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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

3 Americans That are Only Famous in Germany

When it comes to fame, Germany has its own set of rules. The Germans have shot lots of foreign-born singers and bands into international stardom throughout the decades - the most famous example being The Beatles.

Even today, there are Americans that can't walk the streets of Germany without being recognized, yet hardly anyone in the U.S. has ever heard of them.

Here are three of such Americans that are more famous, if not only famous, in Germany:

Bruce Darnell

It's hard to turn on German TV nowadays without seeing this American man's face. Bruce Darnell is currently famous for serving as a judge on German reality TV competitions, but he actually started out his career as a paratrooper for the U.S. Army. After leaving the army in the 1980s, he came to Germany as a model. Apparently, Bruce rubbed elbows with the right people over the following decades, because he was soon BFF with Heidi Klum and became nationally famous when he served as a judge on Germany's Next Top Model.

If you live(d) in Germany, you may know him for his grammatically-incorrect catchphrase "Das ist der Wahrheit" (it should be die Wahrheit):

Although I usually hate watching talent competitions, I do really enjoy seeing Bruce and hearing his awesome American accent (which my German fiancé tells me I should practice doing because the Germans seem to love it).

Dana Schweiger

Even if you live in Germany, you may have not heard of Dana Schweiger, but you have definitely heard of her ex-husband, Til Schweiger, and at least one of their children (their daughters Emma, Lilli, and Luna have been in quite a few Til Schweiger films).

If you're American, then let me explain: Til Schweiger is a famous German actor, director, producer... blahblahblah. Basically, he has his own production company and loves making movies for himself and his daughters to star in. Also, his facial expression never changes from what you see in the above photo.

Dana and Til have been divorced since 2014, but Dana is still semi-famous in Germany and is currently on the TV show 6 Mütter, where she talks about raising her celebrity kids.

Since Dana has lived in Germany for decades, she can speak German pretty well. However, as you can hear in the video, she does still have a strong American accent.

David Hasselhoff

This list wouldn't be complete without the Hoff! The rest of the world loves to joke about the Germans' obsession with David Hasselhoff, and I am here to conform that these jokes are based on fact.

David Hasselhoff's fame in Germany all stems from the 1980's TV show Knight Rider, which I had actually never heard of until coming to Germany. However, my German fiancé (who was 3 years old when Knight Rider was cancelled), claims that he was obsessed with the show as a kid. So, that should show how popular it is. Also, I regularly see reruns getting aired on TV even today.

It was because of the show's popularity, and the Germans' yearning to see Kitt (his talking car from the show), that David Hasselhoff was invited to play at the Berlin Wall on New Year's Eve in 1989 - a concert that iconified him in German culture for decades to come.

Just look at the reception he got when he appeared on a German late night talk show a couple years ago!

Do you know any other Americans that are only famous outside of the USA?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Meeting Mrs. Nobody

It all began yesterday, when Mrs. Nobody lost the key to her apartment.

Mrs. Nobody is my next-door-neighbor, and I am calling her Mrs. Nobody because her real last name is just one letter away from the German word for "nobody" (niemand). Mrs. Nobody is also a fitting name for my neighbor because of her age and gender.

Although I had heard about the "invisibility" of elderly women before, I had never thought much about it. This was probably because I myself was guity of making these women feel so invisible.

Anyways, here is everything I knew about Mrs. Nobody before the day she lost her key:
> 70 years old
• Takes taxis everywhere
• Gives us candy and cookies when we take her garbage out for her

And that's about it! Considering we have lived next to Mrs. Nobody for over 3 years, I'd say this is pretty pathetic.

So, as I already said: this story began when Mrs. Nobody lost the key to her apartment.

It was 6:00 p.m. on a Tuesday, and Marco and I were both at home. Actually, we were sitting at the dining table, listening to jazz music, and talking about our plans for the week. No, this is not a normal thing for us, but it sure did make us look [at least somewhat] sophisticated for what happened next.

Our doorbell rang, and Marco got up to answer it. I could hear Mrs. Nobody's voice, nearly in tears, as she was describing how she lost the key to her apartment on the way home. Marco had to ask at least five times before she finally agreed to come in.

As she sat down at the dining table, she asked if we have a phone book.

"I need the number for Herman Koch," she explained. He lives about a block away, and he keeps a spare key to her apartment.

Since we are under 70, Marco and I don't have a phone book, but I was able to find his number online. Mrs. Nobody called, but there was no answer. She was obviously distressed.

"Okay, well, I will go then."

"Where are you going to go? You're not going to wait in the hallway! Just wait here. I can make tea." replied Marco.

"Oh no! No, I won't be a bother. It would be nice if I can wait here, but I don't need any tea."

So, we all settled in a bit, and Mrs. Nobody began recounting how she went to knitting class earlier that evening, and she must have dropped her key in the taxi on the way home. She was happy that we were home, because she knows that Marco comes from Southern Germany, and before she rang our doorbell, she was thinking that we might be down there.

Marco explained that we don't travel to Southern Germany as often as we would like to and then moved the conversation along by telling Mrs. Nobody that I am from even further away.

"You're from Chicago? That's nice! My son lives in Maryland."

"Oh really?" I said, quite intrigued at the first bit of personal information I was learning about my neighbor, "Did he move there for work?"

"No, he was born there."

Mrs. Nobody was just slowly laying out a trail of breadcrumbs at this point.

"So, you lived in the U.S.?"

She smiled a bit and nonchalantly replied, "For 35 years."

I'm going to be honest here: when I see an elderly person in Germany, I usually assume that they (1) can't speak English and (2) haven't traveled outside of Europe. But Mrs. Nobody was shattering these assumptions.

"And what did you do in the U.S.?" I asked, desperately wanting to know more.

"Well, when I first moved, I got my Master's Degree at Brown University."

My jaw dropped to floor, and Mrs. Nobody just started laughing. I looked at Marco across the room and said "That's an ivy league university!"

"Yeah, I've done more than most people think!" she said.

Mrs. Nobody went on to explain that she is used to people assuming that she isn't capable of very much or that she didn't accomplish very much in her life. Just last week, she said, her doctor wanted to learn a little bit more about her. She told her story of moving to the U.S. 50 years ago to get her Master's degree at Brown, and he had a similar reaction.

"I never would have thought that you studied at a university!" he had said to her.

"Well, it is something that people do." she replied.

Basically, Mrs. Nobody moved to the U.S. about 50 years ago (when she was in her 20's), got a Master's degree, married, had two children, and moved back to Germany in her 60's after a divorce. Still wanting to work, she got a job as a German and integration teacher (without any previous teaching experience). She ultimately retired due to "technical reasons" - i.e. she refused (and still refuses) to use computers.

Now she lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment and is known as "the woman who always takes taxis."

"It's not because I have a lot of money," she explained, "I just can't lift up my legs high enough to get in the bus."

So with her family so far away, most of her time is spent alone. And acquaintances that don't take the time to get to know will just assume that she led a boring and simple life - even though that couldn't be farther from the truth.

Oh, and remember when I said that one of the things I knew about Mrs. Nobody was that she gives us sweets when we take her garbage out for her? Well, look what was in front of our door this morning.

Present from my German neighbor

Monday, November 7, 2016

How Germany Views the U.S. Elections

The time has finally come. The U.S. presidential elections are tomorrow, and we will soon know who the future President of the United States will be. And if you are an American, you better go vote (I already did)!

Over the past few months, it has been just about impossible to turn on the TV here in Germany without seeing coverage of the U.S. presidential election. I can only imagine what it's like to actually be in the U.S. right now... *shudders*

But if you know anything about Germany, then it should already be pretty obvious that Clinton is favored among Germans. In fact, infratest dimap held a poll last month, which found that 86% of Germans said they would vote for Clinton and only 4% would vote for Trump.

The surprising part of this poll comes from AfD supporters. AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) is a right-wing populist political party whose rhetoric on refugees and immigrants very much mirrors Trump's statements about Mexicans and Muslims. However, it looks like even Trump is too extreme for them, as AfD voters were made up 14% of the poll's respondents. This means that the majority of AfD supporters would support Clinton over Trump.

Over these past few months, however, Germany's political leaders have been relatively quiet on this topic. Trump did claim that Chancellor Merkel "ruined Germany," but Merkel refused to retaliate. However, Germany's foreign minister did call Trump a "hate preacher."¹

If you follow Welcome to Germerica on Facebook, then you know that Germany's comedians have been more vocal about their views on the U.S. elections. Jan Böhmermann, the comedian who became quite famous after criticizing Turkish president Erdogan, covered the U.S. election in the Neo Magazin Royale episode from November 3, 2016. 

If you have the time, I highly suggest watching the entire episode. But if you don't have the time, you will get a gist of his message from the closing song that he created for the episode: 

Ultimately, whether you agree with the majority of Germans' opinion on who would make the best presidential candidate or not, I think we can all agree with the portrayal of both candidates on the current cover of Der Spiegel.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The State of Germerica #2

Back in June, there was so much going on that I decided to write a post about the State of Germerica - that is, the general state of what's going on in my life. Well, a lot has gone on since then, and I am not sure how to organize that all into a sensible blog post, so here we go again.

Today's post will proceed by topic. First up on the docket is...

Apartment Hunting
I want to move! As of November 1st, Marco and I have been living in our current apartment for exactly 3 years. That's a long time! Although we do plan on staying in Lüneburg for the foreseeable future, we are ready for a change.

Our current apartment has is on the 3rd floor with one bedroom, 59 m² (635 sq ft), and is located near the university. We are looking for a ground floor apartment with a small yard, at least 70 m² (750 sq ft), possibly a second bedroom, and a more central location near the city center and train station.

Here is a picture of an apartment we looked at yesterday, which had an amazing location and was very pretty, but the heating system looked too inefficient (and expensive) and it was on the 3rd floor:

Wish us luck as we continue with the hunt!

Master's Thesis
I turned in my Master's thesis on Thursday, October 28! Since then, I have been trying to relax a bit and not think about it anymore. Although, I should actually be contacting my supervisors to plan my presentation and defense. I will get to that soon.

In the meantime...

Job Hunting
I am slowly beginning the job search! I am feeling pretty optimistic about finding a fitting position at a digital media company in Hamburg.

Luckily, I'm not under any pressure to take the first thing that comes along because I already have a part-time job at the university. Which brings us to...

After agreeing to be in a video for my university in September, the university's communications department spontaneously offered me a part-time job to begin the very next week. My contract lasts through the end of March, which means I can take my time finding the right job for after graduation. After all, this will be my first big-girl full-time job in Germany!

Wedding Planning
As if all of that wasn't enough, Marco and I are still planning our wedding! I have written two posts about this process so far (wedding planning pt. 1 - wedding planning pt. 2), but we still have a few things to do before December 30th...

And that's it! Lots of changes going on right now in Germerica, and I am excited to see how different the state of things will be in 2017.

P.S. this post is participating in Gretch and Kristen's“What’s new with you?" link-up for November.
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