Tag Archives: Writing

InterNations: An American Expat Answers Questions About Living in Germany

internations-logo- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

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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American Expat Celebrates 2nd Year Living in Germany

broken-red-wine-glass-funny-germany

“Every party has its casualties.”

Holy monkey! It’s been 2 years since I packed up all my crap and flew to Germany. Honestly, I thought I’d been here for 3 years, but my German wife reminded me it only feels that way. Anyway, to celebrate last night, we made a pizza, uncorked a bottle of wine and watched a movie. (Which actually means we tossed some extra onions on a frozen pizza, unscrewed a €2 euro bottle of Merlot while the movie started playing and then passed right the fuck out.)

Early the next morning, my wife interrupted my precious Earl Grey time by attempting to show me how I would be cleaning the house after she starts teaching again next week. She pushed a broom around the living room, explaining how I would actually need to lift the furniture in order to sweep beneath it. That’s when she knocked the broom handle into one of our empty wine glasses from the night before. *DONG, smash!* The sound it made as it shattered was like music to my ears.

“HAW HAW!” I laughed, pointing. “Do you realize if I had done that, you would be all super pissed right now? But look at me! I don’t even care! Please learn from my example.” That earned a grudging smile and a quiet chuckle from my wife as she continued sweeping, albeit without the verbal instruction. (Gentlemen readers, I ask you to examine the picture above. Notice how perfectly the glass shattered, yet retained its overall shape? This is the most beautiful example of household justice you will ever see.)

The past 24 months here in Hannover, Germany, have been filled with moments like this; funny occurrences, jam-packed with adorable Denglish quotes and mortifying culture shock encounters. I can honestly say I have yet to experience even one dull moment in this fine country. Every day brought something new. There was that mandatory integration class to deal with, a terribly frustrating visit to the dentist, a surprise delivery from the mailman, the omnipresence of our evil old neighbors, and two memorable trips to the zoo. These are just a few of the adventures described here at Oh God, My Wife Is German, and you, my awesome readers, have been so gracious as to share them with us.

Thank you for reading and for always being so supportive. You’re just the best audience ever, and I look forward to (attempting) to make you laugh for years to come.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

– OGM

NOTE: If you have been reading this blog and commenting on our posts for a long time, please send me an email and let me know, because I would like to make sure I have a link to the blog or website of your choice in the sidebar section titled OUR FRIENDS.


 

My German Wife Accidentally Adopts Two Monsters While Cleaning Our Office

plastic Kinder Surprise egg toyYou see that little green guy in the picture? He came from a Kinder Surprise egg. Kinder Surprises are chocolate eggs with plastic toys inside — most of which require assembly and utilize tiny moving parts designed specifically to block your windpipe.

Kinder Surprise egg uberraschungThey’re totally banned in the United States because of this choking hazard, and also because they’re classified as food items …yet they contain non-food objects completely hidden inside. It’s a semantic issue, really, and semantics are not cool with Americans. I mean, how can you have two labels applied to the same useless piece of shit? It’s just too much for us to handle. But as for choking hazards, my Kinder Surprise egg contained the toy pictured above — carefully contained within a vacuum-sealed plastic bag, which also contained a fold-out booklet of assembly instructions, all of which were contained within a plastic shell the size of a marshmallow. So if some kid managed to jam this entire thing is his mouth and choke to death on it, he was probably about to lick a light socket anyway.

Kinder Egg toy in German plastic plantThis is my Kinder Surprise toy peeking out of a plastic plant. All day long, he’s just looking at me. Watching. Judging. It’s cute I guess, but not my idea. My German wife was cleaning our office the other day, you see, and rather than let my little toy continue to gather dust beside my computer, the way I like it, she consolidated items and invited a whole new member into our family:

“This is Carlson,” said my wife, proudly displaying her ingenuity. “He will watch over you and keep you safe while you work.”

german keychain owlThis hideous little thing is the stuffed owl from my wife’s keychain. She named it Mechtild — a girl’s name, apparently. Mechtild is broken, of course, so for the past year she’s been sitting on my wife’s desk being useless. If you pinch her between your fingers, you can hear the beans inside crunch together. It’s creepy. I hate her.

stuffed own keychain in germanyHere we have Mechtild peeking out from another plastic plant; this one facing my wife’s side of the office. When I asked why we suddenly had two creatures hiding in our fake plants, my wife replied:

“Well, I was cleaning today and I thought it was super cute when I put Carlson in your plant. Then I got jealous and I wanted one too, so I put Mechtild in my plant, so now we both have one! …but I still like yours better. Mine is kind of ugly.”

plastic plants in germanyHere are Carlson and Mechtild in action. And with that, I welcome you to the new and improved headquarters of Oh God, My Wife Is German!

American Expat Living in Germany Looks Back at Blogging in the Year 2013

funny german couple at festival

“Damn dude, you have CHANGED.” — Photo by Alex Archambault (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lostintexas/)

2013 was a big year for The Wife and I. After living in the States together, we moved to Hannover, Germany! Now, I’ll be real honest with you: it was scary at times (there may have been tears). I dropped everything, including a house, car and job, and moved across the globe to a country in which I did not adequately speak the language. Meanwhile, my wife scrambled around finding us an apartment here in Hannover, moving everything in and launching her post-university career. Jesus Christ, I think I’m going to have a panic attack just thinking about all that stuff again. Yep. It’s on. “Honey, call the Krankenwagen; my thunderous American heart has finally given out.”

2013 was also a big year for our blog. In addition to our usual denglish posts, I began writing about life as an American expat in Germany, and the culture shock and linguistic misadventures which ensued. I also started making videos and posting pictures from our travels around Germany, which brought in a lot more new readers. We were featured on The Local and several other expat resource websites. On top of all that, one of our posts was ‘Freshly Pressed’ on WordPress.com. Our readership just exploded over the past year, and as of the writing of this post, we’re about to pass the 10,000 subscriber mark!

We would like to sincerely thank you for reading our blog and invite you to take a look at some cool information from this past year, including:

  • Silly Statistics
  • Our Most Popular Post Ever
  • Where Our Readers Come From
    …and of course…
  • Our Top 5 Blog Commenters

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 320,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 14 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to view the 2013 blog stats from Oh God, My Wife Is German!

Inspirational Bloggers: Jonah Peretti, Author of Black People Love Us

Header graphic from Black People Love Us

Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

The Top Humor Bloggers Who Inspired Me to Start my Own Blog, Part 3:

Jonah Peretti, Author of Black People Love Us!

I found this parody site back in the mid-2000s, and I never forgot it. It was written from the perspective of a fictitious and wildly naive white couple known as ‘Sally and Johnny,’ who flaunt the adoration they receive from their African-American friends through satirical quotes and photographs. Jonah Peretti wrote this site with a level of sarcasm far beyond anything I’d read online before. He highlighted modern racism through characters who were blissfully unaware of it, and the results were both insightful and hilarious. I read every single page of Black People Love Us in one sitting, and frequently returned in the years that followed.

Sally and Johnny from Black People Love Us

Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

I’d never really seen such potentially divisive humor online before, and I definitely hadn’t seen it used so successfully. Using satire to highlight a subject like racism takes stones, and Jonah Peretti has great big ones. (I call them Perettiballs.) He made up these two endearingly ignorant characters — Sally and Johnny, who openly stereotype their black friends with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer — and put them out there on the internet as the poster children for modern racism. Not everyone understood his intent, of course, so the site received an impressive amount of hate mail, but Peretti showed no fear whatsoever, and I respected the hell out of that.

Some people took the site literally, and actually thought Sally and Johnny were a real couple, writing about their real black friends. I could not believe this. The hate mail left me dumbfounded. How could someone not get the joke? And how could someone fail to see the value in it? But then I realized something important; there are some serious morons out there, and no matter what you create, no matter how funny, cool, beautiful or insightful it may be, this portion of the population is going to trash it. Maybe they’ll take offense to it — maybe they won’t understand it or simply won’t like it — but the task of humor authors is to make people laugh, and criticism is part of the job. With Black People Love Us, Jonah Peretti taught me a lot about courage — about being unafraid to take chances with humor — and in so doing, gave my writing a big push forward.

Johnny from Black People Love Us

Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

Here is a quote pulled from the site’s testimonials section:

“Johnny calls me ‘da man!’ That puts me at ease. It makes me feel comfortable, because I am Black and that’s how Black folks talk to one another.”

Here is another quote, also from the testimonials section:

“Sally’s always saying: ‘You go girl!’ while ‘raising the roof’ to mainstream hip-hop tracks at cheesy bars. That’s fun! I relate to that.”

Sally and Johnny from Black People Love Us

Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

Black People Love Us was a huge internet hit when it went live, and it continues to thrive after all these years. A true internet pioneer, Jonah Peretti also wrote the massively-forwarded email thread, the Nike Sweatshop Emails, and he is a founding member of BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post. The New York Times called him a “viral marketing hot dog,” (which is a creepily-worded compliment, in my opition, but a compliment all the same). Peretti is a graduate of the MIT Media Lab and a member of the New York based artist group Free Art and Technology Lab (a.k.a. FAT Lab).

Much like The Reverand (sic) Nathan Runkel of Cartoon Girls I Wanna Nail and Robert Hamburger of The Official Ninja Webpage, Jonah Peretti was a major source of inspiration behind my decision to start a blog of my own, and Black People Love Us continues to influence my development as a humor writer to this very day.

You can follow Jonah Peretti on Twitter at @peretti, on Facebook at facebook.com/peretti and on BuzzFeed at buzzfeed.com/jonah.

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Inspirational Bloggers: Robert Hamburger, Author of The Official Ninja Webpage – Real Ultimate Power

Image courtesy of realultimatepower.net

Image courtesy of realultimatepower.net

The Top Humor Bloggers Who Inspired Me to Start my Own Blog, Part 2:

Robert Hamburger, Author of The Official Ninja Webpage – Real Ultimate Power

I found this site back in 2002, a year after I graduated from college. Listing various reasons why ninjas are the coolest and greatest beings on the planet, Robert Hamburger made me laugh out loud by listing ‘facts’ as seen through the adopted persona of a 13 year-old teenager. Through the characterization of this pseudonym, Hamburger wielded a very raw form of satire, which perfectly spotlighted the fan pages and internet homages celebrating all things awesome back in the early 2000s.

I loved the astronomical level of confidence with which he wrote. Without the slightest hint of doubt, the author would make a statement running on nothing but raw enthusiasm, throw a hundred exclamation points at it and then dare you to disagree. There was such power in his adolescent fury. He made me want to play along immediately, not only because of the boldness of his tone, but also because he reminded me of myself at age 13. I adored ninjas, monsters and super heroes of all kinds. I drew pictures of them, made up stories and played games — all with that same blind worship Hamburger imitated so effortlessly.

Image courtesy of realultimatepower.net

Image courtesy of realultimatepower.net

Robert Hamburger’s site taught me about the art of internet satire. It showed me how to form a fictional personality — to wear it like a mask — and generate boundless humor by writing about the way that personality views the world. Additionally, it taught me how to mock something by exaggerating it; to join in the chorus surrounding a certain subject and sing so loudly, so absurdly, one cannot be ignored. The Colbert Report is a great example of satire in which a fictional personality is adopted for the sake of exaggeration.

I read and reread The Official Ninja Webpage dozens of times. I had it bookmarked on my computer at work so I could read it every Monday morning, when the great machine of post-collegiate employment was just beginning to crush the life from my soul. I bought a Real Ultimate Power t-shirt — as did several of my friends — and wore it proudly for years. It was my absolute favorite article of clothing, and I wore it until the day I fell asleep too close to a campfire at the base of Mt. Hood and an ember exploded, showering me with sparks and riddling my ninja shirt with burn holes.

Image courtesy of cafepress.com and realultimatepower.net

Image courtesy of cafepress.com and realultimatepower.net

The Official Ninja Webpage received millions of hits and prompted interviews by Brown University, Citynet Magazine and Public Radio International. The site gained the attention of the New York Times, evoked countless internet memes and imitation sites, and spawned Real Ultimate Power, The Official Ninja Book, which became a cult hit, selling 35,000 copies in just 2 years. Robert Hamburger earned all of this attention and blazed the trail for other internet authors, like Tucker Max and Maddox, because he sat down one day and decided to spout off about the sweetness of ninjas.

Here is a quote pulled from the site’s introduction:

“Hi, this site is all about ninjas, REAL NINJAS. This site is awesome. My name is Robert and I can’t stop thinking about ninjas. These guys are cool; and by cool, I mean totally sweet.”

Here is another quote. This one is from the Testimonial section:

“Ninjas are sooooooooooo sweet that I want to crap my pants. I can’t believe it sometimes, but I feel it inside my heart. These guys are totally awesome and that’s a fact. Ninjas are fast, smooth, cool, strong, powerful, and sweet. I can’t wait to start yoga next year. I love ninjas with all of my body (including my pee pee).”

And finally, here is a quote from the Q and A section:

Q: I heard that ninjas are always cruel or mean. What’s their problem?
A: Whoever told you that is a total liar. Just like other mammals, ninjas can be mean OR totally awesome.

Much like The Reverand (sic) Nathan Runkel of Cartoon Girls I Wanna Nail, Robert Hamburger does not update his site regularly. He does add to his news page from time to time, but not nearly often enough for diehard fans like me who started their own blogs with a massive dose of inspiration from The Official Ninja Webpage.

You can follow Robert Hamburger on Twitter at @RobertHamburger and on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/RealUltimatePowerVid.

official-ninja-webpage-real-ultimate-power-link

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Inspirational Bloggers: The Reverand Nathan Runkel, Author of Cartoon Girls I Wanna Nail

Cartoon Girls I Wanna Nail Original Logo

Image courtesy of geocities.ws/CaptNish/

The Top Humor Bloggers Who Inspired Me to Start my Own Blog, Part 1:

The Reverand Nathan Runkel, Author of Cartoon Girls I Wanna Nail

I found this site back in 1997, when I was a freshman in college. Moving through scenes of graphic sexual fantasies with cartoon characters, The Reverand (sic) Nathan Runkel made me laugh by using a series of one-liners and unique idioms driven by a desperately oversexed writing style. I was shocked by his audacity — his chutzpah — and the sheer balls it must have taken to put this kind of humor out there on the internet for everyone to see. And this was back in the 1990s, mind you, when people were still learning to “surf the web.”

I immediately understood Runkel’s website was a joke; he didn’t need to tell me his site was just a gag — I got it, and I loved it. The posts were written with this kind of free-form, turbo-powered, adolescent sexuality, and they were totally unapologetic for their content. I thought to myself, here’s a guy who just went for it. He didn’t care about offending anyone or worry about people taking his writing seriously; he just sat down in front of his computer and started writing ridiculous things he thought were funny.

Runkel’s site taught me a valuable lesson about resisting the urge to play it safe. It helped me understand that if I really wanted to write the kind of humor I found funny — laugh out loud funny — I was going to have to take risks. I would need to be open and honest, because the greatest jokes always have a lining of truth beneath them. I also knew I would inevitably meet with some amount of disapproval, maybe even resistance, because the most potent humor always offends a few people. If it doesn’t, it’s probably not very funny. My own blog, Oh God, My Wife Is German, isn’t terribly risqué, and yet I’ve lost a few followers because they were offended by my content. Sites like Cartoon Girls I Wanna Nail, with its unflinching dedication to shock humor, help remind me those people probably shouldn’t have been reading my blog in the first place.

Cartoon Girls I Wanna Nail received well over one million hits in its early days. The author received numerous awards and accolades, and was invited to do interviews from people all over the globe. He received national attention in the Washington Post and Complex Magazine, and was featured in Maureen Dowd’s book Are Men Necessary?: When Sexes Collide. He even landed a job writing jokes for a TV show. All of this recognition occurred in spite of the fact that the site was rife with swear words and graphic sexual situations. (You’ve been warned.)

Here is a quote pulled from the page titled “Scooby’s Bitches,” dedicated to the women of Scooby Doo. This portion was written specifically about the character Velma:

“Another thing. She’s always wearing that huge sweater thing. I bet you underneath, she’s got these big juicy titties that I could just fall in love with. I remember as a child how I always wanted to sneak up behind her and run my hands up her sweater and just find out once and for all how huge those tits were. And while I did that, I’d slip a lil’ sumpin’ up her skirt. Yub yub.”

And here’s another quote. This one is from the page titled “The Vicious Lips of the Baroness,” dedicated to The Baroness character from the G.I. Joe cartoon series.

“Ever check out her mouth? Look at it. I would violate her vicious little mouth like there’s no tomorrow. Could you imagine what it would be like to have that mouth rinsing your meat bongo up in a frenzy until you send your love goo straight down the back of her throat? You wouldn’t be able to stop me from doing such fantastic things to that ass. I’d have to quit my job, ’cause I would never leave my bed if I was with her. I would fuck her paralyzed. That’s a promise.”

I wish Reverand Runkel would refresh his site and continue writing. I would be his most dedicated follower. Alas, the original CGIWN site is long gone, but it has been resurrected through this mirror site under the author’s new handle, The Rev. Nate Dawg.

You can follow Nathan Runkel on Twitter at @natethreepoint0

Image courtesy of geocities.ws/CaptNish/main.html

Image courtesy of geocities.ws/CaptNish/main.html

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