I had a really fantastic weekend in Berlin for the annual WEBMU conference! The Whiny Expat Bloggers Meet-Up takes place in a different city every year and is for English-speaking bloggers who live in Germany to get to know other expats. This year, it was held in the capital city and there were about 15 or so bloggers altogether who participated. This year the group was mostly comprised of Americans, with a few others from Australia, Canada and Ireland, and of course some German partners/spouses.
I was new to the group and had only heard of it thanks to Heidelbergerin and No Apathy Allowed and decided to come along. Even though I hadn’t read many other people’s blogs from the group, I figured I would meet them and catch up on the blog reading later!
And you know what? I am SO glad I went! We had a fun itinerary of eating at restaurants, neighborhood tours of Prenzlauerberg and Friedrichshain and various other activities. The organizers of the group, Snooker in Berlin and No Apathy Allowed, did a really great job planning and making it special for everyone. We even got these “swag bags” with the WEBMU2012 logo on it, filled with various coupons, magazines and goodies!
The best part was meeting everyone. These people are friendly, fun and have an awesome sense of humor. It just felt so comfortable being there with everyone, as if we had known each other for a long time. We had a great weekend, and there really is something so encouraging about meeting other people like me (English speakers, expats) who have had similar experiences (cultural differences of living in Germany, etc.). I’m glad to have met everyone and I look forward to keeping in touch with them on their blogs. And on Twitter, because everyone was a member and I felt like I was missing out…so I signed up. It didn’t take long, but I’m hooked! (I’m @thestaebler, in case you want to find me there!)
WEBMU started on Thursday evening, and I couldn’t attend the first few events because of work and because of my appointment at the American Embassy on Friday morning. I needed to get my passport renewed as the first step in changing my name.
As for the passport, I had been very nervous before-hand about my new name and what would become of it. I knew this going in, because T. also has three different versions of his name floating around out there. Stäbler is the official German name. If you don’t have the capability of doing umlauts, then the ¨ represents an “e”, which would make the name Staebler.
However, because most people don’t know about how the umlaut works, they would just leave it off as Stabler. The difference between Staebler and Stabler is that they are totally different pronunciations (and therefore also very different names!) and at least with Staebler, it sounds exactly like Stäbler. But because the marriage license contains the umlauted version, I wasn’t sure what the Americans would do with that. I feared they would just leave off the Ä and write A instead. It’s obviously not the end of the world, but I would much prefer having the same name as my husband. (Um, isn’t that the point of changing my name anyway???) (As for his passport, there’s an Ä, and on the universal magnetic strip at the bottom it’s listed as AE.)
So I asked the guy at the embassy about this and said, “You probably get this all the time, but I’m not sure what to do with the umlaut in my new last name. I filled out the application with AE. Will they take it like that?” And he said that yes, that “should be fine” and that “that would be the normal way to do it”. He agreed with me that it would make my life in Germany a lot easier. So I have admittedly gotten my hopes up for everything to work out with AE. But I won’t be 100% sure until in about 4-6 weeks, when I’ve got it in my own two hands.
Fingers still crossed!