Friday, December 30, 2011

Sick again

I just spent the last three days lying in my bed, and if my body doesn't miraculously recover tonight--then that's probably where I'll be spending New Years Eve as well.  David has been really great though--buying me lots of meds and lots of fruit to help me recuperate. I feel lucky that he's so caring.  Even though no one can make you better, it does help having someone to take care of you when you're sick.

Been whittling away the hours by watching lots of "How I Met Your Mother". I just can't get into this Robin character though.

...Wishing you all a healthy, wonderful 2012...


Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I just got word that I've been placed in Seoul for next year's EPIK program in South Korea. 
Other than the six months that I lived in New York City when I was a baby, I never lived in such a huge city before.  Finally starting to feel real, this whole moving to Korea thing...

Monday, December 26, 2011

ABCs of Travel

Thanks to for the idea.

Age you went on your first international trip
...6 years old!  I went with my dad to Italy for the first time to visit family.

Best beer you've had and where
I'm not much of a beer drinker (or a drinker at all for that matter). Although Germany did change that a bit for me.  Radlers are good though (a mix of beer and lemonade/sprite depending on who makes it)--that's about all I can say for this one.

Cuisine (favorite) meal(s) were in Italy, my second time around in the summer of 2003... fried zucchini flower? swordfish?? A-mazing.

Destinations: favorite, least favorite & why
North Dakota, USA is probably one of my favorite destinations to travel to. I love the cross-country road trip to get there and I love the simplicity and beauty you find there.. Least favorite?  Hmmm... that's a hard one, but maybe Strassbourg, France--not because of the city itself but because we got bedbugs from the hostel we stayed at--and that was a nightmare that lasted too long. :(

Teddy Roosevelt National Park:  North Dakota

 Event you experienced abroad that made you say 'Wow'
...too many.  But one that comes to mind is when I was in Switzerland and realized that 'those clouds' out in the distance were actually mountains.

Favorite mode of Transportation!  It's just so convenient!

Greatest Feeling While Traveling
The plane landing at the start of a new adventure.

Hottest place you've traveled to
I don't think I ever sweat so much and so often as I did in Belize in summer of '07.  They didn't have hot water where we stayed and for that one month I didn't care, because every shower I took I happily used only cold water!

Incredible service you've experienced and where
Nothing comes to mind right now, but FedEx in Nuremberg, Germany takes first prize for WORST SERVICE ever.

Journey that took the longest
STF was a journey that lasted over a year and took me all over the place.  I don't know if that counts.

First Team on STF,  a typical morning view of Switzerland

 Keepsake from your travels
Last year when I moved to Nuremberg, I started a travel wall where I put up postcards or public transport tickets or maps--something from each place I've traveled to.  Since then I've tried to pick something to stick on my wall.

Let down site: why & where
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany--after everyone proclaiming how beautiful it was, I finally went to go see it last year, but found it to be like many other Bavarian towns I'd already seen. Nice, but just not that special.

Moment you fell in love with travel
A single moment is hard to choose, but I guess it would be the summer of '03 again... I had this room in an Italian pensione with a balcony overlooking Santa Chiara in Assisi, and the sunsets there were incredible.  I would go out in the evening with my journal and just watch the sunset reflecting in the church windows and watch the birds fly across the sky.  It was an amazing summer for me.

Nicest hotel you've stayed in
When I was 16, and traveling with my dad in Italy, we stayed at a hotel near Lago Maggiore with the Assisi Music Festival.  My first and only four-star hotel to date ;).  Our room number was 666 and they had elevators that worked horizontally to take you from the front of the floor to the lobby, how cool is that?

Obsession:  what are you obsessed of taking photos of while traveling?
I think sunsets.  I try to catch the sun setting on camera whenever possible, even from my own apartment.

Sun beginning to set in south Germany

Passport Stamps:  how many & where?
24, although a lot are doubled.  I have two passports, and since I've gotten my Italian one, I switch between my US and Italian pass for convenience, hence minimizing stamps, but some stamps included are from: Korea, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Slovenia, Belize.

Quirkiest attraction you've visited:
The Enchanted Road in North Dakota--it's an attraction in the middle of nowhere, where you drive and see these large metallic structures that lead you to a tiny little town giftshop somewhere.

Recommended sight, event or experience
Tintagel Castle in Cornwall England is unbelievably beautiful.  High jagged cliffs, green grass, blue skies and tumbling waves accompany King Arthur's legend--very, very cool.

Cornwall, England

 Splurge: something you don't mind forking money over for while traveling
I like to spend money on unique foods or gifts to bring back home for others... gifts sometime, but mostly food.  I feel like it's a way for me to share a tiny piece of the experience with others.

Touristy thing you've done
Last winter, an American friend of mine came to visit me in DE and we did a lot of touristy things together including Schloss Neuschwanstein and a horse-drawn carriage ride through the old city of Salzburg. 

Unforgettable Travel Memory
Walking through the rain forest in Belize with our Mayan tour guide who took us river-tubing through caves in THE cleanest rivers I have ever seen. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was.

Visas: how many and for where:
Two: for Korea and Belize.  Although last time I got a Visa to stay in Korea it was to stay for over a month, and in the end I didn't end up needing it because I only stayed two weeks.  I'll be adding a third visa soon, again for Korea, and this time my stay will be longer. ;)

Excellent view & from where:
Top of the Rock in New York City and top of the seilbahn at Kochel See, the view of the German Alps from up there in breathtaking.

 Years spent travelling
I've always traveled with my family, but I guess since the summer of 2003, I haven't really stopped.  The summer in Italy & Austria, then the following year doing STF in Europe, then a summer in Belize, a summer in England, and then moving to Germany after graduating from college... and in two months, off to Korea!  After Korea, maybe I'll settle down a bit.  Maybe.

Zealous sports fan & where South Korea, we did this rafting trip where we had to continuously chant (what I don't remember exactly) which had something to do with unity of North & South Korea.  That was intense, but seeing the FIFA Women's World Cup game (England vs. Japan) in Augsburg this past summer was also pretty cool :).

* * *
Overlooking Croatian waters on the island of Krk

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Crossing the Finish Line

Three lessons left to teach
over two days
  with one more shift at the Christkindlmarkt
...and then I'm free.

Feels absolutely amazing.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

You're not fat!

A phrase I've heard countless time from students young and old.

I don't ask for this information, mind you, but somehow it comes up over and over again whenever the topic of America comes into play.  From a German's perspective, it's meant to be a sincere compliment to me I'm sure (and I thank you), but from an American's POV, it's a back-handed compliment at best because what you're assuming is that all my countrymen are overweight slobs. 

So, just a word of advice, please think twice before saying this to your next Ami friend.

American does not equal fat person. Thank you.

(This has been a public service announcement.)

They don't have to be American.

While many Europeans I know are smart and beautiful, so are many Americans I know.  Don't believe the lies.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Time for a change...

I think most people know by now, but I didn't want to update my blog officially about it until all work related things were taken care of.  So--for those of you who don't know--I am leaving Germany. 

I'm excited. I'm happy.  I'm nervous.  I'm all kinds of emotions--but mostly good ones.  Maybe because it's Christmas now, so the feeling is joyful and merry, and feelings of gratitude for the year past are on my mind, but thinking back to a few months ago when all the planning was starting to take place, I really felt sad at the thought of leaving. I still am in some ways of course, but the overwhelming feeling is of gratitude.  Gratitude for all the incredible people I could meet and all the incredible experiences I could have over the last 2+ years here in Germany.
After my visit to the US in January, I'll be returning to Germany for about a week and then be heading off to South Korea. (Yes, David is coming with me.) I was accepted into the EPIK program which places Guest English Teachers in the Korean Public School System. And while there feels like a ton of things that need to be done, most of them I can't get started with until January. So for now, it's finishing up my teaching responsibilities with all my wonderful students over the next two weeks and enjoying the awesome Christmas spirit that has taken over the city. 

Now that it's official I can finally update my blog properly on what's been taking over my life the last few months...  so, this blog will soon be a-changing.  I hope you'll all join me on my journey as I hope to keep updating with progress and things taking place over the next few months.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Thursday Regular--A Mish-Mosh of Culture

A GermaRussiAmerican Mix with matryoshka dolls of US Presidents found at the Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Thursday Regular--The Future is Here

A student of mine told me about a trend in South Korea where stores have put up 'virtual billboard shops' in subway stations so customers can grocery shop with their smart phones while waiting for the subway.  While surprising as an idea, it wasn't surprising to hear that Korea had thought it up, being that it's the most wired nation in the world.  So can you imagine my surprise finding something similar here in Nuremberg?  Who would have thunk?  It's not food, but it's the same concept...

At Dürrenhof Bahnhof, a 'billboard shop' where you can shop while you wait.
To my stateside readers:  Have you seen something like this in the US as well? Or am I just way behind the times?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Some happenings...

* I received my Zertifikat Deutsch test results back--did better than I expected :)
Listening + Reading:  43/45
Writing: 18/20
Speaking: 98/100

*  I booked my ticket to the US... January 21st - February 6th-- finally going back home for a visit!

*  The Christkindlmarkt starts next week Friday (25.11)--looking forward to another season working in the Atlanta Booth with Rod and the gang. (If you're in the Nbg area, come by and visit me in the International part of the market (behind the Rathaus))...

Tis' all for now.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Thursday Regular-- German Gangsters at their Best

Life is hard on the South Side.  Or is it Soute? Sout?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Insomniac Attack

Not sleeping.  Haven't slept properly in two weeks.  I just keep waking up at around 1:30-2:00am and then stay awake.  I guess its not a bad thing to cut back on the hours I spend in slumber, just wish I could use the time a bit better.

I know I've said before how much I miss Autumn in NJ, but for some reason, I've just started to notice how beautiful Germany is this time of year as well.  The trees all look as if sunshine just spilled from the sky and stuck itself onto the leaves.  Golden treetops everywhere, even though Christmas is filling up the shelves and garland and lights are starting to appear in the city.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Golden November

While being abroad is very rewarding and enriching, it can honestly be a living hell when trying to deal with red tape and bureaucracy.  October was full of back and forth paperwork between Germany and the US and I honestly think I might have given myself an ulcer from all the stress that went along side it.

Usually I like to sing praises on behalf of Germany, but this time there's nothing good to be said about the customer service for the company FedEx in Germany.  So readers, if you ever need to ship something express across the ocean and if you happen to live in Nuremberg, avoid FedEx at all costs. They are a nightmare with a capital N.

Perhaps it was just a lot of Pech, but I've never encountered an employee so apathetic and so rude before in my life.  He made a mistake by processing a procedure incorrectly therefore holding up my package in the US and not allowing it to be returned to me.  He then refused to do anything about it and left me to sort through the mess, resulting in three hours of phone calls on Friday and an additional hour and half on Monday with representatives in the US and Germany.  And for some crazy reason, in Germany, they seem to think it's okay that in addition to having to deal with problems their company created, I should also pay .17 cents per minute to speak to someone on the phone.  I did finally receive the package on Wednesday (a week after it was sent from the sender in the US), but was told by the same very unhelpful employee that I would not get my money back and that "it was unfair" what I was doing--trying to 'cheat', as he put it. Seriously?

Despite all that, Germany really is quite beautiful right now.  The leaves are golden yellow everywhere and the weather is cool enough for jackets and scarves but not so cold that you want to hide away in doors.

So wishing you all a beautiful November, free of red-tape and full of happier, more beautiful things.


Beautiful skies, golden fields and construction--a common sight for November in Deutschland.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

You know life is good when...

... you can drink your money. 
As seen in a catalog: a Swarovski coffee machine, from 2999 Euros.  Made with hundreds of Swarovski crystals.  Who comes up with this stuff?

Friday, October 7, 2011

a mini-update

So summer is officially over, and the weather is starting to dip down into cooler temperatures.  We had a really nice set of sunny days all last week, but today it's 9 degrees (Celsius) and rainy.  The leaves are starting to turn yellowish and brown and there are pumpkins and lebkuchen in all the stores. This is, hands down, my favorite time of year, but this year I fear, I won't get the chance to enjoy it very much.  October is turning out to be a very full month for me.  Its wake up, work in the mornings, German class (B2) in the afternoons, home, prepare lessons for the next day and sleep.  That's been the pattern the last three weeks (including weekends) and until my German course is complete at the end of the month, the following weeks will probably follow suit.

On the 22nd, I'm planning to take the DTZ exam to test my German proficiency.  I was a bit confused about whether I should do a Goethe exam or the Deutschtest fuer Zuwanderer, but in the end, opted for the latter because 1) its heck of a big difference in price (Goethe B1 test is 170 Euros and DTZ (which tests A2-B1) exam is 110 Euros) and 2) for the Goethe test, I would have had to commute to Munich two times to complete it.  I've gotten mixed feedback from teachers about which exam is actually better for my particular situation, but in the end, I think the DTZ will be enough at least at the present moment.  And in America, I don't think it will matter too much which Zeugnis I show (or here's hoping anyway).  (If anyone reading this is interested in taking an exam as well, here's  a helpful link with the list of exams: (German Language Tests)

Also, started Korean classes once a week on Friday evenings. I've tried studying Korean before, but never really got very far with it, but this time, I'm trying to set time aside every week to study a little bit in addition to the class.  I can read the Korean characters now! (S l o w l y .) ^^

Despite all this, life is good with many things to look forward to in the next few months. So--wishing you all a happy Autumn... and until next post. Peace out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Du bist Deutschland

"Du bist Deutschland" is a campaign that was started here in Germany a few years ago to encourage the public to be more kid friendly.  While it's actually a very nice commercial (and almost two minutes long!), my first impression was that I found it rather comical that someone from an outside source had to encourage Germans to have more babies.  One line in the commercial states (roughly translated) "that its never the wrong time to have you (kids), but only the right time"--a bit direct, no?

Since I don't have any myself, I can't really contribute to the argument, but I have heard people say that Germany isn't family-friendly.  So if anybody has experience going either way, would be interesting to hear.  Do you find Germany family-friendly?  (Here's the link to the video, I will try to upload it here directly sometime soon.)

Below is the rough English translation of the text...

"You drive us crazy.
You cry the whole night through.
You wet the bed.
First you get teeth, then you get the chickenpox.
You hate kindergarten, then school and then at 15, you hate us.
Rather, you drive us crazy… with Happiness
Your ‘purchase’ is free
Then after you get expensive
You need time and space
You cost us new shoes, that bigger TV and that vacation at the ocean
You are no luxury
You are priceless
There are many good reasons not to have kids
And the best reason to have kids? You.
You can’t speak and yet you explain to us the whole world.
You can’t walk, but you help us get going.
You learn so much every day and teach us still more.
You show us that there is never the wrong but only the right moment to have you.
You have mother and father and yet you still need the whole country to grow up happy.
You are not alone as our most precious ‘project/work’.
You make out of two people, one family.
Out of a small apartment you make an adventurous playground
And from spaghetti with sauce a feast.
We need more of your kind because without you the present is no fun
And the future already past.
You. Are. Germany."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Thursday Regular--"Oh, say can you see?"

Can you see it?  Above the windows are the faded words 'US ARMY' on the building facade.  The Bavarian-American Hotel was formerly used by the US Army during the occupation of Germany after WWII.  Nuremberg was formerly part of the American section. (There were four parts: American, British, French & Russian).  Eventually the sign came down and the army left (well at least out of that building) but I guess no one ever wanted to paint over it. A kind of 'where's waldo' piece of history right across from the Hauptbahnhof. Cool, eh?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Thursday Regular--'Love Life'

Found a piece of "Kostenlose Kunst" in the Altstadt.  Painted by local artist Michael Paullutz of Nuremberg, he graciously scattered his pieces all throughout the city to be found and brighten up someone's day.

*Painting courtesy of LOVE LIFE CORP. For more information on them, check out their Facebook page at

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Thursday Regular--Back to School

Second day back to school here in Bavaria, and I've never (ever) seen such a huge crowd in Müller's stationary section.  German children and their mom's flocking in dozens to stock up on their notebooks and pens.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Say what?

If the world is a village, who then, are the cool kids on the block?

Well according to an unofficial (but revealing) survey done by social networking site, Americans took the number one spot.  Surprised? Me too.  But apparently the survey results are based on the opinions of "30,000 people across 15 countries".  Still more is that is based in London and owned by a Russian entrepreneur --and the site itself is most active in Latin America, Spain, Italy and France. (I never actually heard of until now.)

So top 10 coolest nationalities?

1. Americans
2. Brazilians
3. Spanish
4. Italians
5. French
6. British
7. Dutch
8. Mexicans
9. Argentinians
10. Russians

...and the most uncool nations (according to the survey)...

1. Belgians
2. Poles
3. Turks
4. Canadians
5. Germans :( (How can this be?!) 

So what do you think?  Are the rankings spot on or do you disagree?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Thursday Regular-- By the 'See'

A view of Dutzendteich on a lovely summer day, when all the boats came out to play.  The Colosseum you see there in the background is one of several constructions built on what is the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds.  Today its a museum.

The closest thing I've got to the ocean, a huge "See" (in German) or lake.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Mystery of the Smiling Pig

Riding on the number 6 Tram line, I've often passed by a red and white sign that reads "SAU, SAU, HURRA!" with a big smiling pink pig.  I never cared enough to look into it further, but I thought it was a strange sign for a restaurant. Would a restaurant really only serve pork?  And it didn't look like a Metzegerei/butcher either.  Finally the other day I came across my answer.

While looking for a restaurant online, I stumbled upon this website: 
Freunde des Fränkischen Schäufele n.n.E.v

Its a club for people who love Shäufele!  How funny is that?!  (Shäufele is a pork dish using the meat from the shoulder of a pig.  Its served still on the bone so it has a kind of scoop-shape to it.  I've never actually tried it though.)

If you click on the link, you can see the sign that I was talking about in the upper left hand corner along with a photo of the club members.  If you scroll all the way to the bottom, you'll even see a massive pig-shaped float that they used in the Fastnachtszug.

I guess that's one way of keeping traditions alive.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Thursday Regular-- A Secret Garden

Decided to start up a little project for myself.  Every Thursday, starting from today, I'll be posting a new picture from my adopted home town of Nuremberg.  A little project to encourage me to look a little more closely at the streets and people I pass by daily.  Hope you enjoy it!

First up, a funny little dwarf-statue I found in the Baroque-style 'Garden of Hesperides' tucked away in the section of town called Johannis.  It was such a lovely little surprise to stumble upon.  Hidden from the street, its entrance can only be found by walking through the pub Barockhäusle (Johannisstraße 47).
Why hello there.

PS.  Happy September 1st everyone!  (I'm not really sure why Blogger keeps posting a day behind the real date.  So don't mind the Wednesday date there.) ;)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nine Things I Miss

... (in no particular order)

1.  The Ocean

 ... and standing at the coast looking out onto a watery horizon. 

Big sky, big sea. Love it. 

2.  Getting the punch line

Let's be honest, language and culture play a huge role in defining what one finds funny, and when you're coming from a different background from those around you, you somehow don't always know who is making a joke and when-- and vice versa.  (Talk about awkward.)

Germans don't do chicken jokes.

3.  A Really Good Bargain/Deal

Sales are, let's say, a bit more humble on this side of the pond. The standard 10 % off  here doesn't really excite me all that much.

So much for trying to fend off materialism.

4.  Baggers

Having someone bag my groceries is a luxury I could get used to again.  I know its all for the sake of being green, but I do miss not having to hurl my groceries back into the shopping cart and rush away from the Kasse before I barely have my change in hand.

I really do.

5.  New York Pizza


I'm drooling...

6.  Driving

I miss having a car.  I love road trips and I love having the choice to leave when I want to and drive where I want to without being on someone else's clock.

Hadley! My first car.

7.  East Coast Autumn

The changing leaves on the trees, the incredible blue skies, pumpkins for Halloween and of course Thanksgiving, a holiday that is synonymous with this particular time of year. Love it and miss it dearly.

Thanksgiving.  Its not just about the food.

8.  People

An ocean can feel mighty big when you're living on the other side of it. 

Little brother and me, Summer 2009 in North Dakota.
9.  Familiarity

While life will always be unpredictable, sometimes its just nice to know how things work without any surprises.  Weißt du was ich meine?

A drive along the NJ Turnpike around sunset.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Oh, the places you'll go...

While travel doesn't always have to be some deep, purposeful event, it often can be.

Pico Iyer, one of my all time favorite travel writers (and writers in general), summed up what he believes the experience of travel should be like, and I think he's right on the money.

“I take very seriously the sense of our living these days in a global neighborhood. And the first sensible thing to do in such circumstances, as well as one of the most rewarding things, is to go and meet the neighbors, find out who they are, and what they think and feel. So travel for me is an act of discovery and of responsibility as well as a grand adventure and a constant liberation.”

For some reason, I've always remembered this one lesson in my fourth grade social studies class, when we learned about indentured servants. These were people from Europe who couldn't afford passage across the Atlantic Ocean, so in exchange for the trip, these people were held in servitude for seven years (or more) upon arriving in the colonies to pay off their debt. Thinking about that in comparison to today, that's quite a hefty price tag to pay. I mean if I counted the number of times I've traveled across the Atlantic Ocean so far,  either to the US or to Europe, I would owe at a minimum 105 years of service--that's more than the average lifetime and for those people back then, probably more than two lifetimes.

Its quite the privilege we've been given.  And I think, as Pico Iyer states, there is some responsibility attached in learning about the people we encounter.  Probably in a much deeper way than I've been able to do so far, but I think its a noble goal for this generation of jet-setters and global wanderers.

So wishing you all a lifetime of discovery and grand adventure where ever you are in the world.
Xx diana

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Crossing the Border

This week was a crazy one: made plans, plans changed, made new plans and finally ended up in Strasbourg. Despite the German sounding name, its actually a city in France--but just barely since its directly over the German border. As a result, I thought this town would also have quite a bit of German flair, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was indeed a very French city. The hostel was awful, the grossest hostel I've stayed in thus far, but the city itself was lovely.  See for yourself...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some Q & A

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions I get as an American here in Germany.

Q:  Where in America are you from?
A:  New Jersey. (Its close to New York City).

Q:   Do you know Jersey Shore?
A: Unfortunately, yes.

Q:  Why Germany?
A: Because I fell in love with a German boy.

Q:  So do you speak German?
A:  Some days it feels like I can, and other days, God only knows what is coming out of my mouth.

Q:  What do you/Americans think about Obama as a President?
A:  I wouldn't want to be in his shoes these days.

Q:  Why do Americans like Hershey Chocolate?  Its awful.
A:  I'm not sure, maybe because we don't have Ritter Sport or Milka?

Q:  Why do Americans like McDonald's so much?
A:  Do we?

Q: Can you give me some tips on where to visit in _____ (insert place in the US)?
A:  Sure.

Q:  How do you say _____ (insert random German word) in English?
A:  ____ (insert hopefully accurate English translation of German word)

Q:  I saw ______ (insert place/object/thing) in a movie.  Is it really like that in America?
A:  Hmmm... probably not.

Q:  I've been to the US before, but I was only in New York/ Los Angeles/ Florida. I want to see Texas,
where the real Americans live. (Okay its not really a question, but for some reason a lot of Germans think Texas is the place to be.)
A: (Never really sure how to answer this one...)

Any more that I'm forgetting?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shoot or Schieß?

One of my goals for this year was to plug myself into more authentic German situations to get myself more comfortable with the language. So yesterday, I jumped into cold water and joined in for my first practice with a women’s football (soccer) team. I played for about 7 years when I was younger, but it’s been awhile since I’ve properly been on the field for a practice. It felt amazing!

Obviously the language they used was quite specific, German that I haven’t been exposed to yet (Schienbeinschoner, anyone?), but luckily there are no language barriers when it comes to running or kicking or dribbling a ball.  

Speaking with my team mates and coaches, on the other hand, was a different matter. Its one thing to be in a German class or with people who know that you’re not a native speaker, so they usually speak more slowly and try to use words or phrases that are clear (no dialect) but this wasn’t one of those situations, this was full-fledged Fränkisch exposure. So we'll see how things play out in the next couple of weeks, but as long as joining the Verein isn't too expensive (and as long as they can get enough players to make a team (yesterday we were only six) ) than I hope to keep it up.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Weltrekord aufgestellt!

...and I was one of them!  The article is only in German--but to sum it up, 50,000 people were divided into four parts and sang the song "Are you sleeping, Brother John?" (in German) in rounds (or canons as the Germans call it).  You can listen to the official recording below by clicking on the link or watch the home video I made of it directly underneath.  If you watch the video, you can see the blue light of the director waving in the air on a huge tower in the middle.

A more official sound recording of the event (also in German but if you skip towards the end you can actually hear the song Bruder Jakob):

Friday, August 5, 2011

To the Zoll!

While getting packages are nice, having to trek half way across town to the Zollamt (Customs) to pick it up, isn't.  This is the second time in six months I've had a package redirected there instead of being sent to my mailbox. The whole trip there and back easily takes 3.5 - 4 hours with public transportation because its located near the harbor in an industrial area which isn't frequented often by buses.

Since its pretty well known that Germans pay lots of tax, I suppose the German government is hoping to keep Germans from ordering from abroad for lower prices, so to do that they add an additional tax to packages coming in from outside the EU.  I don't know the exact amount, but the guy sitting next to me at the Zollamt had some 2,000+ Euros he had to pay in extra taxes for merchandise he shipped in from the US for his Hobby Store in Amberg. I don't know how they decide which boxes go through Zoll and which ones don't (when I was living in Lauf I never had issues receiving packages from the US), but in both cases that I did have to go to the Zollamt, it was an error on their part, as in the end my packages were duty free.

Usually receiving packages should be a nice thing, something you look forward to, but I have to say, if I'm going to have to go through this hassle every time it just may not be worth it. : /

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Running in Circles

For about two months now, I've been a regular runner. My running route has changed quite a few times throughout, sometimes in the park (we have two nearby), sometimes through various neighborhoods and most recently I've found a track that I've been using.  I assume it belongs to the school nearby, but I rarely see anyone in there.

This morning as I was making my way around the track, I started thinking back on my high school days.  I ran track in high school, so while making my rounds it brought back memories of practices (running laps) and track meets (the feeling like you're going to vomit waiting for the shot gun to go off at the start of the race).  I wasn't an especially good track runner, but none the less it was part of my high school experience.  The only medal I ever won was for Javelin and that was because there were only two teams competing (so we were bound to get either gold or silver).

In addition to track I played soccer, was part of the Italian club and sang in the Choir my freshman year.  I also coached an indoor soccer team for the Winter seasons at the Boys and Girls Club and was the director of a youth drama group all throughout high school.  I also worked part time at a pizzeria.

The thing is, I don't think that my experience is all that unique or extraordinary--at least for American high school students.  I feel like it is the norm for American students (and perhaps some other nationalities might be able to relate) to be expected to do it all.  The "All-American Kid", who takes AP/Honor classes, plays sports, volunteers, is the editor of the school newspaper and works part time. 

Its not that I don't remember enjoying doing all those things--I did--but when I compare this experience to what I see in the young German students that I work with, it seems so totally different.  For them, its all about school work.  School is the priority and extracurriculars are things that you do on your own time but don't really relate to (or shouldn't interfere with) school. 

For American high school students, schoolwork is only one small piece of the puzzle.  Volunteering and sports and playing an instrument are AS important as getting an A in your Biology class, at least that's what they tell us we have to do if we want to get into a good college/university--and we all have to want to go to a good university otherwise you'll end up working at McDonald's. 

The German schooling system is set up so that a very large percentage of students by the time they are 16 are already getting ready for the workforce.  (Okay granted, they will spend three years in an Ausbildung (or apprenticeship) with part time schooling--but none the less in a grown-up environment where they are expected to be responsible young adults.) For this reason, I think the majority of German students are fairly mature.  I say fairly because the sample I have gotten to know all seem to be, but I'm not about to assume German teenagers are a bit more sane or stable than any other adolescent around the globe today.

So the stark contrast makes me wonder a bit.  Are American students running circles?  Or are Germans not opening up their horizons enough?  Or is it possible both could use a little readjustment?

Monday, July 25, 2011

"You Poor Pig!"

Germans have this thing with pigs. Not only do they eat a lot of them, they also consider the pig lucky--and they like to talk about them whenever they can.  Over the last two years, I've come to hear a lot of expressions that involve pigs, and whenever I mention this to Germans, most think I'm exaggerating.  As I'm not a polyglot, and happen to really only be fluent in 1 1/2 languages, I can't really say, but below are just a few of the expressions that I've learned. You be the judge.

"Armes Schwein!" = "Poor Pig" = I wouldn't want to be in your shoes.

"Es ist saukalt!" = "It is like piggish cold." = Man, its freakin' cold.

"Schweinereich!" = "Piggishly rich" = Filthy (or stinkin') rich

"Sauschlecht." = "Piggishly bad" = Awful, terribly bad

"Perlen vor die Säue werfen." = "Throwing pearls to the pig." = Being wasteful or not understanding the worth of something.

"Glücksschwein" = "Lucky pig." = Lucky dog, or 'you're so lucky!'

"Schwein gehabt" = "Had pig." = Sort of similar to the one above, you had luck, you were lucky.

They are pretty cute though, aren't they?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What? Your brain has never freezed?

So brain-freeze appears to be an American-only phenomenon.  Who knew?

I was trying to explain to David not too long ago about brain freeze (you know, the pain you get from eating or drinking something much too cold and your head start to hurt for a few seconds?) and he said he had no idea what I was talking about.

I tried explaining it further... perhaps the name was a little misleading, but no, he said there was no such translation of experience in German.

Okay, so believe it or not I even doubted my own sanity on this.  Was this something that I made up? But later that weekend, I saw something on Yahoo! about brain freeze--it clearly was not all in my head.  Maybe it was only David.

A couple weeks later, by total coincidence, I'm preparing an English lesson that springs off an article in TIME on the topic of 7-11 Slurpees (there really was something worth talking about involving Slurpees, I swear) and the title was "Why Free Things Can Cost A Lot (And Make Your Brain Freeze).  So in class I ask my student if he knows what brain freeze is.  He says he does.  I'm relieved, until he starts describing it as something that happens when you forget what you want to say.  While he was correct, I described to him the other scenario that we like to call by that same name, and he too was at a total loss for what I could possibly mean.  His reaction,  "What's wrong with Americans' brains?"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Japan vs. England

So... Women's World Cup is going on right now in Germany.  Which, despite the nation basically ignoring, I find it pretty cool.  (If you want to read about the national support of the tournament (or lack there of), have a look at another blogger's post here:  A Nation Shrugs.)

Anyways, I posted a while back saying that I had tickets to the US vs. North Korea game in Dresden--which unfortunately, I had to sell.  But with luck, a friend of mine had a spare ticket to the Japan - England game in Augsburg which I was able to attend on the 5th. (THANK YOU JENNY!)  Even though Japan has made it to the semi-finals (they beat the German team, a two-times world champion!!!), they lost in this particular game to England 2-0.  Here are some photos of the game.

Before the game, some friendly rivalry between fans. Jenny + random Japanese tourist.

Almost 21,000 people attended this game.

I couldn't decide who to root for so I ended up cheering for the loosing team, which happened to be Japan.

Some English football hooligans.

During half time.

Appreciative players saying thanks at the end of the game.

Being at the game really made me wish I could have seen an American game--it would have been awesome to support my home team, especially since they are doing so well at the moment. Hoping they can win against France on Wednesday to make it to the Finals... GO USA!!!