Tag Archives: Denglish

InterNations: An American Expat Answers Questions About Living in Germany

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Life as an American Expat in Germany, an Interview
with Oh God, My Wife Is German.

Conducted by InterNations
October, 2014

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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Germany, etc.

I am an American expat from Portland, Oregon, now living in Hannover, Germany. I moved here in September of 2012 in order to be with my wife, who is just German as all hell.

New Town Hall, Hannover, Germany

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I’ve attempted to maintain one blog or another since 2001. None of them lasted because I just didn’t have the motivation, but this all changed when I met my wife. I thought she was hilarious – whether she meant to be or not – and I made a habit of writing down her more memorable “denglish” quotes. I had no idea I would ever share these things with the world. When it all started, I just thought I was collecting little inside jokes for she and I to laugh about in bed while we farted under the covers. Her quotes soon became the inspiration for the blog and — much to my surprise — readers seemed to enjoy them as much as we did. (The quotes, I mean. Not the farts.)

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

You know, I’ve never understood what makes one post more popular than another. Some of my absolute favorite posts have tanked, while weaker ones have gone on to be reblogged and republished in numerous places. But there is one fairly recent post which amused me more than the rest: How to Convince Your Neighbors You Are A Thief and An Alcoholic (In One Simple Gesture)

vodka bottle in germany

Tell us about the ways your new life in Germany differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

For me, the single biggest difference between life back in the States and life as an expat in Germany is boredom. That is to say, boredom no longer exists. Every day is different, especially as I attempt to live using a second language. And as for culture shock, oh my yes, I have a whole blog category relating my experiences in this arena. Here is just one post of many: Culture Shock 15: The Batshit Insane Ways in Which Germans Tell Time (And Why I Hate Them For It)

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Germany? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

There is no way anyone can fully prepare for a life change like this. You do the best you can – learning as much of the language, culture and history as possible – then dive in headfirst. Where do you find a job? An apartment? Friends? Forget it; these things will take care of themselves. And no matter if the transition goes smoothly or not, I guarantee you it will be hilarious.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

This is precisely what my blog is all about, from my wife’s time in America, to my time here in Germany. One anecdote does come to mind, however, but it has long since been lost in the archives of my blog. I think like 12 people read it at the time. It was called, New York Liaison: A Tale of Love and Projectile Vomiting in the Big Apple

New York Liaison: A Tale of Love and Projectile Voliting in New York City

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Germany?

1: Learn the language.

2: Bring certified, notarized copies of everything.

3: Watch out for bikes.

How is the expat community in Germany? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

The expat community here is great. There are groups meeting up all the time – English-speaking ones, especially. My biggest problem is bothering to go at all. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s that I’m lazy and awkward. Socializing makes me tired. What I really want to do is watch the latest season of Game of Thrones with my wife, drink a couple of brew doggies and pass out on the couch.

 How would you summarize your expat life in Germany in a single, catchy sentence?

“Tearless grief bleeds inwardly.”

– Christian Nevell Bovee

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Check out InterNations for great expat networking and social opportunities at www.internations.org

And if you’d like to find out more about life as an American expat in Germany, check out some of our other posts, like this one: Culture Shock 5: Five Things That Suck About Living in Germany


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My German Wife Kills Two Birds with One Stone

two-birds-with-one-stone-funny-parrots

“Wait, who’s getting stoned?” — Photo by Benny Mazur — Subject to copyright — Light contrast edits made — https://www.flickr.com/photos/benimoto/2977350640

Toward the end of 2012, my German wife and I were cleaning our former apartment in Hannover, Germany, before our dear friend Looney Tunes came for a visit from the States. We wanted the place to look really nice, you know? Not at all like it normally does. I mean, hosting a guest is not a time for honesty regarding your living space; it is a time for false representations and unmitigated lies.

So after we churched the place up real good, it was time to buy groceries. (One cannot hope to entertain cultured guests with a mere half bottle of Chablis and some old KY Jelly. We aren’t savages, for Christ’s sake.) That’s why I decided to head down to the local Netto discount supermarket and buy some eggs. On my way out the door, I called to my wife and announced I would also be purchasing bread, to which she replied:

THE WIFE: “That would be, of course, two flies with one slap.”

*Translated from the German expression, “Zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen,” — hitting two flies with one slap — which conveys the same figurative meaning as the English expression, “Killing two birds with one stone.” (One a side note, my wife argues it is, “better to kill flies than birds, you meanie.”)


 

My German Wife Politely Asks If I Have a Hearing Problem

childs-ear-perfect-small-cute

“Can you hear me MEOW?” — Photo by Travis Isaacs — Image subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/tbisaacs/

So the other day, The Wife and I were watching my favorite movie, Memento. Have you seen it? It’s a psychological thriller starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano, and directed by Christopher Nolan. It has been my favorite movie ever since my good buddy, Shortround McSugarblood, called me up and said, “Check out Memento, dude. It’s totally you.” That was in the year 2000, and ever since then I have been proclaiming it (annoyingly) as my absolute favorite movie of all time.

Anyway, I recently got around to showing it to my wife, and she loved it too. She had a lot of questions about the plotline though, as one might imagine, but I proved myself fairly useless in explaining it. It’s not that I don’t understand Memento — I can talk about it for hours — it’s that I can’t watch my favorite movie and talk at the same time. I sit there with rapt attention, like a fat man in front of the microwave, and let its glowing brilliance seep into every empty chamber of my brain. I have no cognitive capacity for anything else, so when my wife got up in the middle of the movie to go to the bathroom, I did not hear her at all.

THE WIFE: “Pause the show, please.”

ME: “Hmmmmmm?”

THE WIFE: “PAUSE IT. Are you sitting on your ears?”*

*Translated from the German expression, “Sitzt du auf deinen Ohren?”

 


 

 

My German Wife Somehow Equates Past Grieviances with the Making of a Sandwich

funny-toast-smiley-face-bread-sandwich-mayonnaise

“German mayonnaise… you’ll never forget it.” — Photo by Renzelle Mae Abasolo – Subject to copyright — (https://www.flickr.com/photos/maehabasolo/)

My wife has an old friend named Killjoy McBittertits. That’s not really her name, but I think it does a great job of summarizing my overall impression of her. You see, Killjoy is the kind of person who keeps track of every little good or service exchanged over the course of a friendship: the number of gifts given, the gallons of gas used, and even the number of cups of coffee shared. All of this information goes into the great empty pit where her heart should be, and fuses together into a lump of bitterness which can be thrown like a projectile weapon whenever someone pisses her off.

My wife somehow managed to anger this woman many years ago, and she has recounted the tale to me several times since. They were in Killjoy’s apartment, Killjoy was in her normal emotional state (simmering fury), and my wife decided to have a second cup of coffee. Since helping yourself to a friend’s coffee pot is obviously reason enough to eviscerate them emotionally, Killjoy decided to list off every single thing she had purchased over the course of their friendship — like she’d been keeping track of each perceived offense on a list hidden beneath her pillowcase, written in pig blood.

If there’s one thing my wife is not, it’s a freeloader. The insinuation makes her very mad. So when she told me this story — describing each insult and retort in detail — she spoke as if she were snapping back at Killjoy herself:

THE WIFE: “Sorry you feel that way, but don’t smear this on my bread!”*

*Translated from the German expression, “Schmier mir das nicht aufs Brot,” which figuratively means, “Quit bringing up the past.”

 


 

 

My German Wife Complains About Getting Cramps While Jogging

funny jogging picture of a woman running alone

“Wait up, Honey! I just blew chunks all over this new shirt your mother bought me!” — Photo by rosmary — Subject to copyright — (https://www.flickr.com/photos/rvoegtli/)

As you may already know, I often jog around the Maschsee here in Hannover, Germany. It’s about 3.9 miles in circumference (6.3 km), which is a pretty good bit of exercise for someone who sits in front of the computer all day long making pretty things for money. The first time I successfully ran the Maschsee, I wanted to throw up as hard as possible. I wanted to vomit like a dog who’s been gorging on something nasty it found in the garbage — back all hunched over real tight, mouth open and drooling, making that awful, full-body dry heaving sound, like, AHYUK-KA YUK-KA YUK-KA — and then BAM! Paydirt.

Although jogging the Maschsee has become progressively easier each time I’ve done it, there is one thing which still challenges me: talking while running. It gives some people cramps or stitches in their sides, but personally, I just don’t have the cardiovascular fortitude for it. Not after the first minute into the run or so. After that, it’s a test of willpower and socially acceptable masochism, and wasting oxygen is like spitting in the eye of the exercise gods. I’m pretty sure every dude who ever dropped dead while jogging was trying to hold a conversation at the same time, like it was no big deal. But oh, it was a big deal, for Lord Cardio the Spiteful is a god who demands your full attention, lest he become jealous and smite thee with a cataclysmic aneurysm.

old-cemetary-with-moss-covered-grave-stones

“Welcome to your new home, big mouth.” — Photo by Martin Pettitt — Image subject to copyright — (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mdpettitt/)

So back in the winter of 2012, my wife actually joined me for a jog around the Maschsee. (A rare occasion, as my wife is a teacher, and teachers work way more hours after class than you might think.) We managed to go most of the way around before we decided to walk. As we were walking, we were passed by another couple — a man and woman with superior thighs and exemplary calf muscles — who were running at a good clip while conducting an effortless conversation. I mentioned to my wife how impressive I found this, to which she replied:

THE WIFE: “If I try to talk while I run, I get these horrible side-bites.”*

*I think she was translating the German word, “Seitenstiche,” or “side stitches.”

 

 


 

My German Wife Is Impressed by a Bagpipe-Playing Lawyer

bagpipes-player-funny-man

“Stop playing that thing or I’ll shove it down your Scotch-hole.” — Photo by Jonathan Stonehouse (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gizmo_bunny/)

Back in 2012, just a few months after we moved to Germany, my wife made me watch all 5 seasons of Ally McBeal. That’s 112 episodes, each one lasting 45 minutes, which adds up 84 hours of total viewing time. (Coincidentally, 84 hours is exactly how long a man can have his testicles squeezed together in a woodworker’s vise before he begs for death’s sweet, everlasting embrace.)

As you probably know, Ally McBeal was a popular television series which ran from 1997 to 2002. It was a surreal comedy-drama, following a young, self-obsessed lawyer named Ally McBeal as she hallucinates her way through a series of romantic misadventures and magically relevant court trials, which hammer the moral of each episode into your skull with all the subtlety of a howitzer.

Ally works for a fictional law firm called Cage and Fish. One of the firm’s eccentric co-founders, John Cage, has a pet frog named Steffan (pronounced Steh-fahn.) After a series of unfortunate hijinks — involving a lot of girlish screaming, frog-tossing and the poorly timed flushing of toilets — Steffan is killed. A funeral is organized around the toilet in which Steffan met his demise, and the entire cast of the show listens as John memorializes his friend by playing the bagpipes. (The actor, Peter MacNicol, actually plays them in real life.)

I watched this scene with the predictable amount of stone-faced apathy until my German wife raised her eyebrows, nodded her head and announced:

THE WIFE: “It’s pretty impressive he can play the doodle-sack.”*

*The word “Bagpipes” in German is “der Dudelsack.”

 


 

 

My Wife Suggests Long John Underwear to Help Fight Winter Chills in Germany

long-thermal-underwear-funny-winter

“Keeps my junk so warm I gotta smile.” — Photo by Anthony Easton (https://www.flickr.com/photos/pinkmoose/)

We’ve all heard winters in northern Germany can be pretty harsh, right? They’re long, dark, scary and depressing, like a prolonged nightmare or just about any movie starring Jeremy Irons. Winters pass so slowly here, the Germans have constructed a series of traditions and paid holidays systematically designed to keep you from playing chicken with the next subway train you see and screwing up the U-Bahn schedule for everybody.

I don’t mind winter, but even I have to admit the winter of 2012 was a real penis shrinker. In Hannover, winter lasted from October until May. Seriously, it was May when my wife and I were finally able to turn off the heat in our apartment and not freeze to death like a couple of white chocolate popsicles. Luckily, my wife is German and she knows how to deal with these long winters. She’s always telling me to wrap myself in a blanket, drink hot chamomile tea (because Germans think chamomile is a panacea), place a hot water bottle on my lap and wear thermal underwear beneath my pants (known more creepily as “long johns”).

I generally follow her advice, but the truth is I am a profoundly lazy man. Sometimes I cannot be bothered with all 4 aspects of her winter defensive strategy, which is why, back in November of 2012, I wore thin pajama pants while working at my computer and then complained about the fact that my legs were cold. My wife came into the office, put her teacher’s bag on the floor and announced:

THE WIFE: “It is getting very cold. Your pee-jammy pants are not warm enough. Tomorrow we buy you Johnny Long Bottoms.”