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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What I Love About Germany: Public Drinking

One of the big positives of German vs. American culture is public drinking. Yeah, yeah, yeah -- they have an amazing history, beautiful architecture, blah blah blah. I don’t care about that right now. I miss drinking in public.

I missed this ability most last week on Saint Patrick’s Day. Chicago has a very famous parade and river dying, and all I can think about when attending parades in the US is how great walking around with a beer would be.


Although Germany may not have green beer (as far as I know), I love being able to take a German beer with me to walk with from my apartment to a local bar. Rather than allowing something like that in the US, we actually get ticketed if we are caught with an alcoholic drink outside of the bar (there are a few rare exceptions within the US, like New Orleans).



It's become a sort of tradition for me and Marco to buy a bottle of wine with a screw top whenever we are on vacation. It may not look classy, but nothing is more fun than sightseeing through Dresden while trading swigs from a bottle of Pinot Grigio.

So now, as I look forward to going back to Germany in about 4 months, I am adding public drinking to my list of things I am most excited to do again. Judge me however you want.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

HGTV Globe Traveler

Ever since my parents bought a house to completely renovate, I have become addicted to HGTV (Home and Garden Television -- a TV station dedicated to home improvement shows). I regularly fantasize about being on House Hunters International someday, with cameramen following me around as I look at apartments in Germany.


 So one day, as I was watching HGTV, I saw a commercial for this House Hunters International Globe Traveler competition. Of course I instantly went online and signed up to get my bandana.

 Throughout 2013, HGTV will be choosing monthly winners -- people who took a picture with their bandana somewhere unique. The winners get $500 -- that could take care of some student loan payments!

Since I will be in Germany (and probably Italy) later this year, I figure I can totally take some kick-ass pictures with this bandana!

So I will let you all know when I am finally able to enter the competition, and I will definitely be posting those pictures here as well. Let's hope the next few months go by quickly!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mistranslation Monday: Blow Off

Mistranslation Monday is going to become a thing. This is my favorite one that has occurred between me and my boyfriend, Marco.

Me: I feel bad because I blew off my friend Tony last night.
Marco: You did what?!

It took me a few seconds to understand why he was becoming so upset.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

That's Not My Name

Courtney is not a name commonly heard in Germany. I found this out immediately upon arriving in Germany the first time, when the man I had arranged to pick me up said, "You're Courtney?! I thought it would be a man."

Years later I have now been dating a German for nearly 2 years, and my name has always been a sort of issue. I don't think he ever actually said my name for the first year of us dating because he was embarrassed of his pronunciation. I have gotten used to the typical way that Germans say my name though. The weird way the say the "R" and make the "NEY" at the end sound more like "NAY" is just fine. 

This past summer, though, I went to my boyfriend's family reunion in the Alps. I was meeting many of his family members for the first time, and my name was soon brought up as an issue among his uncles. 

"Your name is too hard to say," one of them told me.

Well, okay. I don't know how to respond to that...

"I'm just going to call you Kate," he says.

Kate really sounds similar to Courtney to you? That's what I am thinking but don't dare to say. But sure, fine. I can be Kate. 

Anyways, as Romeo once said:  
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet 

Monday, March 11, 2013

American to German Plug Adapter

It was only 2 weeks before leaving the US for several months that I realized a plug adapter would be a neccessity to live in Germany. Here are my favorite products that I have been using ever since.
I actually prefer the German Schuko outlets. 
When traveling to Germany from the US, you need an outlet adapter. This picture shows the difference between the American plug and outlet (top) and the German plug and outlet (bottom).

If you are bringing a lot of personal electronics (hair straightener, computer/phone/iPod chargers, etc) I find it much easier to just buy one outlet plug adapter for the German power outlet and plug an American power strip into the outlet adapter. 



This outlet adapter by VCT Electronics is definitely my favorite. I have now had it for over 2 years and it still works, which is more than I can say for most electronics. It is also a pretty cheap outlet adapter and can be bought on Amazon. A good thing to note too is that it has the 3rd hole for the ground on the American plug. 



Along with this outlet adapter, I have also been using the  Monster Outlets To Go travel power strip for over 2 years. This power strip is very compact, which makes it great for traveling. The power cord wraps around and plugs into itself as well, so you don't have to worry about extra cords tangling up in your bag. I've definitely used all of the outlets at once (charging my phone and iPod, while on my plugged in computer, and straightening my hair) and it works great.

I know this subject stressed me out a bit before I went to study abroad for the first time, so I hope someone finds my favorite travel power strip and  American to German power plug adapter helpful!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Downton Abbey's Lady Grantham on Travel

 Great advice from Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey (s3e8):

 Definitely the best line from s3e8
"My husband was a great traveler, so I've spent many happy evenings without understanding a word. The thing is to keep smiling. And never look as if you disapprove."

Friday, March 8, 2013

Flying with Diabetes

I have had type 1 diabetes for over 3 years. In those 3 years, I have been through the security in 8 different airports (3 in the US, 5 in Europe). I feel that I can confidently say that I am a professional at getting through airport security with diabetes medication and an insulin pump.

Traveling with diabetes, you are told that you should bring along a note from your doctor stating that it is necessary for you to have your medication in your carry-on. I did bring a note from my doctor the first time I left the country in 2011, but in all the times I have flown since then (yes, even internationally) I have never brought such a note. I’m not a good role model, although I have never been asked by security to see such a note.

I typically carry-on all of my insulin (I use glass vials) in an insulated lunch bag like this:


And even though I use an insulin pump, I bring a few bags of syringes. Yes, you can bring syringes on a plane.

Flying with an insulin pump makes the security process even more fun (sarcasm). I refuse to disconnect my pump and allow it to go through the x-ray machine, so I simply keep it connected and hold it in my hand as I walk up to the body scanning machine. They typically allow me to still go through the body scan machine, then ask me afterwards to handle my pump, and then they wipe my hands with a cloth, which is then checked in a machine for traces of explosives. Don’t worry, I’ve always been clean!

Having a pump still connected does mean that you will inevitably get the full groping, though. This doesn’t bother me at all. I love getting taken into one of those cubicles and felt up by a female officer (sarcasm again). They always ask to look at my infusion site as well. That’s life as a diabetic traveler, though.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Eichhörnchen, Einhörnchen, und die deutsche Sprache

Translation: Squirrels, Baby Unicorn Squirrels, and the German language.

While I was studying abroad in Lüneburg in 2011, I kept a blog for my school. Unfortunately, I only ever posted 3 entries to that blog, but I will share one of these posts with you now. It was written after being in Germany about 2 weeks:

As I enter my 3rd week in Germany, I am feeling much more confident in my German-speaking abilities and can feel an immense increase in my knowledge of the language. I had been told by many people that understanding/being able to speak German will not be necessary to live here. While it certainly isn't necessary (about 3/4 of the Americans in this exchange program can't say much more than 'Ein Bier, bitte') I still believe is it incredibly important to speak the native language of any country you choose to reside.

My very first experience in Germany occurred in the airport, when my driver said to me in German, 'I was expecting a man' (Courtney is not a German name, and they have a hell of a time trying to pronounce it, but at least they always remember it). Since then, I have made many German friends and am able to somewhat communicate with my German roommates since I studied German for a few years before embarking on this trip. And speaking of German roommates, I cannot emphasize enough how elated I am to only live with Germans. From listening to their phone conversations, conversations with each other, and speaking in German together daily, I believe they have taught me more already than my 10 hours of German classes each week.

One of my roommates loves to test my knowledge of the German language daily. Our most common game is one in which he lists a category, such as vegetables (Gemüse) and will start having me list all of them that I know. Once I exhaust my knowledge he will move onto new words for me to learn. This may seem like too simple of a game for someone who has been studying German for more than 4 years, but one humbling thing you find when moving to a country where you are not a native speaker is that your accent SUCKS and NOBODY CAN UNDERSTAND YOU.

So recently, we began talking about animals that live in Germany, and in my attempt to say squirrel (Eichhörnchen) he completely could not understand me and drilled me on this word for a full hour. A few nights later, I decide to show off by saying it to a different German friend, but what he hears is Einhörnchen, or little unicorn. So it goes. As my neighbor told me, and I often must remind myself, it is the difficulty which makes the German language so beautiful.


And yes, of course I own this t-shirt.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Introduction

It was about 2 years ago that I left the US for the first time. I was going to be studying abroad in Germany for a semester and I while I was definitely excited, I was also terrified. I never could have guessed how much that experience would shape the rest of my life, however.

Two years later, I certainly still have a great interest and passion for German culture and language, but I am also now forever entwined in it. Although I am now currently living in the states again, I will be returning to Germany soon and cannot wait to experience all the adventures ahead of me. 

Throughout the next few months I will be posting about my past experiences, as well as my preparations for my next trip across the ocean (it'll be a one-way ticket this time!). Stay tuned!

Courtney in Nuremberg 2011

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