What is a “Merkel Diamond?”
The “Merkel Diamond” (“Merkel-Raute,” in German) is a hand gesture made by resting one’s hands in front of the stomach with the thumbs and fingertips touching in the shape of a rhombus. It is the famous signature gesture of the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. I use the Merkel Diamond (AKA: “The Triangle of Awesomeness”) to rate things — movies, TV shows, food, beverages and even personal experiences — on a highly sarcastic, 1-5 scale of quality.
What is “Denglish?”
Denglish is the accidental combination of Deutsch (German) and English words. This term can also be applied to those glorious mishaps occurring when expressions from one of these languages is translated directly to the other without benefit of cultural context. I also use it to label pretty much anything funny or weird my wife says. (She’s fluent in Denglish.)
What is a “Gymnasium?”
A Gymnasium is a type of school in Germany providing advanced secondary education from 5th grade through 12th, though some states require an additional 13th grade before graduation. The primary focus for Gymnasium students is achieving the Abitur. The Abitur is kind of like a diploma, only it requires a series of insanely hard exams and serves as the main criteria for college admissions. Basically, without it, you don’t get to go to college. The Gymnasium system is hardcore, with high expectations and even higher stress levels, which is why it’s so good at weeding out the weakest students and retaining only the best and brightest nerds in the country.
Do you have any tips for future expats moving to Germany?
Sure! Let’s say you were moving specifically to Hannover, Germany. I would recommend you check out 3 things: the city’s website, the local InterNations chapter, and the local English-speaking group. For Hannover, that would be:
… however, you can find similar resources for just about any major German city. In fact, places like Munich, Hamburg or Berlin are all lousy with expat communities who can better answer your specific questions.
How do I get my permanent resident card — or visa or whatever — so I can actually live in Germany? (Like, for realsies.)
If you’re lucky enough to have a German spouse — or you’re about to have one — check out the blog post I wrote specifically about this subject: How to Become A Permanent Resident of Germany: 6 Tips for American Citizens with German Spouses
If you don’t have a German spouse, check out Expatica: Moving to Germany: Guide to German Visas and Permits
… and then you can dive into the really scary shit here:
American Embassy in Germany: How to Obtain a German Residence and Work Permit
What is “Culture Shock?”
Culture shock is a feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, language or set of attitudes. Posts in this category describe my new and often painful experiences functioning in Germany. (I am the poster child for culture shock.)
What’s the deal with your wife?
On a daily basis, my wife rattles off some of the funniest shit I’ve ever heard in my life. Sometimes the things she says are funny because she’s German (and Germans are hilarious), but most of the time they’re funny because she’s a huge dork and can’t help but act dorkishly. This is why I often use the term “Denglish” to title posts in which I quote something she has said, even though the term is being applied loosely at best.
Can you speak German?
Ich lerne momentan Deutsch. First, I ordered a book called German Phrases for Dummies, took a beginning German class at Portland Community College, then purchased Mango Passport German for my computer. I have also completed my mandatory German integration classes (A1, A2 and B1) here in Germany. I took a B2 class just for shits and giggles, and I’m going to take another class in the near future too. Also, I try to stay sharp with the very fun and completely awesome app, Duolingo. So right now, I’d say I can speak German about as well as a preschooler with a learning disability. Also, I regularly make my wife angry enough to swear in her native language, which totally counts as extra credit.
Why are you such a dick to your German wife?
There’s being a dick, and then there’s being a dick. I make sarcastic observations about our cultural and linguistic differences because they make her laugh, and although I maintain this blog for the benefit of all humankind, really, I write it just for her.
Why is your website titled “Oh God, My Wife Is German,” and not “Oh My God, My Wife Is German?” Because the expression “oh my god” sounds more like surprise to me. I wanted the tone to be something closer to grim resignation. :)
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