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citizenship

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Proud to be American

January 12, 2012

Yesterday, was a big day. We celebrated hubby’s 35th birthday and my swearing-in as an American citizen. I still can’t believe it. I am an American citizen. Little Susi G., as the old gossips in my hometown, would say. All the way from middle-of-nowhere Germany to Boca Raton, Florida… U.S.A.!!!

91 people from 35 different countries, like Albania, Argentina, Chile, Columbia, France, Iran, Bangladesh to name just a few, were sworn in at the USCIS center in Royal Palm Beach with me. I was the only German.

After living here for 16 years and being very happy in my adopted home country, I finally took the last step. I passed the citizenship test back in December and was eagerly awaiting the letter telling me the day when I would swear theΒ  Oath of Allegiance.

After saying these words, I officially became a naturalized American citizen.

I was finally able to pledge my allegiance to the flag. (As a legal alien resident, but non-citizen, you are not supposed to pledge to the flag.)

It was a short, but for me, emotional ceremony. I had to hold back tears many times. But in the end I had a huge smile on my face. I did it. It’s official.

I am an American citizen!!! πŸ™‚

I’m excited I get to vote now and to carry a blue (my favorite color), not red passport. I will apply for that as soon as possible.

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A League of Nations

December 20, 2011

I wrote this post a while back and promptly banished it to the draft folder because I just didn’t think it was ready. Or right. Or something. Today, I was thinking about what to write and ideas shimmered in front of me, only to float away on a cloud of frustration. Then, I remembered this post and decided to expand on it a little and give you a snap-shot of my family.

Hubby’s grandma, who has graced this earth for 85 years now, likes to call her family a league of nations. Her son, my father-in-law, is married to a Brazilian woman. She came here a number of years ago from Rio de Janeiro. Grandma’s daughter, hubby’s aunt, married a Canadian from Vancouver, and they live in far away Kullu, India. Kullu is a town in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. Last, but not least, hubby married me, a German. Almost, German-American!!! πŸ™‚ I’m the last of the “foreigners” to get my citizenship.

So, this is her little “league of nations”. I’m sure that this is a fairly common occurrence in many families in this country. America, after all, is known as a melting pot–some regions more so than others. It still is a very interesting phenomenon for me. I grew up in a tiny village about two hours south of Berlin. Everyone knew who you were and what you were up to. I wasn’t used to having this mix of people and nations around me and it was very over-whelming at first.

I’m lucky enough that my parents are here with me. They live about two hours away on the west coast of Florida. I know many people, some of them friends I went to school with, who are here without any family around. Little sis went back to Germany with her husband, who is American but was born in Poland. My niece who was just born earlier this year has dual-citizenship. She’s both German and American.

My children who were all born here in the US also have dual-citizenship. They were born on American soil and have an American father, so they are by proxy American. But because when they were all born I was still a German national, they also have German citizenship.

Put it all together and you get a pretty eclectic mix of people and attitudes. It makes for an interesting get-together.

What about you and your family? Do you have a family that you would consider your very own “league of nations”?

 

 

 

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Just another day… not quite!

December 14, 2011

My morning started like any other weekday. Get up at the crack of dawn, wake the kiddies, get breakfast ready, pack lunch and drive off to school, come back, walk the dogs, make breakfast, well, hubby took care of that this morning… Except, today was super special. To me at least. I had a very important appointment to keep and the butterflies taking up residence in my tummy made sure I was not forgetting it.

I was nervous, not so much because I was afraid of failure but because I was excited and wanted to prove that all the studying had been worth it. This is what I’ve studied for the past couple weeks…

Yes, after 16 years of living in the US, I figured it was time to take the plunge and get my citizenship. I only did some minor chores in the morning and then got myself ready to go for my 1:30 pm appointment. I took a nice long, relaxing shower and took special care getting dressed. Gotta put your best foot forward, right? I primped and primed and had to deal with getting locked out of the bathroom… thanks, little one!!! Hubby saved the day. Forget about eating lunch, no way were the butterflies making room for some nutritious food. That would have to wait until after.

So, off I went, well, drove to my appointment. During my drive I listened to the audio CD that came with the study guide and went over the answers one last time. I couldn’t believe, how packed the parking lot was when I got there. On my previous appointments things were always calm and I got in and out quick and easy. After a deep breath, I walked inside, went through the same routine of going through the metal detector and having my purse go through the X-ray machine, go up to the reception desk and get send on my merry way.

A different room this time, one that was populated by a lot more people than on previous visits… guess, I’m not the only one who wants to live the dream!!! πŸ™‚ I find a seat, look around and let the waiting begin. At this point, the butterflies are going into over-drive, my foot starts tapping and I want to sit on my hands because the signs everywhere clearly forbid cellphones. What am I supposed to do now? No Facebook, Twitter, Google+? I left the study guide in the car, if I didn’t know my stuff by now it wouldn’t make a difference anyways.

I see a screen with ticket numbers and ask the friendly looking lady across from me if I’m supposed to get one. She says no. We start talking. What do you know, another German. Can I pick my seat, or what? So, we pass the time quietly telling each other our story of how we got here, watch the guy in the row in front of us, nervously puff on his inhaler every few minutes and watch people getting called in and coming out of THE door.

Finally, I hear my name, loud and clear and with perfect pronunciation, and it’s my turn to walk through THE door. We walk down a couple of corridors and arrive at USCIS officer K.’s office. He asked me how I was and I told him, ” A bit nervous.” He chuckles. Makes me raise my right hand and I have to swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You think? I take my seat and he starts going over some preliminary information on my application, checking to see if things had changed. One thing leads to another and next thing I know, we sit there chatting for about 10 minutes, about German Shepards, French people and Dresden. He even throws in a couple of phrases in German. Hello? Are we going to do this, or what?

“Not so nervous anymore, are you?” he asks. Of course not, I’m a talker and he talked me right out of my nervousness. πŸ™‚ Thank you, Mr. K.!!! He slides a paper across the desk and makes me read one sentence, you have to get one out of three right, then he asks me to write a different sentence on another piece of paper, again, you have to get one out of three right. He starts asking me questions from the study guide, I think, he stops at five but it could have been six. I really can’t remember if he asked me the last one or if it was my imagination. You have to study 100 questions, are supposed to get asked 10 and have to get 6 out of the 10 right. I guess, since I gave rapid fire answers he figured I knew my stuff. (I did. Ask my son, the study partner.)

Next thing I know, he hands me a piece of paper, tells me to follow him, I watch him make a copy of my marriage license, walk through the corridors again, he holds THE door open, tells me good-by and see you soon. I still have to be sworn in. I wish him ‘Happy Holidays’ and walk out… with a huge smile spreading across my face. I did it. I passed. I’m on my way!!!!

Next stop, the swearing-in ceremony.

Can you tell, I’m beyond excited?

 

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Case Status Update

November 7, 2011

“Your case status has been updated.” That’s the text I got tonight.Β  I stopped in the middle of getting lunch ready for my boy and ran to the computer. I couldn’t wait for my e-mail account to load to see if the follow-up e-mail was in my inbox ( fingers impatiently drumming on the table!!!)…and there it was. I clicked on the link and there it was, the update. I am now officially scheduled for my citizenship interview and test and should receive a letter by snail mail informing me of the date and time. I cannot wait to find out. This is happening so freakishly fast.

Just a month ago I sent out my application for citizenship, within two weeks I had an appointment for fingerprinting (I went last Tuesday.) and by Thursday I had an update that my background check was complete and I was in line for scheduling. And today the notice that I am scheduled to appear for my interview and test. Wow, for once bureaucracy is putting its best foot forward. The wonders of modern technology are certainly making themselves known here. ( Fingerprinting is now done digitally with special fingerprinting machines/computers…no more cards that need to be sent off.)

I better get cracking and start to study, as hubby suggested after I told him the news. I do have a nifty study guide provided byΒ  USCIS ( United States Citizen and Immigration Services) that will come in handy. It is actually very informative. Out of 100 question I have to study, I will be asked 10 and I have to get 6 of those right. There will also be a vocab and English portion – I’m pretty sure my English will pass!!!!! πŸ™‚

So, while I impatiently wait for that letter to arrive in the mail, I will be a good girl and start studying. It’s better to be prepared, right?

As soon as I find it in the mailbox, I will let you know the when and where. Oh boy, I am so excited. It seems that I will be an American citizen sooner than anticipated. What a wonderful way to finish off this year!!!! Wish me luck.

 

 

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The (Dual) Citizenship Dilemma

October 24, 2011

About three weeks ago, I nervously sent out my application for American citizenship. Yes, I finally took the next step. I have lived in the US for the same amount of time as I did growing up in Germany and the decision to become a citizen has been an easy one for me. I love living in this country and feel more American than German in some ways. How do they say–I’ve become Americanized!!!

Today, I received my “receipt” and now the application is being processed. If everything checks out, the next step will be fingerprinting. Again!!! ( I’ve had to do that so many times already since receiving and renewing my green card! ) After the fingerprinting and background checks are completed it will be time for the interview. I’m not too worried about it because I’ve “studied” the information for the test for years. The only thing getting in my way will be my nerves — I always get sooooo nervous – sweaty hands and all. Ugh!!!

One decision, however, I had to think about a little–do I keep my German citizenship and become a dual-citizen or go all the way…and become an American citizen. I choose not to keep my German citizenship! That doesn’t mean I’m going to march to the German Consulate and renounce it. It just means I’m not taking the extra steps to make sure I can keep it. ( I would have to pay the German government fees, as well as, fill out mounts of paperwork and show that I have ties and family in Germany. Many people might not understand and get offended by that choice, but it is my choice.

Both my husband and children are American citizen – by birth. I’ve put down firm roots here and have no desire to leave this country. In some ways, I’m idealistic by wanting to be a citizen…I want to pledge my allegiance to the flag, and be able to vote and proudly say ” I am an American!” And isn’t that what it’s all about? The American dream? That’s just me. People choose to become citizens for many reason and that’s their right.

Also, in a way I feel being a German citizen is my birthright and I shouldn’t have to pay and do mounts of paperwork to keep that. I was born inΒ  Germany and raised there–I’ve always been proud to say that and I will always have that in my heart.(Part of my heart will always bleed black, red and gold!) It won’t simply go away when the time comes for me to take my oath of allegiance.

So, now the nail-biting and waiting begin.

Let me know what you think? Is it the right choice?