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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Windows in Germany

Yes, today I am going to talk about windows. You see, I have discussed this topic before with Germans, and from my experiences, I have developed many opinions about German windows vs. American windows.

I first moved to Germany in August, and I remember trying to open the window in my bedroom that very first night. In the US, I have always lived in houses and apartments with windows like this:

To open it you simply open the latch in the middle of the window, then either pull the bottom half up or push the top half down. But in my new apartment in Germany, I was confronted with a window like this:

With these windows, when the handle is facing left, the window swings open like a door. When it up, like the in picture, it tilts, and when it is faced down, the window is locked. I twisted the handle to the left, so my window opened like a door, and I was shocked. 

While I needed some air circulation in my room (it was a pretty hot August/September), there were 2 things keeping me from opening my window:

1. My apartment was half underground, which meant that someone walking by would climb through my window into my room to steal my stuff and kill me. People in Lüneburg would probably think it is crazy to think this would happen (I wouldn't even open it when I was sitting at my desk right next to it), but I come from Chicago, where you have to have these tabs on your windows so that your window won't open more than 2 inches, keeping burglars and murderers out:

2. There are no screens! It was the summer, there was bugs outside, and there was no screens on my window. I don't think I had ever seen an open window without a screen on it before I went to Germany. Currently I am living in the house that my parents are renovating, which means that we recently installed new windows. They do not have screens in them yet, but the weather was really nice over the weekend. I asked my mom, "Why don't you open the windows?" to which she replied, "I can't open them, there are no screens! The bugs will all come in!" "But there are no bugs out yet, it's only April," I said. She replied, "Then a bird will probably fly in, or a squirrel will jump in here!" Needless to say, screens are seen as a necessity in the US.

I lived in Germany during the summer with my windows closed for about a week until I finally had a neighbor from upstairs come over and show me how to properly open the window (my mind was blown). He also taught me to finally use my shower, but that's another story.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mistranslation Monday: Frühling?

With Spring (almost) here, I thought I would share this stupid mistake I made in translation with my boyfriend's father's girlfriend -- that sounds more confusing than it really is.

We were having breakfast in their RV in Dresden one morning in October, when she wanted to show me her new clothing that she had just bought. She showed me brown sweaters and yellow t-shirts, a red scarf and a brown skirt.

"Schön!" I said to her, "Schöne Frühlingsfarben!" (Nice Spring colors!)

She just stared at me like I was an idiot for 10 seconds before reponding, "Ja, oder Herbst..." (Yeah, or Autumn)

She still always compliments me on my German whenever we talk to each other, but I think it is just to make me feel better about myself.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

One Way Ticket

I can hardly believe it, but I just bought my one-way ticket to Germany for July! Although I have spent a lot of time there already, I have always gone with my return ticket already booked. That means that I always spent my time dreading the predetermined end date. Although my trips were always over a month, I still spent a lot of time having to make plans around it, worry about it, talk about it, and this time I won't be!

Can you tell I'm excited? I'm pretty freaking excited. Now I just have to let my boss know...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mistranslation Monday: Geil!

Marco drinking wine by the river Weser in Bremen
I was on a day trip to Bremen in the Fall of 2011 that I heard the word "geil" used for the first time by a native German.  That German was none other than (my now boyfriend, but he wasn't at the time) Marco. We had just bought a bottle of wine and some Kinder Überraschungseier to enjoy next to the river Weser. 

We were eating the Kinder Surprises as we walked to find a place to sit next to the river when a guy we walked by said, "Kinder Überraschungen!" Marco immediatley replied, "Ja, Kinder Überraschungen sind geil!"

I had only ever known the word from my German-English dictionary that I had in high school, when me and my classmates thought it was funny to use the word in class exercises.

"Wie heißen Sie?" "Ich heiße Courtney." "Wie geht es Ihnen?" "Ich bin heiss!" "Ja, ich bin geil auch!"

I had no clue that this word meant anything other than "horny." So when my friend was suddenly calling a children's candy horny, I was incredibly confused. In today's German slang, however, geil has come to simply mean "cool" or "great," which is a great thing to know when listening to Germans speak everyday, otherwise you'd probably go around thinking everyone and everything is horny all the time.

So now I will leave you with a great new song, titled Supergeil by Der Tourist feat. Friedrich Liechtenstein-- Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Studying Abroad in Lüneburg

I studied abroad in Lüneburg for the Fall semester of my senior year of college in 2011. After studying German for about 4 years, I knew I wanted to go to Germany, and my school was only affiliated with programs to Lüneburg or Berlin. Now you may ask yourself: Why would you choose Lüneburg, city of 70,000 people, to Berlin, full of history, culture, and Germany's capital!?

The answer: $10,000

Although my reason for choosing to study in Lüneburg was purely monetary, it has turned out to be one of the most influential decisions I have made in my life.

The best part about studying in Lüneburg as an American through the USAC program is how truly immersed in German culture you can become. At Loyola University Chicago, most students choose to study abroad in Rome. They studied at an American university in a foreign city, which meant living, studying, and hanging out with almost exclusively other American students. This is not the experience that I was looking for when I made my decision to study abroad.

I chose to live in student housing for Leuphana, and I was housed in a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment with 2 German men. This meant that from day one I was truly immersed in the culture and language, giving me no safety net.  Although I obviously still had most of my classes with all of the other American students and hung out with them throughout most of the day, I was still heavily immersed in the culture and language.

Through these experiences, I have realized what is truly important to me, found amazing new friends, and met the love of my life. So now, although my boyfriend will be the first to say that Lüneburg is an incredibly dull city to live in, I still believe that it is a truly great city to study in.

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