Tag Archives: Germany

The Problem with Living in Germany

13 May

I seem to not be conform with the German standard in more ways than one. For example, I haven’t watched real TV in at least half a year except for the snippets I get when I visit my grandma. Not that I don’t watch TV shows like there’s no tomorrow but I can’t do this the right way. German TV translates every show into German which delays their broadcasting to at least half a year or never. The West Wing for example was never broadcast on free TV over here and the show has been off the air for 7 years.

And I don’t want the translated version, I want the original voices and jokes and references. I don’t understand how we can live in the 21st century and not have found a way to allow broadcasting a show in two languages at once. Why is this not possible? I don’t think I’m being unreasonable here. Maybe I could even deal with the time delay and I don’t care for add breaks but it just bothers me that the translation is thrown upon me. Not that they are all bad but it’s just not the same. Watching FRIENDS in German is a real challenge because the voices of Ross and Phoebe make me want to throw stuff at my TV.

The next big issue I have is finding english books in bookstores. Granted, I live in a city with about 120,000 inhabitants, not that big but I can be lucky to at least have an international section in most bookstores. Most of the books I read are written in English so why should I not read them in their original language? Not unreasonable right? But here’s the problem, the books I want to buy are not available there.

Every time I pass a bookstore I have to go in and take a look around because I really can’t help myself in that regard. The last couple of months I have taken it upon me to look for John Green’s books. I’ve been to 3 stores semi-regularly and I’ve never found one of his books, in German or English, until today. In bookstore number 3 I found two copies of ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ in English. Huzzah!!

Still, this makes me sad because it has taken me many months to find this and the last time I was in the same store they didn’t have it. But hey, why would you even want a John Green book when you can have the Fifty Shades trilogy in both English and German wherever you look? There are enough of those books on display to last you as toilet paper for an entire year which is the most useful thing to do with them, really.

Not all of Germany is this terrible though, when you get to bigger cities the international sections expand. Last December when I was in Frankfurt I found a whole store with international and mostly English books. It was like walking into heaven. But the thing is, I cannot travel to Frankfurt any time I want to buy an English book. Sure I could order them at any local bookstore but then I’d have to go their first to order and another time to pick them up. Sorry, no, too much trouble. So I order most books and DVDs from Amazon. Hate me all you want for their destruction of the publishing world and whatnot. At least they have every book I want and I can also pick the format. (Yes, I am that person who checks the measurements of the books to see what size they are because some english publications come in very weird formats.)

There’s Amazon Germany and they ship my books free of charge no matter the size of the order. And if they don’t have the DVDs I want, or they are way too expensive I can go to Amazon UK and order my complete box-set of The West Wing or Doctor Who series 1-4 there and it’s almost as fast as ordering in Germany but usually much cheaper even with the added delivery charge.

I just seem to live in the wrong language for my own good. Why must I be this demanding? I have a couple of books and DVDs I tend to look for in the respective stores that allow me to rank them in my own little universe. Thanks for reading my ramblings as I am now done with my anger. Phew, it feels good getting things off my chest like this.

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Politics, Morals & Marriage Equality

1 Mar

Last week our highest federal court (the federal constitutional court) ruled in favour of same sex couples. At the moment it is not possible for a gay couple in a civil union to adopt a child equally. Only one partner can do so. The court ruled this unconstitutional, as it should be. This is just the latest ruling in a series of court decisions strengthening the rights of same sex couples in civil unions. Ugh, civil unions, why we cannot just call it marriage and be done with it, I will never understand. It’s about falling in love and committing to another person – a human being – not a gender, but our politicians don’t seem to understand as much.

The party which is in charge of my country is actually the one holding back giving same sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. Interestingly, this is the same party I have always sided with when it came to elections because all the others are not even real alternatives to me because of others reasons.

This party is actually consisting of two sub-parties, the CDU and CSU. The CSU is the bavarian part of the party and is led by Horst Seehofer and mostly conservative. Those conservatives are cock-blocking the inevitable change which is on the forefront in Germany as it is around the globe. After last weeks court decision the rest of the CDU is finally coming around and ready to grant couples in civil unions the same rights when it comes to tax cuts and health benefits as married couples have. Meanwhile Horst Seehofer is holding on to his mantra of ‘a family can only be between one man and one woman‘. Ugh.

Excuse me while I go vomit into the nearest trash can about his narrow-mindedness. Those words! Coming from an adulterer like him. In 2007 it became public knowledge that he was having an affair with a much younger woman after she gave birth to his ‘bastard’ child, while still being married to his second wife. Well hello there Mr. Infidelity, who the hell are you to speak about what makes a family and a marriage?! You can’t even be faithful to your own wife!

And while I’m on the topic of our highly moral politicians, let’s talk about our President, the highest politician of this nation and should-be example. He may not be doing much more than representing Germany as most of the power lies in the hands of our Chancellor, he is still the freaking President. He is a former pastor, living in sin for over 10 years now, while still being married to his wife. While all of this is happening, tolerated and accepted even, it is still considered unreasonable for gays and lesbians to be able to marry each other, be parents and file their taxes like every other federally recognised couple. This is just too much for me to comprehend.

Maybe I shouldn’t try to reason with politicians – apply moral standards to them. I understand that they are only humans but still, I expect a little bit more from the highest – most powerful – of them. We look up to them for guidance of this country, putting its fate in their hands, trusting them to not wreck us completely. Or this is at least what it should be like. However, I cannot take our President serious, not when so many politicians are playing judge and jury with other peoples lives. How can the words of an adulterer be considered when it comes to marriage and family? How can one love be considered worth less than another? Or am I simply expecting too much?

I don’t think I am though. I believe it should be ok for a kid to have two mommies or two daddies instead of being in a children’s home or the foster system. However I disapprove of a President of a country, welcoming foreign Heads of State with his mistress by his side instead of his lawfully wedded wife. I believe all love is equal. We are all equal. Loving someone of the same gender doesn’t make one a pervert. On the contrary, I think the more sincere love is showcased in this world the better all of us are for it.

A Swedish Reunion

3 Jul

Today was the day I finally got to see my swedish friend family again. They’re currently on a holiday tour through northern Germany and were so kind to stop by my town and watch me perform in Peter Pan. Thankfully the sun was shining warm all day and it was just a lovely day.

I actually got to see them before the play as it’s my duty to help the audience members to find their seats before the play starts. Since Björn acts himself and directs plays I was anxious if he would like it, but as fas as I could tell, he and Lotta enjoyed it very much.

There were no major mishaps today during the performance either. Most of them, the audience doesn’t even notice. Well, we had to rush the girl who plays little Jane into wardrobe and make-up because the girl who was scheduled to play the role today was not there and nobody noticed until well before the play starts. This is kinda bad because Jane and the old version of Wendy are the first to go on stage. But only we actors knew that and little Jane was ready immediately and rushed out on stage. Then young Wendy missed her first entrance and the others on stage had to improvise a bit. Maybe some people noticed this but they didn’t know anything for sure :D

I love this about theater, it’s the beauty of live performances, nothing goes perfectly there is always something happening behind the scenes that the audience isn’t even aware of most of the time. I love that. No two performances are alike, because the cast varies so it’s always different people acting together. Sometimes one of them misses a cue or forgets his lines or some of the equipment doesn’t work properly. Still I’m amazed that I’m never really nervous. I just enjoy every minute of it. Especially this year cause I like my part a lot.

Ok, maybe I wandered a bit off topic here again so I’ll try and get back to what this is actually about. After the play I showed Lotta and Björn around the stage and everything. And then we went out to dinner with my mom. I had picked a nice restaurant with the best view over my city and as the weather was so nice we could sit outside and enjoy it even more.

We spent a great evening eating and chatting in a mish-mash of German, Swedish and English. Sadly my Swedish is really bad mostly because I never use it. Thankfully their German was pretty good.

Have I mentioned how much I LOVED today? No? Well, I did!!! I kinda wish we had more time together as the two of them are so nice but they’re leaving tomorrow morning for another german town to visit and slowly make their way back to Sweden.

Unfortunately I can’t show you any pictures of this lovely reunion as Lotta took some pictures with her camera but I won’t get them until they’re back in Sweden. Instead I’ll leave you with this lovely version of  ‘Come Again’ by John Dowland performed by Sting.

My 5-year Reunion

24 Jun

Yesterday was my five year High School reunion (or better Gymnasium as it is called in Germany) and I didn’t like it very much. Maybe it was because it’s only been five years, or that I didn’t really wanted to go in the first place or just that I didn’t want to see the people again which I already had nothing in common with in school Maybe it was a combination of all of the above, who knows?!

My problem with this whole event started with the fact that we had to register for it. Well, I could have also went there without letting them know I was coming but it just seemed equally wrong than having to decide well in advance whether I wanted to go to this thing or not. It took my spontaneity away.

As a friend and me entered the place where the ‘party’ was held, it was just so awkward, all these people that I hadn’t missed the least oh and some friendly faces I still call my friends and thus am still in contact with. These are the people I clung to throughout the night and I ignored all the others. I know that was very rude of me but so be it. I had nothing to say to them and I’m pretty sure they felt the same way.

During dinner or whatever I should call the assembly of food, pictures of the last two years of school were shown on a beamer, most of the pictures I had never seen or didn’t even recognize the location. You see, I was that cool, well, still am :D Afterwards the video of our prom was shown and I had to see myself walk up on stage accompanied by a guy I wasn’t that friendly with anymore since he had told me a couple months earlier he loved me and I really did not love him back. Let’s just say I didn’t know how to handle our still being friends while knowing he had feelings for me.
Oh and then I had to see myself on stage again as we (the ‘choir’ that rehearsed like 2 times to perform songs at prom) sang our songs. This was the really hard part for me. But on the plus-side, I still like my dress and I think I didn’t looked to bad in it.

Still it is very awkward to see myself in a video, moving and everything. I love being on stage, it’s one of the best feelings there is but I don’t want to see a video of it. Just don’t make me watch it!

I spent the rest of the evening talking to my friends and catching up with those I liked but haven’t seen in a while (which weren’t a lot) and left sometime after 1 am. I was glad to walk home since it was only 25 minutes away and it was a warm night. It helped me to clear me head about the encountered awkwardness. Sorry to be repeating myself over and over but I just don’t know how else to describe it. It was a very strange experience and I’ll probably not go to the next reunion in five years, also because I don’t know where in the world I’ll be by then.

What I learned, beside the fact that I have absolutely made the right decision of not thinking about all those people ever again since school ended, is that I really need to work on my drinking-out-of-a-beer-bottle-skills cause I made a fool out of myself. But it was okay, I probably didn’t even leave an impression on the others.

Wow, after six hours of rain, it finally stopped! So glad, I was on Box office duty today, with a roof over my head, instead of being out on stage getting drenched from the first minute :-)

On being German

10 Jun

This will not be easy and is most likely a rather unpleasant topic or difficult and controversial. Nevertheless I feel it’s worth writing. I suppose every country has similar problems but being German can be very tricky sometimes. In some ways we are still the murderers from the 3rd Reich even though that happened over 60 years ago. Please don’t misunderstand me! This time of our history is nothing to be proud of, it is a horrible piece of shit that happened. Such cruelty and despair this little man named Hitler brought upon Europe and the world. There are no words for it! I’m deeply sorry for the men and women who were killed, brutally murdered but there are only so many times a girl can be reminded of these events  all these years later.

I was never more ashamed to be german than while I had to watch Schindler’s List in school. It was in 10th grade and I remember coming home that first day and wanting to pack my things, leave this horrible country and never speak the language again. I wanted to never ever acknowledge again that the blood of this nation runs through my veins. Later, naturally, I learnt that this is not the country anymore that it was then. We came a long way since then I think.

Nevertheless this nation, at least to me, never seems allowed to breath freely, whenever a comment slips a persons mouth that could be interpreted the wrong way, like today yesterday, the soccer player who referred to military helmets and caused a huge controversy, it is taken the wrong way. Even though most of the 82 million people living here were born after the war.

We had nothing to do with the horrors of then. Yet, we still live under it’s ugly dark shadow. Politically we are not allowed to have opinions that differ from those of the Israelis. Again, please don’t get me wrong. I like Isreal, it is a beautiful country, I’ve been there twice and even had a pen friend for a number of years but whatever the Isreali government decides to do, the Germans have to stick with them or else they dig out the Holocaust and Fashist card and we are the bad one’s again even if our motives are good this time.

I feel that we are not allowed to criticize, or our government at least is not allowed so. I’m not en expert on these subjects (this is just my very limited opinion) but whenever I watch or hear the news (I don’t do it too often cause of various reasons) I get frustrated. Of course I don’t know enough about the conflicts in the Middle East but I’m also not sure if anybody really understands anymore. They keep fighting because they’ve always been fighting. And Germany is the Israelian ally, always, along with the US. No matter how stupid the thing is in my opinion.

In school we learnt about the horrors of the WW2 and it’s ramifications. Not only did we discuss them in history class, no, we also did so in german lit, english, french and religion. For me, this was too much after a while, this repetitive stuff. I didn’t want to hear it anymore. I couldn’t take it anymore because whenever I hear/read/watch about it, I feel for these people, even writing this I feel the tears coming to my eyes. We can never right this! Never ever!

But Germany isn’t the only nation to have been so terribly wrong in history. I read Tim Weiner’s book about the CIA, read about the Vietcong and many other similar events in history. Maybe their terrors haven’t been as massive as ours but they definitely exist. Hell, Hitler wasn’t even german, he came from Austria. What about Mussolini, the axis Rome-Berlin? We were not alone in this, we just did a more thorough job. Sorry for this choice of words.

Will we ever be able to treat each other as equals, Germans and Israelis? Because I don’t feel like we do now. Or is this just my narrow german view? How does the rest of the world see us?

Teaching about this in schools is of the utmost importance but maybe not in the hyper-way I had to endure the drill for years. Maybe I just got too much teaching sprinkled on me during my school years, making me so aware of this and it’s totally possible I am wrong. To me, being german means to always be hyper-cautitious about what you do or say, to be ashamed of what my countrymen did. I’m just sick of being responsible for something I didn’t do, for something I know my granny and her parents believed was wrong at the time.

My great-grandparents :-)

My granny’s father wouldn’t allow her to go to the Nazi-stuff all her friends had to go to because he thought it was wrong what Hitler did but he had a family to support so he never protested openly. Neither did the catholic church might I add! My great-grandpa was no Schindler (though he looks a little like him) but I know he tried to help others. When the prisoners of war who had to work with him were not allowed to go into the bunker during air strikes he let them into his cellar because it was rather massive and better then anything else available to them.

So, will we still be the bad guys in another 60 years? Or will the following generations grow up without feeling guilty for something they did not do? Is it even possible to not feel guilty and still be aware of everything that happened? Will it ever be ok to be proud of being german? Because right now, it’s still a very difficult feeling for a lot of us.

Would you like another piece of cake?

1 May

Yesterday I returned from my cousin’s confirmation (that word sounds strange in english but my dictionary says it’s the right choice, so I’ll stick with it). My cousin lives with his sister and parents in the south of Germany, not so far away from Lake Constance.

My granny and me set out friday morning to make our journey south via train. We had to change trains twice which is always a given from our location. Fast trains never come through here (that’s how my father used to tease me, he said santa wouldn’t come to me because the ICE doesn’t stop here). In Frankfurt we changed into said high speed train, also known as InterCityExpress. The thing is, we already left the station with a delay which was bad since we only had 5 minutes to change trains in Ulm. But I knew as soon as I looked up the connection some days eralier on the internet that we were going to miss this one. Despite the world seeing germans as very punctual beings and the Deutsche Bahn (German Trains) as an institution for accuracy and punctuality, they’re almost never on time due to various known and unknown reasons, like signals failing, bad weather, engine problems…the list goes on and on. So, we spent an hour at the train station in Ulm until the next train came and we could arrive at our destination where we were picked up by my uncle.

"Grüß Gott" (Salute to God) is a lovely and typical greeting in the south. This was one of the stations we passed through and I just loved the building :-)

From then on, my weekend consisted of constant eating. We ate so much, I sure was going to burst, fortunately I didn’t. On Saturday the other guests arrived, since they all had a longer trip to make, so we had lunch together, we had cake for tea time. We had 9-10 different cakes and were 13 people at the most. I love cake, and I rather eat cake than breakfast (which I also did) so it wasn’t a big problem for me, but after the 5th slice, you are so full even though you want more of that sweet sugary taste in your mouth *sigh*
Me and my aunt’s nephew (who was also staying at their house) had to transport the cakes downstairs into the cold and upstairs again four times over the weekend, haha. The good thing was, the cellar was pretty cold and thus a nice place to be from time to time.
Oh, I almost forgot the dinner we had, I don’t know where all that food managed to go in my body, but it worked somehow.

The little protestant church we would never have fitted into.

Sunday morning marked the actual day of the confirmation, so we made our way to the church, even though the ceremony wasn’t held in the actual church since it was way to small for this purpose. Protestants are a minority in the south as most people there are catholic, so the churches are accordingly small. In my opinion, the service was a bit to hippie for m taste, we sang a lot, which I usually don’t mind, but I didn’t know the lyrics or melody of the religious songs. Also they had this gospel choir (don’t even get me started on gospel choirs) which sang a couple of songs as well. But they sang in english and abused the language because they all had terrible accents. They even sang Amazing Grace which made me sick to my stomach but I couldn’t change it.
I was relieved when the service was finally over since the air in the community center was terrible even though all windows were open.

The community center was called House in the Vineyard. They had this lovely garden.

After church we had lunch, good thing I only ate a banana for breakfast and my starting headache due to the bad air was slowly subsiding. Lunch was good, but so-ho-ho-ho much, and I knew that back at my uncle’s house, 10 cakes were still waiting to be eaten at tea time. So we ended up eating cake again, as you might have guessed already. I just can’t resist, when it’s sitting right in front of my, stupid week will xD

Then we finally stopped the eating marathon. Everyone was pretty beat though, so we sat outside and talked for some time, which was nice, the sun was shining, all was calm.

I think, I bored you guys enough with my recount of the weekend, so I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures. Thankfully today is our Labor Day, so I could sleep in and do next to nothing (hmm, maybe I should unpack the rest of my bag later…maybe!).

Wait, I forgot to tell you about my lovely journey back home. My granny booked the train tickets and there was a little mix-up which turned out very nice. Instead of taking the same route back as we did to get there, we went with the slower InterCity through the Black Forest. Man, that was lovely, so beautiful. I made a mental note to go there again on vacation for some hiking (I’ve never hiked in my life but it sounds like a good idea). At one time, we were at a station 806 meters above sea level which is amazing when you keep in mind that we started at Lake Constance. Unfortunately, my DSLR was packed away in my bag and out of reach also the train was moving, the windows dirty and I’m a little perfectionist, so I didn’t take any pictures there. Ok, honestly, I didn’t even think to take them because I was so stunned by the landscape which was presented in front of me.

Now the pictures :-) as promised.

Sunset at Lake Constance. How I love lakes *doublesigh*

Monday morning we took the ferry over Lake Constance to get to our train station. You can see a part of the Alps. Very cool :-)

Opposite view of the Alps

(Sorry for the bad quality of the last ones, I had to take them with my phone.)

Spotify is finally here

13 Mar

Maybe I’m on a major sugar-high or whatever, these days I have to enjoy the little things. I’m also procrastinating at the moment I should add.

Here is what made my day: The swedish music streaming service Spotify has finally launched in Germany this morning. It was already there when I woke up this morning! Amazing!

I first fell in love with it during my stay in Sweden and I was waiting ever since I returned home for its launch. I read rumors on the internet for the last couple of weeks that the start would be immanent and I’m glad they were true. So I’m enjoying streaming music I don’t own totally legal right now. I’m still debating whether to get an Unlimited (paid for) account, but I don’t wanna rush things. After all it took me several hours to change the set country of my old account to my current location.

What else can I write so I won’t have to open that pdf-file with 220 slides about coal fired power plants?!

Of course there were other alternatives here in Germany to Spotify but after I tasted the real thing it seemed like cheating to settle for a copy. So I waited, got jealous when it finally launched in the US last year, and then Austria and Switzerland in last November.

What makes it so special you might ask yourself. Well, it has a huge selection of music by all major labels and a lot of independent ones. And then there is my favorite gimmick, the one I missed in iTunes over the past year: The ability to queue your music! Out of every track you can just add it to a Queue list and it plays the songs in the order you want it to. I love it!

If you are a lucky one, living in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain, The Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, the US and Germany, go check Spotify out. I’ll try to focus on studying now.
Haha, good one, I know *g*

 

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