Meet the Europeans Who Moved to the US and Say There’s No Going Back

To learn all the stories of American families who said goodbye to the United States to give their children a different education in France and moved to Italy in search of a better lifestyle. or moved to Portugal to pay for medical care and retire without spending a lot of money, there are many Europeans who have crossed the pond and made the United States their home and say they will never return to the European continent to live again.

From CNN Travel regularly features expats “living the dream” in Europe, we decided to find out what the experience has been like for some of those seeking opportunities on the other side of the Atlantic.

We spoke to a handful of Europeans who are embracing American life about what brought them together and bound them to America. This is what they said:

A positive “cowboy mentality”

Florian Herrmann, 44, originally from Munich, Germany, first came to the United States in 2006 as part of a university exchange and internship program in California.

When that ended, he returned to Germany before being hired to work at a small family business in Wyoming.

“I was always a chaser of races, super races.focused,” says Herrmann, who eventually started his own tourism marketing business in the United States, Hermann Global. “Everything changed for me when I came to the United States. People told me that the sky is the limit, if you see it you can do it.”

He finds the American spirit of “supporting the underdog” particularly powerful. Herrmann, who is still a German citizen, says he plans to apply for U.S. citizenship when the option for Germans to hold dual citizenship becomes easier.

“The mentality here is ‘Let’s try it.’ And if it doesn’t work, they say, ‘Well, you did it and now you know it didn’t work,’” she says. By comparison, failing at something as an entrepreneur in Germany is something you “carry on your shoulders,” she says, and usually means fewer opportunities in the future.

Herrmann, who lives with his American wife and two children in Lander, Wyoming, a small town home to fewer than 8,000 people, says he feels lucky to live in such a close-knit community with a “cowboy mentality” that can make it happen. . ,” also.

“Small town America is still absolutely amazing,” he says. “There is a support system that I just don’t see existing anywhere in the world. You already know the police, the people at the courts, the neighbors. “My friends come to visit from Germany and they see me waving at a police officer and they wonder what I’m doing.”

Although Herrmann loves Wyoming’s wilderness, he admits it can be isolating at times. And although he would consider returning to Germany for a year or two, he doesn’t think he can return there long-term.

“I have become too Americanized. I love my life and the way I live,” she says. “When I come back I think, ‘I really couldn’t live here anymore.’”

“I know I will be buried here,” he adds. “I feel like an American. This country has done a lot for me and I am committed and grateful.”

An ‘innate optimism’

Gabriele Sappok, 54 years old, founded Imagine public relations in New York City in 2006 after leaving Stuttgart, Germany, to live with her German boyfriend (now her husband and business partner). The optimism of American life is what inspires her most.

“I love my home country, but the general feeling in Germany is that the glass is half empty, unlike here where there is this innate optimism that I appreciate and love,” says the German citizen who has a US green card.

When he returns to Germany, Sappok says Germans complain about how Americans casually ask how you are “without really caring,” he says.

“I explain to people that it actually makes my day when people ask me how I’m doing in the United States, it’s a gesture that I appreciate,” he says, adding that there is a huge cultural divide between Europe and the United States, not to mention mention mention within Europe.

“In Germany you are almost expected not to be carefree all the time, because then people doubt your sincerity,” says Sappok. “You have to have a certain level of cynicism and criticism because that’s what makes you smart.”

He says he gets very upset when he sees Europeans “dismissing” the United States.

Andreas and Gabriele Sappok take a photo outside the White House in Washington, DC. (Gabriele Sappok via CNN Newsource)“This is a good country, it’s a really good country,” he says. If she and her husband eventually return to Germany, it will be only to support the social system there.

“For us, in the end, the question will be whether we can afford to grow old in America and in New York City in particular,” he says.

Sappok is aware that he benefited from things like free college education in Germany and “didn’t really pay it forward,” he says, having moved to the U.S. early to work and live.

“There’s a little bit of guilt in it, but as long as I can work and do what I do, I don’t want to move anywhere,” he says.

The only thing he misses about his native country is family and certain dishes, including the Swabian specialty called maultaschenloved in her native Stuttgart.

“In the United States you can get a lot of things, but you still can’t get those dumplings,” he says.

People tell you to “do it”

Originally from France, Laurence Noguier, co-owner of the restaurant Bistronomic in Chicago, he moved to the city in 1998 when he was 27 years old.

He also cites the American entrepreneurial spirit as something he appreciates about his adopted country.

“In America, if you have a project, the right work attitude, a little common sense and the will to see it through, you really find an audience, a support system and people who tell you, ‘go for it!’ she says. “If they have connections or resources, they will share them so you can move on to the next step.”

France, by comparison, is a place where “you really need capital and connections to be an entrepreneur and the characteristic of failure is more inhibiting,” he says.

But his love for the United States goes beyond business possibilities.

“I am an optimistic person. “I can’t stand the mentality that ‘it was better before,’” she says.

Noguier, 53, says he also experiences less age discrimination here than in France.

“The United States makes me feel relevant as a woman over 50 years old. Age is not a judgment. “I feel empowered in America and I can be heard more than if I were in France,” she says.

That said, he sometimes finds the “constant quest to be better, more efficient and more relevant” in the United States exhausting.

And while the cost of health care in the United States compared to Europe is “pretty exponential,” he says, “the clichés that there is no health care and no retirement in the United States are actually false.”

His heart and soul are tied to two countries, says Noguier, who has a green card and plans to obtain citizenship this year.

“I feel more like an American when I interact with French people from France, and I want everyone to come to America and try to discover themselves in another world,” Noguier says. “Although I am proud to be European, I think my personality fits much better in the United States.”

Mixing in the crucible

Clodagh Lawless, owner of The Dearborn tavern in Chicago, grew up in Galway, Ireland, and first came to the United States in 1998 after his parents obtained visas for the family to move.

She says that living in the United States has given her the privilege of meeting and befriending people of many different ethnicities.

“America is a melting pot of people from many different cultures. That brings so much worldly education that can’t be found in any school or university,” says Lawless, who became a U.S. citizen in 2017.

Clodagh Lawless owns The Dearborn Tavern in Chicago. (Clodagh Lawless via CNN Newsource)Unlike today’s Ireland, he says, when he grew up there, he didn’t have the opportunity to meet many people from other countries, as Ireland was not yet a major migration destination.

She also prefers Chicago’s weather.

“Growing up in the west of Ireland, it always seemed to be raining,” he says. “I’ve lived in Chicago for 27 years and I love both seasons, winter and summer.”

She says that although she will never say never, she doesn’t see herself returning to Ireland full time.

Her children love being Irish-American, Lawless says, and are very proud of their Irish heritage, as well as their “now-American” mother.

“Becoming an American citizen was one of the proudest moments of my life,” she says. “Just knowing the opportunities and privileges that come with being an American makes me cry every time I talk about it.”

Sunniest coasts

Lorna MacDonald came to the United States in 1979 when she was just 17 years old from Penzance, England, aboard a 45-foot sailboat that she used to cross the Atlantic Ocean with her mother, father, and brother.

“There was no room to grow up in what my family did in England – all my friends were moving to Dubai or Australia at the time,” he says. “My dad always had an incredible sense of adventure.”

The family landed on Singer Island, Florida, and was headed to the Chesapeake Bay, but fell in love with St. Augustine, Florida, while sailing.

Lorna MacDonald, second from right, came to Florida on a sailboat with her family in 1979. (Lorna MacDonald via CNN Newsource)And that’s where they remain today. In 1981, the family had opened The rain treea beloved local restaurant that MacDonald still owns, and by 1986 she had become a U.S. citizen.

He returns to England regularly to visit school friends with whom he stays in touch, MacDonald says.

“Last time, my only friend gathered everyone in the pub. It’s crazy how the years go by and you still connect,” he says.

But she says “you couldn’t pay him” to live again.

“When I come home and look at my hometown, it’s really a bit depressing,” he says of Penzance. “It’s not vibrant, the economy there is much worse than ours here. It seems much more oppressive than here and the weather has a lot to do with it.”

He also doesn’t miss the class structure he grew up with in England, he says.

“Here you meet all walks of life every day. He is less critical of people and goes more with the flow,” she says.

That said, England will always be our home, says MacDonald.

“But I refer to America as my home when I’m there.”

Florida-based travel writer Terry Ward He lives in Tampa and is working to obtain Italian citizenship.

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