Sunday, November 4, 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012
Winner will be chosen at random and announced on October 1st! Best of luck to you all!
Monday, August 13, 2012
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Who doesn’t love Shabby Apple? With their wide variety of affordable swimsuits, dresses, skirts and tops, Shabby Apple offers something for everyone (the skirt I’m wearing in this post can be found right here!).
Today, Shabby Apple is offering one lucky reader a $50 shopping spree on their site. A few of my favorites are pictured, left.
Want to win? Just like Shabby Apple’s Facebook page and leave me a comment here, telling me you did so.
For an extra entry, verify that you’re a gfc follower here in the comment section.
For yet another entry, comment here with your favorite piece from Shabby Apple (any collection).
If you tweet about the giveaway using this link http://bit.ly/Tm8vkz (please tag me @jenni_AT_DE), comment here for a fourth entry.
And if you write on the Shabby Apple Facebook wall and let them know I sent you, you can comment right here that you did so, for a fifth and final entry.
Giveaway closes 11:59 CST on August 26! I will announce a winner using random.org.
P.S. Use code jenniaustriagermany10off if you’d like to receive 10% off your next Shabby Apple purchase!
P.P.S Winner is listed below. Congrats!
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
After teaching at three different schools in Germany, as well as privately tutoring individual students from nearby German towns, I feel as though I have a pretty firm grasp on the German school system. For any of you who may care, I've included some information and personal anecdotes below.
A German child's education begins Kindergarten. Don't ever call this 'school', though. It is most definitely NOT 'school'. I once asked a friend's little girl, "Was hast du heute in der Schule gemacht?" (What'd you do today at school?). She told me, ever so angrily, that she went to Kindergarten -- not school! Her mom explained to me that there was a big difference and the two should never be confused.
After Kindergarten comes the Grundschule, which is more or less Elementary School (or in northern states, 'Primary School', right?). After 4th grade, German children must make a decision: do they want to one day go to a university? Or will they pursue a trade-related profession instead? University-bound students enroll in a Gymnasium or a Gesamtschule, while those pursuing a career in a type of trade will attend a Hauptschule or a Realschule.
Now, there is a lot of controversy surrounding this system - mostly because the notion of deciding your career path at the age of 10 seems, to many people, absolutely absurd. After teaching at a Gymnasium, a Hauptschule and a Realschule, I have to say I don't agree with the system at all. There is an extremely negative stigma associated with the Hauptschule and Realschule. My Gymnasium students were prone to asking haughty questions like, "Are you teaching the 9th graders at the Hauptschule tomorrow? Have they learned to read yet?" I often got offended for my Hauptschule students because many of them tried so very hard, but at the end of the day, I felt as though some of them were living under self-fulfilled prophecies; they were students at the "dumb" school and they would never amount to anything as a result.
One of my favorite female students at the Hauptschule went on to cosmetology school and another became an office receptionist. One of my favorite male students went on to be a mechanic, and another a policeman. They were happy with their choices and I was happy for them. But I have a hard time accepting that these choices were more or less made at the end of 4th grade.
Many of the students admittedly had no control over the decision to attend a university or not; their parents decided for them based on what kind of upbringing they themselves had had. Others started at Gymnasium level, with the intention of one day attending a University, but failed to display advanced enough skills or grades and were therefore demoted to a Hauptschule or Realschule. One of my absolute favorite 5th grade Gymnasium students, a little girl named Leoni, cried the day she found she was getting downgraded to the Hauptschule. It broke my heart. Of course, it is possible to earn your way back to Gymnasium after being demoted, but in my experience teaching, never once did I see that happen.
With all of that said, there are some advantages. The students at Gymnasium level -- being surrounded by the smartest of the smart -- are motivated to excel, pushed beyond their limits. No one is merely mediocre and everyone is pretty darn brilliant as a result. The books I read in my high school AP English class, for instance? (Brave New World, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby...) My Gymnasium students read those same books. At the same age as I had. In English. When you're surrounded by only intelligence and academic apathy is kept at bay, competition is fierce and the students strive for perfection in its presence. The only question: is grouping the 'smart' together and saying "Get smarter!" worth grouping the 'dumb' together and saying, "Stay dumb!"? At the end of the day, I don't believe it is.
Feel free to add your two cents in the comment box. Also, I enjoy getting travel/culture inquiries on Formspring. If you have any questions, post them there and I will answer them. Thanks!
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
I've never been a "lake person". I don't know about the other 49 states, but in Oklahoma, there are those who would assign a negative stereotype to "lake people", labeling some of them as lazy drunk-os with nothing better to do than float through dirty water in an inner-tube, koozied beer in hand, "Cheeseburger in Paradise" blaring from the boat's speakers.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
an outdoor temperature of 106 or higher
1 large pool (hot tub optional)
2 good friends
1-2 trips to taco bueno
2-3 servings of ice cream to follow
half a dozen fits of belly-aching laughter
8-10 solid hours of uninterrupted, dead-to-the-world sleep
lately, my weekends have resembled all of the above.
it makes me wish this summer was an endless one.
but i have a good feeling about fall, too. ;)
also, word to the wise:
when three girls are home alone and going for a little midnight swim,
playing the game, “no, listen to this story; it’s much creepier”
or asking, “hey, does that chimney up there kind of look like a man’s on the roof?”
is really just…not the best idea.
i momentarily considered sleeping behind the pool waterfall
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
After a million-hour return flight to Europe, I experienced jet lag in its most destructive form. It took me about a month to recover, most likely due to the five-hour naps I “accidentally” took each afternoon for a few weeks straight.
Photo #9: Dresden, Germany
After living sans wifi for years, I lived the life with a fully-equipped apartment in Dresden. I Skyped with friends almost daily, hung out with Fulbright friends after work, loved my German roommate (and the fact that she never spoke anything but German with me!) and often lulled myself to sleep at night with KUWTK marathons (homesickness sometimes manifests itself in the strangest of ways).
Friday, July 13, 2012
1. Wiener Badeschiff
The geniuses behind the Badeschiff ('Bad' means bath, 'Schiff' means ship), repurposed this cargo ship, transforming it into a swanky summertime hotspot. Visitors of the Wiener Badeschiff can wine and dine at the restaurant attached (called 'Holy-Moly', which makes no real sense, but if you are familiar with the Austrian sense of humor, it makes perfect sense) and then take a post-dinner dip in the pool. Grüner Veltliner is the Vienna wine, so if you're looking to wind down after a long day of sight-seeing, I'd recommend a glass or two of that. The restaurant serves food until 10:00, and drinks until 1:00 and it's really nice (not in an intimidatingly fancy way, though... more in an awesomely awesome way).
Platzhirsch is a club located in the heart of Vienna, directly on the Ringstrasse. It's ultra-popular amongst crows young and old, though I should warn you that the doormen are selective when discerning to whom admittance be granted. When I lived in Vienna, I went with friends one evening and we were all 'approved' by the doorman, save my friend Erica, who was rejected on account of her open-toed shoes. Stereotypically, this is a common rule of thumb for a lot of clubs and bars in Austria, but it still annoyed us (me so much so that I dramatically challenged the doorman, "Also dann was sollen wir TUN?!", which roughly translates to, "What do you expect us to DO ABOUT IT?!"...Erica quoted that all summer, mocking my overreaction.) It was also here that I met someone who may have been the love of my life; a handsome summer intern for the French Embassy, who made small talk with me as I was leaving one night, and then followed us out to the cab asking for my phone number. I didn't really give him the time of day (or night), which I now sincerely regret. I mean, I could be a Paris wife right now, living off of crepes and Macarons and just being really French. Hindsight is 20/20.
3. Vienna Opera House
Right across from Platzhirsch, you have the Vienna Opera House, which is one of my favorite sights in the city. The inside is magnificent, though I prefer touring it to attending shows there (I secretly think operas are a little boring). I first wrote about the Opera House here (how bees live on the roof!) and then wrote about another trip there here and then here. There are around 60 operas produced there each year and Paris Hilton attended one once, though I'm not sure why. If tickets are a little out of your budget, they sometimes broadcast them outside the Opera House on a large screen, around which audiences gather either on the sidewalks or nearby street cafes.
Pronounced 'Q', Kju serves a much younger scene than Platzhirsch. This venue, being that it's near the Embassy, was a very popular meet-up among the interns. One night, when the group of us were there, Erica noticed a pair of Austrian twin sisters and told them (in German) that they were really pretty. I will never forget the cold stares on their faces, as they rolled their eyes and walked away. Eva, my favorite Austrian in the whole wide world, offered Erica this piece of advice: "Oh, sweetie, you're not in America. You can't say things like that to strangers here."
During the summertime, Rathausplatz offers a free film festival 'til the late hours of the evening. With the gorgeous Rathaus (city hall) serving as a backdrop, this opportunity is a hard one to pass up. Also in the summer months, Rathausplatz hosts an amazing lunch festival in the afternoons daily. As it's near the Embassy, the interns and I used to take the Strassenbahn to Rathausplatz almost every day for lunch (only 2 stops away!) and indulge in some of the best food Vienna has to offer (we're talking Thai food, Spanish food, Austrian food, Vietnamese food -- it's all there!).
Hope that helps! I've resorted to Formspring in hopes that it will facilitate a better question-and-answer system for people with inquiries about places I may have visited (rather than emailing). So far, I've found that I respond in a much timelier manner with Formspring than I do with emails (I think I have some sort of email handicap, which prevents me from replying to emails unless over 2 weeks have passed since the original one was sent), so I'd say if you have a not-so-personal question or travel inquiry, feel free to make it on Formspring.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
We also had the guests, once they arrived, predict the circumference of my sister’s growing belly. The winner of this contest got to take home a cash prize. My dad did not enter the contest, but he looked at my sister one time, turned to my mom, and made a guess. It will be of no surprise to anyone who has ever met my dad that he guessed the correct circumference down to the last centimeter. My mom rolled her eyes when she found that out, and I didn’t blame her. I imagine it gets tiring being married to someone who not only knows everything, but knows he knows everything. We set the guess-jar/cards, money jar and Wishes for Molly on a tablecloth my co-hostess and I had handpainted using Jordan Ferney’s tutorial from her blog.
My mother, who did a really good job of saving almost almost every artifact of our childhoods, sorted through box after box to uncover these baby outfits of my sister’s, which we matched to photos of her wearing the clothes and hung on a clothes line (twine + clothes pins) behind the food table. My sister got to take those home as a party favor, too, of course, for Molly herself to wear.
The morning of the shower, my dad drove to our old house to pick these beautiful fuchsia roses from the rose bushes. (Note: we still own the house; the rose-picking was not an act of theft.) My co-hostess and I covered coffee cans and paint cans with paper, filled them with dirt, and then placed the roses inside. I should specify, though, that my dad was actually the one who arranged the roses, after he noticed that my method or rose-arrangement was not symmetrical enough for his critical engineer-eyes to condone. His method was, admittedly, the better of the two. We arranged the flowers on the mantel next to some canvases with Molly’s first, middle and last name, and paper polka-dot garland.
Using old pink and yellow vintage fabric I had lying around (found it under my bed, actually!), I ripped pieces to string garland from the rafters in my parents’ front room.
My sister might not look happy to be there….but she was.
All of the guests in attendance were most impressed by the cake – not only that it was so thoughtful, but so delicious as well. I swear my mom should go into some sort of bakery-related business…
I found it rather difficult to abstain from filling every mason jar with the sherbet punch, and drinking them all in one sitting.
After all the presents had been opened and all the guests had left, my sister and mom and I sat in the living room, sorting through the gifts, ooh-ing and aah-ing over all the outfits Molly Jane would soon get to wear. My dad and brother-in-law, meanwhile, watched Indiana Jones in the den and talked about fly fishing. And in that moment, all was right with the world.