When Elizabeth and Bert Green moved to Dresden, they were just a young couple. Now their already two-year old son is learning German at the day-care.
“One of our biggest surprises after arriving in Germany was that the stores are not open on Sundays”, Elizabeth Green, who goes by Liz, recounts. “I grew up in New York, so I’m used to stores being open all the time.” However, the US physicist, who moved with her husband from Florida to Dresden in June 2012, soon recognized that closed stores on Sundays are just a part of the German tradition. What impresses her the most about her chosen place of residence: “The work-life balance which is much better here and it’s in general more family-friendly. 30 days of vacation, months of parental leave – that’s unheard of in the US.”
Thanks to these opportunities it becomes easier to combine family and research, according to Liz. “Also, public day-care and nannies are affordable.” Thus, when her son was born in 2013, it was possible for her to soon return to work at HZDR’s High Magnetic Field Laboratory (HLD). “Kindergarten is very expensive in the US, which unfortunately means that in many cases one parent has to stay at home,” Bert Green, who is pursuing a PhD at HZDR’s Center for High-Power Radiation Sources ELBE, explains. While he and his wife work, a professional nanny, who was found by the research center, looks after their son.
A safe place for children
In the Green’s opinion, this arrangement benefits the entire family: “Our son loves playing with the other kids and this way he learns German. He’s already better than my wife and I.” While drawing on the chalkboard at a small playground at SchillerGarten, the young discoverer proves his father’s assessment right by talking to the other visitors in German. “Dresden is a great location – especially for young families,” Liz states. “The people are very friendly. There are a lot of museums and public spaces to spend time with our son. And it’s very safe. Kids can go outside without supervision. Where I grew up, this wouldn’t have been possible.”
Thus, when Liz received a job offer from HLD, it was an easy decision for her and her husband to come to Germany, even though until then they had only visited Berlin. Their welcome at their new place of residence became even better when Bert got a PhD position at ELBE just a couple of weeks after their arrival. “Now we work basically next to each other”, the physicist says. While Liz examines the thermodynamic properties of new magnetic and superconducting materials, Bert uses Terahertz pulses to manipulate the states of matter on ultra-fast timescales.
“And when our work is done, we can pick up our son together to enjoy our spare time at beautiful places like the area around Blaues Wunder, the bridge, close to where SchillerGarten is also located,” Liz summarizes. Just one thing is missing in the opinion of the ex-Florida residents: “It could be a bit warmer, in particular during the winter months.” But just like the different opening hours you’ll get used to it over time – especially when there’s a nice bonfire at SchillerGarten.