Archive for the ‘culture shock’ Category

firsts and lasts

Friday, February 5th, 2010

*Ate a heaping plate of “spaghetti” ice cream

*Ate lunch at the Bonn university cafeteria (now I know why I’ve avoided doing so for the past five years)

*Had my banker offer me a glass of beer (went there to try and take care of business during the middle of a Carnival celebration!)

*Ate a slice of German cheese cake

*Got cut off by an Audi driver on the autobahn

sans cooler

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

I have been asking around about the possibility of borrowing a really big cooler. You know, the type you take to a picnic that can fit a 24-pack of Miller with tons of ice, etc. Or a 20 pound turkey. Yet it seems that Germans have not discovered the usefulness of big coolers. One colleague pointed out: why would I want to own a cooler so big that it would be too heavy to carry easily? So that your beer can be ice cold. Instead of lukewarm like it usually is at German picnics.

faustian encounter

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

As my time in Germany draws to a close, I am madly trying to cram in as much German culture as possible. That meant spending the weekend in Stuttgart to see Goethe’s Faust at Theater der Altstadt. My German is at that dangerous level where I think I understand everything. But in reality, I didn’t did pick up on the fact that one of the characters was supposed to be God. Nor did I realize that Faust’s love interest had given birth and then killed her child. Oh well.

Another highlight of visiting Stuttgart was eating schwäbisch delicacies such as spätzle.

(photo credit: A.Currell)

The Mann

Monday, September 21st, 2009

So I just went through a mini Thomas Mann phase (don’t worry, I’m over him now). Read several of his short stories. Watched Buddenbrooks. Well, that’s about as far as the phase got. I can see why people love him so much. He has a real talent for evoking time, place and the difficulties that come with life. But I feel like he needed a good editor. He rambles on a lot about “what it means to be an artist” which brings nothing to the narrative. The narrative action gets all mucked up in ramblings and tangents. Acutally, I feel that way about a lot of books I read.

Happy Birthday Deutschland

Monday, May 25th, 2009

So the Federal Republic of Germany turned 60 on Saturday. Which meant we queued up to walk through the former government buildings in Bonn, such as the Chancellor’s and President’s residences. Hate to say it, but the modernist style of Germany’s version of the White House left me unimpressed. It did, however, have a lot of nice windows. The President’s place was more in the classic style that one would expect. We didn’t go in, because we were sick of standing in line.

ass crease

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

One bitch about German drycleaners: they extend the creases all the way up to the waistband. I asked if it was possible to only crease the legs. Nope. Can’t be done. It’s either all or nothing. Damn ass creases!

wedding marathon

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Went to my first German wedding. It had the whole nine yards: white wedding dress, bride’s boquet, sermon delivered by a German bureaucrat, convoy of honking cars, vegan wedding cake. There were even some US-influenced wedding touches: disposable cameras on the tables, blue garter, etc. The one rough part was that the festivities went from 1 p.m. until 1 a.m. That’s a lotta wedding.

inappropriate laughter

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

I have a tendency to giggle when confronted with bad theater. I know, it’s rude. But why does everyone feel the need to take art, particularly bad art, so seriously? I certainly can’t. This year, for Theaternacht, we first stopped by the European Commission, which cheerfully served up free alcohol and food (that’s what we love about Europe!) and screened Kitchen, Hall, Bathroom, a video on three screens which showed 12 European apartments and which was accompanied by the director making noise on various instruments. The actress spoke lines from something having to do with Zeus. It was horrible. No plot. Lots of screeching on a violin and lights flipped on and off. I did like seeing 12 toilets flush simultaneously, but that was it. Next stop: a saw a couple of mediocre comedians and some German rockabilly, a scene which I have yet to fully comprehend, but at least they could play their instruments. The last production was called Theater Water Music, which consisted of one guy playing an accordian while the other recited completely bizarre prose extremely slowly: “The ice man was in the iceburg with ice cream.” I giggled myself to sleep and kept getting jerked awake again by my head falling back. Next year, we’re going to buy the tickets early so that we can actually see something with a plot, or at least with intended hilarity.

(photo credit: Kueche, Diele, Bad)

sweet ride

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

I had to upgrade my main mode of transport recently after the down tube on my old bike broke in half (!). Leaving it in the rain for 4 years apparently rusted it out completely. Who knew. I’m now the proud owner of a silver Peugot circa 1980 with red accents. It’s a smooth ride. I feel like I updated from a 1993 Ford Escort to a 1998 VW Jetta. Yep, movin’ right on up in the world.

alaaf to the start of lent!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Well, I did it. Dressed silly. Danced all night. Got schunkelned against my will. Listened to the same 20 silly songs played over and over. Sang along with them at the top of my lungs. Stole candy from children. Technically, the partying continued until Tuesday night when they burn the Nubbel to atone for all the sins committed during carnival. Yet at this house, carnival is officially over when my in-house Karnevalist finally staggers in, takes a shower, and delcares that he’s never going to drink alcohol again. Even though I’m not catholic, there’s nothing like carnival to make one appreciate lent.