Posted by: patenttranslator | March 16, 2010

Der Auswanderer-Coach

Danny’s made his mind up

He’s leaving for America
He’s leaving for America
Leaving all of us behind
He says there’s nothing here not drenched in beer
In blood and retribution
And the wealth’s distribution’s
Been weighing heavy on his mind

And he knows that he’ll regret the leaving
Knows that he will pine for grieving
For the sky road by the singing sea
And all of us behind

Danny looks so lovely working in the fields
Or dancing like a wild one
Sparks flying around his heels
But his friends all gone before him
From the sacred ground that bore them
Now they wonder does she scorn them
For giving up the land

And they know that they’ll regret the leaving
Know that they will pine for grieving
For the sky road by the singing sea
And all of us behind.

From the song The Sky Road by the Irish singer Frances Black.

Once a week I watch this real-life series “Der Auswanderer-Coach on ProSieben, one of the two German TV channels that I can watch here in Virginia if I pay 15 dollars extra with my “bundle” of some 200 channels (of which I can stand to watch less than 10, of course, like everybody else).

Since I emigrated myself almost 30 years ago, first to Germany, then to America, with a stopover in Japan, I find the series fascinating. I had no idea that people are still emigrating like this from one pretty rich country to another pretty rich country. The job situation in Germany must be really bad. Although it does not seem any better here.

The coach, his name is Günter Lukas, wisely dispenses advice to people who want to emigrate to Canada, US, Australia and other countries. All of them are blue collar German people, the men and the women are mostly in their mid thirties or early forties and they usually have children, sometime small kids and sometime teenagers. He explains basic facts of life to them, such as how much money they need to survive, how and where to find a job, how important it is to learn as much English as possible before leaving. Towards the end, he gives the men who are the main breadwinners airplane tickets for a trip to Canada or US or Australia to check things out. The families usually leave, although in one episode a 19-year-old teenager decided to stay in Germany while his entire family left. (Was this a good idea? I don’t think so).

I wonder if the Auswanderer-Coach is as popular in Germany as the little Mexican guy (the dog whisperer, is popular here in the US. Maybe he is. I remember another German TV real life series, this one about German emigrants who start new businesses such as restaurants and real estate businesses in Spain, or on Caribbean islands or in Canadian towns, that I watched a while ago, I forgot what it was called.

If I was the emigration coach, I would not be concentrating so heavily on finances and work. I don’t think these people understand what it means to live in another country and speak a different language for the rest of your life. I would talk to them about the emotional aspects of emigration. You (your language, your friends, your family) die and then, if you are lucky, you may be born again in a completely different environment. It can be fun, but it is as painful as it sounds.

Oh, well, unlike me 30 years ago, they know that they can always go back home if it does not work out for them in Canada.

That was not an option for me back in 1982. My first real job interview was at the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau. They were looking for a “multilingual visitor services representative”. I had a job interview in German with a German woman (Stephanie), in Japanese with a Japanese woman (Yoshiko-san), and in French with an American guy (Harry, I had to help him out with a French word here and there). I passed the interview because instead of having to hire a Japanese guy for Japanese tourists and a European guy for European tourists, they got to hire me and saved money that way. That is how immigration works. You get one immigrant to do the job of two locals for one salary. That’s what made (insert the country: America, Canada, Australia …) great. I wonder where Stephanie, Yoshiko-san and Harry are now. I miss you guys. I owe you for putting up with this immigrant for 3 years.

I think that what I would say to would-be immigrants if I was the Auswanderer-Coach would be the following:”Are you happy living the one life that you have in the place where you grew up, speaking the one language that you know? Or are you ready to try something else, completely different, regardless of the consequences (and there will be consequences later on). If you are ready for that, than you are ready to become a German-Canadian, -Australian, -American.”

I was ready 30 years ago. But that was a long time ago.


  1. I find a lot of people are extremely naive when it comes to emigration.

    The language thing is a big issue – I recently translated some documents for a German customer who is in the process of emigrating to Canada and fits your profile nicely (in their 40’s, some money saved up). To pass the time they attended some English lessons at their local community college. They received a certificate of attendance (not even an exam) for CEFR level B1. I should think that you would need at least a B2 if not a C1 to get a proper job or set up your own company, but then again I’m such a stickler when it comes to language 😉

    Germans especially seem to think that emigrating is the same thing as going on permanent vacation. There is another show, I think “Die Auswanderer”, where this couple emigrated to New Zealand. The wife had a really good job in Germany (she was a lawyer or something to that extend) but spoke no English. None. She was very surprised to learn that they don’t speak any German down there and that she would probably have to start out as a cleaning lady.


  2. Starting from scratch is what emigration is all about. That is why I would recommend it mostly to very young people. I knew a Polish lawyer who was working as a desk clerk in a seedy hotel in the Tenderloin district in San Francisco in early eighties and he was glad to have that job. Some skills are just not transferable to another country even if you speak the language fluently which most people don’t. Typically, it takes about 10 years before you are back at about the same position that you had in the original country.


  3. I will remember you are an awesome song, I like it Thanks


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