Made it.

6 Feb 2014 08:32 pm
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
I've actually been here a while; I got into Frankfurt at 1:30, then I loitered in the train station until the next train at 2:53.

I got to my apartment, showered, ate dinner with my flatmates, and went out shopping. I have gouda, fruit quark, cream cheese with garlic, vollkornbrot with sunflower seeds, hanuta, and beer. I feel like I'm in Germany now.

I also bought the SIM card for my phone, so I'll post my German number in a separate locked post. Next I'm going to try to get this Surf-Card working.
feuervogel: (al memories)
I googled my host sister from the exchange program in 1992. (Ben is shocked that I remembered her name. It was fairly unusual!) I found her on facebook and sent a friend request, and now we're catching up.

I was cleaning up my desk/office, and I found the DM5 note I thought I'd lost forever, plus a 100 Czech korun note and some Macedonian money (which a guy I met during a layover in Ferihegy airport en route to Athens in 1996 gave me; at least I think that's where it came from). I've now consolidated all the random foreign change I have floating around.

I was inspired to look up my host sister from finding a Frohes Fest postcard she sent me inside a box of assorted postcards, notes, and papers from college. I also found a set of watercolor postcards my high school BF painted(!) and mailed me when his family went to Germany.

We had another pair of girls from Schifferstadt in our house, when their church choir came to Frederick on a tour and sang at our church, but I can't remember their last name. They were sisters, and maybe I have their last name written down somewhere, on the back of a picture or something.
feuervogel: (food)
Today, two of Ben's friends from his video game forum were in the area, so we went out to brunch. I suggested Guglhupf, because they have a nice brunch selection. (Downside: they're *really* popular and have limited parking.) His friend said, "fuck yeah," because apparently, during her time at UNC and shortly thereafter, she never managed to make it out there, for whatever reason.

Two things set Guglhupf apart from the other German restaurant in Durham. (Three, if you count their website designs, sweet baby jesus.) First, Guglhupf is run by people who came here from Germany, and it features much more pan-German food. (No one who actually speaks German would call a dish "Schwarzwälder Kirsch Heisser Eisbomben Becher" or label a section "Specialitäten." (I can't figure out how to properly render what they're getting at in the former, but it would be more like "Heisser Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte mit Eis," and the latter is "Spezialitäten.") Call me a snob if you will, but the least this person could have done was find someone who speaks German to give their menu a SAN check. Also "German" chocolate cake has nothing to do with Germany. True.)

While I was standing in line, I heard multiple groups of people speaking German to each other. That's how you know it's authentic ;) (And there were women there wearing German eyeglasses, the skinny rectangular ones, speaking auf Deutsch.)

Second, I can actually eat at Guglhupf. I don't eat meat, and I can't tolerate fried food. The two options I have at the Brathaus are potato pancakes (fried) and eggplant schnitzel (double fried). Well, and desserts & beer. The Guglhupf menu kindly stated that the German potato salad was made with beef broth, so veg*ns wouldn't order it. I appreciated that! I make German potato salad myself, but I use water and facon. (It's superior to American, mayonnaise-based potato salad, trufax.)

I guess third (fourth, if you count web design), Guglhupf has a German-style bakery. THEY SELL LAUGENBRÖTCHEN. Those are, like, my favorite thing, especially if you tear them open and smear them with Nutella before scarfing them down. They also have Laugenstange, with or without cheese. Seriously, I go in there, and it's like I teleported to Germany. ... You know, I should really drop by there in December.

If you want MEAT!!!!, go to the Brathaus. If you want authentic, Guglhupf is a much better bet.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
I read a really interesting article on the history of football in the DDR/GDR. I mean, how is that not relevant to my interests? Football, the Cold War, divided Germany... yeah. Ping.

So the excitable part of my brain went down this path of "Oh, hey, there are universities in Berlin, and you could go study history there, and maybe be able to focus on that, but you couldn't apply straight to a master's, because your BS is in chemistry & German, so you'd have 6 semesters of full time classes, and that's a lot of work, and damn, but international applications are complicated, and history is a limited enrollment subject" then said "meh. You can find books to read on your particular subject."

Then I wondered if the Volkshochschulen (sort of equivalent to community colleges) offer history programs, and I ended up on the Berliner VHS page, and, while I couldn't find any history courses, at least not from the broad categories listed, they have a health & fitness section, so I poked in there a bit, and they have things like qi gong and yoga. Since one of my plans for the next 10 years is to become a teacher in my tai chi school, I wondered how one applies to teach a course at a VHS. That question itself wasn't answered, but it looks like you have to do some sort of continuing-education program to ensure quality, if I'm understanding this Bürokrat-Buzzword German properly.

Oh, hey, I could click on the FAQ (HGF? Not pronounceable at all...) and find this. Silly me, I was looking in the "about us" section :P It seems I just need proof of qualification and experience at teaching the course I'd like to teach (to *each* VHS, if I wanted to teach at more than one). And, hopefully, after 10 years, I'll be able to do that.

(You can also take German as a foreign language courses there, for FAR cheaper than at Goethe, though without the fun cultural programs and the like. And get certifications for various jobs, like IT and whatnot.)

More later on pros, cons, terrors, stresses, and that sort of thing in regard to the idea of moving holy shit to Berlin. Because moving 6 time zones and an 8.5-hour flight to a different country isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Especially when the city you want to move to only has 60 hours of sunlight a month between October and March (but 220 hours of sunlight in July! Yeah, Berlin's at 52.30N. I live at 36.09N now.)

DANKE!

27 Jan 2011 08:59 am
feuervogel: (happy)
[personal profile] acari sent me a box of German Christmas goodies, and it came in the mail yesterday! I was beginning to wonder if customs had eaten it, then it arrived in my box! Yay! And I think it included some homemade cookies :D (I already ate two of them.) And little tree ornament chocolates and a Milka Santa, and Spekulatius, and marzipan! I love marzipan! (Ben hates it. More for me!)

Thank you so much!!
feuervogel: (writing)
In the effort to get this bloody short story as polished as possible to send in as my Viable Paradise application, I've asked my new writing group and some writerly friends for crit. It's definitely getting tighter with the input from Don, who also caught a continuity error that I added on revision (oops), and the underlying internal conflict is going to be a bit more prominent.

Which leads me to the question for the Germans. Is there any sort of stigma associated with Valkyries/Walküre? Like, is it an insult, or is it part of the right-wing neo-fascists' adoration of all things Germannia, or whatever? I don't want to commit a major faux pas.

And I was beset by yet another vague idea for a story when reading ... someone's blog post about how teenage girls aren't yet part of mainstream canon and how there's more to their lives than being popular & crushing on people, like forming friendships with other girls. I just don't know which of my women I want to revisit as a teenager. Hikaru would be focused on becoming a Hessian, and she could be dealing with her family's expectations (as well as her being a lesbian... yes, I know the lesbian military officer is cliche, but I didn't start off with that as part of her character. It just happened.) But Azar, the second MC of The Novel, could have a very interesting story, though I would have to do a LOT LOT LOT LOT more research, because she's a (probably Shi'a) Muslim living in a dictatorship not unlike present-day Iran, except without the morality police, etc.

I still need to figure out how I'm going to write a story basically about Berlin & its history that would be of interest to people other than me.
feuervogel: (dfb logo)
Today (14:45 EDT/20:45 CET) is the third match in the Euro Cup qualifying stage. Germany's in group A with Belgium, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Austria and Turkey.

They're playing Turkey in Berlin. Much ado has been made about whether it will really be a home match for the Germans -- a lot of Turkish people live in Berlin and are expected to turn out at the stadium to support the Turkish team. It's going to be an interesting match: the player who was key to our success in South Africa, Bastian Schweinsteiger, is out with a torn ligament in his foot. Still shaky is the left back position; Boateng and Westermann are both candidates for the spot, though it's neither of their best position. (And Badstuber may be better as center-back than left-back; we'll see how he does there. Arne's still recovering from his back surgery.)

A lot of the usual league-toppers are having problems so far this season. Bayern's off to their worst start ever, with many key players (like Miro Klose) off form. Schalke, GK Manuel Neuer's home club, is down in 17th place, right above Stuttgart in last. The media are talking up a crisis for Bayern. There could be a bit of World Cup factor involved: half of Jogi's starting XI play for Bayern, so they're tired from working while their teammates had a bit of a break.

One thing that's heartening, at least, is that no matter how crappy they're doing in the clubs, Klose and Poldi have always been able to shape up for national team matches. Basti's absence will be felt, though; he's very good at directing play and holding the team together. He's also the best defensive midfielder we've got; the others are likely to wander forward, as attacking midfielders (Özil, Müller, Khedira).

Football, culture, and politics

There's a lot of talk about Mesut Özil in this. He's a third-generation German-born Turk, and he chose to play for the German national team over the Turkish, while the other Bundesligisten of German heritage chose Turkey. Özil said that for him, there was never any question that he would choose the German team. He grew up in Germany, and he feels comfortable there.

Hamit Altintop criticized Özil for choosing Germany over Turkey, suggesting that he made the decision on which team would best advance his career and that Özil wouldn't be playing for Real Madrid now if he'd chosen Turkey instead.

On several occasions, Özil was asked whether he thought football was important for integration. He's been asked so many times, he has an answer memorized: we always had multi-culti teams, and we always got on well together.

Another player with a "migration-background" is Sami Khedira, whose mother is German and father is Tunisian. In a press conference yesterday, he was *also* asked about his decision to choose Germany over Tunisia and about football as integration-helper. He said he goes to Tunisia every year to visit family ("it's also a beautiful vacation area") and feels close to his Tunisian roots, but "I was born in Germany. I grew up in Germany. I consider myself German. I *am* German."

I'm getting tired of hearing the question be asked. I can't imagine how tired those two are.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
When I learned German, I was taught always to use Sie to strangers, professors, doctors, and pretty much everyone. It's the polite form of "you". The rules surrounding its use aren't terribly complicated, really, and it's generally speaking better to be safe and use Sie when in doubt, especially if you're unfamiliar with German social norms. (I don't claim to be an expert, but I've lived there, so I've got some experience in the matter.) (wikipedia on German T-V distinction)

At Uni Marburg, the professors called the students Herr/Frau Lastname and used Sie. And naturally the students called the professors Sie and used the appropriate title (Herr Doktor Knochel, maybe with a Professor stuck in there somewhere, I forget.) The students all called each other Du.

I've also noticed that in German-language posts on the internet (DW, mainly), people use Du. It's casual and friendly and familiar, because, hey, we're all friends on the internet, right?

There used to be a ritual called Brüderschaft trinken (drinking brotherhood) wherein people would drink together and switch from Sie to Du. It's much rarer than it used to be.

So I emailed my renter the other day, and I used Sie. (Because I didn't want to presume familiarity, and I have no idea how old she is, and that sort of thing. See above re better safe than rude.) I got her reply a few minutes ago, and she used Du, so I'll reply back to her with Du.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I don't have anything profound to say, so I'll link you to the Scorpions.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
- 1920s & 1930s, absinthe, sloe gin may have been popular. Absinthe was never banned in Germany.
(google: popular drinks 1930s germany (eng and ger, variations thereon); wikipedia (de & en) pages on alcohols)

? Would young women (age 19 or so) have drunk these things?

? Cabarets: would young women have gone to them? Would it have been weird? (google & wikipedia: cabaret/kabarett, who went to cabarets 1920s) Google says that by the 1920s, burlesques were just strip clubs basically. So I want cabarets, I'm pretty sure.

? How were families of war deceased notified? Bodies were buried at the front (I gather), so were personal effects sent home, and did they get posthumous medals? I mainly want to know about the German customs.
(google: world war 1 deceased notification families german/ erste weltkrieg toten familie notifiziert)

? What were mourning customs in 1930 Berlin? (google: funeral/mourning customs germany/berlin/lutheran 1930; trauergebräuche 1930)

? What did German soldiers carry for luck in WW1? (Google: luck charm world war 1; erster weltkrieg amulett/talisman/Glücksbringer) (The last one there got me a link to a lottery page. :P )

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feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
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