Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
Thursday, June 21, 2012
It doesn’t matter how long I live in Germany, I’ve been here for ten(+) months and I could live here the rest of my life(and who knows, I just might!), but there are still some things I will never understand about the way of the country and the people. Don’t get me wrong, Germany is the place I’ve come to call home, but some things I still find a little too different to be considered ‘comparable.’
1) The bathrooms in German houses always have the light switch to the bathroom in the hallway. This means you can’t turn the light on from inside the bathroom. Not only is that simply strange to begin with, but I always imagine an angry older sibling locking his younger sibling in the bathroom (because the doors are designed so that they can be locked from the inside and the outside) and turning the light off, leaving the small child locked alone in a dark bathroom. That just doesn’t sound very pleasant, now does it?
2) It doesn’t matter what temperature it is outside, generally speaking Germans are ALWAYS in the mood for ice-cream. I mentioned that to my host-dad and he made a very good point in saying if they waited for the weather to be good, they would never eat ice-cream.
3) German street names are absolute horrors. As a general rule, they all have a minimum 27 letters and sound roughly the same. This tends to mean that maps are absolutely covered in text, and getting a feel for road shape and direction should require a degree.
4) The German school system (consisting of ”Grundschule,” “Hauptschule," “Realschule” and “Gymnasium”) is so incredibly unlike the U.S. school system that it is honestly pointless to even begin describing the differences. If anything it would make more since to describe the similarities, the conversation would be much shorter, if not non-existent.
5) Dogs do exactly as they please. They come on the buses, into the grocery stores, and they sit on chairs in cafes. They even do their business on the ‘pedestrian part’ of the sidewalk. Watch your step!
6) Stay out of bike side of the sidewalk when walking. If not, the bikers will murder you without a second thought. (Especially in Berlin where the biking paths are known as ‘the second death strip.’)
7) Generally speaking, at pools and beaches people will stare females down more intently when they are wearing board shorts over their bathing suits then if they were naked. Trust me, I’ve learned from experience. Men and woman also go into saunas naked together. Totally normal.
8) Particularly bloody cuts and wounds are generally described as “not tasty” (nicht lecker).
9) German toilets are just… well… weird. I’m sorry, everything in Germany is “different,” not weird… except for the toilets. Yes, the toilets are weird.
10) If you don’t want to see nipples, don’t turn on the TV. I’m serious. I know I have frequently written throughout the year that in Germany ‘soft porn’ is normal on the television and the newspapers, but I honestly could not emphasize that enough. Especially the program of the private stations at night can be a series of phone sex commercials.
11) So you say your hungry? Cool, do you want a Dönner Kebab, or bread from the bakery? It’s your choice, bread for your already parched mouth, or yummy yummy (and I really do mean delicious) grease. Several streets are consisted of kebab shops on a rotated basis.
12) Germans can legally buy alcohol at the age of 16, and can’t get their full drivers license until they’re 18. While this has become totally normal to me, whenever I mention it to my Californian friends for the first time, they’re usually speechless.
13) On the Autobahn, no speed limit sign actually means no speed limit. And people wonder why I ride my bike EVERYWHERE no matter the weather, I’m still terrified of how fast the Germans drive.
14) Germans are obsessed with privacy, yet they answer the phone with their last name rather than with “Hallo.” Oh, and “Kock” is a common German last name.
15) Tissues are ‘man’s best friend.’ Not dogs. Tissues.
Yeah, so it’s a little different, but Germany is my one true love.
(Oh, and Happy Birthday and belated Father’s Day Dad!)
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Me: “Really? What song?”
German Friend: “Row Row Row Your Balls!”
Me: “They said ‘much’ instead of ‘many’ and ‘against’ instead of ‘…anstatt.’ What’s ‘anstatt’ in English?
Julie: “…instead of.”
Thursday, June 7, 2012
I don’t care what your calendar says; it’s not June. Because you see, not only have I not seen sun since the 31st of May, but if it were June then I could truthfully say, “I fly back to California next month.” and that thought makes me want to do nothing other than cry (which if you know me at all, you know that means a lot). I may have had the hardest, strangest, most challenging year of my life, but it’s also been the most interesting year… the most rewarding year… the best year. I don’t even say, “I’m flying home next month.” but rather, “I’m flying back/to California.” because Germany has become my home.
Yesterday was the day that flying back soon really hit me because I went to my first goodbye party. I went to see my best Finnish friend Akseli because he leaves June 12th.I ended up traveling about seven hours throughout the day just to see Akseli for three hours, but it was totally and completely worth it. Anne and I went together and we reunited “Triple A” (Angie, Anne and Akseli, the left-handed American/Canadian/Finn) one last time before our unofficial road trip across the U.S. that will hopefully take place sometime before we all die. Anne wrote a contract on my German flag in permanent marker and we all (unknowingly) signed it, so I guess it simply has to happen now.
Random Person: “Where are you from?”
Random Person: “Woah! You have such great German!”
I’ll never understand why I “have such great German” after telling someone my name and where I’m from. I mean honestly, I’ve lived here for ten months… I would hope to have learned AT LEAST that much.
Last Sunday my extended family (this time from my host-mom’s side) was in town and we all biked about 40 miles to the “Frühlingsfest” (“The festival of Spring”). A lot of the major roads were closed for the bikers and the day is supposed to celebrate biking and the good weather… while we did see lots of bikers, good weather was rather nonexistent. It rained harder and longer than I’ve ever seen before, but of course, we were troopers and toughed it out! By the time we got back, I was so soaked that it looked like I decided to take a bath fully clothed. But we still had fun and enjoyed the concert.
I think the only thing I won’t miss about Germany is the German opinion of Americans. I have learned (and strangely enough, I also heard this from a friend’s grandparents before leaving for Germany) when I say, “I’m from California,” I’m just about the coolest thing since sliced bread. Everyone excitedly asks me about the weather and San Francisco (which I live about 45 minutes from), but if I say, “I’m from the U.S.A.” I often get death stares. I’ve even been told I couldn’t possibly be American because 1) I don’t have a strong foreign accent, 2) I’m too intelligent, and 3) I’m not fat. People look through pictures of my friends and say, “Wow, did you Photoshop these photos? None of your friends are fat!!” I cannot begin to describe how much that (for lack of better wording) completely pisses me off! I’m sorry to disappoint, but not EVERYBODY in the U.S.A. is overweight. There are even people who are underweight (shocker there!), myself being the perfect example.
Really American woman? Come on, lets change how people see us!
On the note of German stereotypes/prejudices, this guy has an interesting opinion.
This past weekend my friend Mathis was in town so we all got together Friday and Saturday evening, whether it was to play foosball, or darts, or watch a random live Acoustic artist… whatever it was we did it was fun. Not to mention somehow or another, before my Europe tour Mathis and I randomly decided we would get married… which is funny because not only does he have a girlfriend, but of all my German friends he’s the one I see the least because he goes to university somewhat far away. Nevertheless, every time I failed miserably at darts (so… pretty much every time) Mathis would say, “Come on I have faith in you! My future wife can do anything!” and of course, whenever I wanted something to drink, he would get it. ^^
I once read:
- The United States of America, commonly called by its last name America, is the most powerful and influential country in the world. Therefore, it is also the most hated.
- Most ancestors of Americans are immigrants with more than half from Europe. Europeans seem to forget this part and just think that Americans have no ethnicities in order to make them as distantly related from them as possible.
- America has a porn empire. But unlike Germany's, it's not going to make you vomit.
I have to admit, the third comment made me laugh. Germany seems to be known for having soft porn on the normal television channels and in the newspapers/magazines and unexpectedly seeing it always activates my gag reflex. It probably has something to do with growing up in a different culture.
P.S. I don’t remember if I mentioned how sunburned I became on the Europe tour, but just to give a visual aid, this picture was taken after I had had the burn for three days.
P.P.S. My little brother is 13 today! Happy Birthday Nickie!