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Making it in Germany: An American fashion aficionado

Shannon Smith · 19 Oct 2009, 12:29

Published: 19 Oct 2009 12:29 GMT+02:00

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Coming to Germany two decades ago, Darnell rose to national fame in 2006, when he was an expert on Klum’s Germany’s Next Top Model. Last Friday, he helped launch the third season of “Das Supertalent,” Germany’s version of “Britain’s Got Talent,” with fellow TV personalities Bohlen and Sylvie van der Vaart. The Local caught up with him for a few questions.


Bruce Darnell



Where do you live?

I live in the beautiful city of Aachen, near the border to the Netherlands.

Where are you from originally?

New York City.

What did you do before coming to Germany?

I was a parachutist in the US Army.

What brought you here and when?

I came in contact with Germany through the military, and over 20 years ago, I moved to Munich. I wanted to do something else in life than serve in the army.

What was your first job in Germany and how did you find it?

I worked in a discotheque in Munich after finding the job through friends.

How would you describe your current job?

I work in one of the craziest businesses in the world – the fashion industry. I choreograph fashion shows, and I’m also part of the jury of Das Supertalent. I’ve also written a styling guidebook. You can’t say my life is boring!

What was the toughest part of coming to terms with German language and culture?

In the beginning, the language was pretty hard to learn, especially the horrible grammar. And I thought things like “German carnival” were strange – it was a real culture shock. But I like German people and their culture. People are really polite and always want to give their best – that’s very impressive.

What was the easiest part?

It was easy to get to know people.

What has your experience been like operating professionally in Germany?

In Germany there are many possibilities to work in completely different fields. But you have to give your best, be disciplined and work hard for your aims. Many people helped me to get ahead and gave me the chance to test different things.

Story continues below…

What percentage of your life would you say you split between English and German?

I’ve been living in Germany for such a long time now that I feel 90 percent German.

What fascinates you most about German culture?

People help each other and think of others. I like the openness to other cultures, the food (e.g. potato-soup) and the great diversity in art, fashion and design. There are so many exciting cities where so many new things emerge, like in Berlin for example.

What's the most rewarding aspect of your work here?

The love that many people give to me. Their sympathy, affection and readiness to help others. Here in this country I can be honest, show my feelings and don’t have to fool anybody.

What's your best advice for someone looking to 'make it' in Germany?

Just go there. Live your dream and ask people for help – in Germany it is self-evident to help each other. But you need the will to work and you need to be ambitious. There are many public and private places that can help to find a job or an apartment. Nobody is left alone here.

Shannon Smith (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:00 October 23, 2009 by bos1920
It's funny that some of you think Mr. Darnell is speaking so positively about his experience because of his fame and that bad-mouthing the country that gave it to him would be wrong. So in other words, you are accusing him of being dishonest.

Um... That's odd. If he were as miserable as you are, he would have left years ago. Obviously his experience has been good.

Clearly, his experiences, dedication and hard work -- and most of all, his positive attitude about living here as an expat is WHAT GAVE HIM fame in the first place. No one wants to help a negative whiner. You get back what you put out, remember? He didn't get it by being so critical and whining all the time like most of the English-speaking expats living here that I've met.

As an American living in Germany, who is a very positive person by nature and who looks for the good (and I'm happier for it), my experience has been exactly like Mr. Darnell. I had no problems with paperwork, people have been beyond helpful, I get all of my questions answered when I ask, and Germans are very thorough.

There is so much to love about German life and culture if you only stop whining about your poor life as an expat. No one feels sorry for you. If you don't like it, go back to your country so the rest of us who do, can enjoy it here.

Bottom line: If you want to be successful in ANY culture as an expat you must WORK HARD and BE DEDICATED. Even in your OWN culture.
14:55 October 23, 2009 by Portnoy
I'm pretty successful AND a malcontent, bos1920.
17:13 October 23, 2009 by michael4096
"...I'm pretty successful AND a malcontent, bos1920..."

so is nearly everybody I know, Portnoy

and most people I know have nothing to do with Germany or the German culture

so, what is your gripe? and why is it specifically German?
23:38 October 23, 2009 by locally
One thing for sure is that I am doing pretty good,not from living here but from working real hard,bos1920 or 1930.

Maybe you still think we are in the year 1920 as your name is bos1920.

You better wake up.
15:16 October 24, 2009 by macca01
Oh - wake up all of you! The only way we will break out of Hitler's legacy is to stop spreading hate. And this includes hating Germans or Germany.

I am a black female born and raised in Germany and I left the country for all the reasons already mentioned. FOR YOUR INFORMATION: I have learned to appreciate Germany and the German mentality. Living abroad I have come across extreme race hate, subtle hate and a cut-throat mentality of falseness and keeping up appearances.

I appreciate that there are black sheep everywhere but I know that in general, Germans appreciate if you make an effort. They can be very helpful and open-minded (yes, even in comparison to e.g. the British) but most importantly they are honest. You never have to wonder who you can be at ease with.

Nowhere is perfect, but what is happening here is the all too human need to find and point out the evil party and thereby assume a white vest. I call this diversion tactics and it is weirdly still something that many powerful countries do.

If you are truly unhappy, you should consider taking a risk and moving elsewhere. I am currently considering a move back to Germany.

22:59 October 24, 2009 by emeth_calormene
I heard about two prospective newcomers to a small town in Germany who asked one of the residents: "Is this a nice place to live?" She asked both of them the same question - "What's the town you're moving from like?"

The first person said: "It's a great place. Most of the people are helpful and friendly. We've got loads of friends and we're really sorry to have to move because of my job." The resident's answer was: "Well, you needn't worry; you'll find the people in this town just the same as where you're coming from."

The second person said about his current hometown: "It's really unfriendly. People seem to go out of their way to be rude and unhelpful. I've never liked living there." The resident's answer was: "Well, I wouldn't move here; you'll find the people in this town just the same as where you're coming from."

Cute, eh?
20:47 October 25, 2009 by joyfulcalm
bos1920 I agree with you. as a German living in the US I have experienced both worlds when it comes to hospitality. I have come across people that would give you the shirt off their backs and others who turn their backs on you in a time of need. It is the individual that makes the decision to be helpful, and not because they come from a particular country. We have the same thing here in the US, expats that demand this country support their every need, and when they get cut off from their free medical, free food, free housing, etc, they start to complain and bad mouth this country, when in reality THEY are "the thorn in civil society" ....and this is what I have to say to those whiners, GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY!!
22:23 October 25, 2009 by allhappy
joyfulcalm I agreed with your early statement but the last statement was nearly the worst statement made on this issue.It defines who you are...........

I lived in Germany for 3 years.

How would you feel,if I said you should pack and go back to your damn country.

seal your mouth.
06:23 October 26, 2009 by locally
I think no one whined here.We only said our opinion,not from hatred or anything near to it.

allhappy is right,lock your mouth.
15:18 October 26, 2009 by LeahG
Bruce Darnell is lying.
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