I didn’t travel for most of June, I stayed put and enjoyed as much German culture and landscape as possible. Here’s June in a nutshell. Continue reading
Friday night started off slowly and innocently at the Schützenhaus, a sort of clubhouse bungalow with a bar and a hall for shooting. The weather was gray and cool; the atmosphere was a bit awkward as many Germans are before they reach their pleasure plateau six beers in.
About 40 people were there for shooting and grilling, ages ranging from two to 70+. The kids romped and played football/soccer on the adjacent fields, only yowling once in a while when the parent would look in the direction and decide that the kid wasn’t in danger. Under a pavillion, which the village teen boys built out of wood and bricks, the same boys grilled sausages and marinated pork steaks. On a table nearby were sauerkraut, carrot salad, potato salad with ham and pickles, and bread with herbed butter that had been stuffed into bell peppers for decoration. Traditional German picnic benches and tables were set up in the parking lot and we all crowded around – aside from the few who felt it more important to have a few beers inside instead. Continue reading
A rough translation for those of you non-German speakers. There were a few liberties taken back at the newspaper office or something was lost in translation during the interview, so I’ve added a few brackets with notes.
“Good morning, boys and girls!“ – “Good morning, Miss Prescott!“ It’s routine since the American, Mariah Prescott, has been at the Wiedau-Schule in Bothel. Since the beginning of September, the 24-year-old Foreign language teaching assistant has been helping out in all classes at the school. Continue reading
Boston > Munich > Cologne > Wermelskirchen
Packing didn’t exactly go as planned. In the weeks before leaving, I laid out all my clothes on the apartment floor, determined to pack perfectly this time around: One pile for California, one pile for storage, one pile for Germany. The furniture was gone and I took over the floor, everything was neat and organized. California outfits packed and wore perfectly. But when Saturday came, the final day, we packed the rest of the apartment into our cars and ran out of time. All prospective outfits were shoved in bags and we headed east to deal with clothes later. Continue reading
“The first time I went to a playground in Berlin, I freaked. All the German parents were huddled together, drinking coffee, not paying attention to their children who were hanging off a wooden dragon 20 feet above a sand pit. Where were the piles of soft padded foam? The liability notices? The personal injury lawyers? […]
Here are a few surprising things Berlin parents do:
Don’t push reading. Berlin’s kindergartens or “kitas” don’t emphasize academics. In fact, teachers and other parents discouraged me from teaching my children to read. I was told it was something special the kids learn together when they start grade school. Kindergarten was a time for play and social learning. But even in first grade, academics aren’t pushed very hard. Our grade school provides a half-day of instruction interrupted by two (two!) outdoor recesses. But don’t think this relaxed approach means a poor education: According to a 2012 assessment by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, German 15-year-olds perform well above the international average when it comes to reading, math and science while their more pressured American counterparts lag behind. […] Continue reading
While studying in Hamburg and taking a mix of classes at the university and also ones taught by Smith professors, I took a class called “Landscapes of Northern Germany.” The class was taught by Professor Kai Jensen, who, although employed now by Uni Hamburg, used to specifically teach the class for Smith JYA students. Kai also spent a year or two teaching at Smith in Northampton with his family.
Snowing and blowing in Hamburg, a Christmas trip wouldn’t be complete without a delay and running to catch your ride. I guess we Americans aren’t used to trains, because, unlike planes, you don’t have to arrive two hours before for security, check-in, and baggage check. So we were early, and in typical holiday travel fashion, our train was delayed. Continue reading
Last Christmas, I told my parents I wouldn’t be coming home from Germany at all, not even for winter break. I was adamant about it; I thought everyone just stayed through the break. It was also something I never in a million years would have considered before- ask anyone who knew me growing up. So fall semester in Germany ticked along, I had no idea what I would do for break. Then one of my best friends, who is studying in Paris, offered a half-joking idea of going to Vienna and renting an apartment. From there our plans went wild. We considered apartments in Belgium, Greece, Germany, Russia, France, Switzerland, etc. etc. etc. And here I am, writing this post from the countryside of southern Sweden. Continue reading
It’s not warm and it’s not cold and it’s not pleasant. It’s damp. The leaves are old and yellow, bright yellow at this point. They contrast starkly with the gray of the bark, the gray of the sky, the gray of the damp dirt ground. These are the kinds of days in November that trick you. They are ugly but yet there is something magical about them. They come with comfort after the surprise of autumn has worn off; this is the second phase, this is the realization that winter is coming. But you’ve made it to November and threads of the holidays creep in. Happiness comes from plans for the holidays, concoctions in the kitchen, preparations of the colder days to come. Yes, there have been hard frosts and bitter rainy days, but the short respite that comes in these transition days is much welcomed. There’s a slight mist that hangs around the bare branches, making the moisture in the air visible, giving the air that distinct autumnal scent. Continue reading
Only in Europe would you see an acquaintance or new friend naked before you get their number. I have been taking a swim technique and training class through the university and have met more wonderful people there in one lesson than I have everywhere else combined. Maybe it is because you can talk during class, there are fewer people, or we have a common interest outside of the classroom, but I think it has to do with nudity.