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.

Friday, October 3, 2008

How did I not know this!

So this is a first, 2 posts in one day, I know it's amazing. However since I promised to post funny stories, I just had to throw this one out there and let you all laugh at me.... So today was my first day almost since I got here when I had nothing to do. So I thought I'll get some shopping done, actually stock up on some real food, since I was basically out of everything except some rice. So I googled the closest Aldis and walked over. When I got there it was completely closed, this was 4 in the afternoon. I was a little surpised by this, but I knew that Aldis keeps pretty limited hours and figured that they closed early on Fridays. So I started walking to the other grocery store that's close to my apartment, it was about 4:30 when I got there, and they were also closed. I was really surprised at this, because I've seen them open in the pretty late evening. However I needed food so I thought, okay I'll walk downtown to the train station, there should be some food there (the train station is huge! It has an Aldis inside of it) So I got there about 5 and the Aldis there is closed as well. But the Hauptbahnhof (train station) is packed, I'm starting to get pretty suspicious at this point. Something weird has to be going on today. So because I have no food I stop at a bakery in the Hauptbahnhof, get something to munch on for today, and head home, it now being 5:30 and I've been walking around for an hour and a half, for just Half an hour in the insanely crowded Hauptbahnhof, and those of you who know me know how much I hate crowds. So I'm exausted, feeling slightly anxious from all the people, and beyond confused as to way the entire city is closed on a Friday. So I go back to my apartment jump on google and type in "October 3rd Germany" To very quickly discover that today is "Reunification Day" The day East and West Germany became one country again, equal basically to our 4th of July.

My question is with all of the orientation that I've been having for the last 3 weeks why did no one think it important to mention this? I think I heard about it in one of my classes at home, but I havn't heard a single thing about it in this country that has completely closed for the day.

Crazy Germans!

Before I came here i thought I had a decent handle on what German culture was... I've since discovered that it's impossible to really understand German culture without being a part of it. Every time I think I know what to expect and have a idea of the culture here something new gets thrown at me. This seems to be a country made of contradictions. For example Germany is a very clean country, there's not a lot of litter and I frequently see people (not criminals, Government employees) walking around, picking up what little trash is left out. However, dogs which I think of as fairly messy animals are allowed everywhere! They're on the Trams, in every type of store (I've seen them everywhere from a shoe store to grocery stores) I even saw a dog sitting next to a table in a restaurant. It's not just small dogs either, though you see enough of the toy dogs, I've seen Huge Dogs as well. Germans seem to really like they're dogs and aren't really willing to leave them home much.
Example #2 Clothing here is very casual and very conservative, Germans don't really dress up for everyday things like Americans are sometimes prone to do, mostly I see t-shirts and sweaters. However, despite all this very plain conservative dress, Germans like their lingerie! They have tons of lingerie shops and not just everyday kinda useful underwear, no these are definitely play items... And every once in a while you see someone wearing something that is not appropriate anywhere in the world... The worst I saw was a man wearing a t-shirt and tights... not even leggings, tights, that you could see through... It was the worst thing I have ever seen!