg

    Would help if we knew what you've tried, what disappointed you about them, and maybe what kind of cut you consider "decent".  Are you looking for a dry cut or wash, cut and style?   One in that price range that comes to mind is Friseur Hahn in Neuenheim, for example. I know a lot of men (and women) who are loyal customers there. It's an old-style "Meisterbetrieb" (as opposed to those EUR 15 barbershops now so common around parts of HD).
  6. Change of elementary school after Xmas break

    Don't email. Call instead. You may need to call a few times before you reach someone; some schools don't have someone on duty (a school secretary or someone else) for more than a few hours a day (or week), so you're likely to need to leave a voicemail and ask them to call you back. If your German's not great, speak English (slowly).  if you don't yet have a local residence address in their catchment area, they won't be able to say anything beyond hypotheticals at this point, and would probably not be willing to spend much time thinking through offerings. If you'd like to know a parents'-eye view of the schools in Walldorf (or Wiesloch, or elsewhere in SAP-land), consider searching the TT forums for posts about schools in Walldorf (and environs), and posting a message to an existing thread or making a new one for Southern Germany/Life in Baden-Württemberg.  Good luck!
  7. Experience with kids learning German

    I agree with others who say that 6 months is not a very long time, and it's not surprising that your 7-year-old is still primarily reception-oriented rather than production-oriented when it comes to German. Moreover, in a way it's been less than 6 months, assuming your child wasn't in immersive German-language environments for hours every day in the school holidays.  And I'd underscore the suggestions to get your child involved in German-language activities (sports clubs and team, arts and crafts classes, story-telling events at the local library, etc.). That brings all kinds of benefits, including increased exposure, broadened vocabulary, intensified social motivation to comprehend and produce language, and so-on.  Having said that (and as you know) operating in a new language is exhausting, so having those activities on the weekend (including whole-family activities, such as attendance at German-language cultural events, local tours, story-times, etc.) is a good idea instead of adding them to school-day afternoons when your child is likely to need to have a break from deciphering Deutsch.
  8. Anyone living in Germany but working remotely?

    Yes, it should be do-able. She'll need to get a document (the new contract?) specifically outlining the new employment situation (i.e. that she's not been sent/"entsendet" by the employer to Germany, but that she's a regular cross-border employee). The contract should include written recognition by the employer that they will pay her social insurance and KK at the German rates.  Even better if you can convince the French employer to do the monthly transfer of employer and employee portions of social insurance and health care contributions directly to the KK. (The KK doesn't care who pays it, as long as it gets paid.) Then it's a matter of speaking to the KK to confirm the workflow (how much/when they will get the money, category of insurance coverage: freiwillig versichert?) and so on. Contact the Finanzamt separately and they'll explain what they need (whether they want monthly advance payments of estimated income tax or whether your wife should prepare to pay a lump sum when she files her German tax return for the first year; after the first year they may change their recommendation, depending on the sums involved and how payment has worked).   Can't advise about the Lohnsteuerhilfeverein, though I would imagine they'd be able to advise your wife about her income tax just as much as they would be able to advise any other person employed under German tax regulations. Might as well talk directly to the Finanzamt first, though. (Lohnsteuerhilfevereine would not be the right people to advise about the arrangement of employer contributions toward social insurances, etc., though. That gets into European Worker Mobility regulations, and I wouldn't expect most of them to be on top of that, though I may be wrong.)
  9. Wedding planner in Frankfurt

    Congratulations on your engagement! Not exactly in Frankfurt, but here's a good place to start: contact Anne-Katrin Schmülling, who runs Celebrate Life event-planning agency in Heidelberg (about an hour from Frankfurt). She is a very experienced professional wedding planner who speaks English. I'm guessing she might actually do weddings in Frankfurt, but if not, she probably knows very good folks who do. (Disclaimer: I am not Ann-Katrin, nor do I have any stake in her business. I just happen to have encountered happy clients of hers here in Heidelberg.)
  10. It would be good to get on the case of your income tax return (so that you can get a statement from the Finanzamt of the income they've calculated for you based on the data you provided with your return) - but I suppose you already know that. Lacking a statement from the Finanzamt, you might want to just contact your Elterngeldstelle (probably Amt für Versorgung und Soziales Walter-Möller-Platz 1 60439 Frankfurt/Main, Telefon: 069/15671) and ask what they'll accept instead. They might well take an Einnahmen-ÜberschussRechnung (that profit/cost listing you mentioned) as a provisional indication of your 2018 income, but they can always come back to you after the fact (even after they've paid out your Elterngeld) and revise the amount of your Elterngeld up or down (clawing money back from you in case of the latter). Good luck!
  11. Anyone living in Germany but working remotely?

    No update to add, but I explained how I did it in a message much further up the thread. You'll just be freiwilling versichert with AOK. If your employer is very kind they might even be willing to transfer the employer contribution - and your employee contribution, drawn from your salary (both contributions calculated according to German rules, not the rules of the country where your company is)  - directly to the AOK every month. Mine was not.  It's up to the employee in Germany to get the employer (in EU outside of Germany) to contribute the right amount and to make sure the AOK gets it. Your non-German EU employer may balk at paying the German rate, although they're required to do so under European Worker Mobility regulations. In my case my UK employer couldn't cope with paying the Barmer directly so they paid the employer portion to me and I transferred that money plus my employee portion to the Barmer. Barmer did everything from there (as they do when you have a German employer, too), making sure the payments enter the social insurance scheme under my name. 
  12. Your Steuerbescheid (income tax statement) for 2018 should do it.