Thursday, February 18, 2010


As of now, David and I have little to no decoration in our apartment. We are still working on acquiring furniture. Furniture trumps art any day. Just how it is.

In lieu of an art to hang on the walls, I have decided to buy flowers ever week to help make the house fell less sterile. It works pretty well. I'm planning to buy some green plants too, but haven't seen a lot of good options in the garden section of my local home improvement store yet.

Up until now I've had good luck with my flower choices. I mostly buy roses because they are inexpensive (2 euros!), come in a variety of colors, and seem to last a decent amount of time. They are also one of two flower options I typically have and usually the roses look better.

I've been experimenting with various flower colors to see which ones keep the best. So far I have tried red, red-orange, and yellow. Yellow is buy far the worst. The second the flowers start to fade and turn brown, you end up with awful yellowish brown mess in the vase. It's not a cheerful thing at all. The red seemed to stay fresh looking for the longest period of time.

Anyone have an suggestions on flowers that keep really well?

Update:  Bought new flowers today.  Purple tulips.  Let's see how long these last. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Fasching is the German version of Mardi Gras. I've never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans (and I don't plan on going), so I don't have a lot to compare it to. My wildest Fat Tuesday experience is probably eating to many pancakes at the church pancake super. I was ill prepared for this holiday.

The streets were filled with people in grotesque costumes. So grotesque that I prefer not to record a description. Emma was so startled by these people in costumes that she has resigned herself to spend as little time outside as possible until she is certain that the "scary creatures" are gone. From every Backeri wafted the scent of Berliners (filled doughnuts and the traditional Fasching treat). It was quite a surreal experience.

I'm not sure what I expected, but it was certainly not a celebration of this magnitude. Yesterday, the city center was shut down to make way for the parade. No trains were running, few shops were open, there were so many people that it was hard to move very far without bumping into people.

In every stroller was a sleepy child, dresses in some sort of outlandish costume. Parents held the hands of children, who were bouncing from a combination of excess sugar and excitement.

I was a sight.

It must have been some a party too. About half of the class arrived late to school this morning, most looking as though though they'd had a long night.
I should have been prepared for this. I had heard what I big deal Fasching was from multiple sources. My German teacher even offered to let my class take two days off for the Fasching celebration ( thankful my class voted against this).

Anyway, Fasching....who knew? Certainly not I.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I find it fascinating to meet new people in Germany. Everyday I speak with people from all over the world. People who have all come to Germany for one reason or another. So far I have met people from Spain, Romania, Montenegro, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Poland, Taiwan, China, Nigeria, Mauritius, Israel, Turkey, Tanzania...I think that's all... Everyone has a different reason for coming to German and taking a German course. Some people, like myself, have come to German for a loved one. Some have come because they want to make a better life for themselves and their families. Others are here because they have always wanted to spend sometime in Europe. Some for work, some for studying, some as an au get the idea....

Everyday I learn something new about they world so I thought I would share a bit of my new found knowledge:

  • In Israel, young men are required to complete a mandatory 3 year service in the army. ( The guy in my class from Israel said that he could only dream of going straight from high school to college.)
  • The US should start using the Metric System. Seriously. The rest of the world using it and I find it quite embarrassing that I do not have a firm grasp on Celsius or square meters.
  • American television is really popular in Europe. I had a whole conversation with a guy from Italy about television. He was highly amused that he had seen so many television shows that I had not.
  • Lots of people where the same clothes multiple days in a row. (It took me awhile to get used to concept too.)
  • Every language has different names for countries, cities, and languages. It gets confusing after awhile.
  • Doughnut are loved by people the world over.
  • As are french fries.
  • It is not common to drink large cups of coffee in the more in most parts of the world. ( A girl in my class had about 1/2 L of strong Italian coffee one morning. She told me today that she seriously regretted that decision.)
  • Most men in the world are not afraid to wear a scarf. I used to think that men never wore scarves until I moved here. Nearly every man I see on the street wears a scarf when it is cold outside.
  • Apples to Apples does not translate well into other cultures.
  • Wedding rings in the US are much flashier than wedding rings in the rest of the world. Most wedding really are just simple bands made of either gold or white gold.
  • Most women from South America have this effortless beauty about them.
  • One family houses are not common in most of the world.
  • You can get asparagus year round in Italy but not in Germany or Poland.
  • Americans start working at a much younger age than most other cultures.
  • Classrooms in German are similar to classrooms in the US.
  • Most cultures eat a lot fish (2-3 times a week). Except in Germany because Germany doesn't have a lot of fresh fish.
  • Despite the fact that Atlanta hosted the Olympics 14 years ago, a lot of people have never heard of it.
That's all I can think of off the top of my head. More to come....

Snow, Dog, Cellphone

Millie, the smaller of my two dogs, LOVES the snow. She could spend days in the snow. If she were to get loose while there was snow on the ground, she wouldn't return home until it had melted. She loves the snow more than she loves me and David. Fortunately for us, we seem to only have snow on the ground about seventy percent of the time.

Every afternoon I take the dogs on a walk along the river near our house. On days when the weather is really nice and the sun is shining I take the dogs out individually for a long walk at the river near our house. When the weather is rainy/snowy and cold, I usually take the dogs out for a shorter walk, and avoid the river where I the dogs are likely to pick up more mud and dirt than I care to clean off their little paws.

Today, we could see the sun for the first time in about a week and a half. It was wonderful. I was so excited about the sun that I decided that I was going to take both dogs out for a nice long walk. I put on my winter necessities, leashed up Millie, and headed for the river.

When you first get to the river, you have to go down a hill to get to the walking path. Something about the sun had me in the mood to run. So I decided to run down the hill as fast as I could. When I got to the bottom, Millie was so excited that she couldn't contain herself. She started jumping up and down and twisting herself around. When she is excited she can't hold it in. (Don't you just love how dogs tend to wear their emotions for all to see! :)) I began to make snow balls. I threw the snowball up in the and Millie would catch them in her mouth. This is her favorite game to play on walks in the snow. I find that other people who happen to be nearby are endlessly entertained by this. It's quite funny. So funny that I thought I would take a picture of her doing this so I could post it on my blog. I reached in my pocket for my phone and to my surprise didn't find my phone. I found this a bit strange. I was certain that I had put my phone in my pocket before leaving the house. As a good city girl, I know that it is always smart to have a cellphone on my person when I am outside. When, I didn't find my phone, I shrugged it off, assuming that I had just left it at home.

About 1 hour and 40 snowballs later, Millie and I returned home. When I got inside I looked around for my phone, but it was nowhere to be found. Instantly panic stricken, I frantically searched the house for the phone. After five minutes of frantic searched yield no results, I went to the house phone to call my husband. As soon as I grabbed my phone, I realized that I didn't know my cellphone number, my husband's cellphone number, or my husband's office number. ( I should probably mention that phone numbers don't have the same format as in the US. Since the number format is different, I have yet to bother to memorize any important numbers. This was a mistake on my part. ) I finally got in touch with David and had him call my cellphone. No answer....

Without a blink, I put Emma on the leash and headed outside to retrace my steps hoping that by some small chance no one had seen my Blackberry lying on the ground somewhere and decided to keep it for themselves. For twenty minutes I walked up and down the river retracing my steps. Every time I saw someone I would ask them in German if they had seen my cellphone. Each time I got the same answer. "Bitte, Ich habe kein Handy gesehen." (Sorry, I haven't seen a cellphone) I don't know how I managed to communicate in such clear German while so upset, but someone I managed. Funny how that is. I must have talked to 10 people. I think many of them thought I was insane, but I don't care.

When retracing my steps several times yielded no results, I had almost given up. I had resigned myself to an afternoon of call my cellphone repeated hoping that whoever had found or taken it would answer. Now in near tears, I found myself at the bottom of the hill that I had run down so carelessly earlier. I looked up, and what did I see but my cellphone. Sitting on the ground all by itself. I picked it up and excitedly called my husband with the good news. Apparently, the cellphone had flow out of my pocket while I was revisiting my childhood. I was VERY lucky.

I arrived home with a huge smile on my face. I opened my cellphone to check for water damage...NONE! I am not sure how a cellphone can sit on melting snow for over an hour and no have any water damage, but it is possible.

The best part about the whole thing. I still have my cellphone and all of my phone numbers! Although, I think it's time that I start using the address book that David and I got as a wedding gift. :) There is certainly something to be said for having a hard copy of information such as phone numbers.

Coming soon: Photos of Millie playing in the snow.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Up in the Air

Somethings just don't translate.

On Friday, David and I went to go see "Up in the Air" German. I think the audience found the movie funny and entertaining...but a think several of the jokes didn't quite come through.

The best example is a brief dialouge between George Clooney and an airplane stewardess at the very beginning of the movie?

Stewardess: Do you want the can sir? ( Do you want cancer?)

*blank stare from Clooney*

Clooney: What?

Stewardess: Do you want the can....sir?

From the way that this scene is shot, there is a small pause that is supposed to let the audience know that this is just a bit of black humor.

I found myself chucking a bit, only to realize that I was apparently the only one who got the joke.

When I hear German, it is a natural thing for my mind to translate iItalict back to English. However, it German...the scene just isn't funny.

In German the word for can is Dose. So in German the stewardess says: "Wollen Sie die Dose?"

Just doesn't have the same ring to it...


I have been working on innumerable posts for about 3 weeks and counting. However, I can't seem to translate my thoughts in to a coherent blog post...It's really beginning to frustrate me.

While learning a second language is great thing, it is causing problems for me when I try to communicate in my native language. My mind has become a large void from which I can no longer find coherent thoughts. Instead, I find some mixture of English/German/Latin/Spanish/Italian/French...I can't keep it all straight. Yesterday, my husband started speaking in French to our dogs...I thought my mind was going to explode while I tried to figure out what he had said.

It's not that I lack the intelligence or the mental capacity to absorb a new language, I've just decided to do it in a untimely manner. Something for when ability to communicate has paid for dearly.

As young children, it takes us years to be come fluent in our native tongue.

I've decided to try to become nearly fluent in German in least than a year (35 weeks of classes) mind is not thanking me for this.

Instead of speaking just English or German, I now speak a strange hybrid of the two languages that doesn't even really make sense to me. I am constantly frustrated when I speak, write email, ... I find myself constantly searching for the word I want ( English and German). My mind is a sieve and my vocabulary is slowly straining away.


My mind will come back and the clouds will leave my thoughts clear as rain....