Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kid Denglisch Part 3

As the children were ready to go home today, a boy with an unzipped jacket asked me:

"Kannst du mir please help me?"

What he wanted to ask was:

"Can you please help me?"
How did this get screwed up? Whenever the kids ask me "Kannst du mir helfen" (can you help me), I repeat it back in correct English. Sometimes I simply repeat "please help me", since it's easier for them to remember.

Kid Denglisch Part 2

Yesterday one of the boys wanted to announce that he was going to be the third one finished with putting his shoes on. He announced:

"I am the threeste" pronounced threesta.

Correct German: "Ich bin der dritte"

What went wrong here? In German, numbers 1-19 take on the ending "te", pronounced ta. Examples: erste, zweite, dritte, vierte, etc. Numbers 20+ take on the ending "ste", pronounced sta. Examples: einundzwanzigste (21), zweiundzwanzigste (22), etc. That doesn't completely explain why this boy threw an "ste" at the end. My guess is that it just sounded better to add a ste rather than a te after the long "e" sound.

More to come in my threeste edition of Kid Denglisch.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day!

I think the Austrians are following the election in America just as closely as the Americans are. I've been tuning in to different Austrian radios, and that's all they're talking about. My Facebook newsfeed is exploding with updates about the election from people all over the world. The world is watching and anticipating. Imagine American television devoting its entire broadcasting to an election elsewhere. Living abroad during this election has really opened up my eyes to the influence that America and the president has on the rest of the world. I'm curious to see how the results will affect tomorrow.

Get out and vote America! 

Ritter Sport Chocolate Heaven

A must, if you are in Berlin: visit the Ritter Sport chocolate store, create your own chocolate bar, sample their chocolate creations in their cafe, and buy lots of chocolate. Love.

Chocolate muffin + chocolate espresso

I want this display in my room.

I Traveled Back in Time

At the Asisi Berlin Wall Panorama Exhibit

The One Time Starbucks Almost Got My Name Right

I have this thing here in Europe. It's called going to Starbucks. I call it a thing, because it's not something I normally do on a regular basis in USA. Whenever I'm in the States, I prefer local coffee shops. However, as soon as I step foot outside of the US, Starbucks becomes a safe haven, an unofficial American embassy. It's familiar, it's relaxing, and I know I'll get the same thing wherever I am. Kind of lame, I know.

This past week, when I ordered my usual soy latte, I was reminded of how often the people at Starbucks just cannot get my name right. Usually I get a cup with something like: Ember, Emba, Amba, etc etc. So imagine my surprise when I got this:

Almost, Starbucks, almost.

But still not as bad as the time I ordered a drink in Zurich and received a cup with Eber  on it. Eber means "male pig" or "hog" in German. And in Zurich, they speak German. 


Who in their right mind would name their child the equivalent of hog? Starbucks, silly, silly, Starbucks. Amber sounds NOTHING like Eber. 

Fall Break in Germany

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of work, traveling, and being sick (a special thanks to the preschoolers who all infected me with bronchitis the day before my holidays began). Now that I finally have a moment of downtown--albeit a sick-day written by the doctor-- I can get to some long overdue updates.

I'm lucky to work in a country that has two holidays rather close to each other in the fall; October 26th is the Austria National Day, and November 1st is some Catholic holiday. One advantage to working in a school in said country is the Fenstertage, translated literally to "window days" (think the days in between), that take place around these two holidays. Schools are not required to take those Fenstertage off, but my school used some of its allotted free days to create a 10-day fall holiday from school.

I decided to take the time to head back over the border to Germany to visit some friends. Apart from my short weekend trip to Erfurt in August, it had been a few years since I spent some real time in Germany. I spent nearly every summer in college in Germany, and I wanted to be reminded why I was there so often. I also didn't want to travel too far, but ironically, I spent more time on the train during those 10 days traveling than had I just flown somewhere warm. However, I find train travel to often be more relaxing and eventful than air travel. So I loaded up a bag full of treats for the train, grabbed three books, and boarded a train headed toward Koblenz in Rheinland-Pfalz.

I had already been to Koblenz several times, the first time in 2004, when I did a summer exchange program in the nearby town of Höhr-Grenzhausen. I returned a few times thereafter to visit friends from the program. Coincidentally, a friend of mine from college moved to a small town just a few kilometers away from Höhr-Grenzhausen to begin a masters program, making it perfect timing for another visit.


I spent the five days there visiting with my college friend, as well as a couple of friends from the exchange program, walking around Koblenz and Höhr-Grenzhausen and having several de-ja-vu moments. In the beginning, I also had several blank stares from locals whenever I used Austrian words unbeknownst to me. I also had a very strong urge to greet everyone with Grüß Gott, a typical Austrian greeting, instead of Guten Tag or Hallo. 

Austria  Germany.

On Halloween I headed south to Stuttgart, a rather industrial city due to the huge presence of automakers. I took a stroll around the town, rather unimpressed, before meeting my friend, Katrin, in the quaint town of Ludwigsburg, just outside of Stuttgart. Katrin and I had met in Minnesota four years ago when she was doing an internship and I was still a student. Since then, we have met up in all corners of D-A-CH (Deutschland, Austria, Switzerland --> German-speaking Europe).

We celebrated Halloween in Stuttgart, and the following day took a stroll around Ludwigsburg's palace, where they had a beautiful pumpkin festival going on. I felt for a moment as if I were in the US with all the pumpkins and barrels of hay. However, I only had to look up the hill to see a baroque palace in the background to remind me of where I was.

Ludwigsburg Palace
After experiencing Stuttgart in the span of 24 hours-- and honestly, that's probably all one needs-- we headed back north to my favorite city, Berlin, to celebrate Katrin's birthday. Berlin is also a city that I've visited several times, including a summer stay in the nearby town of Potsdam, while I attended a university seminar.

Until that point, I had secretly decided that I must have unconsciously traded my loyalty to Germany with Austria over the past few years. But being back in Berlin... love. Love. Love. Love. Berlin has so many different faces, so many new corners to explore, so much history and culture, so much... awesomeness. We had no plan for Berlin, but it all worked out. We ate lots of awesome and inexpensive Thai food (everything is half the price in Berlin as it would be in Vienna), visited the Ritter Sport chocolate store, had a DDR day filled with a visit to the DDR museum (German Democratic Republic) and a visit to the Asisi panorama wall exhibit, did some sightseeing of the East Side Gallery and Berlin Mitte, and I was even able to see a couple of friends from the Fulbright Austria program quick who now live in Berlin.

Brandenburger Tor at night

Berlin > Vienna, but Berlin < Vienna. I have a love-obsession for both cities. Both cities are more awesome than its counterpart for different reasons. But Berlin ≠ Vienna.