Monthly Archives: December 2012

Video: How to Destroy American Electrical Appliances in Germany

PART II: Success.

As you probably know, European outlets kick out a mean 220 volts of electricity. American appliances, like my now-deceased electric razor, were only designed to handle 110 volts. I was told by several people my appliances would be ruined if I tried them in Europe, so as soon as I arrived, I did my very best to brick my razor. Nothing bad happened. Then I tried my razor for a longer period of time while in Munich. Like, long enough for a full, manly kind of shave.

This video is the result:

And this is the first video, when my razor was still alive:

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Culture Shock 5: Five Things That Suck About Living in Germany

Let me begin by saying life in Germany is awesome. I love it here! I have, however, learned a thing or two about the realities of life abroad. What follows is a list of discoveries, oddities and annoyances revealed in my first months as an expat American living in Hannover, Germany:

  1. The common American advice, “Don’t worry about the language barrier in Germany; everybody speaks English,” is false. Everybody speaks a little English in Hannover, and they are terribly self-conscious about using it. Younger Germans are more likely to speak English, and I’ve met several who are fluent. However, if they aren’t fluent, and you desperately need to locate the nearest restroom, you’ll soon find yourself gesticulating wildly as you try not to make pants pickles.
  2. There are pharmacies on every goddamn block. Seriously. They’re called “Apotheken,” and they are everywhere in this city. You can go to the nearest Apotheke and get your prescription filled. You can also purchase a wide variety of over-the-counter medications which do absolutely nothing. It goes like this: you must convince the pharmacist you have a cold and then intimately describe your most disgusting symptoms, after which time, if they believe you, they hand you a box of herbal tea. “Thank you Sir! I was going to drown my symptoms in a near-lethal dose of NyQuil, but this lemon-flavored tea should prove just as effective!”
  3. Germans are impatient. They have zero tolerance for delays, lines or traffic of any kind. They operate at top speed, which is why, in the cashier line at the grocery store, you better pay for your items and get the hell out of the way, because Dieter von Shufflestein is right on your ass. The first time I tried to put my change away before taking my groceries from the counter, my items were suddenly overrun with those belonging to the person behind me. His pickled herring and canned hotdogs were all up in my situation, and he didn’t even care a bit. I wanted so desperately to turn to him and scream, “Bitch, I am going to throw your nasty shit all over the floor if you do not get off my Kool-Aid!”
  4. Craft beers and dark beers have yet to really catch on in Germany. I’m from Portland, Oregon, so I’m accustomed to an amazing variety of beer, but over here, I mostly see pilsner and hefeweizen. I’m not complaining, mind you; the pilsner here is rather strong, and my wife can always tell when I have, as she puts it, “a pilsner-buzz” on. Oh, and liquor is super cheap here. Like, $7 for a fifth of rum, type cheap. I mean, hell, that’s not just cheap, that’s cheap as balls.
  5. Recycling is a monumental pain in the ass. (I’m only speaking of apartment living with this one, and specifically, apartment living in the city of Hannover.) Glass can only be returned in these round tanks on the sidewalk, which look like giant metal boobies. And just like real boobies, they’re nowhere to be found when you need them. Recycling makes absolutely no sense to me here. You have to put your organic compost, or “Bio” garbage into plastic bags — yes, plastic bags — and take them down to the dumpster. Random items (like cotton swabs, tissue paper and tampons) go into clear plastic bags and are taken to an entirely different dumpster. Regular paper goes into blue plastic bags, while metal and plastic go into yellow bags; both of which are picked up from the street once per week… by different companies. Oh, and if you buy a bottle of water at a certain grocery store, and you want to recycle it and get your deposit back, you have to take it back to that exact same grocery store. So, with all of these convoluted rules and the counterproductive use of plastic in the recycling process, I kind of want to make a German flag out of rubber tires and hairspray bottles in the middle of a busy street and set that shit on fire.

Click here to learn more about the term “Culture Shock.”

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Writing and Blogging: Results of the 2012 Expat Blog Awards – Germany

2012 Expats Blog Award - Germany - Honor

The results are in! The Expats Blog announced its winning blog selections for the country of Germany! With your help, we managed to win the Honour 2012 award. There were 3 top awards — Gold, Silver and Bronze — plus 3 Honourable Mention awards, all of which were selected from a pool of over 43 German expat blogs. This is really something! But you know what really took me by surprise? All of the support our readers showed for our blog.

In particular, we’d like to thank:

  1. The Expats Blog, who writes www.expatsblog.com, found our blog and nominated us for this award in the first place. Great site you guys! Keep up the good work!
  2. Toff Oliver, who writes www.hadafewbeers.com. He wrote an incredibly kind post about our blog and urged his own readers to vote for us. Please check out his blog and help return some of the love!
  3. Aldonna, who writes www.ahundredmiles.wordpress.com. Her blog is private, but she re-posted our nomination article and asked her readers to vote for us.
  4. Anja, who writes www.diestadtderengel.wordpress.com, gave us 5 stars and wrote a great review. She is also a regular reader and commenter on our blog.
  5. Germerican Denglish, who writes www.germericandenglish.wordpress.com, gave us 5 stars and wrote a very flattering review.
  6. Jaton’ West, who writes oldamericanladyinberlin.wordpress.com gave us 5 stars and a great review.
  7. Germany-USA Career Center, who writes www.germany-usa.com, gave us 5 stars and wrote a great review.
  8. Alex K, who gave us 5 stars and wrote a great review.
  9. Geoff Freeman, who gave us 5 stars and wrote a great review.
  10. Charlotte, who gave us 5 stars and wrote a great review.
  11. Christina, who gave us 5 stars and wrote a great review.
  12. Michael Sadowski, who gave us 5 stars and wrote a great review.
  13. PolkaDot45, who gave us 5 stars and wrote a great review.
  14. Lindsey, who gave us 5 stars and wrote a great review.
  15. Gary Casebeer, who gave us 5 stars and wrote a great review.
  16. Randy Patton, who gave us 5 stars and wrote a great review.
  17. Nick, who gave us 5 stars and wrote a great review.
  18. Netz44, who gave us 5 stars and wrote a great review.
  19. David Sale, who gave us 4 stars and wrote a great review.

If I have somehow misplaced your review, vote or tweet and neglected to list you here, please go to our contact page and email us! Also, if I have, in fact, listed you here but failed to include your website or blog, please email us as well! It is very important we promote your work in return!

And as an extra show of gratitude, I’d like to share with you one of my very favorite German commercials. It is simultaneously adorable and hilarious:

Thank you all for reading and have a wonderful holiday season!

Oh God, My Wife Is German.

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Culture Shock 4: American Man Enters Bakery in His Pajamas Seeking Change

During the morning of November 29, 2012, the doorbell rang while I was working at my computer. It was pretty early, so I was still wearing my red plaid pajama pants and white undershirt. I was also wearing a pair of fuzzy slippers and my black Electric Six hoodie (with the hood drawn over my head, hovering just above my eyes, like a badass necromancer). I buzzed the person into the building and waited outside the door of our apartment. A mailman came charging up the stairs carrying a cardboard box addressed to me.

I spoke with him using a mix of English and violently broken German. What follows is our interaction, if everything were translated directly, word-for-word, into English.

ME: “A very pretty morning to you, Sir.”

MAILMAN: “Hello. This is a UPS delivery for you. You need to pay the shipping fee. It is €35.69 euros.”

ME: “You just said a bunch of things and mentioned some numbers. Oh look, this package is from my Dad!”

MAILMAN: “That will be €35.69 euros, please.”

ME: “Oh, I have to pay for this? Really? Weird. Okay, one sec.” (I ran from room to room looking for my wallet, grabbed my credit card and handed it to him.)

MAILMAN: “I’m sorry, we can’t take credit cards. Just cash.”

ME: “Oh my darling time, that sucks.” (I handed him the only cash I had, which was a €50 bill.)

MAILMAN: “We can’t make change either. Exact change only.”

ME: (I stood there a moment, unsure how to proceed) “Well then, fuck me, right?

MAILMAN: “We can get change from the nearby bakery. You can come with me.”

ME: “Wait, why in God’s name do I have to go to the bakery right now?”

MAILMAN: “We will ask the bakers to break your €50 bill.”

ME: “Your truck is nearest to this neutral bakery and it holds the gold? Your co-worker, he stands just to the right of the bakery with cash money? I don’t understand where the goddamn change comes from.” (I pulled out my iPhone and used my German dictionary app, ‘dict.cc,’ to translate the mysterious verbs he kept using.) “Ohhhhh, we’re going to ask for change from the bakery. I am very sorry. I am currently, at this exact moment, learning German.”

MAILMAN: (He smiled politely, though clearly in a hurry, as he turned to descend the stairs.) “No problem. Let’s go.”

(I followed him outside, keenly aware I looked like a black-hooded, slipper-wearing derelict, and watched as he climbed inside his delivery truck to repark it.)

MAILMAN: “This will only take a second.”

(You know how big a UPS truck is? I watched, wide-eyed, as this guy parallel parked the holy shit out of one of these things right in front of me, then hopped out and beckoned for me to follow.)

ME: (Handing him my €50 bill as we speed-walked to the bakery on the corner.) “Please, for me, you speak The German.”

MAILMAN: “Of course.”

(Inside the bakery, I waited as the mailman asked for change, received a handful of coins, then counted them out for me on a table. As I watched, I realized my hood was still up over my head, doing absolutely nothing to improve my appearance. I reached up, pushed the hood back, dropped my hands to my sides and accidentally karate-chopped an old woman across the arm as she passed by.

ME: “Sweet Jesus! I am so sorry! Please it to you are having excuse from me!”

OLD LADY: “Do not worry a bit, young man. I am fine.” (By the way she smiled I could tell she was super nice, but my God, she was old as balls.)

(The mailman handed the change to me — a fistful of shiny coins, like something out of The Hobbit — and we shook hands.)

ME: “Thank you for your long time. I mean your nice talk. Your patience, for Christ’s sake.”

MAILMAN: “It was my pleasure. Have a nice day.”

I scurried home as fast as humanly possible, walked directly to my desk and wrote an email to my Dad, which read simply:

Dear Father,
Thank you for the early Christmas gift, but please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t mail shit to Germany via UPS.

Click here to learn more about the term “Culture Shock.”

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Writing and Blogging: Expat Blog Awards 2012 – Germany

Expats Blog

On December 14, 2012, the Expats Blog will determine their winning blog for the country of Germany. That’s this Friday! Would you mind leaving a quick vote for our blog to improve our chances of winning? Comments and votes directly influence this award!

To help us out:

  1. Go to http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/1129/oh-god-my-wife-is-german.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page.
  3. Fill out the fields under, “Leave some love for this blog.”
  4. I know it sucks to give out your email address. I did it already, and I know I can unsubscribe from Expats Blog whenever I want. If you are uncomfortable with the email address part, don’t even worry about it; just keep reading our blog and know how much we appreciate your time and attention!
  5. If you don’t care about the email address part and you actually leave us a good vote? THANK YOU! If our blog wins, we’ll likely write a special post to thank you for your time!

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful holiday season!

Oh God, My Wife Is German.

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Video: The 2012 Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) in Hannover, Germany

Hannover Christmas Market 2012

The Hannover Weihnachtspyramide (Christmas Pyramid) – “Honey, is this how your people contact the German Mothership?”

It’s that time of year! Time for just about every city and town in Germany to construct and enjoy their Weihnachtsmärkte for the entire month of December! (And for some reason, I’m describing this tradition as if I’ve actually experienced it before.)

Apparently, Christmas is a BIG deal here in Germany. It is celebrated with these incredible markets, where people visit booths to buy wooden trinkets, eat bratwurst, drink Glüwein (hot, spiced wine, sometimes with shots of rum in it), listen to live music and generally have an awesome time.

We sure as hell do.

Here is a video of the Weihnachtspyramide (Christmas Pyramid) at the Kröpke, right in the middle Hannover’s major shopping center.

And here are some before and after pictures of the Christmas Market in Hannover’s Altstadt, surrounding the big, scary, medieval Market Church (Marktkirche).

Do you have any funny, German-related stories about Christmas time? Fire them off in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you!

Happy holidays everyone!

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Denglish 77: Maternal Bonding During Pregnancy, According to My German Wife

My wife and I are currently in our early thirties. This means we are at that stage in which all of our friends are procreating. Some of them are even on Colossal Life Mistake #2. (We aren’t ready for kids yet.)

Not only do we marvel at the very notion of having children in general, but we discuss the specifics of pregnancy, fetuses and gestation as well. We speak of these things as if they are unknowable ideations communicated to us from some distant galaxy; a galaxy inhabited by aliens so burdened by their own offspring they cannot stand the knowledge that here, on this planet we call Earth, sexy young couples are enjoying Friday and Saturday nights in perfect, uninterrupted tranquility.

So, back in early 2012, The Wife asked if I thought the bond between mothers and their babies formed automatically. She wondered if a new mother would feel an instant connection to her child, or if it happens over time. I told her growing a disgusting infant inside one’s body for the better part of a year probably forms some kind of bond. At least I hope so. (Imagine a sticky little goblin clawing its way toward the light without benefit of maternal bliss to herald its arrival. I shudder at the thought.)

Ignoring this scenario, my wife stroked her chin sagely and nodded in agreement.

THE WIFE: “Yes. They are connected for 9 months by the belly button wire.”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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