me + richard armitage on being an expat

[Note that below I’m neither defending the substance of what Richard Armitage said last weekend about being in the U.S., although I believe he has the right to say whatever he likes about the U.S., and that all humans bear an ethical obligation to speak up about injustice. Also, he’s a U.S. taxpayer, so his money is paying for enforcement of this policy. Nor am I asserting that his perspective and mine on being an expat are even remotely the same. These are just thoughts that have been in my mind since his last deleted tweet.]


Office for Foreigners' Affairs in Göttingen. The entrance used to be on the Hiroshimaplatz, which I always found amusing.

Office for Foreigners’ Affairs in Göttingen. The entrance used to be on the Hiroshimaplatz, which I always found amusing.

Where to start?

I winced when I read that tweet and I nodded. In self-recognition.


I counted at some point in 2010 (the last time I got back from Germany, without a definite plan to return for the first time in years) and I’d spent half of my time between September 1995 and September 2010 in the Federal Republic. There were some big chunks in there (1995-98; 1999; 2003-4; 2006-2008) and a lot of summers and Decembers / Januaries. I signed a lot of leases, waited repeatedly in the Ausländerbehörde for official stamps and entries in my passport, had a Studienbuch (which registers one’s official progress at a university) and a German bank account and a cell contract and a registered address, a bicycle and a television (that I also paid taxes on) and sometimes a landline. I had the public health insurance plan and later a private plan for foreign academics and I qualified for students and residents’ discount on public transportation. I had a discount national railcard. I had (still have!) at least seven different library cards for scholarly or state facilities. I had favorite cheese mongers, butchers, chocolatiers, and bakers. I was a member of a synagogue; I led services; I participated in the burial society. I had keys. I had personal liability insurance in case I lost them and a building had to be rekeyed. I was present at a live birth. I developed family.

I was as committed as I could have been. I lived a second life there. In some years, a first life. Some of my most formative experiences took place there.

I went to Germany for doctoral research, originally planning to stay a year, but even as things changed, I never planned to settle permanently there. I knew after I finished my PhD dissertation that I didn’t want to write a Habilitation, which was the basic requirement for a professorship in Germany when I started my academic career (although that did change later). After the first year, my German was always evaluated as “near native” and “highly fluent” when I took language tests, but even so, I had that sneaking suspicion that every six-year-old native speaker had mastered the language more fully than I had. Damn adjective endings. I published scholarly essays in German but ex-SO always had to check them over before I submitted them. And American friends who had settled there permanently warned me: you’ll always be a foreigner, even if you become a citizen. Germans identify with their region or their town, and you can never be “from” those places.

One thing living in Germany forced me to come to terms with is how American I am, and what it even means to be American. It wasn’t the first time I’d asked this question (I did study abroad in México in 1989-90), but the length of my sojourn and the absence of a definitive endpoint meant that the process went much deeper. When my college bestie went to Japan for a year, aware of the most common toothpaste options in Japan, she took a year’s worth of her favorite brand with her. When you plan to stay for an indefinite period, you are forced to abandon many of your old allegiances and develop new ones. You find a new shampoo, a new breakfast cereal, a new dentist, a new culture, a new life. You know you’ll go back, but not always when.

I used to think that the adjustment got hard precisely because the U.S. and Germany are both nations of the industrialized West and no one expects that there will be any difficulties. México’s partially undeveloped status in ’89 meant that one went into it eyes open: don’t drink the water, don’t eat in the street, don’t wear a red dress or revealing clothing, Mexican men have different assumptions about female behavior than yours. Weirdly, shifting to Guadalajara’s breakfast of beans and papaya bothered me less than eating northern Germany’s cold bread, butter and sausage, jam or cheese with tea. Even though I don’t especially like papaya, the Mexican breakfast was exotic; the German breakfast was just, well, cold. Is it American to want a cooked breakfast? Not necessarily — but it was a sign of American difference. I can imagine there are similar issues for someone from the UK moving to New York City. Everything’s familiar — all the pieces are there — and yet it’s just that tiny little jarring bit off — that little jarring bit that reminds you that as hard as you work to adjust your expectations, as much as you often enjoy your new life, as often as you may feel freer than you felt at home because people know you are foreign and may make allowances, and as non-essential as many of these bits are in the larger scheme of things, you don’t really fully belong.

Ingrid with her classic German breakfast -- except: no soft boiled egg! Ingrid! What's wrong?

Ingrid with her classic German breakfast — except: no soft boiled egg! Ingrid! What’s wrong?

The things that would set me off about Germany — and I loved Germany, as you know if you’ve read this blog for any time at all, so it wasn’t cultural chauvinism at all — were to some extent predictable, but they still sometimes caught me by surprise. Fights in the dormitory over how to separate recyclables. Arguments with ex-SO about the correct way to wash the dishes (rinse in hot running water or cold standing water?) or whether cheese belongs in the fridge. Getting my library call slips rejected because I hadn’t written the number “9” with the little hook it is supposed to have in Germany, or crossed through the base of my “7.” Closed grocery stores on Sunday. The dissatisfaction of the elderly lady upstairs with my failure to clean the stairwell to her exacting standards. The meeting the synagogue board had with a kindergarten teacher who was dissatisfied with the fact that the Russian immigrants were giving their children bread with jam as a snack (Pausenbrot). Old ladies who won’t stand in line at the post office. The pronounced German aversion to lines, period.

My feelings about German politics would be a huge topic, but I never had huge issues with German domestic or international policy.

With one exception: the German school system drove me batty.


Why? you say. Since you didn’t attend a German school and as a foreign student the university admissions standards were different for you anyway. (Warning: here follow big generalizations for the sake of an economical narrative, German school models differ by federal state, and school reforms have changed things from the point at which I was dealing with this issue twenty years ago.) Most of my contacts with the schools sprang from tutoring the children of the Russian immigrants at the synagogue and following their progress through the fateful secondary school selection process in fourth grade. The school system really wasn’t set up to meet their needs; they were fluent in a language that they couldn’t really read or write, and struggling in the one language they needed to be able to read and write for school. They needed to learn English as well on top of it all. They were often good at math but if they’d been in a Russian school at all, they somehow did or wrote the problems differently, in ways that frustrated the German teachers. Often the decision about which school they’d attend after primary came before they were really assimilated in any meaningful way. So the teachers would recommend the two lower secondary schools (Hauptschule, Realschule) rather than the Gymnasium, which was the pathway to university. Realschule was understandable, and it was something that the pupil could change as s/he became more assimilated, switching more easily to a Gymnasium, but the Hauptschule could mean an immediate decision away from higher study and toward unskilled labor or (at best) an apprenticeship in the skilled trades. Even with the cushion of the Orientierungsstufe (which is mostly gone now), once you were in a Hauptschule, it was hard to get out.

Germans are reading this and thinking German schools are great and noticing all the German / American cultural clashes that appear here — my American assumption that university is the most desirable and lucrative life path; my inability to understand how demanding a Gymnasium would be for a partly assimilated Russian child; my general American preference for high social mobility; my lesser respect for the teaching profession than a German would have; my suspicion that the German prejudice against immigrants played a role in the school’s decisions. This is all true. It’s just a point at which my relationship with Germany falters fatally. I understand why the schools are organized the way they are, I understand why Germans often find it to be a good system; and I do really think the Gymnasium offers an excellent education in comparison to all but perhaps the very, very best U.S. schools. But the whole idea at the base of it — that it can usefully be decided after fourth grade what the general outline of a child’s life should be — sat badly with me. American schools are much less demanding. But, I think, they are better for late bloomers and that appeals to my American belief that it’s never too late to change your life. And, I think, I wouldn’t have had the necessary capacity to conform to teachers’ expectations that would have allowed me to get along in a Gymnasium myself. Germans and Americans both believe in a meritocracy — but the subtle differences in the forms of that belief were a serious source of friction between me and Germany.


Anyway, this topic was always a sore point between ex-SO and me. He was a Gymnasium graduate (1.4 Abitur if I recall correctly — in any case it would have satisfied even the NC to study medicine) and believed strongly in the system. His mother taught German and religion in a Gymnasium; his aunt taught in a Hauptschule. I don’t know why — maybe he was reading a newspaper article, maybe I’d just been dealing with a pupil’s disappointment — but we got into a fight about this once in his parents’ living room, with his parents present. A little bit of wine was involved, certainly, the kind of tension that one experiences during a family visit, so neither of us remembered that we had agreed not ever to discuss this subject. It got heated, fast, we were fighting both languages, hauling out all our arguments, and his parents were observing, in horrified fascination — good north Germans, they’d never have fought this vehemently in front of witnesses or maybe even at all. In retrospect, too, I can see that he was trying to defend his mother.

At some point I got so angry that I yelled, “Ich würde lieber mein Kind ins Gefängnis stecken als es in Deutschland einschulen!” (I’d put my child in jail before I’d send it to a German school.)


I apologized profusely to ex-SO and his mother, and excused myself to calm down. When I came back, I tried to apologize again. I said to his mother, “Sind wir noch Freunde?” (are we still friends?) but she, always the soul of kindness, said, “Laß uns das nicht wieder ansprechen” (let’s not broach it again).

So, yeah.

One time those tiny little jarring differences erupted, and I said, more or less, “I hate everything the German school system stands for!” In the presence of people who worked for the system, and who’d only ever been kind to me (and when their taxes were paying for my fellowship to study there in the first place).

And I was horrified almost the second I heard the words come out of my mouth. Even though on some level I believed what I was saying. Just not the words.

Sometimes it’s too much, even in a situation you love. Sometimes it’s hard, even when it seems like it should be easy. Sometimes, I didn’t remember to be grateful.

I have never felt more American than when living in Germany. Yet I always wanted to believe that I belonged; I worked hard at it. Even so, there were always things to remind me that I didn’t. That is a typical situation — even if not a universal one — for an expat, even a legal one.

~ by Servetus on February 3, 2017.

23 Responses to “me + richard armitage on being an expat”

  1. Leaving the issue of the German three-tiered school system aside – because yes, a subject fraught with emotion, even in its critics, of which I would consider myself one – you have hit the nail on the head: An expat is always an expat, however much one enjoys or identifies with the country one lives in. At this stage, I have 17.5 years of continued ex-pat life under my belt. I have an Irish husband, an Irish-born daughter, an Irish-naturalized son. I love living here, I love the people of this country, I love the country and the island it is situated on. I identify with a lot of its culture. But I am not and never will be Irish, even though my Irish friends have occasionally said to me that I am more Irish than the Irish. But as you said: I am missing the formative identifiers for being Irish: a birthplace, a collective experience of attending school in Ireland, the experience of living in an economically struggling country during my own formative years, also: I can’t speak Irish, something that most Irish people can only very badly, but still is quite an identifier…
    Would I make a sweeping statement like RA did (or like you did when the emotions ran high)? Yes, totally. Because both those statements were quite clearly contained in a particular context. And not only that, they were expressions of high emotions, triggered by political concerns in RA’s case, and a heated discussion with a loved person. If an issue hurt me in the core of my heart like that, I would burst out with something hurtful to others, too. Maybe not just because I mean it, but also because I want to provoke a reaction. As, I suspect, did RA and you, too? Forcing those, who hear me, to reconsider by making it clear how strongly I feel.
    And to come back to your last paragraph – I completely agree. I never felt particularly German when I was living in Germany. If anything, I felt un-German. That feeling was turned on its head when I moved abroad, and it forced me to confront it. Sometimes, being an ex-pat feels as if you don’t belong anywhere at all. I am a foreigner in my host-country, but after being away for such a long time, I have also lost touch with Germany a good bit. It helps when I whittle down the feeling of belonging to a smaller denominator. I am a Dubliner. I am a P____ (name of my husband’s family). And in a world that somewhat allows individualism and pluralism, I can tell myself that I am an “Irish citizen of German extraction” and bring something unique to the table, that none of the “real” Irish can. Mind you, I still do not have Irish nationality… I feel that that would be an expensive lie…


    • “more Irish than the Irish” — sometimes people said variations on that to me, too, and I always thought it was because I tried hard to figure out what the rules were and follow them, but I didn’t have the flexibility of judgment that someone who’d been born there would have had. And, too, I think those who become permanent expats (like you) often make that choice based on affinity. I was thinking last night that there is another way to be an expat — the way I was to some extent in Florida — where you don’t assimilate much at all and just find the other out-of-place expats and suffer through the time with them. I knew those people in Germany, too, and there was a phase where I’d get invited to talk to U.S. exchange students who were struggling about how to fit in. But I think it must be worse when you’re a teen if you’re unhappy, because it seems like nothing will ever change.

      I’ve heard since then that secondary education of their children is a frequent matter of contention between German – American couples, I suppose because it’s part of raising children. When I think about why this issue made me so crazy, I think there was an element of “betrayed love” there — i.e., on the whole Germany is such a great place, why do you have this one thing so horribly wrong? I wonder if he felt that way. I love this country so much but THIS is a crock of shit. Hypothesis only.

      You raise the really important issue that once you live for a long time abroad you never really fit in in the same way “at home,” either.

      I could have seen becoming a German citizen but at the time when I’d have been most interested in it, it was really very difficult. The laws have changed several times since then.


      • I know those other expats, too, the ones who only hang out with other Germans. With a ready-made Irish family to tap into, that was never a temptation for me. But I can see how some people end up like that – if they don’t speak the language of their host country, for instance.
        I never knew that the German education system was a matter of contention for foreigners or binational couples. As someone who worked within the system, I knew its short-comings pretty well, and I am happy that my children are not exposed to a three-tier system even though they are attending a “German School” in Ireland. There is a fundamental ideological flaw in the German system.
        Re. German nationality – I am glad they gave up the “blood” principle to some extent. And they also allow dual nationality now, and don’t even require people to ask for permission prior to applying for a second nationality.


        • Yeah, a ready made family might definitely accelerate your transition. (unless you didn’t like them for some reason). That was true in my case, too. ex-SO’s family did a lot both on purpose and just out of a matter of course to help me adjust. I was thinking more about my Florida example and realized that on some level my culture shock there was worse than it had been in Germany. There were weeks where I felt like I was living in a Camus novel.

          I always used to joke that I was way more “German” than a lot of Spätaussiedler. I’m glad they changed the laws, too.


          • The only time I ever felt home-sick (and forgive me) was when I had just moved to Virginia for my year abroad. It wasn’t really that I felt completely alien in the US – it was actually that I was living with a French-American couple and didn’t feel at home in the apartment we shared at all. My closest friend during that year, was a German guy – so I had that unassimilated experience to some degree… Which I regret, in hindsight. I should’ve made more of an effort.
            Having a “native” family, is great for starting, especially when it is a big one. I have 4 brothers and sisters in law – who are all really nice.


            • I think we do what we do to get through. It’s really difficult to predict what circumstances will make one feel at home vs not.

              I loved a lot about ex-SO’s family but the thing i loved most, amusingly, was no longer being the eldest!! It was great to have a big sister.


  2. There is no question the German system is flawed. By now, many people realise the Hauptschule is outdated – back in the fifties it didn’t have a that stigma and graduating from Hauptschule qualified you for a decent job. My parents both went to “Volksschule” during and after the war, Gymnasium was out of the question for them as working class children.


  3. Oh sorry, hit the Send button accidentally, will continue below


  4. Today, the traditional Hauptschule is actually dying out, you can even do a Fachabitur today at our local previous Hauptschule today. It’s a Erweiterte Realschule now. We’re working on it, but there are still many flaws in our school system 🙂


    • yes — the economy has really changed so much and the Hauptschule certainly made sense really up until the 1960s at least. The situation with immigrants was different back then, as well.

      And I’m not opposed to “tiers” of secondary school, per se — I think that there are a lot of US students who would benefit from moving onto a vocational track during their teen years. It just always seemed wild to me that one would make that choice for a fourth grader. (This, too, is a relic of a different economy, in which it was possible to get enough education to last a lifetime in eight years of school.)


      • Hmmm. Maybe one is always more in favour of the school system one grew up with, just because it’s ‘what you know’ and are comfortable with? Looking at the UK school system, I’m not convinced it’s great either. The number of people, for instance, who go a great length to send their kids to a public rather than a state school (incl teachers) was a surprise when I first had to get my head around how STEM education (science, technology, engineering, maths) works here. All due to the – perceived? – different quality of the schools and their funding and potential future opportunities.

        From my experience of the German school system (and a lot has changed since then with more Gesamtschulen and also Ganztagsschulen available) was good, but the caveat is that I (and my parents) had the ambition to go to uni from very early on, so that left one one ‘easy’ route (Gymnasium) and I put in the work and had the support accordingly. And in my family it was all about giving the kids better prospects etc., and maybe a bit of peer pressure too on my parents’ side, 80% of their friends kids went to Gymnasium/Uni.
        During my student exchange with a US highschool near Philly I did appreciate the different style of teaching. To this day I remember being suddenly confronted with a frozen cat to dissect in biology. Something that would never be allowed in a German school. But I can’t say I favour one system whether that is the German, UK or US system over the other. I think they all have good and ‘bad’ ideas in them, and if I could I mix them to something new altogether 😉

        In terms of being an expat – I think for me at the moment the biggest ‘issue’ is that I will always have an accent. That annoys me to no end. And for me the fitting in was easier here in the U.K. Than back in France. By the same token I guess going back to Germany would also be a culture shock and I may not ever ‘fit in’ again – not that I ever really did…


        • Yes, this post wasn’t intended as a referendum on the virtue of the different school systems or a defense of the US school system (which is riddled with its own problems — although the schools in the places where most of the Russian immigrants to the US settled would have been better for the synagogue children than the German schools were). And in general, if you talk to an American about university admissions one of the points of disagreement you will run across is the NC system / university admissions. But the school system just happens to be my biggest problem with Germany and an issue that sparked an uncomfortable outburst from me. In writing this post, I was trying to come to terms with what Armitage said last weekend about not wanting to be in the US.

          We dissected a lot of things in high school. The fetal pig is the one that sticks in my memory because the fluid it was in smelled so bad. But around here anyway a lot of kids would have helped out with butchering so there was no instinctive “ick factor”.

          re: not fitting in — I do think that many expats had that feeling, too — there is a kind of person who just needs to “leave home”. We’ve had a few conversations over the years about whether Armitage might be this type.


  5. Oh, and for me, the steelworker’s daughter, even back in the eighties it was no problem at all to go to Gymnasium 🙂


    • Nein, kein Problem. Aber auch hier abhängig von den Erwartungen/Horizonten der Eltern. Für meine Ex-Schwiegereltern (Arbeiter/Hausfrau) auf dem Land wäre es schier undenkbar gewesen, die Kinder aufs Gymnasium zu schicken. Ein klarer Fall von Überforderung. Akzeptanz in der Klasse wäre kein Problem in den 70ern gewesen.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I have heard stories like that before — a friend of mine in Gö got a recommendation for Gymnasium but just the bus ride to the closest one would have been impossible to organize. Also someone who grew up in the countryside.


    • There are things I didn’t put into my post about the relationship between the Russian Jewish immigrants and the schools just because it would have complicated what I was trying to say unnecessarily — but one of the issues was clearly that they were immigrants (a teacher said to one of our board members about a child, sein Vater ist Hausmeister, was will der aufm Gymnasium?) and in a social situation they wouldn’t have been in had they stayed in Russia. The teachers had developed their patterns for dealing with immigrants on the basis of guest workers and refugees who had different educational expectations, and they didn’t quite know what to do with these folks. The parents were mostly university graduates but it wasn’t easy for them at first to find work in Göttingen that conformed to their education even when their degrees were recognized, and they assumed their children would follow them on that university path, but their educations got disrupted at a point that the German school system thinks is truly crucial. At that time, you couldn’t yet do Russian as a second language in Lower Saxony (I think you can now) and there was no Jewish religion option in the schools, so they stuck them all in with the kids in evangelische Religion at first. It was toward the end of that post-1989 flood of Jews into Germany; Germany didn’t really know what to do with them, and the people themselves were somewhat bewildered. For one thing, they didn’t really feel Jewish, but they hated being called Russians, too. Everyone was a little dislocated.


      • I did not mean to contradict you’re post, you’re absolutely right, it can be difficult for immigrant children, at least it was when I was at school. We had an Italien girl in our class at Grundschule, she always received bad marks because her Geman was not so good yet. I hope things have improved in that respect, too.


  6. Thank you for this. I’m only supposed to comment, but this is lengthy, I’m afraid.
    The expat experience is very familiar. However, mine was different than yours. One thing we do share, though: the feeling of being more national-minded (in my case, Danish) when abroad.
    I moved to Spain in the post-Franco era. Spain was not yet an EU member; Spain didn’t even consider itself part of Europe at the time.
    Never did I feel more Danish than when in Spain, attending an American school, so I juggled three cultures. I don’t know about the German school system; it’s different than the Danish, but I love the American school system (hated the school but love the system) of being able to excel in anything – sports, arts, literature, calculus, biology etc. It doesn’t matter; as long as you’re good at something, and the school system really does take care of its young and encourages them. Something the Danish school system lacks in my opinion. If you don’t conform/’fit in’, there’s something wrong with you. Mediocrity seems to be the aspiration. If you’re good at something, don’t tell.
    Both my children are bright, but they seem to aspire to mediocrity – being lazy is alright. No, it isn’t. If you’ve got the gift, by all means use it. Don’t restrict yourself in an attempt to fit in.
    It was expected to be good at something in the American system; it was encouraged and expected. The Danish law of Jante didn’t apply there. The school itself was tough as s… with strict school board discipline, but I survived, learnt a lot, and it gave me the stamina to work hard which I continue to do. At 18, I had had enough of discipline and left after my junior year and went back to Denmark. I left Spain not because of Spain, but because of the discipline of this particular American school. I don’t believe all American schools are this disciplinarian.
    You mention specific aspects of living abroad like toothpaste, breakfast, washing dishes, taking care of the staircase etc. I smiled a little when I read it. It’s these little, everyday aspects that make an expat stand out.
    I/we acclimatized/assimilated to life in Spain. However, we were different, as you say you felt in Germany. In Spain, our height was the instant determiner; but when I (and later my parents) returned to Denmark, we were also different here, even though we expected to fit right in. I don’t know if you had the same experience? Our clothes seemed strangely odd to the Danes with many frills, decorations and colours. We eat late. We are more expressive, temperamental, I could go on.
    I’m still not really comfortable in Denmark even after 33 years ‘back home’. I get this yearning for new lands once in a while. I spice up my cooking skills with Spanish specialties which we can now get here, I cook a delightful tortilla, and a fair paella, and I still eat dinner late.
    I’m told I’m far too strict with my children by the Danish pedagogues. The way I rear children is far more similar to the American way (which unbeknownst to me at the time, my parents had done the same thing with me). You can achieve anything if you work hard enough. You can succeed if you work hard. Mediocrity is not a goal.
    You wanted to fit in in Germany, but what I take away from your story is that you never really did. Were your expectations too high because of your German heritage? Or did the constant reminder of your foreignness(??) take its toll? I wonder if you feel at home now that you’re back? And what is the cost, if any, of having been an expat?
    Okay, this turned out lengthier than I expected. Sorry – feel free to edit.


    • I don’t know anything about Danish schools, really, but I don’t think of American schools as particularly disciplinarian. They are fairly regimented (bathroom passes and all that). It could be different in a private school setting. But I agree with you about the “everyone has something they’re good at, you just have to find it” approach. Of course there are hierarchies there, too, but I think it makes school bearable for a lot of kids who might not be future Nobel Prize winners in physics.

      Phenotypically speaking — my entire genetic source material going back to the 18th century comes from the roughly 500 km between Bremen and the countryside just east of Stettin, so I look like a northern German or a western Pole, except that I’m overweight in a way that most Germans are not. I think there is definitely a difference in how Americans move in space, though. I remember a German friend telling me once that he thought Americans took up too much space in bike lanes. We don’t know how to share when resources are limited.

      As far as fitting in goes — I don’t know. I do think once you leave home and go some place else, if those are good experiences, it definitely becomes attractive / addictive to do it again. I never felt I fit in at home, either, so it’s probably me as opposed to any particular culture. I do think that assimilation in Germany looks deceptively simple (and this problem maybe justifies the suspicion in some quarters of German society that the current migrants will ever assimilate). It’s a multi-generation problem there in a way that it isn’t in the U.S. Not that it’s necessarily fast here but America has, in my experience, a greater openness to migrants. Although I suppose that reputation is dead now.


      • I didn’t really fit in before I left DK. It only became noticeable, or I reckoned it was the reason for me being bullied, that I got another, stricter, yet very loving, type of upbringing than my Danish peers.
        Re bathroom passes: not done in Denmark. Children just leave. At my children’s school, they tried to enforce some sort of restriction to this, because it became disruptive, there was an uproar from the parents. Go figure🤔


  7. 🙂 Sting’s songs are great to be cool minded. Since a few weeks I am looking for positivity. I found rest with worthy, open minded people’s discussions. Hope you feel better!


    • Yeah, not sure how I’d have gotten through certain parts of high school w/o Sting. (very uncool, but I’m not going to lie about it).


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