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Monday, May 26, 2014

Mistranslation Monday: Sober

The German boyfriend shares an office with a pregnant coworker. When he came home from work the other day, he was telling me about how she has to get some extra blood tests done soon.
"That must be really stressful," I said.

"Yeah, she also has to be sober for the the tests," Marco responded.

"...I would hope she is sober anyways. She is pregnant," I said cautiously.

"Wait, what? What does sober mean?"
After talking it over, we realized that German has the same word for both sober and fasting (nüchtern). So, no worries, his pregnant coworker is not drunk all the time.

Do you know a word that can be translated in two different ways, with each resulting in a very different meaning?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mistranslation Monday: Married with Children

When American movies and TV shows are translated into German, the titles are usually changed to something completely different. This can make having a conversation with a German about movies or TV shows quite difficult.

I first realized this when the German boyfriend was visiting me in Chicago, and we went to see Buckingham Fountain.

Visiting Buckingham Fountain in Chicago

"Cool! Just like in the beginning of Eine schrecklich nette Familie (An awfully nice family)!" he said.

"What are you talking about?" I asked.

"You know, the one with Al Bundy!"

Then I remembered this scene from the opening credits of the TV show Married with Children -- which is a far cry from Eine schrecklich nette Familie.

Opening credits of Married with Children

Do you know any other TV shows or movies that had their titles completely changed when they were translated into a different language?

Friday, May 16, 2014

One Man's Sperrmüll, Another Man's Treasure

Imagine all of the worst items you see in a garage sale: ugly furniture, broken electronics, dirty rugs. Instead of people trying to sell this stuff, however, the entire city just sets their junk out along the curb on the same day, causing all of the sidewalks in your neighborhood to look like this:

This is actually a special kind of garbage day that is held in Germany once every other month, which is known as Sperrmüll (bulk garbage).

Scrappers drive around in their trucks grabbing all of the metal they can find. Students and families may occasionally grab a piece of furniture if they find something worthwhile. Otherwise, garbage trucks come around to collect the leftovers.

Wednesday was Sperrmüll day where I live, so on Tuesday afternoon, everyone began setting out their garbage. I went out for a walk that evening and happened to find something that I quite liked.

The German boyfriend and I had been wanting a small table for the balcony, and the color of this table caught my eye. I called up Marco immediately. Since he is not a big fan of taking furniture from Sperrmüll, however, he was a little weary.

"I can't come right now, so you are going to have to carry whatever you find," he said.

Challenge accepted. It is a pretty small table, and I was only about a 10-minute walk from my apartment. 

And although it is definitely used and a little rickety, I really like it. Surprisingly enough, Marco does too! So, no more having to search for a table for the balcony! Thanks, Sperrmüll!

If you live in Germany, have you ever gotten something from the Sperrmüll? 

Or for my American friends, have you ever found a treasure in someone else's garbage?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Applying for a Master's in Germany

I have been living in Germany for about one year now, and the majority of my time here has been spent preparing to apply to German universities. From getting a student application visa to taking the TestDaF, it was all in hopes of someday getting my master's in Germany.

Well, now that the applications have been sent, all that is left to do is wait. And although I do not know if I have been accepted, I figured I could still write about the application process and my experience.

Required Documents

This varies depending on the university, but from the schools that I looked at, there were specific documents that each of them required. These include:

  • Schulzeugnis (High School Diploma/Transcript)
    • This was the most annoying for me, as my high school does would not mail my transcript to Germany. So, I had to pay $5 to have it sent to my mother, then she forwarded it to me.
  • Studienzeugnis* (Bachelor's Transcript)
    • The university where I got my Bachelor's allows alumni to request official transcripts online. It was then mailed directly to my German address within one week.
  • Passkopie (Copy of Passport)
  • Nachweis über ausreichende Deutschkenntnisse* (Certificate of German Proficiency)
    • Most universities require TestDaF-4 or DSH-2. I took the TestDaF and received two 4's and two 5's, which means I have TestDaF-4.
  • Nachweis über ausreichende Englischkenntnisse* (Certificate of English Proficiency)
    • If your Bachelor's courses were taught in English, then this is not necessary.
*these documents had to be certified (amitlich beglaubigt)


If you did not complete your Bachelor's in Germany, then you must apply for your master's via uni-assist.

First, you will fill out a couple pages of online forms regarding your past education, internships, and jobs -- pretty basic stuff. Then you will reach an upload section where you have to upload a copy of each of the documents your specific program requires.

After that is done, you have to print a form that confirms your completed online application. Once this is printed out, you can officially send off your electronic application.

applying for a Master's in Germany via uni-assist

But you are not done yet-- the next step is to pay the application fee, which is 68 Euros for non-EU residents. Then, you need to prepare your physical application.

Sign that form you printed off earlier, and put it in an envelope with a physical copy of each of the required documents. Also make sure to include a printed off receipt that shows you paid the fee. Once that is done, then you can seal that envelope up, mail it off to Berlin, and breathe a sigh of relief.

Now it is just a waiting game.

applying for a Master's in Germany at Leuphana

I mailed off my application on May 3. I received confirmation from uni-assist that they received it on May 6, but I will probably not receive an official response from the university for another 1-2 months.

mailing off my Master's application in Germany

Wish me luck!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mistranslation Monday: In-Laws

Ahh, the dreaded in-laws. I am not married, so I do not actually have any in-laws of my own, yet this is a term I hear quite a lot during my time in Germany.

Although I cannot remember exactly where I first learned this term, just like in the US, in-laws are a popular source for jokes in German movies and TV. And since I watch quite a bit of German TV, I had obviously heard the term enough to consider it a solid part of my German vocabulary.

So, one day, I was telling the German boyfriend about how my friend's in-laws were visiting her that weekend.

"Ihre Spiegeleltern besuchen sie dieses Wochenende," I said.

"Her what?!" Marco asked, starting to laugh.

"Spiegeleltern," I replied confidently. I mean, I had heard this word used several times by now, and I was positive that I was using it correctly.

"It is Schwiegereltern not Spiegeleltern," he explained.


I had thought the word for in-laws was Spiegeleltern, which would translate to "mirror parents." When you think about it, this term does kind of make sense... right?

But no, it is Schwiegereltern.

And, just like what always happens whenever Marco corrects my German, my mind started racing to remember if I had embarrassed myself by using this term in front of anyone else.

And, just like what always happens when Marco or I use the wrong word, we now continue to say Spiegeleltern whenever we talk about in-laws.

Friday, May 9, 2014

BFF with Germany's Next Top Model

My biggest guilty pleasure for the past few months has been watching Germany's Next Top Model every Thursday. So, I was pretty excited for the finale last night.

So excited, in fact, that I ended up tweeting a lot about it (apologies to anyone that follows me on twitter and doesn't care about Germany's Next Top Model), which led to one of the most exciting twitter experiences I have ever had--

Stefanie, winner of Germany's Next Top Model, on Twitter

That is Stefanie, the winner of Germany's Next Top Model, favoriting my tweet! 

Keep in mind that I have not used Twitter very much in the past, so that is why I found this pretty amusing.

Now my question for you -- if you use Twitter, have you ever had a celebrity favorite your tweet or, even better, retweet you?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Snail City

While enjoying the beautiful weather last weekend, a surprise thunderstorm hit. The sky opened up and poured down rain for a solid 30 minutes. And when the sun came back out, so did something else...



...and lots of snails.

There were little snails...

...and big snails.

Brown snails...

...and blue snails.

Hungry snails...

...and flexible snails.

Snails with smaller snails attached to their backs...

...and, as they are known in German, naked snails (Nacktschnecke).

The clothed ones make for much better pictures, however.

Are there snails where you live?

Tomato Update: Week 11

I have not posted an update on the tomato plants since week 5. So, I figured I should give a new update on how they are doing.

It has now been 11 weeks since the seeds were planted, and they have really developed into beautiful and healthy tomato plants. In total, 8 plants have made it to this stage, most of which have been given away to friends. We have kept 3 for ourselves, however.

We planted two of the plants in our balcony's flower boxes. I did read online that this is a bad idea, but oh well. You can see that I created quite a set-up to ensure that they will not fall over or blow away. Each of these plants should produce cherry tomatoes.

The third plant is kept in a large pot on the floor of our balcony. This is the only plant of the 8 that should produce normal-sized tomatoes.

The above pictures were taken about a week ago when we first transplanted them. Since then, they have not really changed much, except for something I just discovered today:

Flower buds! One of the flower-box plants and the plant on the ground have both grown flower buds. This is very exciting, because it is these flowers that will become fertilized and turn into tomatoes!

I will report back as more progress is made :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mistranslation Monday: Bladders

I was cooking dinner recently, when the German boyfriend yelled out quite a strange statement just as I was about to put the meat into then pan:

"We have to wait for all of the bladders to pop first!"


"I mean bubbles," he said after a moment.

That's right -- in German, the word for bladders (Blasen) is the same as the word for bubbles. And if you are still wondering why he said that, check out this nice German commercial:

(for my non-German readers: they say that when using this cooking oil/butter mixture, you know that the meat is ready to go in the pan when the bubbles all disappear... no, this blog post is not an advertisement for the stuff, although we do really like it)
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