Sunday, June 27, 2010

Next week, a blog entry that I posted for the Nuremberg Writers will be featured on Chantal Panozzo's awesome blog, I will post a link again when the entry is up, but I encourage you to check out her blog now. She writes about 'how to survive (& thrive) as an international creative person'.

Writer Abroad shares how she went from a Chicago girl working 9-5, to becoming a successful freelance writer living in Switzerland. Not only is her blog useful, but she's got a great sense of humor that she adds to her please check her out!

**image borrowed from's website

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mmmmm! Obama Fingers!

Obama's fried chicken fingers? With curry sauce??! Count me in!

This is a real product that was added to the frozen food section of German supermarkets after President Obama's election. When confronted, the German company stated they had no idea of the "possible racist overtones" of the product. I'm not sure its on the market anymore, but thought it was worth a blog entry.

If you want to read more, here's a link to a full article:,1518,612684,00.html
(sorry the link won't activate here, so you'll have to copy and paste)

Monday, June 21, 2010

One Year

Today marks the one year anniversary since I left the States, tomorrow will be one year since I entered Germany.

In my first post, dating back to July 12 of 2009, I made a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish in Germany this year. What follows is the progress I've made 365 days later.

1. Become conversational in Deutsch
-Well, to be honest, I'm not exactly there yet. One year later, and I still manage to speak more English than German on a daily basis due to my surroundings, my job, and the fact that Germans are pretty awesome at speaking English. While I'm better at German than when I came, this goal still remains to be accomplished.

2. Read & Write as much as Possible
-I've definitely read a lot, thanks to the Amerika Haus giving me access to some 10,000 books in English, and I've been writing, but clearly not as much as possible, or else I would have been able to produce several novels by now (an exaggeration, but you get what I'm saying). I managed to start a writing group and win my first short story competition, but this year I'm going to try to take it up a notch.

3. Keep a blog :)

4. Find a job, make money & start paying off student loans
-This is more like three goals, but check, check, and check! I've managed to find work at three different private language schools, plus an English language camp for children and last but not least, working at the Christmas market in NBG last December. Not bad.

-Not as much as I've wanted, but managed to go to Italy twice (although the first time, as you may remember, was not so succesful thanks to mono) San Marino, Berlin, Regensburg, Bayreuth, Frankfurt and Munich. This year I want to travel to the north of Germany and check out some of Deutschland's neighbor countries.

6.Strengthen my physical and spiritual health
-Using public transportation and now having a bicycle has forced me to use my feet more than I did when I had a car, as for the latter half of the goal, its a never ending process. So half-check.

7. David (open to interpretation)
-One year later: still learning, still growing, still good :)

Here's to a strong start to year two.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Some Thoughts on Higher Education: Germany vs. the US**

**By request, I've edited the post

While I’m over the fact that Germans pay somewhere between 0- 500 Euros a semester to attend university (depending on which state they are attending school), what I want to know, is what are Americans paying so much for? Are we really getting that much better of an education? Or are we paying for status?

America believes in the ideal that education is a universal right, yet we also tend to promote, unconsciously that debt is too. We say everyone is allowed to have an education, but we all have to be willing to pay (and quite a bit) for it. Where as in Germany, its not so. They don’t allow everyone to get a university degree, only the top students are and before you all start an uproarious demonstration about equality and education for all, the fact that if one meets the state’s requirements to enter a university in Germany, I believe education is a lot more accessible than the American university system which basically lets everyone in, but only on the condition one can (and will for many years) pay for it . While I understand the controversy that goes along with this due to the cyclical disadvantages it puts children of former Hauptschule students in (they rarely advance to higher education, hence following the footsteps of their parents)—however this is not the issue I want to address. We’ll save the Hauptschule debate for another day.

If you qualify for Financial Aid here in Germany, students can borrow a maximum of 10,000 Euros, interest free, from the government, half of which they never have to pay back. That’s right folks, no Sallie Mae, demanding huge chunks of recently graduated, barely employed young people’s paychecks. In addition, the majority of German students tend to focus solely on studying when they study, whereas its not uncommon for most American college students to be juggling one or two jobs in addition to school work in order to pay the $5,000+ (if you’re lucky) tuition bill each semester.

In addition to all that money we’re paying, many of us graduating with a degree in Humanities or Liberal Arts are leaving school with an atrocious amount of debt and yet very little "employable skills" in terms of the expectations of employers. If you really want to pursue professionalisation in a specialized field within the US system, you still need to apply for internships (which usually pays nothing, unlike the Germans who pay a minimum of 500 Euros a month for a required internships) or you have to continue your education doing a Master’s degree, which again prolongs the amount of time and the size of debt you owe upon graduation.

I recently applied for a Masters Program in Germany--whether I will go or not, isn't the issue, but I just want to express to Americans what a difference in cost we're talking about here. The tuition of the entire degree program I applied for, costs less than one semester of my undergrad degree. That’s right kids, for about 2,000 Euros, a university is willing to allow me to study for a MA. The average price for a Masters degree in the States at the moment is around $25,000, even higher if it’s a professional degree. Why the difference in price tag? Can we really say that the US system is so much better, or the quality of education is that much higher? I’m not so sure.

One thing I do appreciate about the US system however, is its flexibility. If I study Mathematics for example, that doesn't mean that I can only ever work in a field closely related to what I studied. In Germany, its very difficult (some say impossible) to get work outside of what you specialized in or studied. So in this respect, I value the American system--however, that still doesn't mean the price of education should cripple or burden young adults through their twenties and into their thirties.

Anyone care to shed some light or cast some criticism or comments my way?

What are we paying for?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Die Weltmeisterschaft 2010

Tonight at 8:30pm (German time), Germany will play in its first World Cup match against Australia. Germany and Germans are psyched and red, black and gold colored everything are hanging everywhere and being worn by everyone from toddlers to toddling senior citizens alike.

Looking forward to the game tonight.

Möge das beste Team gewinnen! :)