Nina Römer emigrated to New York. In an interview with FOCUS online, she talks about the challenges she had to struggle with, especially at the beginning. And she explains what she likes better about the city that never sleeps than about Germany.

FOCUS online: Nina, there are over 6,000 kilometers between your hometown and your new home in New York. You probably don’t mind long-haul flights.

Nina Römer: I was less than a year old when I flew to Mauritius with my family for the first time. This was my first long-haul flight of many. My mother was a travel agent and my father works in international sales, which means both of them have always been on the move a lot.

What motivated you to move to the USA?

In fact, my passion for traveling played a big role in this. I traveled a lot as a child and learned four languages ​​at the same time at school. I know that sounds nerdy, but that was and is my hobby. This affinity for travel led to several stays abroad during my school and university years, for example in Mexico, Chile, France or South Africa. The desire to live in New York has been with me since the fifth grade. When the opportunity finally presented itself, I didn’t hesitate and moved to the city I had always dreamed of.

What exactly was this possibility?

The opportunity came through my husband’s job. He works for an international company, which made it easier for us to take the step abroad.

So you’ve never been to New York before moving to the Big Apple?

Yes, at 15 years old. My husband, on the other hand, had never visited the city before.

How did it feel for you to suddenly be in the middle of Manhattan? Pure culture shock?

Our first days in New York were simply overwhelming. We initially lived in a hotel because of course we had to look for an apartment first. The city itself was loud, hectic and there was steam coming from the streets everywhere. Everything was really lively. There were so many impressions at once that we were almost overwhelmed at first. Nevertheless, the first three months were like a dream for me. I was so happy that my long-held wish had come true.

Nina Römer is 29 years old and works as a freelance marketing and communications consultant for German and US customers. She helps her customers strategically establish and further develop internal and external communication as well as stakeholder management, especially in large IT projects. Römer also runs a travel blog on the side where she shares tips for a trip to New York.

You talked about looking for an apartment. How did that go?

We viewed over 30 apartments within two days. These are so-called “apartment tours”. Apartment hunting in New York is like a shark tank – you have to decide on an apartment in the next minute and apply immediately if you like it. Otherwise it will be gone at the end of the day. According to the motto: “First come, first serve”.

It was exciting to see these apartments that you only see in movies. The view of the skyline from a roof terrace was simply breathtaking – completely different to looking for an apartment in Germany. In the end we found a beautiful home that we are very happy with.

Visiting 30 apartments in two days sounds challenging. What else came up for you when you moved to New York?

One of the biggest challenges was that we arrived without any furniture and had to buy everything new. Getting used to the new environment and everyday life was also challenging.

Were there any positive surprises?

I was initially concerned about the bureaucracy, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and quick the bureaucratic processes are here. For example, applying for the New York ID, which you need to travel across the country, among other things, was extremely uncomplicated and completed quickly. I found that very pleasant compared to the German bureaucracy.

What about your personal Americanization? Has your time in Manhattan changed you?

Absolutely yes. In New York you can really be who you are. The city is a melting pot of cultures and everyone is accepted here. This free-spirited character of the city really influenced me. There is no “citizen police” here that condemns you for every little violation of the rules, as I often experience in Germany. If you ride your bike on the wrong side or in the wrong direction, no one cares. In Germany you will hear something for it.

I just feel freer, braver and more open here. It’s also common to just strike up a conversation with strangers, which I really like and that’s why I do it in Germany when I visit. But that doesn’t work so well. In Germany the tonality is completely different.

So the prejudice that Germans are unfriendly and grumpier is true?

I never understood this prejudice. Even though I’ve been abroad so many times, I always found it unjustified. But now it’s the first time that I think that way too. I notice this even more now when I visit Germany. It doesn’t take long for the complaining to start.

You would think that in New York, known for its hectic pace and tough competition, many people would be in a bad mood. Is the reality different?

There are certainly the hectic and competitive aspects of the city. But in general I find the people here to be very friendly and open-minded. Here you are more likely to be praised for your individuality than criticized. There is a generally positive and supportive atmosphere here, which I really appreciate.

You are probably sometimes identified as German or have to “out” yourself as German. What is the opinion of Germany in the city that never sleeps?

Basically, the view of Germany is very positive. However, Americans are mostly concerned about maintaining a positive mood. It could therefore be that criticism is more reserved. What was interesting was the perception during the first months of Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine, where the desire for Europe to get more involved was certainly evident.

In general, Europe and Germany in particular are often praised for their social security and generous vacation regulations. I have never encountered any misunderstandings about Germany’s geographical location, which are often attributed to Americans, in New York.

When non-Americans think of the USA, they often dream of the “American Dream”. What does this dream look like for German emigrants? Will your “American Dream” become a reality or are there insurmountable obstacles?

First of all, New York is a real dream for me. The city has countless restaurants, bars and other adventure options. New York is also an attractive travel destination for visitors, which means we often receive visitors from home. The travel options within the USA are also a big plus. Whether national parks in Utah or city trips to Miami or San Francisco – we really enjoy the many trips. That’s what we really wanted.

There are no compromises you have to make?

You definitely have to get a work permit first to really be able to take part in all of this. This was possible for us because of my husband’s job, but life here is difficult without a work permit. Finding a job is a challenge, especially without an American university background.

In addition, the working conditions and cultures are different here. There is less job security than in Germany and also fewer vacation days. In addition, the separation between work and private life is less pronounced.

Less job security may deter many people. After all, New York is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world.

It’s actually a challenge to live here. But you can do it, especially with good education and a well-paying job. The highest cost is actually the rental cost. There are also costs for living expenses and leisure activities. But if you live consciously and, for example, cook at home instead of always going out, you can make ends meet well. German habits help immensely.

German habits?

For example, the German money mindset. I definitely handle money differently than most people here in New York. The tendency to save and make financial provisions is much more pronounced in Germany. In New York I often saw that people tend to live in the moment and think less about the future. It is not uncommon, for example, to pay for an expensive membership in a wellness studio while at the same time having hardly any money to live on. The tendency to take on debt, for example to finance studies, is also more widespread in the USA and much more normal and commonplace than in Germany.

How long should your dream of living in New York last? Are you planning to stay in the long term or will you return to Germany at some point?

We love New York, but in the long term we see Europe as our center of life again. The diversity of Europe, the social conditions and the proximity to family are simply unbeatable. However, we have not yet set a specific end date for our time in New York; we currently see 2025 as a possible date for our return.

Here in the USA, a lot of things are more money-oriented, which doesn’t always fit with our philosophy of life. We always say: We live here at the peak of capitalism. I don’t mean to say that Europe is not capitalist, that would be a gross exaggeration. But it’s a little less about money than here.

Do you have an example of this?

You just have to look at the prices for tickets: a concert ticket in a good row of seats or a ticket for an American football game, you can pay 1000 dollars for a good seat. This, for example, is just so crazy.

Would you still recommend emigrating to New York?

In any case. It’s not for nothing that New York is a city that fascinates many people. Living here is a unique experience. But you should be aware that you need a job that pays well in order to live well here. The cost of living is extremely high. Anyone who is ready to get involved and wants to experience something new should take the step.

It is also important to have patience and a certain level of persistence, especially when looking for a job. The American working world works a little differently than the German one, but if you get involved you can have a great time here.

You can find out more about Nina Römer’s time in America here on her personal blog.

Since she was 19, Anouk has been unable to eat without pain without vomiting. Doctors diagnosed Dunbar syndrome. The 25-year-old explains how much it limits her – but she doesn’t give up hope.

There are clear words from North Rhine-Westphalia: The new Islamism report warns of small groups and solo perpetrators – often lured in by jihadist propaganda. In addition, the NRW state security officers have noticed increasing contacts between Salafist preachers and criminal Kurdish-Lebanese clans.