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Monday, March 31, 2014

Tomato Update: Week 5

So, I have not done a tomato update since exactly one week after we planted the seeds. It has now been five weeks since they were planted, and they have grown quite a bit!

After about 3 weeks, we transplanted them to their own pots. Here is what they look like now:

Hopefully we can move them outside soon!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

TestDaF Ergebnis

I got my TestDaF results today! They are as follows:

Reading (Leseverstehen): 5

Listening (Hörverstehen): 5

Writing (Schriftlicher Ausdruck): 4

Speaking (Mündlicher Ausdruck): 4

The highest score you can get on each portion is a 5, and you need at least a 4 on all sections to study in Germany. So, this means I passed! The 5's I got in reading and listening are just like icing on the cake.

I am so happy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My German Visa Journey: Student Application Visa

In my last visa update, I talked about how I got a German language course visa. Since my German class ended and I took the TestDaF at the end of February, that visa was expiring.

My plan is to now apply for my Master's. However, the application period does not begin until April 1, so I needed an extension on my visa. Luckily, Germany has something know as a student application visa (Visum zum Zweck der Studienbewerbung) that gives foreigners time to live in Germany for 3 to 9 months as they apply to universities (if you can speak German, check out §16(1a)).

My new sticker in my passport. Germany loves the color pink.

For the student application visa, all I needed was:

1. Proof of Health Insurance
Just like last time, I brought a letter from my parent's insurance (BlueCross BlueShield) that states that I am covered while living abroad. It was in English, but he didn't care.

2. Proof of Finances
Marco already filled out the necessary paperwork to vouch for me financially last time (Verplichtungserklärung). This is good for three years, so I didn't have to do anything here.

3. Money
If I had asked for 9 months, then I would have had to pay more. However, when you are getting a visa for 6 months or less, you only get a sticker in your passport, not a separate ID card. This cost me 50 Euro.

My old visa was expiring on March 31st. I went into the foreigner's office on March 24th, and I walked out that same day with the sticker in my passport. Good to have that out of the way!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The American Foods I Miss Most

My March article for Expat Focus was about the American foods that I miss most. To accompany the article, I wanted to make a blog post with some delicious pictures. I also put the six foods that I mentioned in order according to what I miss most.

6. Girl Scout Cookies (particularly Samoas)

Girl Scout Cookies by Hinnosaar

5. Root Beer

A&W Root Beer by Banzai Hiroaki

4. Cheese Popcorn

Billy's Lounge Popcorn by stevendepolo

3. Red Licorice

Red Vines by Incase

2. Reese's

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups by KEF08

1. Mac and Cheese

Kraft Mac & Cheese Three Cheese by Myself :)

For more words on this subject, make sure to check out my article on Expat Focus!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Rollerblading in Germany

Lidl had rollerblades on sale last week. Since the weather has been so nice here lately (the temperature got up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit a week ago!), we decided we should pick some up. We each had two colors to choose from.

These were the men's options:

These were the women's options:

Can you guess which ones we picked? 

We have already taken them out on a few trips around the neighborhood. And I have to say, for rollerblades bought from a grocery store, they are pretty nice! 

rollerblading in Germany

Here you can see the colors we each picked.

rollerblading on brick

The worst thing about rollerblading in Germany is that nearly all of the roads and sidewalks are cobblestone or brick. So, you really have to have good balance, because there almost no chance of finding a nice smooth stretch of asphalt.

Since I had never rollerbladed in at least 5 years, however, I was pretty proud of myself. I only fell once!

Monday, March 17, 2014

German Problems: Garbage Bins

If you spend a lot of time on the internet, then you have probably heard of "First World Problems," "White Girl Problems," or something equally ridiculous. Basically, these are problems that only exist for a certain group of people. So, when Marco made a comment about a problem he had when he took the garbage out the other day, I could not help but laugh, because his complaint was so distinctly German.

So, I figured I would start a new series on my blog called "German Problems." These will be problems that only Germans (or people living in Germany) experience. This first one is called "Garbage Bins."

People sort their garbage here into at least five different sections: compost (bio), paper, glass, plastics/packaging (der gelbe Sack), and the rest. So, in the garbage area outside of our apartment, there are four different colored bins: yellow for der gelbe Sack, brown for bio, blue for paper, and black for the rest. To recycle glass, we have to walk over to the community garbage bins down the road.

So, when Marco walked in from taking out the garbage in the dark the other night, he said:

It was too dark out, and I couldn't tell the difference between the black and brown bins. I may have put the bio garbage in the wrong bin.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Weekend with Daisy

At Marco's old apartment, he had a cat with one of his roommates named Daisy. Unfortunately, when we moved into a new apartment together, Marco had to say his goodbyes. Last weekend, however, we had the pleasure of having her stay with us for four days. Here are some pictures from this time:

And my personal favorite (she stuck her head under my arm and fell asleep like this):

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bacon AND Cheese Hot Dogs

The local grocery store had bacon and cheese filled hot dogs last week. As soon as I saw the advertisement in the newspaper, I knew I had to get them.

The package contained six huge sausages. So, for dinner that night, Marco ate three, and I ate two.

We grilled them on the panini grill, which is how Marco likes to cook everything nowadays.

You can see they didn't exactly fit on our plates.

Now, I have to preface my review by saying that cheese-filled anything is my favorite kind of food. So, I had high hopes for these guys. Marco, of course, was more excited for the bacon part.

And I have to say, overall, they were pretty good. I was happy that the bacon flavor wasn't too strong, but you could definitely still taste it. You can see some of the bacon and fat bits in the picture on the right. They were definitely lacking in the cheese area, however.

Although, we did still end up buying another package that same week ;)

What is your favorite kind of sausage?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

German Peanut Butter Review

Germans aren't big on peanut butter. In fact, when I made Marco try it for the first time almost three years ago, he told me it was disgusting. Luckily, he's been around it so much since then that he has grown to like it.

I, on the other hand, love peanut butter. I probably go through about two jars per month. Sometimes I think that I am responsible for at least half of Lüneburg's peanut butter sales.

So, I decided I will start keeping a little log of all the brands I try in Germany.

We will start with the three I have in my cupboard at the moment:

1. McEnnedy Smooth Peanut Butter

Where to get it: I bought this one from Lidl, a German grocery store, during their "American Week" (it is only during this time that Lidl sells peanut butter at all). Do you like the stereotypical American label?

What it tastes like: It basically tastes like off-brand Jif. Very smooth and very sweet. It's made from 93% peanuts, but brown sugar as the second ingredient on the list.

Would I buy it again: Definitely not my favorite, but I still like it on toast. So, I would buy it whenever American Week rolls around again.

2. Alnatura Crunchy Peanut Butter

Where to get it: This is an "all natural" brand, and you can see on the bottom that it is also organic (bio in German). It is sold at DM, which is like a German Walgreens.

What does it taste like: If you look at the peanut butter on the spoon, you can immediately see that this has quite a strange consistency and color. It is very dry and very salty. It tastes like eating chopped up peanuts covered in fat, which it basically is. The only ingredients listed are peanuts (88%), oil, and salt. I would say that they didn't keep the blender on long enough when they made this, though. It is full of whole and half peanuts.

Would I buy it again: Definitely not. It is not spreadable by any means, so the only real option is to eat it with a spoon, which is not particularly enjoyable.

3. PCD Pinda Kaas

Where to get it: This one actually comes from the Netherlands, hence the strange name (Pindakaas). They carry it at Edeka, which is one of Germany's biggest supermarkets, though.

What does it taste like: This one is actually my favorite peanut butter that I have tried in Germany so far. It is creamy, but has a slight grittiness to it that reminds you it is made from real peanuts.

Would I buy it again: The one in the picture is already empty, and that is probably the 5th jar I have bought in the past 6 months. So... yeah.

What's your favorite brand of peanut butter? Do you like your peanut butter crunchy or creamy?
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