12 August, 2016

German Men Sit Down to Pee: A Book Review + Giveaway!


I have something a bit different for you today: a book review! But don't worry, it still fits perfectly with the theme of this blog. The book is called German Men Sit Down to Pee and Other Insights into German Culture and is written by Niklas Frank (a German), and James Cave, a fellow (Irish, not American) expat living in Germany. It is a witty, tongue-in-cheek guide to life in Germany for us non-Germans out there. It's basically like a book-length version of my "differences" posts, only much funnier and without the American comparisons.

The book covers some of the things that I've highlighted on this blog and many other things that I haven't gotten around to yet. For my long-time readers, the parts about insurance, riding a bike, national pride and Sunday noise restrictions will be familiar, but you'll also learn about birthday traditions, beach etiquette, nudity and much more from this handy guide to German life.

Honestly, this is the book I wish I'd had before moving to Germany. Before I moved I spent some time online reading about what to expect of life in Germany, but in retrospect I didn't find a lot of information that ended up being very useful once I got here. Blog posts and online articles tend to be too short, too generalized, or only about one little facet of the culture. This book, in contrast to much of what I read, gets it right: it's book-length, is filled with information about a wide variety of German cultural quirks, and the funny tone and amusing graphics make it a thoroughly entertaining read. And despite the fact that I've lived in Germany for almost three years, even I learned some new things about German history and culture from this book.

If you are moving to Germany (or have recently moved) and are looking for an entertaining source of information, I recommend this book. It is a great companion for discovering the little things about the culture that Germans might not think to tell you or that the people in your home country simply don't know, the little everyday things that are often baffling to newcomers. This book provides a thorough introduction to everyday German quirks so that you can be prepared to bring a cake into the office on your birthday (a custom that I as a self-centered American still find appalling!).

You can buy the book as an ebook for Kindle or NOOK or as a paperback, or you can enter my giveaway for a chance to get a copy for free! Just leave a comment below and share this review on social media to be entered into the drawing.

And in case you're wondering, yes, it's true: German men do sit down to pee -- as long as there are no urinals around.

*Disclaimer: I was sent a free review copy of this book by one of the authors, but I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own.

10 August, 2016

A Day Trip to Braunschweig, Germany


Today I have another travel post for you! Since I've been a bit off my blogging game recently, this post is coming to you a bit late, but I hope the fact that this trip happened almost a month ago won't be too much of a problem ;)

15 July, 2016

A Sunday Stroll Through Hildesheim


The weather here in Hildesheim is cold and gray today, so to escape the gloom I'm going to take a journey back to Sunday afternoon when the weather was beautiful. After a lazy Sunday morning and some lunch, Maxim and I had coffee and cake at Black Apron (my favorite cafe) and then we went for a scenic walk through a part of downtown Hildesheim that I'd never seen before.

14 June, 2016

Am I Being Too Negative?

This semester has been a difficult one so far, but not for the same reasons as last semester. While last semester I was simply taking more classes than I could handle, this semester the workload is more manageable but the work itself is infinitely more frustrating. The most frustrating part is that a lot of the work is group work, and anyone who knows me well (or who has heard me complain about in the last two months) will know that I HATE group work! When it's in a group of three or four it can be okay, especially if the group works well together, but this semester, at least for one project, that has not been the case.

The format and the scope of the group work that I have this semester is just baffling. I would never have imagined that 15 people could be expected to collaboratively write and turn in one assignment over the course of the semester, but that is what is happening in one of my classes. The absurdity of this leaves me speechless. If I were a professor, I would never dream of putting my students through that just so I could grade fewer papers, but that seems to be the goal here. Before I get carried away and start tearing into this laughable approach to text production, I will move on to what I really wanted to talk about in this post.

19 May, 2016

Life in Germany: My Pet Peeves

When I first set out to write about the day-to-day frustrations of living in Germany, I thought I would have a short little list, the post would be a quick read and we could all move on with our day. Once I started writing, though, the pet peeves just started pouring in and now this post has quite a bit more than I expected. I've already written about my all-time biggest pet peeve about life in Germany, specifically the obsession with constantly airing out nicely warmed indoor spaces, so luckily you'll be spared reading about that one again. But that is certainly not the only frustrating detail about day-to-day German life. In no particular order, here are some more of my pet peeves about living in Germany:

09 May, 2016

Getting a Student Visa in Germany

Image source: pixabay

Today I finally got my shiny new residence card! After walking around the past month with an expired one (through no fault of my own) it's nice to finally be fully legal again. I had already submitted all the paperwork almost two months ago, so today was just the pickup appointment. As expected, everything went fine! Phew! This has not always been the case, so it was a relief to have no issues.

05 May, 2016

May Day in Germany

Even though I've lived in Germany for more than three years, I still have a hard time remembering when all the national holidays are. For a start, Germany celebrates different holidays than the US, with some overlap like Christmas, Easter and New Year's, and there are also just more of them. Sunday, May 1st was one of those holidays. It is known as Tag der Arbeit in Germany and International Workers' Day in other countries, and is the German version of Labor Day.

Tag der Arbeit and Labor Day used to be the same holiday. American Labor Day started out on May 1st and was adopted over the years by many European countries, including Germany. Then, for some reason, Labor Day in the US was moved to the first Monday in September while the rest of the world (mostly) kept it on May 1st. Now May 1st, or May Day, is not an official holiday in the US, although it is still sporadically observed as a celebration of Spring.

28 April, 2016

German Words That I Wish English Had

Source: Pixabay
Despite it's level of complication and the many frustrating aspects of the grammar, German is a fascinating and very useful language. After speaking German for almost three years, I sometimes think there are things that are just easier to say in German or that I can express so much better with the grammar and vocabulary that German offers. In some cases, there are words in German that just don't exist in English, and now that I've gotten used to having those words at my disposal it can be difficult to express certain ideas in English.

16 April, 2016

Language Goals

Image source: pixabay

Last week I finally started working towards a goal I've had for a few years: learning a new language! After a year or so of hemming and hawing and not being able to decide which language to start next (Russian? Chinese? Italian? Arabic?) I finally settled on the most unlikely of candidates: Danish.

05 April, 2016

Easter Sunday in Schwäbisch Hall


As promised in my post from last week, here is part two of my Easter weekend travels! Easter Sunday, the second of two days of day trips, was spent in the adorable little city of Schwäbisch Hall. This post will be mostly pictures, because they can describe the beauty better than I ever could.