Category Archives: Culture Shock

My experiences living in Germany and reacting to the new language and culture.

Why Americans Don’t Like Soccer – One Opinion from an American Expat in Germany

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“When in doubt, go for the scrotum.” — Photo by John Fischer — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/stickergiant/

It wasn’t until I moved to Germany, but especially since the 2014 FIFA World Cup, that I actually watched a single game of soccer. Okay, so technically I’d seen a few games before — one in Portland and another one in Seattle — but I had no idea who was playing or what was going on because I wasn’t paying attention. Why wasn’t I paying attention? Two reasons: 1.) I don’t follow sports because I am a huge nerd, and 2.) I am American.

Oddly enough, lots of American kids actually grow up playing soccer. I know I did, and I hated every minute of it. I had no coordination at all, and my grasp of the mechanics of the game were confused at best. It just seemed like a bunch of kids running around in a cluster, kicking each other in the shins until the ball went out of bounds. I’ve seen the old VHS tapes my Dad recorded in the 1980s, and they’re exactly like that — like a pack of yipping hyenas toying with a baby gazelle until it dies.

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“Go Timmy, go! OH MY GOD HE KICKED THAT KID IN THE MOUTH.” — Photo by martha_chapa95 — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/56192190@N05/

My soccer team was named “Footloose” and I once earned a trophy with the title, “Mr. Offense” engraved on the front. Although I was proud of that trophy, I never felt like I’d earned it — probably because the “offense” I provided all summer consisted entirely of itching beneath my shin guards and staring off into space. I don’t even know which position I played. Probably defender. Anyway, I never put together the fact that every single kid on my soccer team got an award each year, and that my contributions to the game involved absolutely no goals scored ever. Ever.

Given the popularity of soccer among American kids, it seems odd we don’t really follow the sport into adulthood. It begins as a “soccer mom” hobby, with all the minivans and orange slices, but it stays there. Oh sure, it’s gaining popularity every year, especially in cities like my hometown of Portland, Oregon, which has it’s own professional team (the Portland Timbers), but soccer still trails far behind football, baseball, basketball and hockey. I have a few theories on why Americans have been so reluctant to embrace the sport, and they are as follows:

  1. We only root for winners.
    Americans are all about winners. Heroes. Legends. VIPs. We think very highly of ourselves, and we abhor anything which might take away from our godlike confidence. Obviously our national soccer team has become a force to be reckoned with, and a US victory in the World Cup is an inevitability, but we’ve been very reluctant to commit ourselves to our team. I think we would rather turn our backs on the sport entirely — coming up with reasons for our disdain after the fact — rather than feel the sting of defeat in the global arena. It’s like we allow for absolutely no learning curve when it comes to competing against other countries. If soccer were checkers, we wouldn’t flip over the board because we lost; we just wouldn’t play the game at all. “Pffffft, Checkers. That game is for fags.”
  2. We don’t like sharing the ball.
    Soccer is very much a team sport. Virtually every single goal is assisted in some way by another player, and getting the ball near the goal in the first place probably required the entire team working together in unison. You can’t really have a Michael Jordan running up and down the court, schooling everyone single-handedly. Or a Mark McGwire, crushing home runs with arms that are thicker around than my thighs. Sure, there are the stars — the big names, like Thomas Müller on the German national team, Lionel Messi with Argentina and Neymar Da Silva Santos Júnior, who took a Columbian knee to the spine playing for Brazil — but the game really comes down to fundamentals, like passing, position and crossing. I think Americans find fundamentals boring; the back-and-forth of it, seemingly without end. What we want to see is one person, one shining, heroic example of all that is man, rise up and crush the other team with high drama and sweat-soaked glory (and bloodshed, if possible).
  3. We are disgusted by diving.
    “Flopping,” “diving” or “taking a fall” — whatever you want to call it — we hate it. Americans are a macho bunch, and we pride ourselves on our ability to dish out a beating… or take one. Seeing a grown man throw his arms up in the air, twist his face in pain and roll around on the ground like he’s dying — only to see him stand up a few seconds later and continue playing like nothing ever happened — makes us sick to our stomachs. I don’t think anyone actually likes flopping. Even my German wife makes fun of it, putting the back of her hand to her forehead, crying, “I’m dying, I’m dying.” The first time I saw someone take a dive, I was positively outraged. “What is this shit? WHAT IS THIS SHIT!?” So, to me, it seems like the rest of the soccer-loving world puts up with flopping like it’s a necessary evil. Sure, they’ll roll their eyes, but they have fully accepted it. Americans just aren’t ready to do the same… yet.

I loved watching the 2014 World Cup, especially as an American living in Germany. I was just so curious about everything, and with Germany winning it all and taking home that hideous trophy, I was in the perfect position to become a lifelong fan. I think a lot of people enjoyed the hell out of the World Cup — Americans included — and the sport is now more popular than ever.

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Pictured: Thomas “Jesus-With-A-Soccer-Ball” Müller

It would be awesome if every country in the world had a vested interest in competitive soccer. I think it would bring us all a little closer together. I’m not saying it would give us world peace or anything, but it might make us a little more respectful. Like the Olympics. Have you ever wanted to punch a man in the throat just because he won a gold medal and he wasn’t from your country? If a woman from another country defeats the woman from your country, does that really make you want to slap her in the tits? No. It makes you respect the athlete — and hopefully the country from whence they came — and try to do better next time.

So let’s watch a little more soccer, America! We have an awesome team! (And we even stole Jürgen Klinsmann, a badass coach from Germany.) Speaking of Germany, let’s cheer for them now… and then kick their hairy asses in the 2018 World Cup!

Read more about my experiences as an American expat in Germany watching the FIFA 2014 World Cup.


 

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Culture Shock: The 2014 FIFA World Cup as Experienced by an American Expat in Germany

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Photo by Alexandre Breveglieri — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/breveglieri/

Until this year, I had never, in all my life, watched a World Cup soccer match. Oh, I caught a few Bundesliga games last year, but they did little more than inform me the Bavarian team (FC Bayern München) is much like the Los Angeles Lakers; they have all the money — and therefore all the star players — and regularly put their foot so far up everyone’s ass they can taste the shoe laces. It comes as no surprise, therefore, the German national team is comprised largely of players from the Bavarian team (many of whom come from other German cities, states or even different countries entirely). What did come as a surprise — at least to me, an American with absolutely no interest in soccer or sports in general — was just how incredibly good they would be.

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Holy flying monkeyshit, these guys are circus freaks! They never stop running. (Their heart and lungs have clearly been replaced with top-secret BMW engine components, which run on jet fuel and processed uranium.) They’re fast too, constantly stealing the ball and passing between tight groups of opposing players. They’re also smart. They plan ahead, executing plays with all the unfeeling precision of a serial killer. And their goalie, Manuel Neuer? Nothing gets by him. Jesus Christ, that handsome homunculus is clearly the offspring of long-armed orangutans and a randy Chewbacca. Even the coach, Joachim Löw is a badass; he’s all business, and he’s a total fashion stud too — with his churched-up designer clothes and full head of raven-black hair. (Maybe it’s Mabelene?) But you know what struck me most about the Germans? They play as a team. Oh sure, they’ve got their high-scoring players — their superstars, like Thomas MüllerAndré Schürrle and Miroslav Klose — but I never got the feeling anyone was showboating. The German national team really worked together, with equal emphasis on both offense and defense; a trait which would prove vital during the World Cup games themselves.

Of all the 2014 FIFA World Cup matches, my wife and I saw exactly 4 of them here in Hannover, Germany. These are my reactions and experiences:

June 26, 2014: USA vs. Germany

Score: 0-1 (Germany)
Reaction: “Shit, I don’t know who to root for!”
Experience: My wife and I sat inside a chain restaurant called Maredo on Georgstraße, in the back room, directly in front of a flatscreen TV with a shaky video stream. (It lost its cable connection enough times we shan’t be returning. Amateurs.) Anyway, I don’t think anyone behind us could see around my gigantic, baseball-capped skull, but you know what? Fuck ‘em. This was the first World Cup match I’d ever seen. I deserved the pole position.

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So after beating Ghana, who took us out of the last World Cup, the US faced one of the best teams in the world: Germany. I knew Germany was going to beat us, but I was surprised by how well we did against them. The final score was only 0-1 — far from the red-assed spanking I expected. I was proud of our team and simultaneously impressed by the German team. I really had no idea who to cheer for. I had my native country on the one hand, and my new home country on the other… and a visibly inebriated gang of German fans behind me. What was I to do? With absolutely no guidance from my wife, I opted to cheer for both. I must have looked like the world’s most confused soccer fan ever. “Nice save, USA! Yeah! Oooo, Germany is kicking ass! Good job, boys! Ain’t no shame in losing, America! Go Germany! Go USA! Hooraaaaay!” *Followed by awkward hand clapping, double fist pumps in the air and a few violent Tourette’s syndrome tics.*

July 4, 2014: France vs. Germany

Score: 0-1 (Germany)
Reaction: “Heh heh, the French guys look like roman candles.”
Experience: For this game, The Wife and I sat in a café called Finesse in Bothfeld. The place was packed, and the only available seats were at the bar. This proved to be a blessing in disguise, as we were the only people to receive immediate beverage service. (Everyone else had to wait for a very overwhelmed, very meltdown-primed waitress to come around.)

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Image collage featuring photos by Epic Fireworks — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/epicfireworks/

It was a good game, with both sides displaying fantastic athleticism. But the only thing I can really remember about it was the French team jerseys. They wore dark blue shirts and shorts, with knee-high red socks and fluorescent green/yellow cleats. I was reminded of roman candle fireworks — you know, the ones we shot at each other on the 4th of July while our mother’s weren’t looking? I was mesmerized by those jerseys, even managing to overlook all the diving going on. Seriously, “diving,” or “flopping” is one of the primary reasons Americans have been so slow to embrace soccer. It disgusts us to see grown men flailing around on the ground, grabbing their ankles like they’ve got a compound fracture, only to see them stand up a few seconds later and play the rest of the game like nothing happened. No, no… we expect to see our athletes win games with blood flowing from their ears and vertebrae sticking out of their backs like dinosaur spines. Anything less and you’re a pussy.

July 8, 2014: Brazil vs. Germany

Score: 1-7 (Germany)
Reaction: “What in the sweet holy fuck is going on?!”
Experience: The Wife and I watched this game from home. We grabbed a couple of brew doggs from the basement, flipped on the tube and watched the madness unfold. My wife tried to correct a few term papers at the same time, but I knew right from the start that was a pipe dream. Also, I dropped one of said brew doggs on the staircase coming up from the basement, so I had to deal with that before I could watch the game. (And our basement still smells like a brewery.)

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Finally the whistle blew and Brazil came out like a swarm of pissed-off yellow jackets. Jesus Christ, they were so balls-out, I thought surely their intensity alone would win them the game. I mean, Brazil is supposed to be the best in the world, right? Some guy named “Pelé” played real good for them, or so I’ve heard. And they had the home-field advantage. But of course, Brazil lost their star player, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, when a Columbian player named Juan Camilo Zúñiga delivered a flying knee kick straight into his spine. Brazil also lost their star defender, Thiago Silva, after he earned his second yellow card in the game versus Columbia. But all the frenzied intensity in the world could not make up for these losses — or prepare them for the icy power of the German national team.

While the Brazilians sprinted around the field like a bunch of headless chickens, Germany played it cool; they matched Brazil’s speed and dexterity, but their demeanor was freakishly calm, like they’d done this all before. “Yes, yes, this is a very important game, we know, but we still have the final to win. No sense in getting all emotional.” Man, when Germany scored in the first couple of minutes, I thought, “Oh, maybe Germany can deal with these psychos.” And then, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, within the span of 15 minutes, Germany racked up the score 5-0. My wife and I could not believe it. Our thoughts — in sequence — were:

  1. Something is wrong.
  2. Someone bribed the Brazilian goalie.
  3. All of the referees are on the take.
  4. The Germans are on steroids.
  5. Everyone will blame Brazil’s missing star players.
  6. The citizens of Brazil are going to murder the entire German national team.
  7. For the love of God, Germany, if you value your lives, stop running up the score!
  8. Oh God, everyone is crying…

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Thankfully, Brazil scored a dignity-saving point, leaving the final score 1-7. Still, I could not believe what I had just seen. Even if the final match between Argentina and Germany proves to be amazing, people will be talking about the bizarre 2014 World Cup match between Brazil and Germany for the rest of their lives.

July 13, 2014: Argentina vs. Germany – FINAL MATCH

Score: 0-1 (Germany)
Reaction: “Ole, ole, ole-ole-ole… SUPER DEUTSCHLAND!”
Experience: We watched this final championship game at the Leibniz Universität Unikino with a big group of our friends and enough concealed beer to kill a rhino. I was so nervous I wanted to hurl.

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The game was fantastic. Both teams were perfectly matched, which made for some real nail-biting moments — especially with that disqualified goal by Argentina. I wasn’t convinced Germany would win, but it did seem like most of the game took place on the Argentina side of the field. That was a good sign. And then BOOM! Mario Götze bounced a pass directly off his thunderous heart and booted it past the Argentinian goalie. Hot potato! And then the rest of the game played out, both sides fighting for the victory, but it was Germany who proved the better team. They won the World Cup and took home that hideous trophy. (Seriously, that thing looks like disembodied souls being crushed by the sun.)

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Photo by Charles Kerr — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/ckerr/

Here are some pictures from the game. Click one to start the slideshow.

And here is a video I recorded, which summarizes the whole experience — from the game, to the win, to the aftermath with drunken German fans singing (very loudly) in the subway station.

 

Thank you for reading our blog, and we hope you enjoyed the World Cup!

 


 

American Expat Gleefully Passes German Integration Course

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“Yeaaahhh BUDDY!” — Photo by Toms Bauģis (https://www.flickr.com/photos/toms/) — Subject to copyright


For the past year, I have been taking an intensive German integration course here in Hannover, Germany. The class is mandatory, requiring expats to attend 3 days per week, for 4 hours at a time, and then pass the B1 exam and an orientation course exam in the spring. If you pass the tests, you can extend your residence permit and even apply for permanent residency. The overall goal, of course, is to learn the German language and integrate into German society. Needless to say, this transition hasn’t always been a smooth one.

First, there was the language itself. Almost immediately I found German to be both logical and precise, but unnecessarily complicated. (Seriously, nouns don’t need gender-based articles unless they have, A: testicles, B: boobies, C: both, or D: neither.)

Then I encountered challenges with my German teachers. A few of them were so awesome they deserve to be showered with money and rose petals, have their toes massaged with clover honey and dipped bodily into swimming pools filled with beer and immortality. The rest of my teachers, however, were downright awful. These people should not be allowed to teach. Instead, they should be chased by killer bees into a jungle full of septic cats, which, in turn, chase them into a valley filled with molten hot lava. (And the lava has herpes.)

But of all the challenges I faced, none proved greater than the students themselves. My classmates came from all over the world — Russia, Kosovo, Latvia, Poland, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Ghana, Sudan, Senegal and The Ivory Coast — but it didn’t matter to me in the slightest which country they came from or what their socioeconomic background might have been; I only cared whether or not they took the class seriously.

Unfortunately, only a handful of us were really there to learn. We were the ones who showed up on time, did our homework and studied for the tests. We turned our cell phones off before class, payed attention to where we were in the book, and listened whenever someone — especially the teacher — was talking. In short, we were the nerds of the class, and I was their angry leader.

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“Today we are learning the word, ‘hassen,’ which means ‘to hate’…” — Photo by Shane Global (https://www.flickr.com/photos/shaneglobal/) — Subject to copyright

The rest of my classmates were obnoxious slackers who showed up each day simply because they were required to do so by the German government. They strolled in an hour or two late, interrupted class by joking around with their friends, made us repeat lessons because they never did their homework and turned each class into a unique nightmare for the rest of us. Every single teacher we had said our class was, “the worst one they’d ever taught.” Seriously, the worst one, and some of them had been teaching for years! God dammit I hated that class! And you know what’s worse? Most of the slackers were supported by the German government, so the class was essentially free for them and their public transportation expenses were reimbursed too. Since my wife is a German citizen and she has a good job, each quarter cost me €250 euros plus transportation and the cost of the books, which means I spent over €1000 euros to sit in class with a bunch of rock-banging neanderthals with the combined IQ of a pork chop.

Now, keep in mind, all of us were required to take this class and pass the DaF B1 Integrationskurs exam and the DaF Orientierungskurs exam if we wanted to extend our residence permits. It made absolutely no sense to dick around and jeopardize one’s visa status, so I studied my sweet American ass off, took both exams and prayed to that 9 pound, 7 ounce, big baby Jesus in the sky. On the last day of class, we all went up to the administration office to receive our test results, and you know what? I passed! I nailed both tests! I nailed them like a Bangkok ladyboy waking up at the docks on a Sunday morning after the sailors left town.

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“Hallelujah!” — Photo by zaphodsotherhead (https://www.flickr.com/photos/zaphodsotherhead/) — Subject to copyright.

I was so happy! Oh dear lord, it was such a weight off my mind! And best of all? I never had to return to that class again. As I walked out of the building, about ready to barf with pride, I noticed all of the slackers from my class looked very sad. Like, full-on downtrodden. Most of them scored in the A1 and A2 range, which meant they would have to repeat the entire class all over again. Oh sweet justice! I don’t normally celebrate the misfortune of others, but in this case, I wanted to drop trow, grab a fistful of my manly bits and mushroom stamp those sons of bitches right between the eyes. My scrotum would make a satisfying *BOOP* sound as it made contact, leaving behind a cartoonish red mark in the shape of a heart…

*BOOP* “You like that, Achmed? Maybe you should have studied harder instead of showing up late every class and asking questions we JUST answered half an hour ago!”

“And what about you, Franciszka? Still feel like talking to your stupid cross-eyed friend so loud I can’t even hear the teacher?” *BOOP*

*BOOP* “That one’s for you, Badrani, with your goddamn cell phone going off every 15 minutes…” *BOOP* “…and that one’s for your phone. Look, it even left a sweat mark on the screen!”

“Well hello, Fahran! What’s the matter? Do you have to repeat the class because you were always throwing shit across the room and laughing with your functionally retarded friends?” *BOOP*

“Abdulla! There you are! Remember how you always wanted to share my text book because you couldn’t afford to buy one of your own, and yet you always had a fresh pack of cigarettes in your bag? Taste my salty plums!*BOOP*

Okay, I feel better now. Thank you for reading all that. I can now put my integration class behind me and forget all about it, bit by bit, like a harrowing nightmare that is slowly receding from memory. As for next steps, I will be switching schools as soon as possible. I am hoping to find one which attracts people more like myself — huge nerds with zero tolerance for tomfoolery — so I can one day command the German language with as much irresponsibility as I do English. But first, let’s celebrate!

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“Zum Wohl!”

 


 

The Screamingly Psychotic, Totally Dysfunctional German Couple Upstairs

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“It’s not over until somebody shatters a vase.” — Photo by Vic — Subject to copyright — (https://www.flickr.com/photos/59632563@N04/)

In an earlier post, I told you about our apartment building and the truly evil neighbors beneath us. Today, I would like to tell you about the batshit insane ones living in the apartment directly above, and why I hate them with every ventricle of my American heart.

First off, let’s meet the couple: Off-Medication Astrid and her henpecked husband, Timur the Castrated. At first glance, they may look perfectly ordinary. Astrid is a young German woman, pretty, with long blonde hair. Timur is Turkish, and he has that adorably pathetic look of a little boy who has just zipped his pecker up in his fly for the first time. But if you take a longer look — really stab them to death with your eyes — you’ll see they are far from normal.

Timur the Castrated, as the name suggests, has only one major flaw: deficient scrotitude. He doesn’t have the eggs to divorce his crazy wife, but that’s not what infuriates me about him. No, I want to pick up a newspaper off the street, roll it up real tight, and pimp slap him for marrying her in the first place. I’m sure his parents warned him about her, but if they didn’t, I’d like to mega-Turk pimp slap the shit out of them too.

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“Quit flirting with that trigger and roll the cylinder, pussy.” — Photo by Thomas Leuthard — Subject to copyright — (https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasleuthard/)

No, the real problem in our apartment building is Off-Medication Astrid. If you pass her in the stairwell, she will give you a toothy grin that lets you know she calms the voices in her head by detonating feeder mice in the microwave. You can just see the crazy inside her. But all one really needs to appreciate her madness is a pair of functioning eardrums. This woman is loud, and by loud, I mean the noise she generates passes through the floorboards above our home office, cuts through the music in my headphones, and punctures the bony zenith of my skull.

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“Please let me pass, lady. I just want to go home. Oh God, I just want to go home!” — Photo by David Long — Subject to copyright — (https://www.flickr.com/photos/fromthefrontend/)

Astrid seems to have exactly two behavior modes: Heavy Construction and Murderous Harpy. While in Harpy Mode, she screams, calls her husband names, cries, throws shit and then screams some more. While in Construction Mode, she is hammering, drilling and painting something with roller brushes. My wife and I have absolutely no idea what she is building.

My wife once said, “They don’t like each other. I think they are building a wall.”

I found this hilarious, but have since come up with an alternative scenario: I think Astrid fancies herself an artist. Either that, or she is constructing a Hate-Fueled Nuclear Fusion Engine, which she will one day use to split the earth in twain and entice the Devil himself to come forth and take his rightful seat upon a throne of ashes.

Get this: Astrid was once drilling something so loudly above our heads, one of the horrible neighbors in the apartment beneath us shouted up at her to stop. I felt like I was in the middle row of Hollywood Squares, trapped on all sides by senile actors from the 60s trying to out-lunatic each other. Holy flying monkeyshit I hate our neighbors. Every single one of them. Thank Christ my wife and I are looking for a new place to live. The thought of finding a house of our own is my one true hope — one which soothes me to sleep every night as I suck my thumb and snuggle my blanket like a spiteful little baby.

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“…you sons of bitches…” — Photo by Ms. Phoenix — Subject to copyright — (https://www.flickr.com/photos/32020964@N08/)

 


 

American Expat in Germany Experiences Colossal Misunderstanding at the Dentist’s Office

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“Wait, what’s happening? I just came here to pick up my dry cleaning!” — Photo by Zdenko Zivkovic (http://www.flickr.com/photos/zivkovic/)

Let me begin by saying I’m still pissed about this incident. Over the past few weeks, I’ve waited for my anger to solidify into something useful and constructive — you know, like humor — but I still want to coldcock somebody so hard they wake up in the middle of next week. So please, forgive me if the tone of this post is slightly more aggressive than usual.

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Our story begins in early January of 2014, when I walked into our dentist’s office to make an appointment to get my teeth cleaned. I’d been to this office several times before, and always relied upon the dentist himself to speak English with me. This time around, however, I was taking a B1 German integration class, which is kind of like saying your German language skills are “intermediate, but you still suck.” Nevertheless, I felt I should have been able to make a simple appointment entirely in German. Here is what was said, if you were to translate everything directly into English:

ME: *Striding confidently up to the reception desk* “Good day to you. I would gladly like to make my teeth scrubbed clean.”

RECEPTIONIST: *A chubby woman with terrible hair and a deviated septum* “Okay. Would you like to have a professional examination with the dentist, or have a professional teeth cleaning?”

ME: *Looking stunned and confused, having only recognized the words ‘dentist’ and ‘teeth’* “Uhhh, it does me sorrow, but I have not correctly understood. I am currently, at this very moment, learning German. Can you that please, slowly repeat?”

*She repeats exactly what she said, at the exact same speed*

ME: “…Yes.”

RECEPTIONIST: “So which one would you like? Do you want to see the dentist for a professional examination?”

ME: “Yes.”

RECEPTIONIST: “Okay, are you available next week at 11:00 am?”

ME: “Yes.” *Pausing uncomfortably, wondering if it had truly been a full year since my last official checkup with the dentist himself, rather than just a 6-month cleaning* “Excuse me please. Is it normally done for me to see the dentist? I want only to make my teeth scrubbed clean.”

RECEPTIONIST: “Yes. It is normal.”

ME: *Thinking to myself, ‘How many ways can one screw up a simple teeth cleaning? Everything’s fine. You’re golden.’* “Very good. Until then. Have a nice day.”

RECEPTIONIST: “Likewise. Goodbye.”

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“Sharp objects in my mouth? Poor communication skills? What could go wrong?” — Photo by jonny goldstein (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnygoldstein/)

Now, at this juncture, I would like to clarify the fact that this woman made absolutely no attempt to understand the broken German I was using. I feel I made my intentions clear, but the receptionist was far more concerned with me using the correct technical words than she was with coming to any real understanding. She spoke quickly, did not elaborate or attempt to clarify the terminology used, and did so with a thinly veiled air of condescension. To this day, I hate her guts and hope she sits on a dental drill.

Anyway, I showed up for my appointment the following week — all bright-eyed and full of hope — and was led to the examination room. The dentist came in, glanced inside my mouth and said in passable English, “You grind your teeth. We need to make a night guard for you.”

Before I knew what was happening, the dentist disappeared and some assistant with a cold sore was jamming my pie hole full of pink goo. Apparently it was the material for casting a mold of my teeth, as it quickly solidified and was then removed. I was left to spit out the remaining pieces stuck between my gums into the wash basin beside me.

ASSISTANT: *In German* “Okay. All finished.”

ME: “Wait, what? But I would gladly have my teeth scrubbed… okay. I believe we have a misunderstanding.”

*The assistant went and got the dentist, who returned to the room to find me, a visibly irritated American male, perched on the examination chair like a coiled spring.*

ME: *In English* “Hi Doc. Listen, I don’t know what is going on. I came here today to have my teeth cleaned, and suddenly I’m being fit for a night guard I don’t even want — which insurance may or may not cover, because I have no idea how much it costs — and my teeth are very definitely not being cleaned.”

*The assistant ran in and out of the room a couple times to give the dentist the information on costs and insurance associated with the night guard. Apparently they are €275 euros and ‘probably’ covered.*

DENTIST: “The night guard is necessary. Without it, you will destroy your teeth.”

ME: “We’ve talked about this. I use cheap night guards from the States. They cost $15 and I just use a new one every couple of months. I’ve used night guards from the dentist before — they’re overpriced and they break just as fast as the cheap ones.”

DENTIST: “Well, if you like, we can send a letter to your insurance to see if it would be covered before you pay for it…”

ME: “Doc, I don’t want your night guard at all. Like, not even a little bit. And I don’t want to pay for that pink goo either.”

DENTIST: *Obviously surprised and uncomfortable* “Okay. We will only charge you for the examination and we will get someone in here to clean your teeth right now.”

ME: “Thank you.”

rage-angry-lego-man-funny

“This is me: a HIGHLY agitated manchild.” — Photo by Bill Ward (http://www.flickr.com/photos/billward/)

Now, I don’t typically get angry with healthcare professionals. It takes just the right sequence of events to piss me off — like condescension and linguistic misunderstandings followed by a poor night’s sleep — before I show any real anger. But when I do, I’ve been told it’s pretty scary.

So with great haste, the dentist sent someone in to clean my teeth, and guess who it was? The receptionist who made this jacked up appointment in the first place. She proceeded to explain to me — in rapid German, and with her hands perched on her knees like one would when speaking to a child — that the misunderstanding was my fault because I hadn’t used the correct word for ‘professional tooth cleaning.’ (It’s Zahnreinigung, by the way. I guess they failed to cover that in my German class for completely retarded immigrants.)

So this tubby bitch proceeds to clean my teeth about as well as a monkey with a screwdriver. She barely touched them, skipped over a few entirely and never once used any water. My mouth was so dry my lips started to split, and I was left to swallow all the blood, tooth paste and fluoride left over. She even left a piece of dental floss (as I would discover later at home) stuck between my lower front teeth. The whole time she worked, she talked to me in lightspeed German, punctuating each sentence with a smirk, asking, “Do you understand?” I could ignore her personality flaws, but holy shit, I have never experienced a teeth cleaning with so little enthusiasm and basic proficiency in all my life. I would have had cleaner teeth if I took a nosedive into an empty concrete pool. My teeth would have been cleaner if I tied a blindfold around my head, pounded a 5th of tequila and stabbed at my gums with an ice pick. “Look honey! I’m a dentist! Herp-a-derp-derp-derp!”

So this repellant little goblin, hands me some dental floss and a couple miniature tubes of toothpaste and sends me on my way. I walked down the hall, jerked my coat off the hanger and made for the door. If this had been a sequence in a cartoon, you would have seen flames shooting out of my ears. Just as I was about to push the door open, I heard an entirely different receptionist woman calling to me — one who was not privy to all which had transpired.

NEW RECEPTIONIST: *Speaking in German* “Sir? Would you like us to go ahead and get that night guard ordered for you?”

ME: “No. Never. Goodbye.”

In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t given that poor woman such an intense death stare, followed by the harshest goodbye of her life, but I couldn’t help it; I was in a fugue state and unaccountable for my actions.

I now realize this entire experience at the dentist was mostly my fault, as I am an American with inadequate German skills living in Germany. My speaking proficiency should be better and I am working diligently to improve it. However, there is no excuse for being a dickhole to someone who is trying to learn your language. I believe that dizzy hooker who made the appointment for me did so knowing I was unsure what I was agreeing to; she just wanted to teach me a little lesson on proper German vocabulary. This is why I have purchased a set of fake hillbilly teeth, so the next time I walk past the dentist office, I can point at her and scream, “YOU DID THIS TO ME! NOW NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE ME AGAIN!”

American Expat in Germany Experiences His First ‘Green Cabbage Walk’ (Grünkohlwanderung)

Bregenwurst Grünkohlwanderung potatos kartofeln

At the end of an arduous journey through the snow, who WOULDN’T want to see this steaming pile of horror?

Winters in Germany last a long time, and by long, I mean like half the year. They are cold, windy and darker than your worst nightmare. As a result, there are lots of fun social traditions during the winter months to keep people happy and less inclined to go down on the business end of a shotgun. In Niedersachsen, as I’ve recently learned, there is an old tradition known as ‘Grünkohlwanderung;’ large groups of people taking long walks through snow-covered forests with frequent stops to take shots of liquor and play extraordinarily humiliating games. At the end of the walk, everyone gathers in a restaurant to eat green cabbage (kale) and fatty sausage, hence the name Grünkohlwanderung, AKA:”Green Cabbage Walk.”

Recently, one of our German friends had a birthday. To help celebrate, we joined 20 other people and went on a Grünkohlwanderung through the Eilenriede forest in Hannover, Germany. We knew we were in good company because there were two wooden wagons chock-full of beer, liquor and party favors. To start things off, all the men had to stand to one side, dangle a tea bag from their teeth and swing it to see who could toss theirs the farthest. I thought I was pretty clever dousing my tea bag with beer on the sly beforehand — you know, to give it more weight — but it landed like 2 yards in front of my feet anyway. That earned a few laughs and absolutely no respect from the Germans, so I spiked my beer and pounded it with great haste.

We walked and talked, and everyone had a great time. I even got to meet a couple who brought their baby along with them. My favorite part of that particular conversation was when the mom readjusted the baby’s blankets and — without missing a beat — freed-up one hand by sliding her beer in the milk bottle-holder of the stroller. The gesture was so fluid it was like watching poetry in motion.

Thank Christ I didn’t have to participate in the next game we played: the birthday girl made two teams compete against each other in a whistling competition — while chewing on mouthfuls of dry white bread — and the rest of us had to guess the songs they were attempting to whistle. You should have seen the bread crumbs fly. It was spectacular. I have no idea which songs they were whistling, because most of them were traditional German drinking ditties, but I definitely heard some Lady Gaga in there.

We kept walking and drinking until I discovered one of the people in our group was a medical student. I went to great lengths to convince him Germans are taller on average than Americans. I even tried to get scientific about it:

ME: “Look! Look at those two handsome bastards in front of us. They’re like 7 feet tall!”

DOCTOR: “Those are my cousins. They are exceptionally tall.”

ME: “No dude, all of you guys are tall. In America, I’m the average.” (Note, I am 5′ 10,” standing up straight, with shoes on and tall thoughts in my mind.)

DOCTOR: “You think so, huh?”

ME: “I know so. I think it has to do with the climate. You guys need more surface area to absorb sunlight because the weather in Germany sucks.”

DOCTOR: *Laughing* “It probably has to do with diet…”

ME: “Damn. I hadn’t thought of that.”

*A squeaky voice chimed in behind me, and I turned around to see the shortest German woman in the entire world.*

SUPER SHORT GIRL: “Not everyone in Germany is tall. Look at me.”

ME: “Nobody asked you, Short Round!

Finally, we arrived at the restaurant, and I gotta tell you: kale, sausage and skinned potatoes may look like hell, but after a long, cold walk and copious amounts of alcohol, they taste amazing.

grog whiskey water hot drink medieval germany modern funnyCheck it out! That’s real German grog right there! The drink of vikings! (Somehow, I always imagined grog would be a mixture of moonshine and beer, but apparently it’s just hot water, whiskey and lemon juice. Whatever. I still felt like a berserker when I ordered it.)

Grünkohlwanderung potatos kartofelnThat’s my wife fixing up a couple of plates for us. I will never understand why Germans don’t like to eat potatoes with the skins on. That’s where all the vitamins are! (Or so my mother always taught me.)

Bregenwurst Grünkohlwanderung potatos kartofelnAnd there you have it — the Grünkohl meal. I have seriously desired this food every night since I first had it, but if I ate it all the time, I would be typing this blog post from a hospital bed with clogged arteries and a pacemaker in my chest. “Nurse! My bedpan is full! Also, this hospital grog tastes like steaming pee pee.”

The Wise Guys 2013 Antidepressant Tour – As Experienced by An American Expat and His German Wife

The Wise Guys a cappella group Germany Good Vibrations Tour Gottingen Antidepressant Tour 2013

“If these guys are supposed to replace my antidepressant medication for the evening, their act better involve hurling bottles of single malt Scotch into the crowd.”

The Wise Guys are an a cappella group from the early 1990s, originally from Cologne, Germany. If you are an American, you might have heard their hit single, “Jetzt ist Sommer” (Now It’s Summer).

As a Christmas gift, my German brother-in-law bought us tickets to see the Wise Guys in Göttingen for their Antidepressivum Tour 2013. (Here’s the official promo video. It’s actually pretty cool):

It’s a cappella with iPhones! That’s just adorable.

So we went to Göttingen and saw the show, and now that I’ve been to a Wise Guys concert, I would like to make a few remarks about the experience:

  1. It took place in a seemingly abandoned warehouse. After arriving in Göttingen, we walked into the venue and found ourselves in what appeared to be the basement from Fight Club, only much, much bigger. There were exposed I-beams in the ceiling, a cement floor, and lots of industrial-looking chains hanging all over the place. (The only things missing were pools of dried blood and a greased-up Brad Pitt.) My brother-in-law explained the building used to be a factory for making automobile components which, in turn, explained why it was so goddamn cold in there.
  2. The smoke machines were working overtime. I can appreciate the dramatic effect smoke machines bring to a concert just as much as the next guy, but the Germans running this show took it to the next level. I could hardly see my wife walking in front of me through the haze of fog juice. I don’t know what they were pumping through those machines, but it smelled of mineral oil and felt like tepid cotton candy sifting through my lungs.
  3. Recording videos was ‘verboten.’ As the show began, we were informed picture taking was allowed, but recording video was not. Now, I am an American, which means I was born to break the rules. (You know those old “Piracy, it’s a crime.” videos they used to play before feature films to discourage downloading pirated films? My answer was always, “Actually, Sir, I would steal a handbag.”) Anyway, as I was filming my 10th video clip of the Wise Guys, a flashlight from behind suddenly lit up my iPhone like it was on fire. A security guard had caught me. He tapped me on the shoulder, gave me an adorably reproachful look and waved his finger as if to say, “You stop that now, you naughty little American schoolboy.” I nodded, flashing my pearly whites, and resigned myself to recording videos down low, between the seats, where the Fuzz couldn’t catch me no mo.’
  4. For Germans, a cappella music really is an antidepressant! The crowd went nuts for the Wise Guys! They were swaying from side to side, singing along and standing up and clapping. It was awesome. Everyone knew the lyrics (except for me) and they really seemed to be having a great time. Not one frown in the place, which is exceptionally rare for such a large gathering of German people. There was a palpable vibe of happiness in the air. I enjoyed being a part of it, despite the fact that I was inoculated at birth against the effects of cheesy a cappella bands.
The Wise Guys a cappella group Germany Good Vibrations Tour Gottingen Antidepressant Tour 2013 Live in Concert

“Don’t try and make me smile, you nerds. Ronald McDonald couldn’t pull it off and neither can you.”

After the show, The Wife and I walked to Bahnhof Göttingen and waited for the train to take us back to Hannover. I thought it would be a brilliant idea if we had beer for the ride home, so we went inside the nearest Burger King for a couple pints. (Oh yes, you can order beer just about anywhere in this beautiful country.) And as my wife was ordering from the woman behind the cash register, I reached over her shoulder in a sudden, stroke-like jerk of impulse, pointed to the big sign overhead and yelled, “–And that! We’ll take that giant bastard too.”

Burger King XXL Burger - Der Big King Deutschland Germany Gottingen

The result: Two beers and ‘Der Big King XXL.’

I don’t know what came over me. I hadn’t eaten fast food in over a year and a half, so I must have been overwhelmed by that gigantic golden burger looming above me like the glory of the Sun. And in that picture above, my wife is holding only the remaining half of the burger. It was bigger than her head, and so greasy and wonderful it absolutely destroyed our digestive tracts. We were both rippin’ ass the whole way home, and I’m not just talking about innocent little toots here and there; we were dropping bombs on that train. So noxious they burned our little pink balloon knots.

If you’d like to learn more about the Wise Guys, check out their website at www.wiseguys.de, and if you’d like to learn more about Der Big King XXL from Burger King, check out the website at www.burgerking.de/menu/big-king-xxl.

Would you like to experience another (fascinating) German event with us? Check out our video from the 2013 Hannover Oktoberfest.

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Expat Focus: An American Answers Questions About Living as an Expat in Germany

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Expat Experience Q&A with
Oh God, My Wife Is German.

Interview conducted by Expat Focus
December, 2013

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Who are you?
I am an American expat from Portland, Oregon, now living in Hannover, Germany. I am a freelance graphic designer and copywriter, and an avid blogger of all things humorous (though I most often take aim at subjects like Germany, expat life, culture shock and my beautiful — and unintentionally hilarious — German wife.)

Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to Germany in September of 2012 in order to be with my wife. If she’d been from England, I would have moved to England. Had she come from Italy, I would have moved to Italy. Had she been from Siberia, I would have said, “Sorry honey, but I’m sure there’s a very nice guy for you in Siberia. Probably the quiet type, because he’s frozen to death.”

What challenges did you face during the move?
My wife and I lived together in Portland before we moved to Germany, and in that last year, we were both working full-time jobs, planning our destination wedding, arranging for my wife’s future career in Hannover, and worrying about how I was going to continue my own career in Germany without speaking the language. It was probably the most stressful year of our lives thus far, and we dealt with it by eating cake, pizza and drinking copious amounts of beer. (My wife looked amazing in our wedding pictures. I looked like a bloated veal calf.)

How did you find somewhere to live? (e.g. how did you locate a suitable property? what was the buying/renting process like?)
Our location was determined by my wife’s job; she’s a Gymnasium teacher (and a fantastic one at that), and she landed a job at a school in Hannover. Finding an apartment in any German city can be stressful, and we were prepared to hire a broker if necessary. Luckily, we knew a friend of a friend in Hannover, so we were able to figure out the kind of neighborhood we wanted and what we could afford. But finding an apartment is rarely a pleasant experience, and no matter the country, moving sucks.

Are there many other expats in your area?
Yes, there are actually quite a few expats in Hannover. There is even an expat group called Hannover4EnglishSpeakers, which meets up a few times each month for drinks, sporting activities and to watch movies in English. (I think they even have a group for expat parents, so their little English-speaking trolls can roll around in the mud together and give each other the flu.) There are expat groups like this in every major city in Germany, and they can be very useful for things like making friends, getting recommendations for doctors and dentists, buying and selling furniture, and complaining about how the German language uses gender-based articles. (Seriously. Every noun is either a ‘he,’ ‘she’ or an ‘it.’ (And all added together, between the 4 cases, Germans use a total of 16 definite articles. Sixteen.)

What is your relationship like with the locals?
I work at home in front of the computer all day, which makes me both a geek and a shut-in. And like the rest of my pale-skinned brethren, I only leave my coffin when the bloodlust takes me and I am forced to venture out into the night to feed. Just kidding. We have a lot of friends, and I’m also taking a German language class, so we mingle with the locals quite a bit. (Though never with drunken soccer fans. Those guys are scary.)

What do you like about life where you are?
Germany feels safe. I like the pace of life here. And Hannover is similar to Portland in that it feels like a big, little city. Or a little, big city. However you say that. Also, as an expat, you’re always challenged. The people, the culture, the godforsaken and unnecessarily difficult language — everything is new. You’re like a perpetual student, so there’s no time for boredom or plateau. You gotta get up every day and launch yourself into that alien landscape like an astronaut about to pee in his space suit.

What do you dislike about your expat life?
Having two families on either side of the globe. You’re always bouncing between them for the holidays, and one side always misses you while the other gets to bask in the radiant splendor of your company.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
Customer service. In America, strangers are sickeningly sweet to you, especially in places of business or over the phone. Sure, the person being nice to your face might actually loathe you right down to the very marrow in your bones, but at least they ensure a smooth, professional transaction. Not in Germany. Oh no, here, customer service falls into two main categories: standoffish and downright abusive. Naturally there are exceptions to this rule, but even my wife agrees, saying, “Americans are like peaches and Germans are like coconuts. Americans are sweet on the outside but hard on the inside, and Germans are hard on the outside but sweet on the inside.” (While I try not to take offense at the notion of having a foreign object at my center that is stone-like and unfeeling, I think she makes a fine point.)

What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
Traditional German food is heavy, fatty and served with beer. I love it! I am gleefully eating and drinking my way toward my first heart attack.

Photo by Reiner Kraft (http://www.flickr.com/photos/reiner/)

Photo by Reiner Kraft (http://www.flickr.com/photos/reiner/)

What are your plans for the future?
I plan to ace my B2 level German language exam, which will certify me to work as a graphic designer for a German agency. I will then leave my home office and rejoin the lemmings on their great but inevitable plunge into the quagmire of despair that is working life. I jest, but I will miss making a living in my underwear. (Wait, that made me sound like a stripper, didn’t it.)

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Learn the language of the county in which you plan to live. I feel so passionate about this, I must repeat myself:

For the love of all that is holy. For the love of God and Jesus H. Christ on rice, learn the language of the foreign country in which you plan to live. Every single word you learn, written or spoken, will make your life easier. Be glad you are starting now, rather than later. Feel angry you weren’t born a native speaker, but be grateful you can learn to become fluent. Learn as much of the language as you can before you get there. Keep on learning while you’re there. If you return to your home country, keep on learning it anyway. Throw yourself into that language like a fat kid at the deep end of the pool.

I took classes, bought books and software programs, practiced with my wife and taught myself as much German as I possibly could before I moved here. This added up to exactly 1.5 years of language training, and I still depended upon my wife to translate any interaction more complex than, “Would you like another beer, Sir?” Answer: “HELL yes.”

If I could download the entire German language into my brain like in The Matrix, but it would cost my entire life’s savings, I would do it. I would do it right now. If I had to pay my entire life savings and then kick a puppy too, I would hand over the cash and punt that little doggie like a football.

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How to Convince Your Neighbors You Are A Thief and An Alcoholic (In One Simple Gesture)

Jelzin Vodka Bottle

Step 1: Cradle the bottle like a precious baby. Love it. Give it a name. Pay it an allowance. Children are the future.

On a Friday night not too long ago, I decided to make mixed drinks for myself and my lovely German wife. I call these drinks ‘Maschsee Mai Tais.’ They consist of a few ounces of rotgut vodka, an equal amount of bitter lemon mixer, a splash of tropical vitamin juice and a whole mess of fish-shaped ice cubes. (Funny ice cubes are the most important part, because smiles are in short supply after you’ve pickled your liver.)

fish shaped ice cubes in rubber tray

This ice cube tray is the one thing I have ever willingly purchased from IKEA.

Funny German Drink Mix Recipe - The Maschsee Mai Tai

I present to you, “The Maschsee Mai Tai.”

Without a single thought, I left our apartment and went to our local grocery store. There, I grabbed a bottle of vodka (or ‘Tears of the Russians,’ as I like to call it), went to the check out counter and paid for it. I took one step outside the store and realized I’d forgotten my grocery bag; I had absolutely no way of carrying or concealing my new purchase. Oh sure, I could have strolled home with a 5th of hooch clenched in my fist, but I find something unsettling about the people around me knowing exactly what I intend to do with my Friday night. “What are you all staring at? This is for cooking — I’m making a spicy vodka sauce over angel hair pasta. YOU’RE NOT BETTER THAN ME!”

Now, I was wearing a stretchy blue pullover at the time, so I glanced down at myself and that’s when genius struck: I jammed the bottle up my sleeve, cradling the base in my hand, and stuffed my hands in my pockets. Like an illusion of perspective painted by the Renaissance masters, the bottle was entirely concealed, and I finally had validation for those 4 years I spent in art school.

Below is a recreation of the subterfuge. Click one of the images to begin the slideshow.

I made it all the way back to our apartment building, but I encountered a problem I had not anticipated: one of the people who live in our building — a tiny Polish woman — had forgotten her keys and was waiting out front to be let inside. She recognized me and asked if I could open the door for her.

Now, my keys were in the right pocket of my pullover, sitting directly beneath the bottle in my hand. Trying to reach them with my left hand would have been physically impossible (though hilarious to witness). I panicked and looked at the woman for a moment, then proceeded to withdraw the bottle from my sleeve like an almighty bastard sword. Like King Arthur pulling Excalibur from the stone. Everything seemed to move in slow motion: the woman’s eyes dropping down to the emerging bottle; her pupils dilating as she realized what she was seeing; followed by the ambiguous smile and world-weary nod of a woman who has just decided I hid this bottle up my sleeve because I stole it.

vodka bottle in germany

Step 4: Unveil your shame, take the ridicule and start mixing drinks until you remember nothing.

I transferred the bottle to my other hand, raised the keys and unlocked the door. The woman mumbled some words of gratitude, but I did not hear them; I was already halfway up the staircase with my baseball cap pulled low over my eyes, shouting for the entire building to hear:

“I’M MAKING SEARED SCALLOPS WITH LEMON AND TARRAGON IN A LIGHT VODKA SAUCE! IT’S A ROMANTIC DINNER FOR MY WIFE — ROMANTIC AS HELL, YOU SONS OF BITCHES!”

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

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10 Easy Steps to Become the Worst God Damned German Language Teacher on the Planet

diverse classroom gradeschool 6th graders

“Put your hands down, idiots. I don’t even care.” — Photo by http://www.audio-luci-store.it (http://www.flickr.com/photos/audiolucistore/)

I am an American expat living in Germany. I have taken a few German classes — including an intensive A1 German integration course — so I have experienced several different types of language teachers. I’ve had phenomenal ones and average ones. Wonderfully gifted teachers and disenchanted wash-ups. Inspiring educators and mind-numbing hacks who have no business standing in front of a classroom. Today, I would like to speak directly to all of the German teachers out there who fall into this last category.

Dear Shitbird,

Would you like to make sure your students are confused and drooling by the end of every class? Do you want to ensure the next wave of expatriates join the workforce as mumbling illiterates? Have you ever wanted to smash somebody’s attempts to learn your mother tongue just to watch their linguistic hopes wither and die like an orchid watered exclusively with table salt and battery acid?

Well, you’re in luck! With an amalgamation of all my shitty German teachers in mind, I’ve constructed the list below to help guide ambitious young educators on the path to becoming the absolute worst teachers on the face of this spinning blue ball we call Earth.

  1. Take absolutely NO joy in your work. Oh ho ho! Don’t get too excited if front of your class. If your students suspect you might actually be enjoying the learning process, you’re sure to lose their respect. Remember: These people are animals. Open displays of energy or enthusiasm will be rewarded with teeth gnashing and poo flinging.
  2. Speak super fast all the time. You gotta keep those students on their toes! And you definitely want to make sure to speak at light speed when a student asks a question. After all, if your answer doesn’t inflict greater confusion than the uppity little shit had before, you just aren’t doing your job.
  3. Never use complete sentences. When introducing a new concept or set of linguistic rules, just point wildly and write single words on the blackboard. Shaking your head or nodding in silence are also effective teaching methods of communication. Who has time to explain things thoroughly? And besides, your students can’t possibly understand you anyway; these dim bulbs come from other countries. Filthy countries.
  4. Encourage shouting matches. How else are you going to find out who the best student is? The loudest, most obnoxious son of a bitch in class is obviously the most gifted, and deserves to be rewarded with all of your attention. Quiet students are weak; they should be left behind as food for the larger animals.
  5. Never take turns speaking. Asking students to actually try and speak the language in an orderly fashion will destroy any chance you have of creative a shouting match (see step #4). If you give each student equal attention, you might accidentally figure out who needs extra help with the language, and nobody likes a downer.
  6. Avoid games at all costs. If you’ve been thinking about incorporating games or activities into your lessons, stop right there: Nothing engages students like asking them to get off their dead asses and do something fun. Your students should have that blank, thousand-yard stare at all times. If you notice the light coming back on in their eyes, you may be giving them false hope, and that’s just irresponsible.
  7. Repetition serves no purpose. If your students don’t get a lesson the first time around, fuck ‘em. Obviously they weren’t paying attention. Saying the same things over and over again is boring — especially for you, the teacher — and anybody who asks you to repeat yourself probably rides the short bus to class anyway.
  8. Make sure your students have side conversations. If some of your students are talking loudly to each other while you or one of your students is speaking, you’ve struck gold! Clearly your class is advanced enough not to require an orderly environment. Besides, you’re a teacher, not a police officer. These knuckle-dragging mongoloids can govern themselves.
  9. Never use tables or charts. Organized information may feel like an effective means of education, but trust me, writing all over the blackboard without regard to context or continuity is how minds are truly molded. If a student needs the clarity of neatly arranged rows and diagrams, they probably never wore a helmet to football practice.
  10. The book should be a better teacher than you are. A lot of time and money went into the text book you use for your classes. Don’t waste it by trying to improve the formula, embrace it! If you need a cup of coffee or a smoke break, just tell your students to turn to page 168 and walk your ass right out of the classroom. Students love that, and it sure as hell beats actually speaking to the slack-jawed mouth breathers, am I right?

By utilizing these 10 simple steps, I promise you will stunt your student’s educational growth and salt the very earth from whence it sprang. You will preserve the German language — or any subject matter you choose to teach — and keep it well out of reach of the unwashed hordes. And this isn’t just your job we’re talking about, it’s a way of life; you should go home after class every day, stare deep into the bathroom mirror and smile with perfect certainty, because you are definitely looking at an asshole.

If you’d like to read about my experience with truly wonderful German teachers, click here.

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