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. : /