Tag Archives: Hannover

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 and 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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Bachelor Week: American Man in Germany Left to His Own Devices for 7 Days

german-beer-grafenwalder-mini-keg-pils-fass

Recently, my German wife went on a field trip with one of her Gymnasium classes to Poland. This allowed me a full week in which to eat, sleep, work and relax in exactly the manner I wished. No opinions. No objections. What followed were 7 days of ‘Me Time,’ and shit got weird fast.

Day 1

Woke up. Left the bed unmade and felt like a badass about it. (But still a little guilty.)

Tried to open the blinds and accidentally broke one.

broken-window-shade-blind

Went to the gym, worked out and showered. Decided not to shave my chin whiskers all week as a kind of repulsive welcome home gift for my wife. (The last time I did this, she stated flatly, “You look like a goat.”

Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all ritualistically drowned in Sriracha hot sauce.

hot-sauce-sriracha-and-tapatio-bottles

Day 2

Woke up. Made half of the bed, because… fuck it, right?

Took a picture of myself with my wife’s pink panties on my head and my eyes peering out through the leg holes… kind of like the world’s fruitiest ninja. I then emailed the picture to her and decided I am the funniest man alive.

Ate all of my meals with a near-lethal dose of Tapatio hot sauce.

vietnamese-food-bowl-with-sriracha-hot-sauce

Finally returned that gigantic container full of empty beer bottles (Bierkasten) to Edeka. A clerk showed me how to slide the whole thing into the recycling machine, which felt uncomfortably like hand-feeding Optimus Prime.

Walked home and dropped a spicy deuce in the main bathroom downstairs with the window completely open, giving myself a panoramic view of our entire back yard. The old couple living in the house to my left — and the kindergarten full of children to my right — should have (theoretically) only been able to see my smiling face.

Day 3

Woke up. Drank coffee mixed with tea. (I call this “Super Tea.”)

coffee-and-tea-mixed-funny-bachelor-pad

Talked to myself for an hour and a half. My monologue ended abruptly when the mailman rang the bell, scaring me so badly I spilled Super Tea all down my front.

Examined my facial hair in the mirror. I’d been hoping for the “rugged cowboy” look, but things were headed more toward “dandy Englishman.”

Went to the store, bought supplies and made the largest, spiciest batch of chili ever. (The seasoning mix was courtesy of one of my favorite blog readers, whom I’ve actually met and befriended in real life. I call him, “Texas Hagrid.”) I wore my trusty onion goggles as I cut the onions, because if I don’t, my eyes sting and water uncontrollably. (Because I’m a huge pussy, you see.) Cooked the chili and then tasted it — still boiling hot — and seared the sweet holy Jesus out of my mouth.

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Watched the same 3 Best of Vine videos for the 10,000th time each and laughed merrily:

1: Baby Sitting Caucasian Kids
2: The moment I finally catch that mosquito, I feel like a NINJA!
3: Beautiful NBA Basketball Game Song (AKA: Best vine ever)

Day 4

Woke up in a terrible mood. The whole world could really just kiss my lumpy white ass, you know? I think it was due to the fact that I went to sleep pissed off because my internet connection would not allow me to Skype with my wife the night before. We tried everything, and it was terribly frustrating. Obviously this gave me license to be a complete cock to every single person I encountered, overreacting to every petty annoyance with volcanic rage:

Old person walking in the middle of the bike lane so I can’t pass him? “STEP ASIDE, SHORT-TIMER.”

Bike pedal slowly coming unscrewed and I know I don’t have the right wrench at home to tighten it? “I KNEW YOU’D FAIL ME, YOU SECOND-HAND PIECE OF DOG SHIT.”

Bike store closed from 1pm until 3pm, like this is some kind of siesta culture? “OH FUCK YOU, DIETER. I HOPE YOUR SLEEP APNEA PLAYS HELL WITH YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE.”

Day 5

Woke up, went to the gym, showered and then sent the following text message to my wife: “I just finished washing my pink nutsack and I am thinking of you!”

Worked all day, getting up from my desk only to use the bathroom or peer suspiciously out the window at the slightest noise from the outside world. My neighbor closed the door of his car and I was certain I’d heard a gunshot. The joyous laughter of the children in school next door hit my ears like nails on a chalkboard. I felt like everyone in the neighborhood was watching me, judging me for watching them, so I left all the lights off and stroked my chin hairs in the dark. Time to start writing my manifesto condemning industrial society!

Ate 5 scrambled eggs for dinner, cooked with a big slab of pig fat. What? I just greased the pan with the fat — I didn’t actually eat it. Okay, so I did. Then I washed it all down with a full liter of tap water and felt sick to my stomach. You’re not better than me.

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Day 6

Woke up to find all of my upper body muscles so sore from the gym I could hardly move (though I managed to hit the snooze button on my alarm 3 times.)

Came home and — like every day since my wife’s departure — ate all of my meals drenched in hot sauce. This culminated in an intense burning sensation within every organ south of my nipples. Obviously I chose to ignore this warning sign and go about my day. At one point, I got up to urinate and, thinking I needed to pass some innocent gas, flexed a little. It was not gas. There was an incendiary round in the chamber, and it had gone off right in my undies. I jumped in the shower, put on a fresh set of clothing and accepted the fact that I am the most disgusting man on the planet.

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Purchased a mini keg of beer. Oh yes! Five whole liters of sweet golden honey all to myself! And no one around to tell me, “You’ve had enough, Dear,” “It’s time to go home,” or, “Your right eye is starting to wander again.”

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Wound up going to a party with my friend and took the mini keg with me as the greatest party gift ever. Everyone loved it, except the birthday girl, whom I accidentally sprayed across the tits because I had no idea how to open the keg properly.)

Day 7

Today… The Wife came home. Oh. Shit.

The house was a mess. All of the bathrooms qualified as biohazards and the kitchen should have been quarantined. This is exactly what happened the last time my wife went out of town! Why do I do this to myself!?

I swept the stairs with a brush and dustpan, wiped a sponge around the toilet seats and ran around the house with a broom like I was herding dust bunnies. I jammed all the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and punched the ON button, grabbed the trash and tossed it into the bins outside, then sprinted with all of the empty glass bottles to the recycling bins down the street and Hulk-smashed the shit out of them. Ran back home, folded the laundry, threw the bed together and fluffed the pillows on the couch. If she didn’t look too closely, my wife might have been fooled by this facade into thinking the house was in order. Nope. She saw right through it. And you know what she said when I met her at the train station?

THE WIFE: “You grew out your beard! You’re my little wolfman, aren’t you…”

ME: *Blushing like a girl and trying to hide my smile* “… Yes ...”

 polish-beer-debowe-mocne-and-zubr

When we got home, my wife presented me with several bottles of Polish beer to try. She is so awesome I could just cry. And I am, in fact, crying right now as I type this. (Which is probably due to the fact that the party last night left me deeply, profoundly, level 10, Red Alert hungover.)

I love you honey! *sniff* Please don’t ever leave me alone again!

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German-American Couple Visits the Altwarmbüchener See, Accidentally Discovers a Complete Freak Show

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Photo Credit: Johan Hansson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/plastanka/) — Subject to copyright

The other day, my German wife and I rode our bikes to the Altwarmbüchener See, a small lake outside Hannover, Germany. We just sort of stumbled upon it by accident, and, as a result, experienced the weirdest bike ride of our lives.

At first glance, there appeared to be no one at the lake. This was to be expected, as the weather that day was menacing; the sky was overcast and the clouds were turning an angry shade of ‘turn back now.’ We rode past the little food stand and the paddle boat rental place, and approached the dock. Next to the dock was a small, asphalt ramp — no longer than 10 feet — which we used to walk our bikes down to the water. That’s when shit got weird.

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Photo Credit: FBellon (https://www.flickr.com/photos/55158656@N06/) — Subject to copyright

Out of nowhere came a fat kid with no shirt on, yelling at us in German not to use the ramp. This was no ordinary fat kid, however — this one had no hands. I’m not kidding. His right hand ended at the wrist, and his left hand was little more than half a palm and the root of a thumb. Had he lost them in some horrible farming accident? I thought to myself. While in the womb, was he subjected to a strict diet of nicotine and horse tranquilizers? Neither my wife nor I had a clue, and we could only watch, hypnotized, as he scrambled to block our way by stringing a metal chain across the path. The chain extended from a post on the right and attached to the trunk of a large tree on the left. Of course he dropped the chain like 5 times, and normally I would have felt really bad for him, but this kid was a dick. The ramp literally went nowhere, there were no boats in the water and no one else around. My wife asked if someone actually owned the ramp, and he breathlessly explained it did, in fact, belong to someone, and it would be very nice if we were to get off of it.

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Photo Credit: Rui Fernandes (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ruifernandes/) — Subject to copyright

We turned our bikes around and rode back the way we came, passing the sandy beach area and a large park. To our right was a wooden bench, and sitting on the bench was a surprisingly well-groomed homeless man. He wore spectacles, had a bike with a basket on the back full of garbage, and a half liter of beer by his side. He was reading a newspaper, but — and I shit you not — the newspaper was upside down. Maybe he was the world’s smartest homeless man, quietly honing his cryptographic skills in anticipation of the day his government calls upon him to crack a cipher intercepted from space aliens. Maybe that beer sitting next to him was not the first one of the day. I don’t know. But riding our bikes past him was like a slow-motion sequence straight out of a David Lynch movie.

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Photo Credit: Mike Lewis (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikelewis/) — Subject to copyright — Image cropped from original size.

Then it started to rain. Hard. My wife calls this sort of rain a monsoon (which she adorably pronounces “mohn-ZOON”), and the name fits; it was pounding so hard we were instantly soaked. My hands kept slipping off the handlebars of my bike, and I had to physically wipe the water out of my eye sockets in order to see. And as we neared the park exit, you know what we did see? A shirtless man, standing upright, rubbing his massive beer belly with both hands. He was just standing there, rubbing that shit like the god damn Pillsbury Doughboy. I asked my wife if this was a German thing: “I know your people are into saunas and health spas — is this some sort of water therapy? Does rainwater on the stomach help with digestion?” She just rolled her eyes and we continued to navigate our way through this paradigm shift.

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Photo Credit: Surian Soosay (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ssoosay/) — Subject to copyright

We steered our bikes through the park entrance and were almost home free when we encountered the final oddity of the day: three men in hazmat suits carrying laser guns. Okay, I’m exaggerating on this one a bit. It was actually just a trio of hardcore nerds with metal detectors wearing full rain gear, but still! At first glance, they looked like they stepped right off the cover of some horrible sci-fi pulp from the 50s — Attack of the Atomic German Metal Sniffers. And let’s not forget, these dorks were headed to an obviously haunted lake in the middle of a torrential downpour hoping to find precious things. Lost watches and earrings and shit. Can you imagine the conversation?

“Why are we out here in this weather, Horst? My wife has coffee and cake waiting for us back home…”

Shut your dirty hole, Gunther. Today is the day. I can feel it.”

“You don’t mean–“

“Oh yes… today we find the Buried Treasure of the Altwarmbüchener Carnival Freakshow.”

“But Horst, my wife says it’s cursed!”

“Your wife is a sow and a teller of lies! Now turn on your metal detector. You too, Norbert. A pack of twisted circus freaks left a fortune somewhere deep in the sand around this lake, and we will find it.”

“Okay, okay. Don’t get snippy. Hey, look at that young couple riding by…”

“Pay them no mind, Gunther. Only fools and philistines would be out riding bicycles in this kind of weather.”

carnival-circus-freak-show-geek-costumes

Photo Credit: daveiam (https://www.flickr.com/photos/daveiam/) — Subject to copyright

Anyway, my wife and I finally made it home safely and life seems to have returned to an acceptable state of normalcy — probably because the moment our bike tires left the park, the damaged membrane of reality we’d obviously slipped through managed to heal itself and close behind us like a giant, invisible vagina. Needless to say, I’m not in any hurry to return to this particular lake, but my wife keeps talking about it. She wants me to give it a second chance, you see, but I’ve seen Carnivàle on HBO. I watched Tod Browning’s Freaks in college. I know what happens to uppity city folk when morbid curiosity brings them out to see God’s little accidents. If we return to the Altwarmbüchener See, my wife will sprout a mermaid’s tail and magically learn to play the harp, and my skin will turn white as paint as I am overcome with the urge to bite the heads off chickens.

“That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, step right up! For just a few measly coins, you too can see the latest additions to our little lakeside family — Gertrude the Weeping Mermaid and her circus geek husband, Ulrich the Halfwit!”

Click Culture Shock to read more of my emotionally scarring adventures here in Germany.

American Man Accidentally Buys 10 Liters of Beer in Germany

ratskrone-beer-case-container-germany

This is a “Bierkasten,” which translates to “beer box,” or “giant container full of wonderful things.”

My wife is a Gymnasium teacher here in Hannover, Germany, which means she gets 6 weeks off work each summer. So, to celebrate the beginning of her summer break this year — and also our recent move from a horrible apartment in the city into a wonderful new house in the suburbs — my German wife decided to host a small BBQ in our back yard. She invited 4 or 5 of her co-workers and promptly sent me to the local Edeka supermarket to buy beer.

She asked me to bring home exactly “3 six-packs of Ratskrone pilsner,” and she asked me to do this because one can buy Ratskrone (like most German beers) in half liter bottles. But unlike most German beers, you can score a sixer of this shit for like 2 euros. That’s cheap as balls, even by American standards. So I grabbed one of the trolley suitcases we use to carry groceries and shagged ass to the store.

ratskrone-beer-close-up-label-germany

“I’m coming for you, my little golden children!”

Once there, I grabbed a shopping cart and beelined it for the hooch aisle. Of course there was only 1 six pack of Ratskrone left. How could a simple errand in Germany ever go wrong? Luckily, the clerk — a friendly young man wearing a beer-stained apron — was stocking the shelves nearby, so I approached and did my best to speak German with him:

ME: “Excuse me please. Do you have more of these things? These large… six bottles of Ratskrone beer?”

CLERK: “Uh, let me ask.” (He walked into the storage room and yelled a question to his boss, who then yelled something in return.)

CLERK: “Sorry, we’re all out, but we do have these…” (He said, pointing to a big plastic carton full of individual Ratskrone bottles. NOTE: These cartons hold 20 bottles of beer — 10 liters total — and in Germany, everyone knows who buys them: college students about to get obliterated.)

ME: “Oh. Have these bottles the exact same prices?”

At this point, the clerk walked back and forth between the six pack aisle and the carton aisle, explaining to me the price difference in lightspeed German. I nodded as if I’d understood a goddamn thing he said, thanked him for the help and proceeded to calculate the logistics on my own.

ratskrone-beer-with-kasten-germany

Pictured: “beer math.”

The Wife asked me to buy 3 six packs, I thought to myself. That’s 18 half liter bottles no matter how you count them. I’ll just get these loose sons of bitches instead.

So I put the six pack back on the shelf and placed 18 individual bottles in my shopping cart. Then, I remembered you can buy an entire plastic carton full — 20 half liter bottles — and you get a better deal, so I grabbed an extra two bottles to make it an even 20. That’s when I realized, Shit, the chick at the cash register will think I just want 20 loose beers and forget to give me the sweet carton discount, and there is no way in hell I’m going to be able to clarify my intentions in German.

So, I placed all 20 beers back in the carton, lifted the entire carton into my shopping cart, and went to the cash register. The cashier — a kind, nerdy little woman with glasses — scanned one of the beers and rang them all up. What follows is our conversation, if you were to translate everything directly into German:

CASHIER: “That will be 9.59 euros with refund, please.”

ME: “Okay. Must I take this plastic thing with me?” (I asked, pointing to the container.)

CASHIER: “Uh, no, you don’t have to… but you won’t get your carton refund back.”

ME: (Looking very confused.) “May I not, right now, this plastic thing give back?”

CASHIER: “Well, when you return the glass bottles, you will get your refund back on those, but if you don’t bring them back with the container, you will lose the container refund.”

ME: “I am very sorry, but I am, at this very moment, learning German.”

CASHIER: “Oh, no problem,” (she said, continuing to speak German, only now leaning forward and pointing to things on the receipt.) See, here is the bottle refund, and right here is the container refund…”

ME: “Right, but can I not, exactly now, return the container and get money?”

CASHIER: (Thinking for a moment…) “Oh, I understand. Let me ask my manager.”

The cashier hollered some German words over the PA system and then sat there, waiting, while the rest of the people in line glared at me. The manager appeared — a very thick, very bleach blonde woman — and listened as the cashier explained my intentions:

CASHIER: “This customer does not want the plastic container. Can we just ring everything up again and give him the container refund back?”

MANAGER: “No.” (Then, speaking directly to me…) “You must return the container with the bottles in order to receive the container refund.”

ME: “May I do this right now?”

MANAGER & CASHIER: (Speaking in unison–) “No.

ME: “I do not understand correctly. Must I first exit this food store, walk through this food store, and then give back the container?”

MANAGER: “The container must be filled with empty bottles of this exact type of beer. Otherwise, we cannot be sure you bought them here.”

ME: (About ready to cry…) “Should I just have purchased 20 bottles of beer without the container?”

MANAGER: “No no, this way is cheaper.”

Having recognized the word “cheaper,” I nodded my understanding vigorously, apologized to everyone like a repentant criminal, stuffed the receipt in my pocket and took off. Once outside, I placed the bottles inside the luggage trolley and walked home with the empty beer carton swinging in my hand, letting every single one of our new neighbors know my wife and I spend our Tuesday evenings consuming lethal amounts of beer.

“Hey there, Günter! How you doin’? Yep, the Missus and I are about to go on a real hellbender. You’ve still got that ambulance on speed dial, right? Har har! See you in church!”

empty-beer-bottles-case-germany-ratskrone

Score one for America.

To read more of my emotionally scarring adventures in Germany, please check out my other Culture Shock posts.

An American Man in Germany Finally Sits Down to Pee

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“Quick honey, take a picture, for I have finally achieved my finest moment.” — Photo Credit: Gabriel Cabral — Subject to copyright — Image cropped from original size — https://www.flickr.com/photos/120663298@N03/

I have never been the sort of man who sits down when he pees. Quite the contrary, in fact. I have always taken great pride in my ability to remain standing while exorcising my bladder demons: the stance, the posture, the sigh and inevitable piss shiver… it’s all manly as hell. And if I ever had trouble starting the flow, I would chant a little mantra, saying, “And now I become… Urinatus” — and then imagine myself as a triumphant gladiator in ancient Rome, looming over a fallen enemy. I whip out my sweaty hog, salute Emperor Commodus and then piss all over my foe’s lifeless corpse. Ahhh, sweet victory.

As an upright urinater, I enthusiastically teased every single one of my friends who admitted to squatting when they make water. They claimed it “feels better,” or that it was “just more comfortable.” Hogwash! I’d say. Sitting down to pee is the white flag of the henpecked husband. It is the dying gasp of the masculine spirit. It is that final moment before a man’s testicles drop off and his penis withdraws back up into the visceral cavity, leaving behind a soft pink dimple which will soon blossom into a fully functioning vagina.

These are the things I would say, that is, before my German wife found us a house in which to live. We left our old apartment with its epically horrible neighbors and found ourselves a new home outside the city of Hannover in a nice, quiet, suburban neighborhood. Our new place is glorious. It’s all white, with big rooms and lots of light, and it has that perpetually clean look some houses just seem to retain. It looks so clean, in fact, I cannot bring myself to sully its ivory brilliance. I also cannot bring myself to clean this giant son of a bitch, especially because our new house has 3 separate bathrooms. Do you like getting your face right down next to the toilet bowl so you can scrub it? I sure as hell don’t, and that brings us to the point of this particular blog post.

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“Look out toilet seat, here comes the hurricane!” — Photo Credit: dirtyboxface — Subject to copyright — Image adjusted for contrast — https://www.flickr.com/photos/dirtyboxface/

You see, even I must admit that when a man pees standing up, there is an inevitable amount of splash back. Even if he keeps his urine stream right in the middle of the water in the bottom of the bowl — you know, where God intended — little droplets will unavoidably find their way out and splatter all over the place: the rim, the floor, the walls… after just a few tinkles, all of these things will be colored a fine shade of urethra gold. And they’ll be sticky too, so you gotta clean everything up regularly. (Unless your wife goes out of town for a week. Then you can mark your territory like a filthy dog right up until she gets home, when you clean everything in a frenzied panic 5 minutes before she steps through the door.) But I have decided to avoid this scenario entirely; I have chosen to sit down when I pee.

I am proud to say I have never once urinated while standing up in any of the bathrooms in our new house. The toilets and surrounding areas have remained spotless, and my wife and I are very pleased. Oh sure, it took some getting used to. For one thing, it takes a lot longer to piss when you gotta drop trow completely. I mean, you gotta put some effort into it — a little planning and forethought, am I right, ladies? Gone are the days when I could just snare my junk like a frightened rabbit and aim it at the big white hole, make it cough and then stuff it back before the flush cycle is over. I get it now. And to all those friends I mocked in the past? I am sorry. I too am a squatter, and I am proud to join your bare-assed ranks.


 

American Expat in Germany Moves to the Suburbs and Promptly Drinks the Kool-Aid

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“German boxes on the hillside, German boxes made of ticky tacky…” — Photo Credit: futureatlas.com — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/87913776@N00/

I’ve done a lot of complaining about the horrible neighbors in our apartment building here in Hannover, Germany, but not anymore! My German wife found us a sweet house to rent, located in the suburbs outside the city. Have you ever seen The Stepford Wives? What about The ‘Burbs or Poltergeist? Our new neighborhood is exactly like that; so perfect — so pretty, quiet and squeaky clean — something is clearly amiss.

I went jogging the other day and saw a police officer casually directing traffic (exactly 2 cars) to allow a line of children to pass safely on their bikes. He was even smiling and high-fiving the kids as they went by. He didn’t arrest a single one of them. Didn’t even ask for identification, and not a single sobriety test was performed. Amazing! Maybe I’m just a jaded American accustomed to the omnipresent threat of police intervention, but I just wasn’t buying it.

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“None of this is real…” — Photo Credit: Newtown grafitti — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/newtown_grafitti/

On my way home, I saw two women chatting on the sidewalk, both of whom were pushing strollers with fresh babies inside. They actually waved to me and said hello. As I unlocked our front door, one of our next-door neighbors greeted me warmly as well. The man even smiled. Where’s the famous ‘cold shoulder‘ stereotype everyone likes to slap the Germans with? Where did all the pushy, impatient, off-putting sons of bitches go? Oh, that’s right; they’re in the city.

I guess I just didn’t realize I was a suburbanite at heart. After leaving the city, I can already feel my testosterone levels dropping. My testicles are shriveling up like salty raisins. My gut is growing and my soft white man-tits can finally fill a B cup. This is it — the real deal; I’m growing up. The next obvious step is to get a dog, name him after a famous composer with a contrived twist, like Fetchtwig van Barksoften or Wolf-fang Pottychaos Notsmart, and get used to the sensation of picking up his shit at the park. After that comes the requisite baby, minivan and total frontal lobotomy. “Take both lobes, Doc — I don’t want a single one of my former aspirations to wake me from my slumber.”

I’m just kidding. There’s nothing wrong with suburban life or having kids. Hell, if my German wife ever decides she wants to make little half-breed Teutons, I’ll be singing a very different tune. But until then? You’ll find us at the beer garden, because the hedonistic gods ruling our zero-responsibility lifestyle demand a pilsner sacrifice.

Beer on the Maschsee

Hey, if you’ve got a sec, you can read more about my expat adventures in Germany here. Thank you for stopping by and have an awesome summer!


 

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!