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Monday, July 28, 2014

Die Arschscheibe | Mistranslation Monday

My parents were visiting over the last two weeks, and during that time, we made a nice tour through Germany. This tour included a trip to visit the German boyfriend's dad and girlfriend, who live near Nuremberg.

Being the gracious hosts they are, they treated my family to a delicious barbecue, which included grilled bacon, sausage, pork chops, and chicken breasts.

German barbecue

The highlight of the barbecue, however, was the beef tenderloin. 

Beef tenderloin in Germany

The next day, when visiting Nuremberg, we were all still talking about the delicious tenderloin. 

"Es war nur eine Arschscheibe übrig! (only the ass-slice was left over)" exclaimed the girlfriend of Marco's father. At least, that is what I thought she said.

"Die Arscheibe!" I repeated, laughing at her choice of words. I figured ass-slice referred to the end piece of meat, kind of like the end slice on a loaf of bread. When Marco just stared at me with a concerned look, however, I realized that I must have heard her wrong.

"Didn't she say Arschscheibe?" I asked him quietly. Finally realizing what was going on, he started laughing.

"No! She said eine Scheibe (a slice)," he explained.

You see, we were in Franconia, and Marco's father's girlfriend speaks a dialect known as Fränkisch. So, instead of saying the proper article "eine" she said "a" (prounounced 'ahh'). Since I am not used to hearing this dialect, I heard "ahh Scheibe" as "Arschscheibe."

Have you made any translation mistakes recently? Maybe your stories can make me feel better about mine...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My 1 Year Expat Anniversary

Today marks the one year anniversary of my move to Germany. This has been a very big year for me, and a lot has happened. So, I figured I would take this time to reflect on my expat life so far.

July 2013

  • On July 24th, I flew to Germany on a one-way ticket from Chicago to Hamburg

August 2013

September 2013

  • I started taking a C1/C2 TestDaF-prep course at the local VHS, and Marco gave my first Schultüte after class
  • Marco and I celebrated our 2-year anniversary

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

  • Marco and I celebrated New Year's together for the first time ever! 
  • I experienced the mind-blowing deliciousness of raclette for the first time as well
  • The rear window of Marco's car was mysteriously smashed one morning

February 2014

March 2014

  • I received my results from the TestDaF

April 2014

  • Marco and I celebrated Easter together for the first time

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

    And now, it is July again already. During this past year, I never actually left Germany one time. I have really adopted it as my home, at least for now.

    As I write this, I also cannot help but to think about what will be included on this list if I make it again one year from now. But my parents are currently visiting for two weeks, so I do not have any time for that right now.

    Until next time...

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

    How Germany Changed Me in the Bathroom

    When you move to a new country, there are certain changes that you expect. The food at the grocery store will be different. The shows on TV will be different. The way people talk on the street will be different. Still, there are always some little things that surprise you. That is why I have decided to start a new little series called "How Germany Changed Me..."

    Since this idea came to me as I was taking a shower one day, we will start in the bathroom. From personal care products to hygiene habits, here are some parts of my bathroom routine that changed since I moved to Germany.

    1. Deodorant

    At least 90 percent of the deodorant selection in U.S. stores is solid deodorants. So, it was only natural that I used these stick deodorants my entire life. Once I came to Germany, however, I realized that the deodorant selection looked quite different. Instead of 90 percent solid deodorants, German stores offer 90 percent spray deodorants.

    Although the sticks are still available here, I figured I would just do as the Germans do and purchased spray deodorants. After using spray deodorant for about one year now, I can honestly say that I do not really have much of an opinion on the matter. Deodorant is deodorant, and they all seem to work fine.

    2. Tampons

    I can still remember the first time I learned that most Germans use tampons without applicators. It was in 2011, when I came to study abroad in Germany during my senior year of college. I was with one of my American friends, and she told me she went shopping for tampons the day before. She was really confused by how small the boxes were for the number of tampons it claimed were inside. She purchased a box anyways and was shocked to realize they did not have applicators when she got home.

    So, when my time of the month came a few weeks later, I decided to dive right in and do as the Germans do once again. I figure these tampons produce less waste, take up less room in a purse, and I really like them overall. The most popular brand of non-applicator tampons is o.b., which is a German company that literally stands for "without pad" (ohne Binde). This brand is sold in the U.S. as well, so I continued to use non-applicator tampons even when I moved back to the U.S. in 2012.

    3. Hanging Towels

    What do you do with a wet towel after the shower? Unless you are lucky enough to own a towel rack (we're not), you hang it on a hook. If you are American, you probably hang it on the hook like this:

    At least, I always did. Since moving to Germany, however, I realized that Germans, being the masters of efficiency that they are, found a better way to hang towels. 

    All towels in Germany have a loop tag on one end of the towel (do the towels in the U.S. have that too?), and the Germans hang their towels with this tag. This allows the towel to hang much straighter, and thereby, dry faster. Genius!

    4. Epilating

    I actually did not first learn about epilating in Germany, but rather from a French roommate that I had during my senior year of college. She said that she had always used an epilator to remove the hair on her legs, and actually showed me how she did it. Basically, the epilator's rotating head of tweezers grabs the hairs and rips them out very quickly. After watching her do this, I was both horrified and intrigued. So, I bought one for myself.

    As far as I can tell, epilators are quite popular throughout Europe. Though they are also sold in the U.S., they are not nearly as common. I do not use my epilator very regularly, mostly due to pure laziness. I do like it, however, and suggest it for anyone that is willing to go through a little bit of pain in order to shave their legs less frequently.

    5. Showering

    I already touched on this a little bit in my German bathroom tour, but moving to Germany has also had an effect on the way I shower. 

    The biggest difference is due to the handheld shower head. These are quite rare in the U.S., but seem to be the norm in Germany. Although I do keep it mounted on the wall throughout most of the shower, I do take it in my hand when I rinse off my legs and feet.

    Have any of your personal hygiene habits changed after a move to a new place?

    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Book Spines | German Problems

    Today, I would like to talk with you about a very serious issue. I first noticed this problem my senior year of high school when my friend gave me three old German books that she found on sale at the library. As a new German-learner, I was excited to receive the books. After stepping back from placing them on my bookshelf at home, however, I noticed something horrible: the titles on the spines of the German books were facing the wrong way.

    I put together a small selection of the German boyfriend's and my books to show you just how serious this issue is:

    Doesn't that look horrible? As an American, I am used to tilting my head to the right to read book titles. Now, however, I look like a chicken as I tilt my head side to side trying to find the book I want (okay, maybe that is a little bit of an exaggeration).

    But seriously, does this problem exist with books in other language as well, or was it just German publishers that decided to go against the grain?

    And before some smart alack writes it in the comments: yes, I do realize I can just turn the German (or English) books the opposite way. However, this means that the books would technically be upside-down, and what kind of lunatic stores a book upside-down?

    Monday, July 7, 2014

    Lauenburg Day Trip

    Lauenburg an der Elbe

    When the German boyfriend and I left the apartment last Sunday, we didn't plan to go on a sightseeing trip. Rather, we were hoping to find some new summer clothes in Hamburg since it was a Verkaufsoffener Sonntag, meaning that all of the shops were open.

    Unfortunately, the shopping trip turned out to be an overwhelming failure, and after about 3 hours, we started driving back home with nothing but 3 pairs of socks. To make matters worse, we realized that the entrance to the Autobahn was closed.

    So, we were reading the road signs, trying to find a different way home, when we saw a sign for Lauenburg.

    "You know, I always wanted to visit Lauenburg," Marco said.

    "Okay, let's go."

    The sign said it was only 21 km away, so we decided to turn our unsucessful shopping trip into a fun little excursion to the history city of Lauenburg.

    After parking, we walked over a bridge, and I snapped this picture of the street below:

    Lauenburg street

    Lauenburg is a historic city that was founded in 1182 and currently has a population of about 12,000. The city is located directly on the river Elbe in Schleswig-Holstein. 

    After walking over the bridge, the first building we came across was the castle tower (Schlossturm). Unfortunately, the castle itself burnt down in 1616, and all of the other parts have since been destroyed. However, the historic tower remains.

    Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of the outside, but we did walk up a a few flights of very narrow stairs to the top of the tower.

    Stairs in Lauenburg castle tower

    Stairs in Lauenburg castle tower

    bells in Lauenburg castle tower

    view from Lauenburg castle tower

    view from Lauenburg castle tower

    They say that it is possible to see as far as Lüneburg, which is 25 km southwest, on a clear day. 

    In the center of the tower is a floor with small prison cells, each of which looked like this: 

    prison cell in Lauenburger Schlossturm

    Then, after leaving the tower, we took a trail towards the city center. 

    Lauenburg landscape

    The Maria-Magdalenen Church, which was built in the 13th century, is by far the most recognizable building in Lauenburg's skyline. Take a peek back up to the pictures we took from the tower, and you will immediately see it. Here is the church up close:

    Maria-Magdalenen Church

    Since it was quite a hot day, we finished off our city tour by relaxing next to the Elbe.

    River Elbe

    Elbe Lauenburg

    So, what was supposed to be a Sunday of shopping turned into a spontaneous city trip. Although it was not planned, our two hour city tour was actually very nice, and Marco and I have both fallen just a little bit in love with Lauenburg. For anyone that lives in the area, I highly suggest checking it out.

    When was the last time you went on a spontaneous day trip?

    Wednesday, July 2, 2014

    Top 5 Novels for Learning German

    If you are learning German, language tools such as Duolingo or Rosetta Stone can only take you so far. During my 5+ years of learning German, I have found that immersing myself in German films, TV shows, and books is a great way to improve language skills outside of the classroom.

    Now, this list is not for those new to the German language. If you have been learning German for a few years now and consider yourself at the B1 level, however, then German novels can help you broaden your vocabulary, learn new phrases, and improve your overall reading comprehension. Here are my top 5 German book recommendations:

    1. Liebe geht durch alle Zeiten: Rubinrot, Saphirblau, Smaragdgrün

    by Kerstin Gier

    Do not be fooled by the lame title -- this is not just a girly love story. Liebe geht durch alle Zeiten is actually a trilogy of young adult novels that I would consider science fiction/drama. The novels are about a 16-year-old girl named Gwendolyn Shepherd, who comes from a family in which some of the women posses a time-travelling gene. She finds out at 16-years-old that she has this gene as well, and then must deal with the consequences. The first book was even made into a decent movie for those that are looking for a low-budget German film to check out.

    German Level: B2/C1

    Links to Find It on
    Rubinrot - Book | Movie

    If you are lazy and just want a good trilogy to read in English, there is a good translation of these books available on
    Ruby Red
    Sapphire Blue
    Emerald Green

    2. Best Short Stories/Die schönste Erzählungen

    by Franz Kafka

    In 2011, just before I left to study abroad in Germany, I started freaking out about the quality of my German. I was worried I wouldn't be able to talk to anyone or that I would completely make a fool out of myself. So, I bought this book. I was around B1 level at the time, and I really loved the book's format. You can easily enjoy the short stories, and look over to opposite page, where the English translation is, whenever you do not know a word. This book in particular features five short stories by Franz Kafka, who is known as one of the greatest modern writers not only in Germany, but throughout the entire literary world. 

    German Level: B1/B2

    Find it on Amazon here.

    3. Das Parfum

    by Patrick Süskind 

    I'm not going to lie-- I have only gotten through the first chapter of this book so far. This novel's English translation was pretty popular and was even turned into a film. So despite not having finished it myself yet, I feel pretty comfortable suggesting it. Since the story is set in 18th century France, I do think it uses some out-dated vocabulary, making it a little difficult for us modern non-native German-speakers. When you have a smart phone equipped with a translating app at your side, however, it is doable.

    German Level: C1+

    Find it on Amazon here.

    4. Short Stories in German


    Here is another short story/parallel text book that I quite enjoyed reading. It is mix of contemporary short stories by various authors, so you will probably find some stories more interesting than others. Overall, though, I liked the mix of stories in this book and recommend it to those that like having the safety net a parallel text book provides.

    German Level: B1/B2

    Find it on Amazon here.

    5. Faust 

    by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Known as one of the greatest works of German literature, those really feeling up to the challenge should try tackling Goethe's most popular play. This version from Bantam Classics in particular is nice because it includes both the original text in German as well as its English translation. So, once again, you can attempt to stumble through the original text, and occasionally peek over at the English translation when there is a word that totally trips you up.

    German Level: C1+

    Find it on Amazon here.

    Let me know if you find my list helpful, or if you have any German book recommendations for me in the comments below!
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