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Planning and packing for Cologne

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Carolynnell
1/24/2016 23:40 EST

Guten tag! We are moving from the US to Cologne. Expats: What do you wish you had brought with you? What do you wish you had left at home? Locals: We are considering Carnival costumes. We have read one MUST wear one. Is it even possible for expats to get into the parties and balls or will we be partying in the streets only? How elaborate should we be? Some can be quite expensive! The costumes in pictures online from Cologne seem quite different from what people wear for Carnival in Venice. What if we wore the same as they wear? Would that be incorrect? We hope to attend Carnival in both places over the next several years. Your thoughts and opinions will be appreciated. Danke.

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khoemmen2
2/1/2016 03:50 EST

Guten tag! We are moving from the US to Cologne. Expats:
Where are you coming from, Cologne is a very open if not international city and you will fit in well with a broad accepting attitude. However, we have recently had a shock to that freedom recently at the New Years tragedy at the main train station with women being attacked by potentially migrants and other foregners. This has created a new reality of uncertainty in the local community. Read as much as you can from all viewpoints to better understand the 'ground conditions' before you arrive.

What do you wish you had brought with you?
Nothing, you can get all you need here (except things like canned pumkin and only in America stuff).

What do you wish you had left at home?
Dont bring tools (English system) or Electrical (220V) things. Depends a lot on whether you are paying or a company. If you, consider leaving more at home, although conside that you pay VAT (19% or so) on purchases so big ticket stuff might be worth shipping.
Locals: We are considering Carnival costumes. We have read one MUST wear one. Is it even possible for expats to get into the parties and balls or will we be partying in the streets only? How elaborate should we be? Some can be quite expensive! The costumes in pictures online from Cologne seem quite different from what people wear for Carnival in Venice. What if we wore the same as they wear? Would that be incorrect? We hope to attend Carnival in both places over the next several years. Your thoughts and opinions will be appreciated. Danke

Karneval is very different here. You can go to it all if you can get tickets, but unless your German is really good (I have been here 10yrs and still cant follow all the jokes), some jokes are even in the local dialect Kölsch, you should ease into it. It is also not for everyone, your age may play a role in how long into the night you want to party. I would say if you make it (it starts this week on Thurs and runs to Wed next week), then just walk around the streets and watch some of the 'Sitzungen' on TV to get the feel, most of the std ones are very conservative and predictable. Once you have some experience, I would recommend 3 alternatives (see links below) that are more 'cheeky' and better for immis (immigranten, non-Germans)...

Good luck. If you need assistance in getting settled, try the American Womens Club, they have a lot of experience in taking in newbies to Germany and Cologne.
http://www.aiwccologne.org/

Karneval
English
http://www.cologne.de/events/cologne-carnival

German
(use google chrome, right click and choose translate to English)
http://www.lto.de/galerien/11-dinge-die-man-zu-karneval-wissen-muss/
http://www.stunksitzung.de/
http://www.deine-sitzung.de/
http://www.immisitzung.de/

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GHGelina
2/8/2016 02:44 EST

Now that Carnival is going on and you are probably in Cologne, you can see that everybody is welcome to attend Carnival on the streets and in the pubs. People here are pretty open and welcoming. No need to go to a Sitzung or to spend lots of money for a costume.
Hope you are enjoying it! :-)
2500 additional policemen were hired for security in the streets.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me. Good Luck in Köln,
Gerlinde

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taraindc
2/8/2016 06:08 EST

Wish I brought? Food mostly: Cheerios, mac and cheese, pluots, dried peaches, freeze-dried fruit, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, pumpkin butter, sun butter, certain kinds of crackers, salsa, chocolate chips, brown sugar.

What do you wish you had left at home? Tools and excess summer clothing; it never really gets all that warm here.

If you are partying in the streets only? Wear whatever you like. I just went to Weil der Stadt fasching parade yesterday, and anything goes!

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Carolynnell
2/11/2016 18:04 EST

Danke, GHGelina! I will remember your helpful tips. We have not yet moved to Koln but hope to be there in a few months. I am happy to hear about the additional police protection. We are planning for Carnival 2017. Until then...
Carolynnell

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GHGelina
2/12/2016 01:51 EST

good luck for your start in Köln :-)

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Carolynnell
2/15/2016 18:17 EST

taraindc:
Thanks for the helpful tips. I'll keep those foods in mind. I love triscuits so I'll be sure to stock up on those. And how can they even make chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips and brown sugar? haha And salsa! Definitely need to remember that one! We can't wait to move. Looks like late summer for us.

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Carolynnell
2/15/2016 18:31 EST

khoemmen2:
Danke! Those are helpful insights. We are not moving until late summer so we did not participate in Karneval this year. We look forward to next year. We have been reading a lot of news reports and blogs about the attacks outside of the Hauptbahnhof. It sounds pretty scary. We live in a very scary city in the US - Memphis, TN, so we are used to being on guard. Some events cannot be prepared for, unfortunately. Thanks for the websites too. I hope to be involved with the American Women's Club and I think there is also an international club that might be fun too.

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khoemmen2
2/22/2016 02:59 EST

Carolyn,
Please do be afraid, even with the shocking events of New Years, Cologne is still one of the safest cities you can live in and does not compare to anything of similar size in the USA (I come from Detroit and I think I can see that safety here is generally not a concern). The real shock is the relative change, when I came here I became used to the freedom of 24h safety and no concerns for violent or even petty crime, now the bar is raised a bit higher due to more variety in the makeup of the populace, but that is normal. So the bottom line is that things here are still very easy and you just have to be more aware of your surroundings, especially in a large crowd (pickpockets and such).

So begin your packaging without any real concerns, things we be easier here vs Memphis once you get on the ground and start to experience the newness of a new country language and culture. One thing is sure is that Cologne, as evidenced by Karneval, is a very open and welcoming place for all and a smile on your face will, like anywhere in the world, open doors and bridge the gap to new understandings...

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khoemmen2
2/22/2016 02:59 EST

Carolyn,
Please do be afraid, even with the shocking events of New Years, Cologne is still one of the safest cities you can live in and does not compare to anything of similar size in the USA (I come from Detroit and I think I can see that safety here is generally not a concern). The real shock is the relative change, when I came here I became used to the freedom of 24h safety and no concerns for violent or even petty crime, now the bar is raised a bit higher due to more variety in the makeup of the populace, but that is normal. So the bottom line is that things here are still very easy and you just have to be more aware of your surroundings, especially in a large crowd (pickpockets and such).

So begin your packaging without any real concerns, things we be easier here vs Memphis once you get on the ground and start to experience the newness of a new country language and culture. One thing is sure is that Cologne, as evidenced by Karneval, is a very open and welcoming place for all and a smile on your face will, like anywhere in the world, open doors and bridge the gap to new understandings...

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khoemmen2
2/22/2016 03:00 EST

Sorry, typing mistake, I meant DONT be afraid.

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