Thursday, March 25, 2010

Was mir nicht so an Deutschland gefällt...

What I love--not so much--about Germany. Here's goes:

1. Anyone like showering in the dark?
If you're ever in Germany, and happen to be in an older house or building, you will notice that the light switches to the bathroom are OUTSIDE of the bathroom itself. This makes it all too easy for anyone with a sense of humor (or lack of one perhaps) to come by and turn the light off while you're still in there. I don't know who came up with the idea, but it's not a very bright one.

2. Deutsche Bahn
Ask any German here and they're likely to give you a lengthy answer to what they love "not so much" about DB. While the trains are reliable say, 90% of the time (in my experience), it is absolutely possible for the entire national railway network to be shut down, just like that.

3. Goin' green (but not green enough)...
Germans really care about the environment and the goin' green movement--which is great and fantastic, and I give them props for it--HOWEVER, I only wish that they cared a little bit more about adding some green stuff to their plates. I find that eating fresh fruits and vegetables are a rarity amongst the Germans I've encountered. With the exception of sauerkraut and paprika flavored everything (germans love pepper flavored chips)--broccoli and all his friends are few and far between.

4. "No, its not possible."
I don't know why this is, but for Germans a lot of things are just "not possible". Maybe its the way they translate this from German into English but I've never heard this phrase so often in my life as I have this year. I wouldn't call Germans negative nor a "glass half empty" kinda people, rather the type of people that would say, "The glass isn't half empty, there isn't enough water to fill the glass! Let's get a smaller one instead."

5. Sunshine (or lack thereof)
I can't blame the Germans for this naturally, but the sun is a rare visitor indeed here in this country. Its not always gray and cloudy here, but a little more sunshine couldn't hurt anyone.

Despite the meat-filled plates and soggy skies, I rather like Germany, it ain't such a bad place. I think Americans have the wrong picture when they think of Germany, usually associating it only with its past (Adolf ring a bell?) or with lederhosen and beer-- and while these are a big part of Germany its not the only part of Germany. Tourists seem to pass over Deutschland for sunnier, more "exotic" locations such as Spain, Italy or France--but I think many would be surprised, pleasantly so--that the country and its people are really welcoming and beautiful.

So until next post--viel spass.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

9 Things I Love About Germany

This month will be my 9th month since moving to Germany, so I thought it fitting to make a list of nine things I appreciate and really love about the land of Deutsch. Here goes:

I have a love hate relationship with the Deutsche Bahn but the fact that I can get to and from any destination I want to without needing a car, car insurance or having to pay for gas is definitely a plus. In addition, DB offers fantastic group tickets that allow up to five people to travel on a single ticket, which makes travelling all the more accessible by letting you split the cost. So while delays are common and shut downs on the railways of the entire nation possible (ahem, Frankfurt), Deutsche Bahn still adds, rather than detracts in my book.

Perhaps you've seen an earlier post where I am stuffing my face with German bread and pasteries?? Hands down, Germans make the best damn bread there is... and its so freakin' cheap, you can't go wrong (except perhaps, on the waistline).

Germans really care about reducing their carbon footprint and leaving a greener world for future generations. While it might be frustrating for the new comer to get used to initially, Germans sort their garbage into four different categories: bio waste, plastic, recyclable paper, and restmüll. There are even entire dorfs (or villages) that run on solar power. Way to go Germans.

It is totally normal and acceptable for a household to have a large basket overflowing with Milka, Rittersport, KitKats, Haribo and the like to grab anytime you feel like it throughout the day. Not to mention that eating cake is totally acceptable for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Yea, how about that.

While I know that some cities in Germany are starting to take on an edgier, more modern feel ie: Berlin or Frankfurt... most everywhere else, however, still feels like you're walking through some medieval town.

Germans are pretty intense people. Or at least that's my impression of them at times, and when they do something, they do it all the way. And thats why when they want to take it easy, they do. Germans are not lazy by any means, but they refuse to "live to work" like the Americans do. They'd much rather "work to live" which is why they still close their shops early on Saturday and Sunday is definitely a no-go if you are planning on going out and doing something other than drinking a coffee in a cafe.

Okay. I know food already took two other slots on this list, and technically pretzels are bread, but Germans really seem to place pretzels and sausages into a food group of their own. When you're sitting on the Deutsche Bahn on a weekday afternoon, half the passengers on board are snackin' on fresh pretzels they bought for like 50 cents at a Pretzel stand or Backery. And sausages? Well that's an easy one, at least in Nuremberg, there are sausage stands like every couple of feet in the city center. When I came here, I wasn't a big meat eater, but it slowly starts to wear you down and before you know it you're eating 3 Nürnberger Bratwürst in Brötchen--as a light snack.

Angela Merkel was voted the most powerful woman in the world, three years in a row by Forbes Magazine. Like all politicians, she gets her fair share of criticism, but there is something totally fantastically awesome about one of the strongest economies and world super-powers being run by a woman. Way to go Deutschland.

Germans love to travel. They rank top five when it comes to contributing to the tourism industry abroad. Like I mentioned earlier, they work to live and when they want to play--they play. Germans average 30 paid vacation days a year! And when they have their holidays, their off to some other part of the world to enjoy themselves.

While Germany is grand is oh so many ways, I wouldn't call it Paradise just yet, which is why, maybe sometime in the near future I will follow with a list of some of the more bothersome things I've noticed about the Germans, but for now... let them bask in their glory.

Lang Lebe Deutschland! :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

...wie der Zeit fliegt!

My most sincere apologies to all my blog readers for not updating since the beginning of February. Life has been getting in the way.

Last month was a busy month. I got several new clients at work, won my very first short story competition, went to Frankfurt to visit a good friend and have started up a blog for the Nuremberg Writers, with my fellow Nurembergian writer, John.

The weather has been getting nicer, skies bluer, snow disappearing and ice cream shops returning to the city of Nuremberg. Last week I passed dozens of people on Königstraße tasting the first eis of summer, and I must admit, the temptation was too great, and so I too, had my first scoop of 2010. Ein kugeln, Pfefferminzschoko im Waffel. Yum.

My German lessons at the Volkhochschule has ended, or to be honest, I ended them... for reasons I shan't list here. But I haven't given up on the German language yet. My goal for the month of March, in addition to studying German on my own every day, is to find a Tandem Partner to practice German with. The idea is to meet with another person who wants to learn the language you speak, and so we spend some time each meeting speaking German and English to improve and gain confidence in our language speaking abilities.

Some of you might be wondering why I don't just practice speaking with David. While its true that I could, and its true that I have, it is difficult to speak with someone that you are so used to communicating in another language with. We always speak English together, and when we attempt German, the words quickly convert back to English, unfortunately. And so its best to go to neutral territory I think.

As for The Nuremberg Writers website, I will post it as soon as it gets a little meatier. At the moment, its quite bare. We started the site in hopes of luring in more members.

Anyways short update, but this month, I will be writing more.


I know I said it before, but this time I mean it. :)

Until next post.