Month: January 2015

5 Ways to tell you’re surrounded by Americans in Germany

Sometimes all you need is a good dose of American cinema in English.. and sometimes you have to ride the train for a while to get it. Last week, I travelled to Kaiserslautern to see a movie and spend the afternoon with a friend who lives there. My friend informed me that Kaiserslautern has two nicknames. The locals refer to their hometown as “Lautern.” The second nickname comes from the Americans living on the military base thats stationed just outside the city. The “Amis” (Germans’ nickname for Americans) call it K Town, which drives the locals crazy. In Kaiserslautern, it’s not too hard to see that something is a little different.

Here are the tell tale signs that you are surrounded by “Amis”

1. The movie theater had salty popcorn. Germans prefer their popcorn sweet.

2. The movie was shown in English, without any German subtitles.

3. The café served me a water with ice in it. Usually, you never get ice in Germany.

4. People are walking around in PJ pants and/or tennis shoes. Germans wouldn’t dream of wearing either of those things outside of their proper setting. Rules are rules, you see.

Here we have the double whammy. PJ pants with tennis shoes. Sorry the photo looks like a bigfoot sighting picture, but in all honesty, seeing PJs in public in Germany is about as likely as spotting bigfoot.

Ami sighting

So meanwhile, I’m laughing to myself at all these silly “American” things and my first reaction is “ha! This is great! I need to post a picture of this!” As I pull out my phone to start documenting these things, my friend laughs and says “Social Media. That’s so American!”

5. Overuse of Social Media. Guilty as charged.

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Saarland ist BUNT!

When I arrived in Germany late this summer I started hearing about a movement in Germany called PEGIDA, an acronym for “Patriots of Europe Against the Islamization of the West.” Their protests in Dresden are what first gave them recognition in the media. Their movement is aggressive and intolerant. They demand that all refugees return to their home countries, despite the fact that Germany has a history of being a safe haven for those seeking refuge. Pegida lumps all Muslim refugees together and calls them criminals and terrorists. They confuse terrorism with Islam. Many people have already compared the anti-Islam sentiments of the movement with the antisemitic ideals of the Nazi party. In fact, some of their lingo comes directly from former Nazi statements. I was shocked to see such a group here in Germany. So, when PEGIDA supporters in Saarland announced they would be demonstrating in Saarbrücken, I decided that I would march in the counter demonstration. On Monday, I walked with a new friend I met from France over to the meeting place. As we came closer, I could see crowds of people coming from all directions. When we reached the “Treffpunkt” (meeting place) I was overwhelmed at how many people were there. People from all different political parties, social groups, ages and walks of life were there waiting to march for tolerance and peace. We marched to Sankt Johanner Markt together and were greeted with Samba music and speeches about acceptance and understanding. The mayor of Saarbrücken stated that there was no place for racism in Saarland. Later we came to find out that the PEGIDA demonstration had a turnout of approximately 300 people. Our march against their movement had a whopping 9000 supporters. I am proud to call this city home for now and happy to say Saarland ist Bunt! (Saarland is colourful)

Ein guter Vorsatz für das neue Jahr

My “guter Vorsatz für das neue Jahr” otherwise known as my New Year’s Resolution, was to start speaking exclusively in German with my boyfriend. This has proved to be more difficult than I expected. We met in Boise while he was studying abroad and I was just starting to get the hang of the German language. Since he was in Boise to improve his English and I sounded like Yoda with my poor German grammar, we stuck to speaking English.  Once you set a precedent like that and then stick to it for a year, it is hard to break. It feels very unnatural to switch over to German and not just for me. Half the time, he starts speaking to me in English without even noticing. One of the other strange side effects is the lack of good terms of endearment. Trying to find replacements for our English go-to’s has been a bit of a struggle. This might not be groundbreaking information to you readers, but German is not the most romantic of languages. Schnuckiputzi, Hasipupsi, Zaubermaus, Mausibärchen, Knuddelmuddel, Zuckerschnecke?? Half of these I can’t even translate and the rest sound like weird hybrid mythological creates like Bear-mouse, magic-mouse and any other mouse variety. Let’s just say, this is going to take some getting used to.

Me and my Kuschelbär

Me and my Kuschelbär