Archive for the ‘Deutsch’ Category

Color my World

May 26, 2011

The company I work for expects us to “make each customer’s day.”  Despite our excellent customer service skills, none of us ever did that so well as the little boy who was in Jing Jing Garden when I went to get some takeout last night.  He’s the son of the couple who operate the restaurant, and he spends a lot of time there while mom & dad work.  Consequently he often amuses himself by involving customers in his games and activities, and last night was no exception.

I placed my order and sat down to wait.  He came over and peered unabashedly into the shopping bag I’d placed on the table.  It contained three books (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in German and English, plus my German dictionary).  He gave me a puzzled look and said, “What do you need those for?”

I replied that I liked to read them.  He then informed me that he liked to color, and pushed my bag aside to make room for a coloring book and a box of markers.  Then he asked, “Do you want to color with me?”  I said, “Sure.  Why not?”  He flipped to a page with a picture of a cement mixer, handed me a lime-green marker, and told me to color the barrel, but to stay in the lines.  So I started coloring.

The marker was clearly long-used; the felt tip was smashed flat, and it was nearly dry.  I remarked on that last point, and was informed that, no, the marker was not dry, I just had to press hard, which he demonstrated for me before handing the marker back and allowing me to continue.  Thus chastened, I suppressed a smile, pressed harder and finished the barrel, then asked which part I should do next.  He gave me a dark green marker and pointed out the sections I was to color:  the windshield, cab, front bumper, and the one tire he had not already colored gray.  I finished the first three and moved on to the tire, at which point he looked down and exclaimed in exasperation, “No!  Not that part!”  Fortunately at that point his mother announced that my order was ready.  So apparently I won’t be getting high marks for following instructions, but at least I stayed in the lines.

It seemed like the logical thing to do, officer…

December 26, 2009

Sogar die Deutschen Kinder sind fleissig. (Translation:  Even the German children are diligent.)

via Dave Barry’s Blog

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…

December 16, 2009

…and I’ve never been to confession.  Not in the Catholic sense, anyway.  I speak directly with the man upstairs when I’ve been naughty.  Like last Tuesday, for example.  Southerngirl, get the polishing cloth ready; my halo’s in the mail.  Time to ‘fess up and ask forgiveness.

As a rule, I generally try to keep my language pretty clean.  I’ll admit, I’m not always successful.  Swearing is a bad habit, and a hard one to break.  Sometimes when I’m frustrated (i.e. when I’m in traffic), the words just slip out, but I’m penitent afterward.  And if mom’s around, I’m also rebuked afterward.  That said, I’ve tried to behave myself in Deutschland.  I’m familiar with German swear words (as in the States, one hears them too frequently not to be), but I try not to use them.

Then last week I went to the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (try saying that three times fast) here in Munich to see about obtaining a visa.  The man in the office began rattling off a list of all the various things I needed:  statements from my parents and my school, a photo, an application, and…  Krankenversicherung (medical insurance).  Which I don’t have.  My coverage with my parents ended two years ago, and I was waiting until I found a “real” job to deal with that particular issue.  With that single word, the tower of frustration and stress that had been building for the previous few days imploded, burying my composure beneath the rubble, and the first words to come into my head popped out of my mouth with profound depth of feeling before I could stop them:  “Oh Scheiße.”

Fabiana was quite shocked.  Not at the word, just its source.  I couldn’t believe I’d said it, either.  Nary a bad word for 6 weeks, and then her “heilige” Beatrice came out with that one.  In the Kreisverwaltungsreferat, of all places, where I should have been on my best behavior, considering I was seeking their permission to remain in the country.  That’s the problem with swear words.  Once they’re in your head, they pop out when you least expect it at the most inopportune (and embarrassing) times and places.  Fortunately the man was very understanding.  Fabiana followed up my unfortunate exclamation with, “‘Schade,’ Beatrice.  ‘Schade’ ist besser.”  But the man just laughed and said I’d had it right the first time, then named a couple of insurance organizations I could look into.  So here’s hoping I can obtain a visa.  In the meantime, I’ll try to watch my mouth, and not to do anything to get myself deported.

FYI

December 2, 2009

For those of you who don’t already know, I’ve decided to extend my stay in Munich.  I won’t be home until the end of January, and I’ll be remaining here over Christmas break.  When I began my course, I realized very quickly that two months would not be nearly enough time to learn as much as I’d like.  Three months probably won’t be either (one requires 30 years according to Mark Twain), but I’m going to run out of money eventually.  The more I learn, the more I realize how much there still is to learn, and I want to make the most of my time here.  I’ll miss being with my loved ones for Christmas more than I can say, but learning a second language is important to me, and this trip is such a wonderful opportunity.  So, when you’re carving your roast beast this year, remember me, and know I’ll be thinking of you.

Drat.

December 1, 2009

As my regular readers (I’m so happy I can say that!) may recall, I was informed a few weeks ago that I’d have to make a presentation, and I wasn’t wild about the idea.  After that, no more was said about it for a couple of weeks, and I thought maybe I’d dodged the bullet.  No such luck.  I’ve been assigned a presentation date.  My teacher had, in fact, forgotten about the presentations (permanently, I’d hoped), but he remembered last week.  I have to present on December 7th.  Bitte!  Nein!

Update

I’ve finally chosen a topic (until I change my mind, that is).  I’m going to talk about Handel’s Messiah.  I’ve had it stuck in my head for the last two days, and I regret that I wasn’t able to participate in the community choir’s performance this year.

All-American: Thanksgiving and Peanut Butter

November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I am so thankful to have all of you in my life, and I wish we could be together today, but I’m also very thankful for the opportunity to learn German, and I’m deeply grateful to everyone who played a part in making this trip possible, especially my family.

Last night I did a little baking in the school kitchen (I don’t have an oven in my apartment, unfortunately).  I made peanut butter cookies and lemon bars to share with my class, and today we talked a little bit about the origins and traditions associated with Thanksgiving while we ate them.  We always have fun talking together.  I couldn’t have hand-picked a better group or teacher for myself; that’s such a huge blessing.

Shopping for my baking project was a little stressful.  Everything I needed was in the store; the problem was recognizing it.  I’ve always taken for granted how very easy it is to shop for groceries when I’m home.  I don’t have to stare at each item for ages, reading every word (sometimes consulting a dictionary), and wishing the manufacturer had thought to put pictures of the contents on the package.  I recognize what I want immediately, usually by the logo of whatever my preferred brand happens to be (the marketers got me, Dr. R!), and I just grab it and go.  In and out.  Not so Tuesday night.  I spent about an hour and a half shopping for 15-20 items.

The only product I had no trouble  identifying was the peanut butter.  I’ve bought peanut butter twice now (in Germany, that is), and I find it endlessly amusing that the German marketers/manufacturers go to so much trouble to make the packaging scream “American!”  It’s as though they want to be absolutely certain everyone knows they bear no responsibility for the creation of such a product.  The labels are invariably some combination of red, white and blue, and sport a U.S. map, or flag, or both.  One jar had the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline on it.  As far as I know, New York has no more to do with peanut butter than any other city  (George Washington Carver certainly wasn’t from anywhere near there, and while he didn’t actually “invent” peanut butter, he is certainly responsible for improving the recipe and popularizing it), but for some reason Europeans seem to associate all things American with New York.  Whenever I tell someone I’m from the U.S., they’ll say, “Ah; New York!” and ask me how far away I live, and whether I’ve been there.  Fabiana is dying to go.  New York was a nice place to visit, I grant, but there are many other places I would visit before I’d go back.  I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.  Certainly not the peanut butter.

Cultural (Con)Fusion

November 22, 2009

As I may have mentioned previously, I’m having a great time now that I’ve gotten used to being here.  My teacher is fantastic.  He’s always patient and thorough, and has a great sense of humor.  Class is always fun, and I’m learning a great deal.

One of the most interesting things about studying abroad (obviously) is the opportunity to learn about different cultures:  in my case, not only German culture, but so many others.  There are students in my class from Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Albania, France, Brazil, Mexico and New Zealand (I think), and whenever we discuss a topic, we get to hear different perspectives and learn how things are thought about/done/said in other countries.  It’s really fascinating.

I’ve become fast friends with another student from Italy named Fabiana.  She was so sweet and helpful to me my first few days, and now we might as well be joined at the hip.  We go almost everywhere together, and we always have a great time.  Our friendship is full of laughter, partly because an Italian and an American speaking German together creates so many opportunities for comical mistakes and misunderstandings, and partly because we often find different aspects of each others’ cultures so amusing.

Our friendship is a cultural exchange program unto itself.  We correct each others’ pronunciation of Italian and English words, and we entice each other to try things we normally wouldn’t have.  Fabiana taught me that I’ve been pronouncing the vast majority of pasta types wrong my whole life, especially gnocchi.  She also got me to try heisse maroni (roasted chestnuts) for the first time.  I’m sorry to say I wasn’t impressed.  When I bit into one, the texture reminded me strongly of Lima beans, which I hate.  Oh well.  As for American culture, Fabiana is eternally amused at the correct pronunciations of various American things and places, especially Cincinnati.  I also introduced her to peanut butter and banana sandwiches, which she loved.

Next week I’m going to hunt up some cottage cheese so she can try it with canned peaches (a favorite snack of mine; thanks, mom!), and Fabiana is bound and determined to see to it that I’ve eaten “real” Spaghetti Carbonara (one of my all-time favorite meals) before I return home.  Cultural exchange rocks.

A Very Full Weekend

November 16, 2009

Friday

Friday night I went to Hofbräuhaus, a very famous brewery and restaurant, with a couple of friends.  I ate a pretzel bigger than my head, among other things, and had the following conversation (half in German and half in English) with a man at our table who was from Denmark, but had lived in Australia, and was currently working in Munich.

International Man:  Are you having fun in Munich?

Me:  Yes; it’s fantastic!

International Man:  But where is your beer?

Me:  I don’t drink alcohol.

International Man:  I’ll ask you again: Are you having fun in Munich?

And later…

International Man:  What languages do you speak?

Me:  Only English fluently, but I’m here to learn German.

International Man (pointing to his stein and speaking very slowly):  Das ist ein Bier (That is a beer).  Would you like to stay in Germany?

Me:  Maybe, if I can learn German.

International Man:  Noch einmal; Bier! (Once more; beer!)

Me:  Yes, I’m well aware that beer is important in Munich.

International Man:  Well, you’re halfway there.

A math teacher in high school once told me I only needed to know two words in German:  Bier und brötchen (beer and bread-roll).  Take my word for it:  he was wrong.

Saturday

Saturday I took the train to Dachau with a couple of friends from school.  I was a sobering experience; there aren’t words to describe it.  I’d researched the Holocaust a little for school in the past, but to walk through the museum and read the personal accounts and descriptions of what occurred…  It’s almost unfathomable that such things can happen.  Psychology tells us we all have the potential for violence and cruelty, but what is equally important to remember is our capacity for decency and integrity, and the fact that we all have a choice between the two.  Because amidst all the horrors I read about were other stories.  There were also examples of pure goodness in the face of pure evil:  prisoners who reached out to help those around them, often at great risk to themselves.  I remember reading one in particular about a doctor who was imprisoned.  The camp had a doctor and an infirmary, but in reality did nothing to help the sick and injured, and often made them worse.  During an outbreak of typhus, if I remember correctly, the imprisoned doctor remained day and night with the sick, helping them in any way he could, and eventually succumbed to the disease himself.

My senior year of high school, our term paper was based on William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.”  The assignment was to decide whether mankind was basically good or basically evil, and defend your position.  I chose good.  For once in my life, I didn’t get a very good grade, and someone told me later that my whole premise was flawed (thanks, mom), but I still believe that.  Right and wrong is a choice, and I believe that the majority of society makes the right choice when it really counts.  I can only hope my belief is justified.

Sunday

Sunday I went to Salzburg with a teacher from the school and a few other students.  It’s a beautiful city.  It has a lovely cathedral (just like every other reasonable-sized city in Europe), and a very old fortress that sits atop a hill.  We walked about halfway up the hill and got a good look at it, plus we had a panoramic view of the whole city spread out below us.

It was good that I had to exercise so much climbing that hill, because I had a very ample lunch.  I had potato cream soup to start (it was fantastic), followed by beef goulash with a knödel (dumpling).  The goulash was quite different from anything I’d had before.  It consisted of a peppery reddish-brown sauce that tasted a bit like chili, and in it were beef pieces akin to pot roast.  It was very good.  To finish up, we all shared a nockerl, a traditional Salzburg dessert.  It’s a bit like a meringue, but the texture is thinner and more liquid underneath.  It also tastes sweeter, and it has berries in it.   It was good, but I agreed with the teacher when she said you only need to try nockerl once in your life, and after that you don’t have any particular desire for it anymore.

I may go back to Salzburg another weekend.  I’m interested in touring the salt mine, and I also want to see the Silent Night chapel and museum, which is in the area, although not in Salzburg itself.  We’ll see.  I spent about half of the two-hour train ride back to Munich doing my homework so I could go straight to bed when I got home.  It was an exhausting weekend, but it was worth it.  Tschüß!

Deutsch Hilarity

November 11, 2009

Last night a fellow commenter on Dave Barry’s Blog asked me, “Bumble, is it true, what Mark Twain said about German?”  I had no idea what he was talking about, so I googled Mark Twain and German, and I found this. I read about half of it last night, and I was laughing so hard that my sides hurt and I had tears in my eyes.  It probably won’t seem as funny to those of you who haven’t studied German, but Anwyn, Dad and Meanie the Blue should enjoy it, if they haven’t already read it.  As I assured my acquaintance last night, it is absolutely true.  Twain was brilliant.

Tough Questions

November 2, 2009

Religion.  It’s a difficult enough topic when you’re discussing it in your native language.  Try translating your beliefs from English to German so they can be understood in Italian.

My friend from school asked me about my faith last week, specifically whether using “God” as an oath or exclamation was common and acceptable in the USA, and why or why not.  She also wanted to know the differences between Catholic and Protestant faith, and the differences between Protestant denominations.

With the help of two dictionaries, I explained that many people in the states say “God” all the time, but that I don’t because I was raised in a Christian church, and it’s against the third commandment.  My knowledge of Catholicism is limited, but I think I managed to get the basics of what I believe across, and she understood the differences.

I invited her to visit a church here with me, and she’s interested, so I must have said something right.  That was the most difficult conversation I’ve ever had in my life.