Woman Moved From Germany to U.S. and Was Completely Taken Aback by American Work Culture

By: Georgia | Last updated: Nov 16, 2023

Originally hailing from the UK, Emma Brooke embarked on a significant move from Berlin to New York City in 2022. She had already built an extensive career across Europe and Japan. 

While the logistics of relocating posed challenges, Brooke found that adapting to the cultural nuances of her new environment presented an equally compelling journey.

The Financial Reality of New York Living

Emma’s relocation brought with it a sudden surge in her paycheck, a welcome change. However, this newfound financial boost was soon tempered by New York’s notoriously high living expenses. 


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For perspective, Emma’s rent in Berlin totaled 1,000 euros. But upon her arrival in New York, she was met with a staggering $3,000 monthly lease for a Brooklyn apartment.


Professionalism and Self-Representation in the U.S.

There is a clear delineation between how professionals in the UK and the US discuss their career accomplishments. The U.S. environment often emphasizes assertive self-promotion, valuing individuals who can confidently highlight their successes.


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As Emma navigated this new professional culture, she learned the importance of being her own advocate to ensure her achievements weren’t overshadowed.

Communication and Work-Life Balance in the U.S.

In her transition, Emma noticed distinct differences in professional communication styles compared to her experiences in Europe and Japan. Furthermore, the revered European work-life balance, characterized by defined work hours and extended vacations, contrasted sharply with the US ethos. 


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Here, it wasn’t uncommon for professionals to be perpetually plugged in, blurring the lines between personal and professional time.

Defining Personal Identity Beyond Work

Upon settling in the U.S., Emma quickly observed the prominence of professional identities in everyday conversations. In Europe, she hadn’t defined herself solely through her career. 


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Thus, in New York, Emma sought to strike a balance. While acknowledging the importance of her professional achievements, she also endeavored to present a more comprehensive view of her identity, encompassing personal passions and pursuits.