December 14, 2017

Maricel Drazer, broadcast journalist

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Kommunikator

Maricel Drazer
Maricel Drazer
Maricel Drazer
By Sorrel Moseley-Williams
For The Herald

Buenos Aires
Lives: Near Düsseldorf, Germany
Degree: Sociology degree with social communication at UBA
Job: Broadcast journalist at Deutsche Welle
Book: Los colores de la felicidad by Viviana Rivero
Hail Caesar
Gadget:  My mobile phone with fast internet connection

This week The Expat meets broadcast journalist Maricel Drazer, who’s been based in Germany for the past decade. After winning various scholarships that took her to Europe to boost her media career, the Buenos Aires transplant met a fellow journalist and 10 years on, lives near Dusseldorf with her German husband and children. Maricel presents Enfoque Europa, a weekly TV show in Spanish for Deutsche Welle.

Maricel says: “My story with Germany is quite irrational. When I was little I wanted to study German and while there was a story in my family that we had ancestors in Germany, no one ever looked into it or spoke about it. Then, after studying English, which is usual in Argentina, I studied German which was quite weird but I really started to link into its culture.

“I was already working in TV in Argentina and the first time I went to Germany was on a journalism scholarship. There were 10 of us from around Latin America and we went to Berlin. I worked one month at a public TV station then travelled around the country interviewing religious figures, politicians, artists and so on, a real mixture, for another month. That was my first contact with the country in the year 2000 and fortunately I was able to join together my two big passions, journalism and Germany.”

On scholarship

After returning to Argentina, Maricel had already been bitten by the bug and was keen to return. In 2002, she covered the German election and a year later, won another scholarship to work for three months at the same public TV station but this time in Düsseldorf.

“That’s when I met my now-husband, who is German. We had three years coming and going between both countries and I never thought we would end up together, but we got married in 2006 in Buenos Aires. I moved to Germany to be with him – he is also a journalist – and in November I’ll have been here for 10 years.”

And thanks to that first work placement she undertook, which included a spell at Deutsche Welle TV station – which translates as German vibes – Maricel was able to almost seamlessly transfer with a job in hand to Europe.

She says: “I was always interested in meeting foreigners and travelling, receiving friends from abroad and showing them around Buenos Aires. And because of that interest, I was looking to work for a foreign media company. Deutsche Welle formed part of my first scholarship and after that I worked for them from Buenos Aires.

“When I moved to Germany they offered me work in Berlin, presenting economic news, and I had a very easy transition; it was the same type of work in the same company so I continued with them. In Berlin I presented a 45-minute talk show that was set in a studio with the Brandenburg gate behind it. That was the best studio to work in ever, thanks to its marvellous view!

“These days I present Enfoque Europa, a show that focuses on Europe from people’s point of view. We tell stories about a particular situation in the country and viewers are able to identify with them. I have dual nationality – after sitting language and cultural exams to obtain it – so as an Argentine presenting European news, viewers trust that. I’ve worked in Bonn for two years now and it sounds all very easy and fast, but it wasn’t all a bed of roses.”

Keeping distance

Despite living in Germany for almost 10 years, the journalist says there are some cultural differences that continue to surprise her. “I am still adapting today, to be honest. People not greeting each other with a kiss and keeping a physical distance is very obvious. I still get shocked today when I see grandparents shaking their grandchildren’s hands! That distance, that reserve, is still difficult for me.

“On the other side of the scale, though, when you have to meet someone at 2pm on a Tuesday, they will be there at 2pm on a Tuesday and you don’t even have to call them the day before to check. Time is an idea in Argentina; everything is much more spontaneous and even planning a day ahead is too much! Plus these days, I have a lot of respect for someone's word. But the fact is that some differences are hard while others please me.”

Suburban life

After living in Düsseldorf for eight years, these days Maricel and her family live on the outskirts, enjoying a quieter style of life. She says: “Düsseldorf is a charming city, very perfect! Despite being a provincial capital, it’s very quiet. It's like a village even though around 500,00 people live here. I moved to the suburbs to a more peaceful area, which is closer to Bonn, and it has lots of greenery and wood. The quality of life isn’t urban, there's lots of fresh air and places to walk.

“There’s more space here in the suburbs, and I have the sensation I live in a village even though it’s not. Everything starts very early, people are already calling your landline at eight in the morning and no one calls after 7pm because that’s considered night time. Dinner is at 5.30pm or 6pm and it’s feels like teatime is missing to me. If I visit friends at that time of day, they are already preparing dinner at 4pm when all I want is to drink some mate. Plus I have two small daughters and everything starts early and finishes early because we have to take advantage of the day light.

“But the climate is the main difference between Argentina and Germany. It rains and is cool for eight months of the year. While it’s summer here at the moment, I’m wearing a scarf and jacket anyway! It’s almost taboo to criticize the heat when it is warm. The country is prepared for the cold but not for heat, so there are radiators everywhere but no air-conditioning. So though it isn’t warm very often when it is hot, it’s very hot!

“I used to take a train from Düsseldorf to Berlin and when it is over 30ºC, the AC breaks down as the train isn’t used to dealing with it. But you can’t open the windows because they are fixed shut so you drown from hot air.”

Travel bug

After 10 years, Maricel knows Germany like the back of her hand. “I know a lot of the country and on my first trip I went from Hamburg to the south, and from east to west. And now I live here, the distances seem quite small. I used to think Mar del Plata was close at 400 km but you can get quite far in Germany on that distance. As for 800km, you can travel through five countries in Europe!

“I live near the border with the Netherlands and we go there for the weekend, which is nice. Brussels is close too, and I love visiting there. But I really love Berlin, because of its vibrant history, the wall, its history and future coming together. Lots of foreigners are there, which is positive, and no one looks at you on the street because of what you’re wearing. It just doesn’t matter.”

As for raising bilingual children, the journalist calls it a challenge, albeit a positive one. “I speak to them in Spanish and their dad in German, though they have a bit more of the latter language because they live here. They understand Spanish 100 percent but they must think it’s a bit of an effort! It’s very valuable because a language has a whole culture behind it, which means their minds are opened.”

Besides her friends and family, there are other elements of Argentina that she misses. “The language and laughing at porteño humour, sharing a story. I also miss the climate. It was hard to move to Germany as I feel alone at times, but I’ve never regretted moving here for one minute. I see it as a [life] path. I’m not like my grandmother who moved to Argentina and never saw her family ever again. These days we have Skype, WhatsApp, and can communicate so easily.”

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