Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy New Years!

Okay, so I know I'm a little late. You know me, queen of procrastination. But between having a very tiring few days around New Years, and this week being the coldest in Leipzig in who knows how long (-6F, -21C). I've been feeling a little sluggish. However, on with the comparisons!

I spent the week around New Years at a Young Single Adult conference that my church put on In Hamburg. Apparently, this is the thing for young LDS people to do. Because I started hearing about it in October. It was a fairly impressive though, people from all over Germany came... I think there were a few from Austria and Switzerland too. I even met another American, and someone from England, but they were residing in Germany like me.

The first major difference I discovered, is that no one calls it New Years (or Neue Jahre auf Deutsch.) The whole time around New Years is referred to as "Silvester". Which came from a Pope that died on New Years Eve.
The next thing I noticed that was truly different, was the fireworks. Most people have seen video of the Fireworks over the Brandenburg gate. However their celebrations are not just in the large cities like in the US. Every city has a fabulous fireworks display. Everyone went outside for midnight, and I assumed it was just so we could light sparklers and a few small fire crackers people had bought, but a few seconds before midnight fireworks started going off in every direction. Not the small scale do it yourself displays you see, but full blown 4th of July displays. All my friends were laughing watching me spin in circles trying to watch about 4 different directions at the same time. I tried to explain the awesomeness of watching a large illuminated glass ball fall, but I guess it lost something in translation because no one seemed particularly impressed by our good ol' American celebrations.
The last difference I'll mention is what people say. Firstly Germans have 2 different things to say, one before New Years, and one after. Before the new year you would wish someone "Einen Guten Rutsch" which literaly translates to "A good slide". I always add a "into the new year" because it's nicer for my still mostly English brain. At midnight people mostly say "happy new year" or "good luck in the new year" but it's also common to wish someone a "Healthy new year" which I thought just sounded quaint!

So I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, lucky year!

Monday, December 22, 2008


Mostly because I'm lazy and so many others have already done this... I'm not gonna really give you a post about Christmas. Germans love their Christmas, everyone knows this. So if you wanna see the Weihnachtsmarkt (that's the Christmas Market downtown) here's a link to my friend Michelle's blog. She's got some good video footage of what the downtown looks like. Enjoy!


Merry Christmas to one and all!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


One of the things I've learned about German etiquette, is that you don't have to ask if you need take your shoes off when you enter someones house, you just do, ALWAYS. However the Germans are kinda crazy about keeping everything covered.(Hence the scarf madness, seriously everyone wears them all the time.) So they're very big fans of of slippers, or house shoes as they call them. So naturally they do not expect their guests to walk around in socks, you would get sick! So most Germans keep extra pairs of slippers sitting around in their entryway, just for guests. In one store I even saw a kinda bag you hang on the wall just for your "guest slippers." I think that's just really awesome, I think it makes a people feel so much more comfortable. I keep thinking should buy one of those and try to bring it back to America, but I think a lot of Americans would find that weird. But it definitely keeps your carpets cleaner.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My First "Lost in Translation" Experience

Funny story... The senior missionary couple were hosting a large dinner, with the 3 sets of misionaries, 5 people who the missionaries were teaching, and me.(14 people all together) To begin, there's a joke all the female missionaries have about their "German Baby" caused by eating way too much of the tasty German food.

So after this dinner (which once again caused everyone to overeat from tastiness), I was standing in the kitchen with the Senior missionary sister, and two men. The Sister speaks almost no German, and these to men spoke almost no English, so I was the one best suited for translation when gesturing didn't cut it. (not a good situation) Well the sister made a comment about her "German Baby" and one of the men thought she was talking about me, so I attempted to explain this concept of gaining wait and joking about how you're pregnant. I thought I did an okay job... not perfect grammer but most of the right words. Until several minutes later, the other man looked at me and asked "so are you pregnant?" I'm not sure if what I said implied that or if he just wasn't paying attention, either way I turned bright red and adamently assured him that no, I was not in any way pregnant.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

They love them that English

Okay so before I came to Germany I was on a crusade to stop the American use of the word "ueber" for several reasons; one being the inability of English speakers to say the umlauted "U", but mostly because they have no idea how to use it (it means over if you would say over don't say ueber). However I am officially giving that up.
My thought was if you want to ruin your own language fine, but you shouldn't ruin other peoples. Apparently nobody else thinks that, especially the Germans. Most people here have at least a rudimentary knowledge of English, enough to deal with the tourist. So advertising in English is a really big thing, "put it in English, it's cooler." Unfortunately they don't seem to get actual English speakers to develop this advertising, they just insert English adjectives like "super" Deluxe" and "Amazing." So they don't really understand the differences between all these words and you get signs saying "we have DELUXE deals" which sounds terrible. I keep finding shirts that are supposed to be cool but just sound very proper like: "I am not a model. I just look like I am one" and "I am born to reign" I just keep laughing at the things that really aren't supposed to be funny.
So appreciate your English. Congratulations you are speaking the coolest language in the world.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I thought the Germans liked order...

I have decided that church here is insane. For those of you who don't know this is how church is supposed to go. It lasts three hours. the first hour is Sacrament meeting, after that is an hour of Sunday School, then an hour for Relief Society or Priesthood, Primary, wherever you go. That's not how they do it in Germany, In the 5 weeks I have been here, they've had Sunday School once. The first week Sacrament ran over, like 20 minutes, so they decided to cancel it. The second week church actually seemed to run on schedule. The next week was General Conference so that has to be on schedule (the people in Utah make sure of that). Last week was Ward conference, I'm not sure if it was supposed to, but Sacrament meeting went for about 2 hours, so once again they just canceled Sunday school. Today all the toilets in the building were broken so they just ended church after Sacrament meeting. I'm wondering if I just came at a really bad time or if this is normal. I feel bad for the people that prepare lessons for the Sunday School classes that never happen. My main problem with this is that I still don't understand most of what's being said, so I never know quite where to go after Sacrament meeting, because I always feel like I should be going to Sunday school.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Life at the Uni

University started this week and it's so different from how college is in the States I thought I'd highlight the differences.

First of all, it is University. Not college, not school, University. If a university student said they were going to school, people would be very confused. School refers to "grundschule" or elementry school. Around 12 that they go on to either "Hochschule" which is essentially a trade school or "gymnasium" which is basically the equiventlent of a college prep high school. Those who finish Gymnasium take a test covering everything they've learned in the past 6 years to recieve their "Abitur" which qualifies them to attend University.

The second major difference is that in true German form, everything is plotted out when you begin and does not change. Everytime I tell someone here that I changed my major, I get a look of complete shock. Classes here don't have prerequesites, they simply tell you what semester you have to take it in. So when you look at a class and it says 7th semester that means it's fairly advanced.

Thirdly, the credit system is completely different. When I first got here and I heard someone say they needed to get 30 credits this symester I was shocked. I thought they were being rediculous. Then I started looking at the classes, and realised that most classes are worth 5 or 6 credits, so 30 isn't really that much. The problem with that is I have no idea how my credits will transfer when I get home, personally I think they should be waited more heavily because I'm in a foreign country which makes everything more difficult.

The last major difference is the only one I was somewhat prepared for. Classes are only 1 1/2 hours a week, but they expect you to really work outside of class. It's not the simple read a chapter in this book... they want you to research your subject. But with the way the Germans think of University that makes perfect sense.