Germans are funny sometimes

Thursday, October 28, 2010

and I have some examples to support that theory.

1) The above photo was taken by the O'Colly during one of their news stories on Luna Lyn(n). I was supposed to be modeling one of the ''Emma bows'', which were super popular. Girls would come just for these bows and some would buy them by the handful (in several colors). They were always the first thing to run out. It got to the point where it seemed like every girl on campus was wearing one. I wore a smaller version of this knitted headband today at work and someone one asked me, ''So...what exactly is that on your head? Is it...normal to that in the US?''. I said, ''Yup. Prettttttttty normal!''

2) I suppose the following example applies to Europeans moreso than just Germans. I will begin by clarifying that never have I ever in my life introduced myself as "Jenni". Nope. Not once. There is some sort of mysterious pronunciation problem plaguing every Spanish, German, Austrian, Polish, Lithuanian, Italian, Slovakian, etc. whom I've encountered which prevents them from uttering the word "Jennifer" in its entirety. It doesn't bother me, but I still think it's funny whenever I introduce myself to someone as "Jennifer" and then, a few minutes later, they say, "Hey, Jenni, I have a question....".

3) One of the other teachers at school took me to lunch a couple of weeks ago and we ate tomato mozzarella paninis. She's a vegetarian and asked if we could go some place healthy and I certainly did not mind. As we were eating, she said, "This sandwich is covered in mayonnaise! I know you're American, so you probably eat mayonnaise by the liter, but I, on the other hand, hate it!". I told her that I, too, hate mayonnaise (despite whatever genetic predisposition i have to mayonnaise addiction, being that I am American, of course).


In general, there are a lot of funny little American generalizations made every day but so, often, I hear (from adults!) things like, "Aren't you American? Shouldn't your lunch portion be twice that size?" or, "You know how to ride a bike? I thought you'd only know how to drive a gas-guzzling SUV, being an American!" or, "Just so you know, waiters and waitresses here don't expect tips when you dine out at restaurants. People here just don't have that greedy sense of entitlement that a lot of Americans have."

I have to remind myself to take these comments with a grain of salt and realize that none of them are being voiced out of malice or true meanness (at least, that's what I choose to believe). Sometimes the comments are just downright funny, though not intended to be. For example, someone asked me this the other day at school: "America is supposed to be the land of liberty, but how much liberty can exist in a country where a person isn't allowed to drink until the age of 21?!" Other conversations offend me and evoke some sort of American passion that I never knew I had until living over here. I always hear people say leaving America makes you realize how much you love it. While I'm not yet ready to move home to the U.S., I am starting to agree with this statement.

Maybe someday I'll blog about the debate I recently had with someone over whether or not "the American dream" is a farce. To provide you with an excerpt of my dialog during this debate: "President Obama is the American dream. Kevin Durant is the American Dream.  My dad is the American dream!" I then went on to explain in detail how my dad was the only member of his family to go to college, received more than one degree, started his own business, supported a family, became very successful, has continued to work hard for 30 years, etc. and said, "And no, this is not the case for everyone. Some people lack motivation, while others lack resources and opportunity. But in America, almost anything is possible." 

On that note, happy (early) election day!

you know that phrase...

...."it's the little things in life" or something like that? i think i'm one of those people who get the most pleasure out of "the little things" (whatever that means).

For example:

1 - In Germany (and Austria), you can get a Pfand (I guess the English word for this is just "refund"?) any time you bring an empty glass/plastic bottle back to the store. Each bottle is worth anywhere from 9-25 euro cents, depending on the size and the store's policy. I was so excited yesterday when I realized I had 6 bottles to take to the store yesterday, I was beside myself. I walked to the supermarket and got my 93 euro cents and felt like it was the best day of my life.

2 - I recently discovered multivitamins that look like Rolaids (you drop them into a glass of water and they dissolve). I was expecting it to taste disgusting but it tasted amazing! I have started drinking one a day and it's hard to limit myself even to that.  When I am cooking dinner and realize I still haven't had my multivitamin water yet, I get so excited.

3 - I got a text message (SMS) today from Kayla on her new, German phone. This made me SO happy to know that she is now just a phone call or text message away. When we lived in Salzburg, we were in constant communication - calling or texting all the time. When my Austrian phone got stolen in the break-in last summer, I was so sad because all of my Salzburg SMSes were on that phone! I always liked to re-read them when I was bored on train rides and remember the kinds of things we were saying to each other (a lot of funny memories saved via SMS). Now that Kayla has a new phone with a German number, however, my day has been made.

(above photo courtesy of Kayla)


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I read online today that the cast of Sound of Music will be on Oprah this week.

This made me sad for two reasons:
1) I miss watching the Oprah show
2) I miss living where the Sound of Music was filmed
(see photo below for further clarification)

In other news,.....

This morning, I woke up on my own. No alarm going off, no phone ringing - nothing. When I looked at my watch, it said 7:45. My alarm clock goes off every morning at 6:45. I walk out of my door every morning at 7:20 and walk to the supermarket to meet Melanie, who drives me to school every morning. We leave the supermarket parking lot at 7:30, every morning. Therefore, waking up at 7:45 makes it impossible to get to school on time...

As I was rushing to get ready, I wondered why my alarm hadn't gone off. Just as this question crossed my mind, my alarm started to ring. I turned it off and saw on the screen that it had been going off every 5 minutes for the past hour. And I had just been sleeeeeping through it.

I got dressed in a matter of 60 seconds, brushed my teeth while putting my contacts in simultaneously, added the appropriate 4 layers to my outfit, grabbed some breakfast to go, stepped into my shoes and was out the door by 7:51. I called Melanie to a) apologize for missing the ride, b) let her know I was alive in case she was worried and c) request that she tell Anja (the teacher whose class I was supposed to teach) that I wouldn't make it. Melanie didn't answer, which seemed to increase my stress tenfold. I made it to the bus stop by 8:00. I looked at the bus chart and noticed that it wasn't coming until 8:27. Since I live in a rural village, the bus comes once an hour. On the weekends, it comes once every other hour. Do you know how insane this is? In Salzburg and Vienna (or any other actual city), it comes every 5 minutes. I can't get used to this. In Salzburg or Vienna, if you turn the corner and see the bus leaving, you say to yourself, "Oh well, I'll just wait 5 minutes for the next one". If that happens in Uttenreuth, have to make a series of phone calls telling everyone you're meeting that you'll be there an hour late.

I completely missed the first class I was supposed to teach (this has never happened before) and I was so mortified. I looked for Anja immediately so I could apologize and ask when I could make it up to her. She was really gracious and kind and told me she covered the class on her own and that I didn't need to worry at all. Luckily, I only missed the 1 class (with the sporadic bus times, this could have been much worse). My next class was the 7th grade English class. Though they are 13-14 years old, they appear in size to be no older than 10. Really, they are tiny!

I have this class every Tuesday morning and last Tuesday morning, they were horrible. We had gone over a worksheet together, as a class, and I had more or less given them all the answers. There was no reason any of them should have had written anything but the correct answer. After we finished the exercise, I told them I was collecting their parents to hand in to the main teacher (who is normally there, but happened to be sick on this particular day). They were all surprised by my collecting the worksheets because none of them had expected to actually hand it in. I hadn't actually expected to collect the paper, but they were so rambunctious by the end of the class that I wanted to do so mostly as a scare tactic. Little did I know how scared some of them would become... Some of them frantically began scribbling last minute answers while others erased and re-wrote their answers in better penmanship before handing their papers in. One boy, however, would not give me his paper at all and kept begging me to let him have a new one. I told him we didn't have time and I almost had to physically tackle him to get the paper out of his hands. When I looked down at the paper, I saw that he had written the f word as every answer. I wrote his name on the paper and told him I was handing it in to the main teacher. In his defense, swear words in English are only somewhat offensive to German people. For instance, there are funny posters/political cartoons in the teacher's lounge here with all sorts of "bad" American words with no intention other than evoking a laugh. Most students here use American curse words because they've seen them in movies and know they are ''bad'' but don't truly understand their meanings. Still, I was highly annoyed with this boy and I had every intention of getting him into as much trouble as I saw fit.

Five minutes later, the bell rang and the boy left the room without another look in my direction. His 2 best friends, however, approached me at my desk and told me (in German; their English isn't good enough for this kind of conversation quite yet), "What are you going to do with Lukas' paper?" I answered, "I'm giving it to Frau ______ and she will do with it what she wants". They looked absolutely horrified at the notion of this and inched closer to the desk while stuttering nervously, "Please, please, don't do that. She will call Lukas' parents and his dad is very, very mean to him. He will get in a lot of trouble. Do you understand? Bad trouble". I looked at their faces for 5-10 seconds. They seemed 100% scared and 100% sincere. I said, "I will think about it, okay?" and they said, "Okay...." not entirely pleased with my response. I then added, "I will think it over for the next week. Next Tuesday when I come back, I will have decided what to do about his paper. Okay?" Not entirely relieved but willing to accept this answer, they said, "Thank you, thank you. Thank you." I told them to pass my message along to Lukas.

I mentioned that story to Melanie shortly after it happened. She told me that this particular teacher is the strictest teacher at the Gymnasium, who would undoubtedly call Lukas' parents and report to them that he had misbehaved for the young, unsuspecting American girl. I continued to think it over until today, when I walked into the classroom again, all the graded worksheets in hand. I passed out everyone's papers at the beginning of class and Lukas' eyes followed me all across the room as I did so. I made eye contact with him a few times and my heart melted at how cute he is. Seriously, this kid (like I said, imagine a 10 year old) could be a Gap Kids model; appropriately shaggy blonde hair, blue eyes and an adorable little outfit (all the boy students here wear skinny jeans...not skinny skinny jeans but skinny enough to look adorably stylish). He looked so innocent and so nervous as I walked back and forth across the room, in between the tables, passing out the papers and, of course, saving his for last. When only his worksheet remained, I looked at him again and noticed he was still staring nervously at both me and the paper in my hand. I walked to the front of the room, still holding his worksheet, and leaned in to whisper something to the teacher. I waited until the bell had rung and the students had begun packing up their bags to walk over to Lukas' desk. He looked like he was about to cry. I wanted to give him a hug. I sat down next to him and said, "I didn't show this to the teacher and I'm not going to. I'm going to give this back to you now but if you ever do something like this again, I will show it to the teacher and she will call your father." In his precious, sweet little German voice he said, "Danke, danke, danke, danke, danke". So I left the class and rode home with Melanie, feeling that the day had gone pretty well for starting so badly.

the last of the kayla photos....for the time being

Kayla and I were going to go to a student event in Erlangen on Saturday night. The university just started so this is a great way to meet people and make friends. We had planned on it all week until Saturday night rolled around.... We were leaving Bamberg and the thought of going back to Uttenreuth, changing clothes, subjecting ourselves to the below-freezing temperatures once again to catch yet another bus to yet another town seemed unbearable. I was secretly hoping Kayla wouldn't want to go but I didn't want to influence her decision one way or another. I'm sure we would have had fun going, but I was delighted to hear that she, too, wanted to stay home, eat tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, put on 3 layers of clothing and climb into bed to watch a movie. Seriously, the perfect evening! Actually....this kind of evening is only perfect with a 300g Milka bar - which we had (Kayla had included this in my birthday gift). The 300g Milka bar is of special significance to us because we used to buy these in Salzburg (usually with Lindsay) and we'd always say, "We're just going to have a few bites" and then, to our surprise, we'd look down a few minutes later and see that the entire bar had vanished. Funny how that happens.

Speaking of Lindsay....and eating...Kayla told me the funniest story that I have to mention, in hopes that I never forget it. One of my favorite things about Lindsay is how much she loves to eat (we have this in common, of course). Kayla told me that one time, Lindsay wanted a cookie from Subway (because Subway cookies are the best cookies ever). There was a certain kind of cookie she wanted that only one Subway in her town offered. She drove to that Subway specifically and, once she got inside, realized that she didn't want to stand in line just to get a cookie - that would be embarrassing. So - this is the best part- , she, being a vegetarian, ordered a sandwich just so she would feel normal ordering the cookie. Actually, no - this is the best part-, once she got up to the register, she discovered they were all out of those cookies. When Kayla told me this story, I was literally on the verge of tears from laughing so much. I believe my response was: "That is so Lindsay!"

Unfortunately for me, snuggle-time, story-time, snack-time (Kayla-time in general), had to end on Sunday when Kayla took the train back to Rosenheim. Don't think that we didn't strategically coordinate our schedules for the next 2 months, though. We did. And we'll be seeing each other as much as humanly (and financially) possible.

Altenburg (in Bamberg)

The Altenburg is the name of the 900 year old castle in Bamberg. It sits atop the tallest hill in Bamberg and reminds me a LOT of this castle I visited in July.

the best part of bamberg

was this park:

i think the pictures speak for themselves.
so beautiful.