This weekend brought with it a series of reminders that, in case I had forgotten or indeed been so desensitised to the cultural quirks of this glorious country they ceased to have an effect, I am indeed in Germany. That happens, occasionally. A situation arises, a conversation is had, a premise wandered into and one is reminded of the essence of this place that has become the norm and the fact that the essence can in fact be delightfully strange.
I used to think Germans behaved strangely in the sun (their manner suspicious, vaguely panicky, a little startled) for the fundamental reason they see very little of it (except for those living in the country’s sunniest city, Freiburg). But living up North these past few months, I have added a second prong to my theorising about the Germans and weather. I now suspect they behave the way they do because one can never be sure, when the sun does eventually come out, whether it will last for 30 seconds, three minutes or three hours and whether, when it disappears, it will be seen again for days or, possibly, weeks.
This is a preview of Living in Germany: Sunlight? What sunlight?.
Most of the time here, I can crack out my German in shops and cafes and restaurants with aplomb, or in social settings, engage in a monolingual conversation that makes me feel both smug (look at me go) and embarrassed (did I just murder a case?) at the same time, a sensation peculiar to learning and speaking a foreign language … or is that just me? But there are other occasions were something else happens and it’s usually in a bar and usually with bright young things who grew up with American pop culture squawking loudly in one ear and an English teacher in the other, from around the age of six. On these occasions, the conversation becomes bilingual, but in reverse. Allow me to elaborate.
This is a preview of Living in Germany: The Language Battle.
Latest statement about “The Germans:” The Germans are very self-confident. They really don’t seem to care what other people think about them.
Example #1 .. They have no shame in blowing their noses really loudly in class.
Today I finished one of my seminars. Next week’s class is cancelled, so no 8am start on a Monday. Wunderbar.
I did not speak a word in that class over the course of the past 14 weeks, except that time I nervously had to stand in front of the class and talk about the Enlightenment for a presentation.
Afterwards I was asked if I’m from Luxembourg. Irrelevant but worth mentioning, I think.
This is a preview of Living in Germany: Cultural Stereotypes.
It started snowing as I walked (minced through the grey slush) to the Hauptbahnhof, tiny little pellets that stung on contact. My face did its hardening trick so it felt like stone about five minutes into the walk. The morning, which dawned pretty in pink, had an air of quiet excitement about it. The Deutsche Bahn and I, after a long hiatus we sorely needed from each other, were about to be reunited. I had a 7.53am train to Leipzig with my name on it. The last time the DB and I had cavorted, it was in Bavaria, puffing between Weiden and Nürnberg in sub sub temperatures.
This is a preview of Leipzig, Wifi, and the Deutsche Bahn.
“Deutsche Post and motoring association ADAC will launch a new bus service on November 1st in a bid to challenge Deutsche Bahn’s dominance over long distance journeys. They unveiled their plans in Bonn on Wednesday.” Read the full article on The Local.
Books, books, books at the Frankfurt Book Fair
“In literary terms Brazil has remained an undiscovered country. Even the success of esoteric novelist Paulo Coelho has done little to change this. Serious literature from Brazil still finds it difficult to attract readers outside Latin America. That is set to change, however, as Brazil becomes the centre of attention as Guest of Honour at the Book Fair in Frankfurt am Main, the world’s most important marketplace for publishers and authors.” Read the full post of deutschland.de.
This is a preview of The Week in Germany: Books, Buses, and a Rollercoaster Restaurant.
I’ve already recommended this blog to so many people but I absolutely loved Adam Fletcher’s How to be German in 20 Easy Steps. It’s gone somewhat viral among those of us on Erasmus in Germany because we can relate to so many of the things mentioned and because we all desperately want to learn to be German, obviously.
I loved reading that blog, and generally I love reading anything about “the Germans.” I’ve written about “the Germans,” and yes at times it can seem like a sort of “us” and “them” thing, but that’s just a bit of fun. It’s what we in Ireland would call “having the craic” (.. or in today’s terms “the lols” and “the bants”).
This is a preview of Moving to Germany: Who Are “the Germans”?.