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Monday, September 21, 2015

Colorful | Mistranslation Monday

-haft is a German adjective suffix. Examples of words with this suffix include dauerhaft (permanent; long-lasting), herzhaft (hearty), and grauenhaft (atrocious; morbid).  Today, however, I want to talk about the German word fabelhaft, which I always missheard as farbehaft.


fabelhaft oder farbehaft?


Fabelhaft means fabulous or mavelous. It comes from the word Fabel (fable). Add on the suffix -haft, and it becomes an adjective which basically means "like a fairy tale."

Silly me has always understood the word fabelhaft as farbehaft, which is not a real word. To me, however, it meant "colorful" (Farbe = color).

I am pretty sure that I have been understanding the word as fabelhaft as farbehaft for years. Instead of using a word like "marvelous," I simply thought that Germans used the word "colorful" to describe wonderful things. It made sense to me!

This mistranslation was brought to my attention recently when the German boyfriend was proofreading one of my term papers. The paper was about a research project I did on food fotography in Hamburg. Wanting to describe a group of pictures as colorful, I used the word farbehaft in my paper.

As he was proofreading the paper, Marco called me over to ask "What is this word supposed to be? Do you mean farbenfroh?"

"Farbehaft. Colorful. Yeah, farbenfroh means the same thing," I replied, thinking that farbehaft was a synonym for farbenfroh.

"Ok. But farbehaft isn't a word. Are you thinking of fabelhaft?!"

Then he kindly explained to me the correct spelling, pronunciation, and meaning of fabelhaft, and I was left pondering all of the times I thought Germans were describing things as colorful.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Four Happy Years

Happy 4-year anniversary, Marco! Unfortunately, we do not have many pictures together, but here are some of my favorites from over the years:

October 2011: Rothenburg ob der Tauber


May 2012: Chicago

September 2012: Pfänder


September 2012: Freiburg 

October 2012: Schloss Neuschwanstein

December 2012: Chicago (Macy's) 

August 2013: Rome

December 2013: Nuremberg

July 2014: Nuremberg

July 2014: Nuremberg (we take a lot of pictures together whenever we go to Nuremberg)

September 2014: Lüneburg

October 2014: Austria

I know it is cliche to say things like: "I don't know where I would be without you." But my life would be very different right now if you hadn't found me in that parking lot four years ago.

Monday, September 14, 2015

How to Make Homemade Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

If you didn't already know, I love Reese's peanut butter cups. Actually, I love all things peanut butter and chocolate, which is a shame since I live in Germany, where this type of candy really doesn't exist. 

After getting several shipments of Reese's and other peanut butter and chocolate candy from my family in the U.S., I finally decided to try making my own, and it actually turned out great!

Homemade Reese's peanut butter cups
Yes, those are the peanut butter cups that I made! Look at that magazine-worthy photography!

To make this recipe you will need:
  • 200 g chocolate
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
Of course all of these amounts can be adjusted to your personal preferences. I like thin layers of chocolate and a thick layer of peanut butter in the middle. I also chose to use dark chocolate instead of milk.

For this recipe, you will also need muffin forms. The paper ones work great and give the Reese's that iconic ridged look along the edge. I used silicon muffin forms, which also worked great. Best of all, they are reusable, and I bought them on Amazon for only 5€. 

Ingredients for homemade Reese's peanut butter cups

Half of the chocolate will be used for the bottom layer of the peanut butter cups, and the other half will be for the top layer. So, you should start by setting out your muffin forms, and melting half (100 g) of the chocolate. I chose to use dark chocoalte (50%), but obviously milk chocolate would be more traditional. 

If you want the chocolate to be very soft like the original Reese's, then you can also mix in a couple teaspoons of peanut butter into the chocolate.

Melting chocolate for homemade Reese's peanut butter cups

Once it is melted, spoon a thin layer into the bottom of each of the muffin forms. If you want to make sure that the peanut butter does not show through on the sides, then you should try to drag the chocolate up on the sides of the muffin forms as well.

Melting chocolate for homemade Reese's peanut butter cups

I tried to make the layers about 0.5 cm in the bottom of the forms. Some ended up closer to 1 cm, but that's okay.  Place the forms into the refrigerator or freezer to harden the chocolate. 

Silicone forms for homemade Reese's peanut butter cups

While the first layer of chocolate is hardening, mix the peanut butter, powdered sugar, and butter. You can melt the peanut butter and butter in the microwave to make it easier to mix. 

Mixing peanut butter for homemade Reese's peanut butter cups

Once the chocolate is hardened, pull the forms out of the fridge, and add a layer of peanut butter. To make sure the peanut butter doesn't show through too much, try not to let it touch the sides of the form. You can add as much or as little peanut butter you want -- I like a lot of peanut butter and thin layers of chocolate.

Peanut butter layer for homemade Reese's peanut butter cups

Let the peanut butter layer harden in the refrigerator or freezer for a little bit, then add the final layer of chocolate. You only need to add enough to completely cover the peanut butter layer. Once that is done, put your peanut butter back in the refrigerator to completely harden before eating!

Homemade Reese's peanut butter cups

Homemade Reese's peanut butter cups
Are there any other types of American candy that I should try to recreate?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Working as a Foreign Student in Germany

Foreign students enrolled at a German university are allowed to work 120 full days or 240 half days per year. This equates to working 20 hours per week (i.e. four hours per day, five days per week).

Working as a foreign student in Germany
I was lucky enough to find a job right when I started studying in Germany. I worked this job for the entire first year of my Master's degree. My contract varied between 10 hours per week and 15 hours per week, both of which I found manageable during the semester. 

In Germany, student jobs at a university are usually referred to as "studentische Hilfskraft (SHK)" or "wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft (WHK)." The term WHK is usually used for those that already have an academic degree. All student jobs at a university have a fixed hourly wage based on your education level and the state in which your university is located.

Bundesland Without Degree With Bachelor   With Master    
Baden-Württemberg 9.16€ 10.68€ 14.49€
Bayern 8.50€ 9.30€ 12.00€
Rheinland-Pfalz 9.29€ 10.81€ 14.68€
Berlin 10.98€
Hamburg 9.02€
Hessen 8.90€ 10.50€ 14.10€
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 9.05€ 10.54€ 13.92€
Niedersachsen 9.10€ 10.85€ 14.38€
Nordrhein-Westfalen 9.00€
Sachsen 9.05€ 10.54€ 14.33€
Note: States that are not included may not have a standard wage for SHK/WHK. All figures change from semester to semester and from university to university (Source).

Since I have a Bachelor's degree and live in Niedersachsen, I made 10.85 EUR per hour at my SHK job from Winter semester 2014/2015 to Summer semester 2015.

The best part about working part-time jobs in Germany is that as long as you make less than 450 EUR per month, which is known as a "mini-job", you do not have to pay taxes. This means that you will receive every dollar you make, and you will pay for your health insurance separately at the standard student rate.

If you make between 450 and 850 EUR per month, then this is considered a "midi-job," and you will have to pay 9.35% of your salary towards retirement. When working 15 hours/week, I earned 651 EUR per month. After 50.75 EUR went to retirement, I was left with 600.25 EUR per month.

The standard student health insurance rate applies for all students working a maximum of 20 hours per week. This means that even when I was earning 651 EUR per month, I still paid the standard student rate for health insurance (81.31 EUR).

Remember that this is just my personal experience. These figures are always changing and can vary according to university and Bundesland.

And just to be clear, foreign students are not restricted to working at their university. Students can get a job at any business in Germany during their studies. Foreign students just have to be careful not to go over 120 full days or 240 half days per calendar year.

Good luck!

Monday, September 7, 2015

My USA Shopping List

Anyone that lives outside of their home country knows that trips back home means shopping for all of the things that you have missed and/or are not available in your country of residence. Here is [part of] my U.S. shopping list for my trip to Chicago next week:

Crest Whitestrips
Crest Whitestrips

Whitening products are extremely rare in Germany, and Crest Whitestrips in particular are nonexistent. So, these are always a must-buy whenever Marco and I travel to the U.S.


Carrot Cake Mix
Carrot Cake

As a kid, my birthday cakes were always carrot. I never actually missed carrot cake since I have been living in Germany, but after purchasing something called Möhrenkuchen (carrot cake) at a German bakery recently and being incredibly disappointed with how dissimilar it was to American carrot cakes, I have a serious craving.


Yankee Candles
Yankee Candle Votives

Ever since I brought a ridiculous amount of Yankee Candles home in my Christmas USA haul, I have become addicted. Marco is concerned that breathing in all the fumes isn't particularly good for the health, but I just love having nice warm scents swirling throughout our apartment all the time. Also, Yankee Candles are available in Germany (I have ordered them online from here, and see them occassionally in Müller), but they are much more expensive. So, we will definitely be bringing back a few votives.


Popcorn
Salty popcorn

Salty popcorn is very difficult to find in Germany (the Germans like their popcorn sweet). I do find salty microwave popcorn occasionally, but my source is not very realiable. Therefore, I would like to pick up at least one box when I am at home (maybe with movie theater butter... mmm). I have also begun just making it on the stove with plain popcorn seeds, but it always seems to be missing something (even after adding lots of butter and salt). So, I think I will also pick up some kind of popcorn seasoning. Oh, I also need a bag of cheese popcorn!


Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract

Instead of a liquid extract, it is most common to use a sugar that is infused with vanilla aroma when baking in Germany (unless you are hardcore and buy the actual vanilla pods). Since I have been getting a little more into baking lately, I am thinking about bringing a small bottle of vanilla extract back with me.


Peanut Butter Candy
Reeses & other peanut butter candy

This one is so obvious for my friends, family, and frequent readers of my blog that I don't even think it is necessary to say more.


Fellow expats: what do you always purchase when you visit your home country?
Non-expats: what would you miss most if you moved abroad?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)

If you didn't already know, Marco and I are flying to Chicago next week! Since I am from Chicago, and it is my favorite city in the world, I figured I would write a little tribute post before we board our plane.

Flying from Germany to Chicago


I have been trying to get myself pumped up for going back to the U.S. by checking out the latest things that are going on in and around Chicago. Earlier this year, Chicago launched a $2.2 million tourism campaign titled #ChicagoEpic. Not a big fan of that campaign name, but oh well.

Here is the first commerical advertisement from this campaign (gotta love that stereotypical Chicago accent):


Ignoring the fact that it makes Chicago look like L.A. with its depictions of people surfing and playing volleyball on the beach, it does make me feel a little bit homesick. However, I recently saw something even better posted to Facebook recently.

This is a short tourism film for Chicago from 1977 titled "Chicago is...":


If you ignore the misogynistic remark where they call women in bikinis "other popular attractions," it's pretty great. Just listen to that music! Chicago iiiiiis exciting! Chicago iiiiiis fun!

Since my parents live in the suburbs, Marco and I reserved two nights in an Airbnb in Old Town. This is our first time using this platform to book a place to stay, so I will make sure to let you all know how it ends up. 

Chicago iiiiiiiisss exciting!
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