Browsing Tag

Germany

Doing

Starting a relationship in the year of a World Cup

I just typed in this title, and then Germany scored its 5th goal against Brazil … in the first 27 minutes of the semi-finals. And three of those in the past 7 minutes or so. There’s so many good World War II jokes that could be made of this, but I’ve already posted my best one to Facebook and Twitter, so no need to overdo it. Obviously this is all happening because giving a passport to an American with toddler-level language skills who jaywalks is like sprinkling gold dust on an angry cat for good luck. Or something.

I have to say, I can appreciate football. Soccer. Whatever.

Okay, now we’re up to 6-0.

7-0.

The Germans are showing emotion, finally. I think I just saw a tear.

ANYWAYS …

Phew. They haven’t scored again. So what I was going to say is, I’ve been pretty good about this World Cup. Generally, I don’t mind a game once a week or so, watching scientists get emotional about something, staring unashamedly at the German national team keeper. I’ve sort of figured out what ‘off sides’ means, and I know that the guy on the German national team is really, really good at corner kicks, which I think is a special skill, but I’m not entirely sure about that. I can also see some humor in being an American watching the world cup, which can be largely defined by this comic:

It’s been fun. We haven’t lost any furniture yet, only one shoe has landed on the roof, and there’s a good fraction of people at Wolfie who will probably have to add “sincere appreciations to the World Cup for thoroughly distracting me from my thesis” to their acknowledgments section.

BUT.

The World Cup is literally a month straight with a total of 64 games. Sixty-fucking-four soccer games. In one month and one day. With a total of seven days off from playing. That is an average of over 2.5 games per day. And they all happen in the evening, starting anytime between 5 and 9 PM to cater to the countries playing (sorry, South Korea and Japan), and finishing anytime between 9 PM and midnight. I don’t really have to tell you what that means in a relationship.

 

Also, the Brazilians just scored their first goal. Felicitaçoes.

So, I mean, the first two weeks were the worst, for sure. There were like 3-4 games per day, everyday. Many of them went into overtime. A lot of energy was spent being into the game, leading to complete exhaustion afterwards. The World Cup is just generally not good for relationships.

But at the same time, the World Cup is only once every four years. It’s fun, it’s spirited, and there’s always a few songs by Shakira that don’t actually have any words, just some noises and a lot of hip action. People paint their faces, fly out to stadiums in the middle of the jungle on the opposite side of the planet, and stand in the rain to watch beautiful men kick around a black-and-white ball. It gives the anti-social academics in Cambridge something to talk about, and I’ve never seen so many people eating yellow, blue and green peanut M&M’s. And in the greater scheme of things, it’s only a month, and this time it happens to be the month exactly leading up to the day my thesis is due. Which is a blessing and a curse, since the Austrian is too busy watching games to distract me, but I’m too busy trying to figure out what the hell the rules of this game are to actually write my thesis.

Anyways, it’s over in less than a week, and I submit my thesis the day after. Until then, some words of advice from the Austrian:

Start a relationship in the year before the WC, then you have a full year to build up brownie points before it starts.

Living

I’m blaming the Swedes for this one, they taught me how to use it.

I’m pretty sure this is called seeing the past through rose-colored lenses if you’re old and cynical. Nostalgia for short. For the rest of us, the past can be viewed on your scratch-resistant 4G/LTE-enabled smartphone, complete with a vintage-y, fuzzy filter that does the exact opposite of a high-end SLR camera.

For me, it’s been my perpetual habit of looking back on each place I’ve lived and swearing that I would fall in love and move there because, of course, it was the best place on earth. They all are. I loved the white snow and freezing temperatures of Sweden, but have largely forgotten about the rainy bike rides to work and the realization that Swedes are difficult to socialize. I loved the calmness of Maastricht and its population of students, its parks, sunny days, and large dinners with friends, but have, in my mind, conveniently left out the time I got stuck on a train in Belgium for two hours with a term paper due the next day. I miss the quiet of Braunschweig and my 30 second commute, but the feeling of frustration at going to the same place every weekend evades me. I even recall the beauty of Granada perfectly, with perfect weather, and keep ignoring how much Spanish culture drove me insane, but I didn’t have a smartphone at the time, so I don’t have the dreamy pictures to remind me. Probably for the better. These feelings have always been perpetuated by my need to go back and visit each place, only for a few days at a time. The weather is always perfect, I meet with old friends, and I view, as a visitor, a place that just looks so lovely and perfect, yet familiar to me.

So basically, my plan is to marry a Dutchman/Swede/German and move to the Netherlands/Sweden/Germany and live in paradise. I’ll let you all know how this goes for me.

Welcome to my past year with a rose-colored filter:

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Living

Germans Are Strange IV: Efficiency and a traffic light AND THE FUCKING RAINPOLCALYPSE

Alrighty, I am super far behind. I realIze this. I apologize. But the last few weeks have been a bit intense.

First things first, let’s start with the title. For all of its bureaucracy and rigidity and rulesrulesrules and nojaywalking,thankyouverymuch, German traffic lights have got to be the most inefficient things ever. It might just be that I lived in a really small city, but virtually none of the traffic lights were connected to motion sensors, meaning that at 1 AM, a light would stay red for all 2-3 minutes, even with no cars coming in any visible direction.  And no, you can’t jaywalk. Just wait. Maybe a unicorn driving a tractor will come through?

If you’ve had enough to drink, you might just see that. But thou shall not jaywalk. Period.

In other news, it’s been raining a lot in Germany. I actually left the country about a week ago, and I think it has since become fairly sunny, because German weather tends to work against me. But seriously, monsoon season has come to Germany. Several cities in the south are completely flooded, some up to the roofs of homes.  The lake in the north of braunschweig is flooded over 10 meters away from its normal water edge (last time I checked), and it’s virtually impossible to pass under any of the bridges in a canoe or a kayak. This is also around the time when the ceiling in my room decided to start leaking. And the tiles decided to start falling out. Thankfully, this all happened in my last five days in Braunschweig, so I was too busy packing/finishing work/having goodbye drinks to notice that, uh, my ceiling was caving in. Peace out Maschstraße 1, I will not miss you.

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RAIN. EVERYWHERE.

Sideways rain in Berlin forced a birthday picnic to become a birthday drumming circle inside.  Complete with cookies.

Sideways rain in Berlin forced a birthday picnic to become a birthday drumming circle inside. Complete with cookies.

Also, I’m sure this has changed by now since I’ve left Germany and the weather always works against me, but it was absolutely freezing there, more or less since … Forever. There was one really nice day in April, a few in may, and then June came, and brought a whopping ten degrees with it. We spent my last night in Braunschweig at the beach bar with some beers … wrapped up in blankets. We eventually had to surrender to the weather and move inside to a wine bar.

Such a shame.

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The neon orange light-up palm tree at the beach bar was also cold, but was too cool to ask for a blanket. 

To sum up:
1. I had a much better time than expected in Braunschweig, in large part thanks to the awesome people I met there.
2. German bread is not that terrible.
3. German weather is a clusterfuck.
4. I’ll stop complaining about German weather now.
5. German transport has never failed me. Kudos to DB.
6. Living across the street from your office does not mean you will always be on time.
7. In fact, it almost certainly ensures that you will be late. Daily.
8. Germany is a much larger country than most people imagine, and its range of accents will kill prevent you from ever believing that you have mastered the language.
9. Just go read A Tramp Abroad.

Anyways, this is my last post about Germany, but I am already long gone. Let’s just pretend I did this on time.

Tschüss Germany. It’s been weird.

Doing

The Braunschweiger Aufstieg: beer, football, and about 5,000 cops. And a medieval festival.

I have a few other posts drafted, but I just had to do this one first, because it’s so relevant to this moment.  And we all know that I am always timely with my writing.

Heh, heh. I made a funny.

Anyways, so Braunschweig’s football club, which I think is called Eintracht Braunschweig (EB), is having a good year.  I’m not really sure how the system works, but basically, they moved up a league in the … national system? As I said, I’m not really sure how this works.  Point is, this is their highest point in almost three decades.

Woo! Celebrate!

So let’s start with the winning game.  I’m pretty sure that they played against Ingolstadt.  Or at least that’s where they played.  That’s where Audi is based, pretty close to Munich.  Of course cities in Germany are defined by their football club or their car HQs.  Or both.  I didn’t watch the game, but my roommates did, and gave me the biggest scare of my life when they all screamed bloody murder at (I presume) the winning goal.

Next up came the news that EB would be moving up a league.  The German had to explain this whole system to me, because I’m not really sure how it works.  I think it’s like several layers of major-minor leagues.  With that said, I’m not 100% sure that The German actually knew what he was talking about, but he is a master at confusing me.

The past three or so weeks have consisted of people driving around and honking their horns.  A lot.  Because that’s what Germans do when they win soccer, I MEAN FOOTBALL.  Also because my windows are about as soundproof as tissue paper and Braunschweigers enjoy interrupting my afternoon naps.

Now keep in mind that I haven’t been very good about taking pictures of this stuff, mostly because I was too busy flipping off the drunk beer bellies wandering through the streets and screaming what I assume to have been profanities (though no one can tell, so this is unconfirmed).  Google tells me that this is what the “Braunschweiger Aufstieg” looked like:

This just looks like a lot of hypothermia to me.  It has not been warm enough here to go shirtless.

This just looks like a lot of hypothermia to me. It has not been warm enough here to go shirtless.

The fun started this past weekend, when the state of Niedersachsen had a public holiday on Monday.  So what did Braunschweigers decide to do?

A. Drink like maniacs. Because three day weekend.
B. Attend medieval festival, complete with leather-clad nakedish bagpipe players, where meth is sold for the low price of 2€.
C. Celebrate the Aufsteig, complete with day drinking, a terrible MC, and all of the German folk music in the world.
D. Yes.

If you answered D, you must be German, because the combination of a football celebration and a medieval festival within 50 meters of each other is like trampling into the rainforest in search of the world’s most poisonous snake while sucking a cocktail out of a coconut.

Sorry, I’m still really stuck on this coconut thing.

So this happened:

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This was like 10% of the garbage just in front of that one bar.

And this:

photoAnd this:

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And as it turns out, turning thirty as a male and not being married yet in Germany kinda sucks, because your friends and family dress you up, hand you a broom, and make you clean the steps of the Rathaus while they point, laugh, and get drunk celebrating your bachelorhood.

Like so:

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Moral of the story: when in Germany, get drunk, celebrate football, do some hard drugs for low prices, listen to bagpipes from nakedish men, and last but not least, marry early.

Oh, and don’t clean up your trash.

 

 

 

Doing

“Bacon and chocolate together? Sounds awful.” – said no one, ever

Note: I am furious. I had a brilliantly witty post mostly typed-out in the car on the way back from The Place Where Style Goes To Die this weekend. But since my tiny hands have fat finger syndrome, it no longer exists. This is my best attempt to resurrect it from the ashes.

The German and I faced a conundrum this weekend. The German Senior was celebrating his birthday, and while I already had two large, potent bottles of not-legal-to-be-sold-as-beer-in-Germany beer as presents, The German did not. Because forethought is overrated. So The German and I decided that a joint project might be useful, but had to deal with the following constraints: a man who just really doesn’t love dessert, and a kitchen from the last ice age with no numbers on the oven dial. We decided to approach this problem with a bit of an American strategy. What sort of birthday food should be made for a man who is known for going to the market on Saturdays and bring come half of a pig in a varying array of smokiness and rawness?

Bacon.

That’s right, this nice little Jewish girl went to market and brought home some piggy, which I then fried and threw into some cookie batter. With the help of The German, of course, since my momma taught me everything in life except for how to fly a fighter jet, what to do in case of a dinosaur attack, and how to fry bacon. Also because these were supposed to be a joint present, because I wasn’t supposed to show up The German at The German Senior’s birthday party. And then these happened:

Because gluttony is a dish best served warm and straight out of the oven.

Because gluttony is a dish best served warm and straight out of the oven.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Brown butter-bacon-dark chocolate chunk cookies (recipe here). Apparently these cookies were good enough to win a stamp of approval from two Italian girls who have certainly grown up with a culinary culture that turns its nose up at the idea of combining bacon and chocolate. Now I have to admit, I originally suggested these as a joke when told that The German Senior is not big on dessert. I actually have had bacon only once or twice in my life, and despite hearing otherwise from The German and The Other Half numerous times, I remain unconvinced that fried, salty fat can really be considered a food of the gods. But alas, someone took my joke seriously, and next thing I knew, these things were coming out of my over. And guess what?

The German Senior approved. In all fairness, the two bottles of 9% beer from State/Canadaside and the eleven bottles of wine apparently consumed at the party by around a dozen people probably helped to smooth out that decision. But a win is a win.

Other things going on that I haven’t written about since last time:

1. I survived Munich. I had an awesome host who was kind enough to tone down his accent for me, and it only took me 6.5 hours to get there by ICE because I’m a bit clueless at times and did a complete Runde Deutschland.

2. As it turns out, spring is a real season in Germany. It exists and it has arrived. And dare I say that I have already sprouted my first freckle of the season!

3. On a completely serious note: my deepest condolences to Boston, the runners, the city inhabitants, and anyone else affected by the tragedy. On that note: this is not the time for people to start becoming experts on Chechnya’s messy history and the demographics and religion of the people living there. It might, however, be time for the Boston PD to start training the NYPD and the LAPD. Just a thought.

Living

Germans Are Strange Part III: Copyrights

Germany, a lovely country in Western Europe (most of the time), where the sun occasionally shines and the snow stops a few days after Easter. People are friendly, but not too friendly. Stuff is cheap, but not Eastern Europe cheap. Dogs are adorable and lovable, but really well trained. In general, the country functions.

But god forbid you want to listen to music, watch an episode, or do ANYTHING that involves a copyright on YouTube.

Nope.

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If you ever want to learn the true definition of temptation and devastation, click on any seemingly ear-pleasing link to a video that has any form of a copyright hiding behind its “gifted” and “passionate” façade, and you will surely be met with some variation of the above screen. Because in spite of all of its functionality and well, stuff, the German government is known for being a bit of a hardass.

Just ask Greece.

Anyways, this apparently includes denying its lovely law-abiding and tax-paying inhabitants the joy of listening to, for example, a particularly handsome and talented British-Norwegian violinist.

Cruel.

So I’ve been forced to, you know, be creative about things. Spotify, which miraculously works here even though I have an American account, is one option. So is banging on the table (not applauding though) and crying because frankly, when it’s a 27 year old British-Norwegian violinist with wavy brown hair, half of the beauty is seeing the performance.

In other news, Passover has come and gone. Because I live in Germany and matzo is considered a year round snack here (at least according to Momma T), so I have been celebrating Sephardic style: rice and beans galore. And I was pretty good about it. The German put up with my weird diet for the three nights he spent at my place (in between eating a freshly baked roll right in front of my face – that’s true love, right?), and even managed to make some form of a hot cereal out of cardboard. I’m a magician. And home fries for breakfast every morning. C’est la belle vie. Anyways, I was really good about it.

And then we went to Kassel for Easter, and all went downhill.

It first started with a solemn swear that I would not be tempted by the wide array of German bakery breads that are always present in Kassel. No, that I could deal without until our last morning there when Passover would be over. But what did I not account for? That’s right, we left Braunschweig on Sunday. You know what Sunday was? I didn’t, because I’m a good Jewish girl.

No, I’m kidding, I did. Sorry momma. It was Easter. And guess what happens on Easter in Germany? Cake. And coffee. Which is great, since not only is it Passover, but I’ve also sworn off coffee in attempt to be more human in the morning. But you know what? No sweat. I used to be an elite athlete. I’m used to turning down sweets. I can do this.

Oh wait, there are five other people at the table and everyone is having a slice? That’s cool. And I only slept five hours last night because we had forgotten that the clocks change until we got back from a lumberjack-filled club at 3, no, sorry, 4 in the morning? Well, okay.

And what’s that? The cake? There’s TWO of them? One filled with chocolate-almond cream and the other filled with blueberries and cream? And I just might be a bit PMS-y?

Well fuck it. Ladies and gentlemen, Passover has ended in Germany.

And, well, it’s not like I would have lasted much longer anyways, because breakfast the next morning was these:

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And, ladies and gentlemen, they were DELICIOUS. No regrets.
Living

Germans Are Strange Part II: Jaywalking

Alright, so unlike the first post in this series, I’m not going to ramble on about a weird German habit. I mean, I am, but I’m also going to rant about how I’m on the airplane going back to NYC for ten blissful days free of German quirks! Awesome.

Unless I’ve started to internalize these oddities. Then I’m royally, um, facked.

Read it out loud, it will make more sense.

Anyways, so Germans don’t like jaywalking. I still haven’t figured out the logic behind this. Something about the kids watching, the kids will then jaywalk also, and thus the kids will be killed. Something along those lines. I mean, my mom taught me to jaywalk and I’m still alive on most days, so I’m not sure how steady the German line of reasoning is. All I know is that the most minor of jaywalking offences (you know, the equivalent of crossing against the light at 83th and Riverside, where there is no light at all) will draw the sternest of mean eyes and disapproving headshakes from all of the old ladies and gentlemen within a 500 meter radius of the traffic light in question. As I said, I don’t get it.

But regardless, I am headed home for a week and a half, where I am going to jaywalk everywhere. If I see myself coming up to a green light, I will slow down and wait for it to turn red just so I can jaywalk through it. And it shall be glorious.

Let’s be honest though, it’s not going to get jaywalking out of my system. I’m just going to enjoy being normal while doing so instead of being a rebellious child killer who likes squishy bread and hates carbonated water. But come on, waiting for the light to change every time you need to cross a street? As the other half says, ain’t no one got time for that.

As I said, I’m on my way home for ten-ish days. I managed to contract what I believe was the start of a flu or strep yesterday, which I fought with three cloves of garlic and several spoonfuls of honey, much to The German’s displeasure. I’ve been missing speaking English, in dire need of a puppy, and I haven’t had a real bagel in over half of a year. Also, buying maple syrup in Europe is akin to mining the East River for precious stones, which means that brunch has been German style: lots of bread and lots of stuff to put on top of it. Not that I’m complaining, German breakfasts are awesome. But for some reason, the Germans think I’m weird when I talk about Amaretto french toast.

Hah. More for me.

So my parents decided to buy me tickets home for a week and a half, where I get to eat cookies and easily locate a huge salad bar at the closest Whole Foods, drive automatic, curl up under my huge fluffy IKEA comforter, buy cheap stuff, and drink honey/pumpkin/chocolate/whateverthehellyouwant beer. Everything I’ve missed doing for the past ten months. But I only get about twelve days of bliss before I go back to the cruel world of waiting for the light to change, eating bread that could give you a concussion, and being on time for everything.

So needless to say, I’m excited. I’ve missed my puppy and my bed and speaking English. But I’m also a little concerned and disoriented. I’m used to being somewhat freaky/exotic for speaking English in public, and I like being able to float through the day without understanding what anyone says. It feels like a permanent soundtrack for my life. When I understand people, I listen to them. Because I’m curious about their lives and all of the various drama they are going through at that moment.

I’m actually not at all. I’m more busy being annoyed by the 90s valley girl-esque tone and, like, the horrific, like, grammar. But I supposed I will survive, and in less than two weeks I will be back to walking around with my head in the clouds, pissing off grandmothers and almost getting run over by cowboys driving rocketships.

Note: I watched a movie on the plane! It’s not on the list, but let it be noted that I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower on the airplane from Hannover to NYC. It was filmed in 2012 (CE, not BCE), and I actually liked it!

By the way, spring is a skanky little tease. Germany was up to 15C/59F about two weeks ago, when I got to spend several hours eating and working outside (and getting my tab paid for, but that’s another story for another day). And now it’s back to snowing. In Germany. AND IN THE USA. Winter, you’ve got three more days to play and then I demand sun.

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PS: Please excuse how ugly the blog is at the moment. I stupidly decided to take things into my own hands and switch to the WP platform, where I quickly discovered that having the skills to write a blog does not include having the skills to format a blog. Luckily, I have The Gaberator, mastermind behind Echappe Equipment sorting this mess out, and hopefully soon it will be back to a presentable fashion.

I’m off to go eat a bagel and jaywalk simultaneously. Germans, take note.

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Living

Germans Are Strange Part I: Banging on Tables

I’ve been granted a large assignment at work. Yay! I have stuff to do. Apparently someone was planning this conference and then “got sick” and had to duck out of the office for several months.

Just kidding, they are actually ill. I’m being an asshole.

So, this conference is about education in Southeast Europe. You know, Balkan-y region. And as it turns out, I’m one of the only people in the Institute who has studied conflict and education in that region. So I get to work on that. Cool.

Anyways, being involved usually means going to meetings. I’m sure this is normal in most jobs, but I’m working pretty independently here, so I actually don’t need to sit in on most meetings. This was a first.

Also, everyone here speaks German much better than I do = most of the meetings are in German. So short of smiling and nodding awkwardly, I am pretty useless at meetings.

This one happened to be a presentation by a French girl about her research involving the appearance of Algerians in French textbooks and how Algerians are perceived in French society. Sorry for using the word “French” three times in one sentence. In any case, when she finished her presentation, like normal and civil people, we applauded.

EXCEPT WE DIDN’T.

It appears that Germans have something against applauding in the office. Even the nice, quiet clap that you give in a quiet situation. Nope. Instead, it turns out that Germans like to hit the table. Like, with their fists. Literally rapping the table with their knuckles.

Uh, okay?

The German is convinced that he warned me about this before I started work. I don’t remember that conversation ever happening. Just for the purpose of this argument, we’re going to forget that my memory is pretty lousy and just say that I was not properly warned about this particular German oddity.

I just don’t really understand it, to be honest. At first, it sounded a bit like an elephant stampede. Then my mind switched to what I imagine it must sound like when the FBI busts down your front door (not that that ever happens). It’s actually most reminiscent to me of the little activities my kindergarten teacher used to do to get a bunch of five year olds to shut up and pay attention. You know, bang on the table in a certain pattern? Anyways, I guess that’s how good my memory is. I can remember how to get a child to become hypnotized by drumming circles intended for academic relief, but not a conversation meant to acclimate me to the quirks of German society. C’est la vie.

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Germans are Strange Part II?

Anyways, from what I understand, this “banging on the tables” thing is not meant to be a double entendre, but actually originates from academia, of all places. Apparently in academia, clapping is considered rude. But this is only in German speaking countries. So, everyone, I present a new slogan: “Save a table, bang a German.”

Hah. I’m not even sorry for that one.

In other news, spring is here! Or it was on Wednesday, when it hit a glorious high of 55F/13C. Now, of course, it is back to winter 36F/2C. And it’s supposed to snow this weekend. If anyone needs me, I will be curled up in C’s bed in Berlin, coming out only when the red wine and chocolate run out for an emergency run. Spring, you nasty little tease.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, the sun came out for me in Kassel last weekend! These past two months have been full of miracles. I made it into and out of Belgium without significant delay twice, I flew Ryanair with my name spelled wrong and didn’t get fined, and the sun came out in Kassel while I was there. It seems that the spirits are trying to get my hopes up. I’m onto you.

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This is Kassel, I swear.

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Living

Taxidermy, cheap beer, and plaid shirts

Okay, it has been proven.  Traveling = writing a lot.  At least for me.  I’m now at nine days since the last time I wrote, which is a personal HIGH.

For this website.  I know, I used to go for half of a year with nothing.  But improvement comes.

Anyways, here I am, with my tea, candles, glasses, and my first Braunschweiger hangover.  Fortunately this is Germany and not Sweden, so an entire night of drinks and party cost me less than one entrance to, oh I don’t know, BERNS.

Also, there was a full stuff deer in the bar.  Like, grown male with antlers.  In the bar.  In the middle of the bar.  Because, uh, Germany?

I’ve made a somewhat important discovery.  Maybe I’m a bit late to the party with this one, but technical schools are full of plaid-wearing men.  Completely full.  These men, of course, fill up bars in hunt of the approximate 2% of the population that consists of attractive, socially competent, aged 20-27 women.

Especially at bars with AN ENTIRE STUFFED DEER.  If that doesn’t scream for beer-drinking, plaid shirt wearing, German engineering students, I don’t know what does.

So, moral of the story: there were too many men at this place, cheap beer is good beer, and Germany does not enforce a total smoking ban in bars.

I’m trying to avoid socializing for the next 24 hours because honestly, I don’t want to wash my hair.  Also, my jacket smells like an ashtray.  Oh Europe.

Also, Karneval was last week, which means that these men were out in full-force, dressed like lobsters and ninja turtles, day drinking and fighting little kids for the candy thrown from the floats during the parade.  Lovely.

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In other news, I am perpetually late.  I realize that this is not a new discovery for anyone, but I’m pretty sure that living across the street from my office really perpetuates the problem.  I mean, I can literally roll out of bed and into work.  It’s a two minute walk if I crawl.  But I am somehow ALWAYS late.  And the worst part is that I can NEVER blame it on external factors, like weather or public transport.  It’s just me being late.  Always.  I operate in a vacuum of lateness.

So to all Germans and Dutchies out there, I apologize in advance.  Just know that if you make a date with me, there is a 15 minute window before you can start getting annoyed with me.  Just be patient.

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Oh, also, if anyone wants some chocolate, please come over.  I may have overindulged at the supermarket when I found 43% milk chocolate AND my favorite variety of Ritter Sport.  And then there were a few Valentine’s Day presents, because I have an awesome roommate (who studies aerospace engineering and is therefore too smart for me) and The German knows the straight line to my heart.  And a belated Christmas present from The German’s aunt.  So, uh, come one, come all.  Chocolate feast, my place.

Please, seriously.  Don’t make me eat this by myself.

Because I will.

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Completely irrelevant, but I have awesome wall decorations. Thanks X!

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Living

Ich kann Deutsch sprechen … oder nicht.

Well, I have arrived in Germany.  Which means that, true to form, the sun has not yet come out.  Because my track record with weather in Germany is not even close to ideal.

Also because I didn’t finish my vegetables at lunch on Friday.  Sorry guys. Mea culpa.

And it just started snowing.  Which means that it isn’t sunny out.  Which is … funny, because of this.

Anyways, I have successfully moved into my third floor shared flat in the blooming metropolis of Braunschweig (yes, that’s the fancy German version of “Brunswick”) with the help of some well-abled and muscle-bound men.  I have a 22m2/235ft2 room with a huge window that faces my office.  Awesome.  I also have three German flat mates who are on a mission to get me to speak German.  All. The. Time.

Which is cool because here, unlike some countries, I can speak the language without anyone giggling at my accent.

I’m looking at you, Sweden/Norway/Denmark/Netherlands.

I’m also pretty sure that there is something living in the walls.  Every once in awhile, there is a series of tapping noises that get progressively louder and then softer coming from the wall that separates my room from the living room.  The German thinks it’s the old gas heating pipes with air bubbles (or something like that).  Obviously I know it’s actually a little gremlin in there slowly trying to drive me insane.  I will win this battle.

So, I’ve been here for a week already, and what did I do on my first weekend?  Well, I went to Berlin of course.  The way there consisted of a confusing series of text messages with Carpool Driver that went something like this:

Me: Ich komme ein bisschen später, sorry!
CD: Was heiß “bisschen”?
Me: A little? Sorry mein Deutsch ist sehr schlecht!

I shared this moment with a friend over the weekend, and he kindly informed me that this other guy apparently can’t speak German.  One point for Leah’s elementary verbal skills.

This was followed by my favorite part of the weekend, in which one of the rather brilliant crazies of Berlin’s U-Bahn pulled his shopping cart around a station full of drunk hipsters, yelling about Islamic Communism.  Which, I’m pretty sure, in Germany translates to men and women doing the same work in the car factories …

… but the women can’t drive the finished product.

People are fun.

Sidenote: if anyone is in Berlin in the coming weeks, go to the C/O Berlin.  It’s a fantastic photography museum in an old post office, and at the moment one of my favorite photographers, Christer Strömholm, is there, and his stuff is magnificent.  Also, according to his assistants, he’s good at finding stuff to photograph, but useless with any of the technical aspects.  Sounds familiar …

Picture

On a completely unrelated note, would someone like to come and be my transcriber? I swear, I crossed to the evil side and got a Mac two years ago, but I somehow remain computer illiterate.

Anyways, I digress.  The trip to Berlin was concluded with another carpool back to Braunschweig, from a lovely woman who drove like a German.  At about 160km/100miles per hour.

Even when it started snowing.

I knew there was a reason I missed this country.