Geretsried: Valerie Harshman is from the USA

  • VonDoris Schmid

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Valerie Harshman from Maryland followed her fiancé to Upper Bavaria. In our series of nations, the woman from Geretsried talks about Christmas in the USA.

Geretsried – The decorated Christmas tree has been with the parents in America for a few weeks. And since Thanksgiving, which is celebrated on the fourth Sunday in November. “It’s our norm,” says Valerie Harshman. “I like that,” she enthuses. In her adopted home of Geretsried, the 29-year-old restrained herself a bit – for the sake of her boyfriend. The Christmas tree has only been adorning the living room at home for a few days.

Geretsried: Valerie Harshman is from the USA

The two have been a couple for five years and have lived in the district for four years. The Schongauer and the American met and fell in love at the University of Baltimore. After her studies, she followed her sweetheart to his Upper Bavarian homeland. The couple first lived in for two years Wolfratshausen. The two have been at home in the largest city in the district for two years. Harshman likes it there very much. “There’s everything we need,” she says. In her free time she likes to play ice hockey.

The UN counts 195 countries in the world. 106 nationalities are registered in Geretsried (as of June 8th). Our newspaper introduces people from all parts of the world who have found a new home here.

© PMS graphic

Valerie Harshman studied primary school education and is currently working in a day care center in Baierbrunn. It’s great fun for her, she says. At first she didn’t speak German very well, she admits. But she was given a chance. “Everyone was very helpful,” says the American, looking back. “I love my colleagues.” Nevertheless, she would like to work in a primary school later.

In the USA, neighbors compete for “the best light show”

Her family is from Delaware, where Harshman was born in 1993. Then they moved to New Jersey. When she was seven years old, her parents moved to Maryland with their four children. Her surname confirms an obvious assumption: some of her ancestors came from Germany. Another part comes from Poland, adds the 29-year-old.

The run-up to Christmas is typically American in her family. The decorations are endless: from the garland that is wrapped around the handrail of the stairs, to the fairy lights that decorate the trees outside, to the glowing reindeer in front of the house. It’s not uncommon for neighbors to compete to see who has “the best light show,” she laughs.

“I love this Christmas spirit”

When it comes to Christmas tree decorations, Harshman likes things to be edgy. There is a new follower from the mother every year. For example, in the box at home there is a ballerina and a sneaker. And a pendant with a baby picture of her. “Here in Germany, I decorate the tree with a chain of lights, silver and dark red balls,” she says. “There is a tip on top.” And in contrast to America, there is also a real conifer for the living room. “I love this Christmas spirit,” she says enthusiastically.

December 24th is far less important for Americans than it is for Germans, for example. Nevertheless, many are looking forward to Christmas Eve, because the day is considered the beginning of the Christmas holidays. Celebrated on December 25th. On this morning in the morning, the presents that Santa Claus brought are under the Christmas tree. And he fills the socks hanging on the mantelpiece with little things and sweets. “He sticks coal in the socks of bad children,” says the American.

And what’s on the table at the Harshmans in Maryland this Christmas? “We eat pork, sweet potatoes, vegetables, fruit salad with marshmallows. There’s wine,” she says. Everyone gets what they like from the buffet. Polish dishes in memory of the great-grandmother are also served. A pie, a cake with pumpkin or apple, is served as dessert. “There are biscuits and milk for Santa Claus,” says the young woman. “And carrots for the reindeer.”


The best from both worlds

I was born in the United States of America (USA). The country with 50 states has about 332 million inhabitants on 9,525,067 square kilometers. The state capital is Washington DC

The funniest misunderstanding:

In kindergarten I once said to a child with a runny nose: “You have a slippery nose”. I meant “snot nose”.

The biggest difference:

In America we like to make small talk when we meet someone on the street. That’s not so common here.

What I will never understand about the Germans: The Germans make sure that rules are followed and sometimes scold if they catch someone who doesn’t. We don’t do that in America.

In Bavaria they say “Grüß Gott”, in my mother tongue:


My favorite dish is sushi. In Maryland we also like to eat blue crabs. The whole family gets together, peels crabs and exchanges ideas.

What I appreciate about my country of origin: The people in Maryland are very friendly and they have all the time in the world. And football, of course. I already miss that here.

… and on Geretsried: Proximity to the mountains. You can be there in 20 minutes.

One City – 106 Nations: Published so far

The UN counts 195 countries in the world. 106 nationalities are registered in the city of Geretsried (as of June 8). Our newspaper wants to put a face to this number and introduces people from all parts of the world in no particular order who have found a new home in Geretsried.

Bosnia: Anto Maric loves his job as a truck driver and wants to do it until he retires. In our series of nations he introduces himself and his home country Bosnia.

Vietnam: Truong Diem brings the magic of Asia to Geretsried.

Slovakia: Maria Looß-Samkova was not able to learn her dream job in her home country. In Germany, the native Slovakian had the opportunity to come as close as possible to her dream career.

Afghanistan: dr Kubra Panahi had to flee the Taliban with her family. Now the Afghan is building a new life in Geretsried.

Turkey: In his home country, Turkey, it is really hot in the summer. “It’s so beautifully green here,” enthuses Yildiray Alkan, while his gaze falls on the manicured lawn in front of the terrace of his semi-detached house. In 1993 he turned his back on his home country.

Ukraine: She has a German name. But for a long time, Anita Weininger didn’t even know that she had German ancestors. “The topic was taboo in our family,” says the native Ukrainian. No German was spoken at home in Lemberg either. She only learned that later in a roundabout way.

Belarus: Ala Aliakseyenka studied German and English in her native Belarus, also known as Belarus. Now she teaches bilingual children in Geretsried in Russian, their mother tongue. Click here for the article.

Netherlands: His father was Dutch and his mother was born in Lower Bavaria. His last name comes from northern France. Hans de Caluwé is a real European mix. The tall man has lived with his wife in Geretsried since 1976.

Kazakhstan: Two things are very important to Larisa Sulemenov: being a teacher and having her family around. The 55-year-old is somewhat saddened that she cannot reconcile the two in her life. But she found a good way for herself, so that today she can say: “I’m glad I’m here.” Her story.

Russia: Elsa Kodeda (39) comes from the Republic of Tatarstan, which is part of the Russian Federation. How the trained opera singer ended up in Geretsried of all places.

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