'Germans are nice thanks to my Ami accent'

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13 May, 2013 Updated Mon 13 May 2013 06:52 CEST
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For this instalment of My German Career, The Local spoke with former US military man turned armed guard Keith Alban about leaving your home country in search of a better quality of life, and the perks of being an American abroad.

After being stationed in Germany as an US army policeman in the mid-90s, Alban moved back the US. Fed-up with life stateside, he returned in 1999 to forge his way in the country's working world. Alban now lives with his wife and 23-month-old son in Bavaria and will defend Germany “tooth and nail” to anyone who questions his decision to move to Europe where, he believes, the quality of life is better.

Where are you located and what do you do?

I'm in a cozy little town in the Unterfranken region named Miltenberg. I work in armoured transport as an armed guard in the Cash Logistics Business.  

What brought you to Germany and how long have you been here?

I initially came here with the military. I was an military policeman, stationed in Wiesbaden during the mid 90's.

How did you land your job and do you have tips for anyone seeking similar work?

I landed my job after simply jumping into the "German system" and learning as I went along. That worked in the beginning when I was going from "job to job" and not working on my career. At some point, you'll realise that the German workforce flows in ways that many of us already understand. The devil is in the details, meaning the difference in etiquette and standards, but they will all explain themselves if you are a person who seeks to understand, not just perform your daily routine. 

Is it important for you to be able to speak German in your position?


ABSOLUTELY. If for no other reason, than that out of pure respect. What I find sometimes funny is I will spend an entire conversation speaking in German, and the German will speak entirely in English. The advantage of being an American is having English to fall back on if you run into a bind. Sometimes in professional "lingo" or job specific terminology, you run into issues attempting to communicate. It is then that you can fall back on English if need be – to better articulate your confusion or to clarify something in more detail. That will work with 85 percent of the situations but there is also places or groups of people where that is of no advantage whatsoever. 

What are the key differences practising your profession here and your home country?

In my job, security is number one priority. We have plenty of technology and equipment that guarantees our daily safety. However in America, it is even more intensified. Larger caliber weapons, bigger trucks, more personnel per vehicle, etc.  

What are the best and worst parts about working in Germany?


Germans really go after anything that presents itself as a challenge to efficiency. Constant optimising and performance review allow for steady improvement and streamlined abilities. On the other hand, that means there is a constant "buzz" in the workplace, sometimes making it difficult to get used to one thing before you have to start all over with a "new way" of an old task.  That's best and worst all in one. 

Do you plan on staying?

You better believe it. I love my life here in Germany. I love the fact that I can live a comfortable life here with the benefits of Germany's socially friendly system; Pertaining to healthcare, holidays, family law and benefits. I have a wonderful family here and love the lifestyle. In addition to that, I have that typical "Ami" accent, that leads most people into being extremely friendly in casual conversation, making almost any contact with Germans a friendly and polite encounter. 

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The Local/jcw



2013/05/13 06:52

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