Where are you located and what do you do?
I live just outside of Düsseldorf; well that is usually what I tell non-Germans. I actually live in Wuppertal, a relatively big town of 360,000, less than 20 minutes away from Düsseldorf. The town is famous for its Schwebebahn [monorail] and tourist promo aside, it really is a lovely way to get around and see the city, literally from above.
What brought you to Germany and how long have you been here?
One of the oldest reasons in the book brought me here, love. How I met my husband Jens, is a fascinating story. But to make it short, his mother was the one who played matchmaker while on a trip to Jamaica.
Though after getting my number, he never called for over five months and when he ended up calling I was weeks away from moving to New York to pursue my Master’s. In a sense, he waited until it was too late, but it worked out exactly how it should have.
I really can’t imagine my life without him and I tell him very often that I would have moved to the middle of nowhere to be with him, which essentially is how I sometimes feel about Wuppertal.
I have been living here for about two years and four months, though sometimes it feels way longer than that, but not in a negative way. The customs, the people, the language and lifestyle do not seem as foreign as I sometimes expect them to.
How did you land your job and do you have tips for anyone seeking similar work?
Whereas love brought me here, love, or the search for love, is responsible for my building a company here with my husband Jens. The German term “peinlich” comes to mind, when I was asked, why you moved from either Montego Bay or Manhattan to be here.
I felt strange, telling strangers that I followed my heart. It didn't seem logical enough, but after the first month of meeting new classmates at the Volkshochschule [adult evening classes] I realized I was not in the minority but the majority.
Every year thousands and thousands of people make a leap of faith to forgo everything that is normal to them for love. In my class, there were people from Latvia, Brazil, America, England, Mexico, Dominica, and Kenya – that was in a class of 15 - all to be with German partners.
We realized that there must be other couples like us internationally and Jens and I decided to start a Facebook page aptly entitled “Love Crosses Borders”. The mission of LCB was originally just to highlight the already existing friendships, marriages, relationships and families, but also to give others a chance to enjoy these beautiful and unique relationships, discourage racism and share fun pictures.
The page, however, grew at speed and currently has over 32,000 members in our worldwide community in less than nine months. The idea of making it into a business venture came only after the third month after getting daily requests from singles all over the world, requesting that we start a dating site.
Is it important for you to be able to speak German in your position?
No, unfortunately. Because, we have mostly an international platform as our member base, or Germans who speak English, I haven’t been forced to speak a lot of German.
I find that people immediately attempt to switch to English when they hear my English sounding accent. Though, I know that it is their way of being polite or their way of practicing their English skills, it does make it hard for me to get comfortable speaking the language to strangers.
What are the best and worst parts about working in Germany?
The holidays - that goes without saying. My friends in the Caribbean and North America get pretty upset when I flaunt holidays that they have never heard about in their faces on Facebook.
The worst part would be the opening hours for everything. It just seems like it would be impossible to maintain such a super economy on people literally working these tiny, odd hours a day. Stores and offices close at ridiculously early hours. I suppose it is good for family life, that and the vacation days per year, so I can’t really complain.
Do you plan on staying?
It was a deal made after moving here. If I didn't like Germany after a couple of years, my husband said he would uproot the business and relocate to anywhere of my choice.
The thing is, I like Germany a lot, but I am in love with cities like Brussels and Amsterdam, due to how international they are. It’s just that in comparison to other European cities that I frequent, the German cities pale slightly in comparison. On the plus side, I want us to always live in Europe, so we will always be pretty close to Germany.