Since being in Germany- well actually ever since leaving Halle waaayyy back when I was still young and virginal and not yet converted into always removing shoes and only ever cutting potatos with a fork - since then I´ve avoided native English speakers. Sure, Hamburg put a bit of a spanner in the works with that, being as it was an organisation full of them, but I managed to even that out by finding a dog walking group which couldn´t speak English at all.
I had a few reasons for actively avoiding expats. The first is, I think, fair and obvious - I wanted to improve my German. Hanging around Irish Pubs with people whom the only thing I had in common was my native tongue was not going to help that aim. The second major reason is that after a year in Halle of basically living in the Irish Pub I HATED IRISH PUB MUSIC. Seriously.
Like, trooly rooly.
Just try and sing Whisky In The Jar around me and you´ll see how fast human movement can be. And I´m not talking about mine. I´m talking about yours. Through a window.
Yes, there is a violent streak in me. And Irish Pub music doesn´t just bring it up, it pokes with needles, bathes it in salt and surrounds it with thirteen year old girls laughing at it´s haircut.
Alright, I think you get the point. So the final reason I´ve avoided expats is that they´re a flighty bunch - myself included. I´ve lived in five cities in eight years. Nine apartments. Seven employers.
Re-establishing yourself every single time is hardwork. You invest time and effort into building relationships with people only to have you or them move away. Now that I´ve decided Berlin is (probably) permanent I have even less desire to make friends only to have them happily go home again, leaving me behind and having to start anew. Again.
However. There have been a couple of separate instances in the last few weeks where I´ve met expats and each time it´s been great to realise that I don´t have to journey all the way to Australia just to find someone who gets it when I throw a one liner in a conversation. Someone who doesn´t get confused and slightly disturbed at double entendres. Someone who isn´t afraid to laugh so hard in public that they snort beer out their nose.
I´m not going to dive into the expat community the way I did eight years ago, but I´ve decided a little won´t hurt me anymore. My German is very good, I´m well integrated into the society and this is the place I call home. I can handle it now without risk of frustration, loneliness and homesickness.
I no longer have anything to fear from freely spoken English.