What's going on in ... ? - German for beginners in 11 episodes

Uschi – the disciplined

In reality:

Born in Essen on 7 September 1938
Grew up in Essen
Lives in Essen
Married in 1959
1st child in 1959
2nd child 1966
Between 1967-1979, lived in Saudi Arabia , Algeria , Portugal and Indonesia
Divorced in 1980
5 grandchildren
Training: retail saleswoman
Status: housewife
Hobbies: dancing, reading and languages

In the series:

Part-time secretary for the scaffolding company Motzkau

For Uschi, life is running smoothly. Both inwardly and outwardly, everything is taken care of. The five-times grandmother keeps her life in order. Just like Elsbeth she married very young because she was pregnant. After many restless years abroad with her ex-husband she can finally determine her lifestyle for herself. With her part-time job as a secretary for the scaffolding company Motzkau she earns enough to support herself. She is also able to draw on savings from her marriage. She finally has time for herself, her house and her friends. During her marriage, she was only there for other people: her husband, her children and her parents.

Admittedly, there are days when she feels empty and aimless. It’s always the same routine. She sometimes feels as if she were on a continuous merry-go-round, just like the carousel horse in her living room. She took to it right away, when she accidentally saw it in front of a junkshop; so promisingly ornate, it was still attached to the carousel pole. It had been around and seen a lot, but never actively, never become involved. It had always taken the path determined for it by others, just as Uschi had until she separated from her husband. She would have to be on her guard, not to become a carousel horse once again. The children pester her with chores, but she doesn’t want to be at their beck and call. She often stands in as babysitter, and her daughter Tanja calls up every day to ask for cookery tips. Uschi often feels like a cookbook: after being used, it ends up on the shelf, awaiting the next meal.

In her correctness and her perfectionism, Uschi embodies a still valid German stereotype. Her scepticism and lack of courage stem partly from the obligations which she has imposed on herself. She is a member of the economic miracle generation which was involved in the rebuilding of Germany after the Second World War. After a childhood deprived of comforts, but full of violence, destruction and poverty, the young people of the Fifties had to work hard to get the country back on its feet. Achievement and efficiency were of the essence. Uschi learned to work quickly and in a disciplined manner; she has difficulties enjoying herself, or taking life lightly.

As a divorced woman, Uschi represents the growing instability of marriage in Germany . Most marriages in Germany still last a lifetime; but an increasing number of people take advantage of the possibility of separating from their partner, in order to live alone, to live with someone else, or to remarry. In Germany , every third marriage ends in divorce.

Uschi managed to re-enter the job market after twenty years of being a housewife. This is often difficult for women, because of age and apparent lack of work experience and flexibility after an extended period of bringing children up and being a housewife. Furthermore, many German women develop inferiority complexes because housework and raising children receive little public recognition. In the cities, there are organisations which offer advice and retraining courses to give women the chance to get a foothold in the job market. Uschi is proud of her self-sufficiency and independence. The circus horse must not be allowed to be captured again.

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