Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." Leo Tolstoy

Dear German School System,

I am tried of looking like a complete idiot. It's happened twice this week. That is plenty. I promise I am not usually so clueless.

Also to my Physik teacher, please forgive the sorry excuse for a test that I handed in today.

Michael/Andreas (if you don't understand the Andreas part, read the previous post)

Keeping on the topic of looking like an idiot in school. Yesterday was Biologie which is not my favorite subject. We had a worksheet on the different parts of the brain (lobes?). We had to label the parts and match which function goes with which part. The people at my table were all working together so like usual, I tried to help but just ended writing what they said. So we were the first "group" done and Frau comes over, looks at my paper and basically gasps. I look up and she has look of sheer happiness on her face. She holds up my paper and says "see this is exactly what I am looking for, and from the exchange student none the less." I then crack up laughing because I understood/did basically nothing. I think she finally realized that I didn't do it and asked "whose did you copy?". Apparently it wasn't group work, oops. Well when you understand 1/5 of what's going on, everything is group work; whether the teacher wants to acknowledge it or not. I gotta admit though, even though it only lasted a minute and a half, it was nice to know that not ALL of my teachers think of me as an incompetent foreigner. I forgot what it was like to be thought of as intelligent. Not gonna lie, I kind of miss it.

On to today's embarrassing moment. Today was a Physik test (aka the worst test of my entire life). For some reason I tried to take this test. The test was 63 students in two classrooms and was proctored by one teacher. So as you can imagine, the teacher had to leave one room to check in on the other one. Now what happens when you leave 31 teenagers alone in a classroom while they take a test? Do they
A.) Quietly do their work?
B.) Copy the smart kid's test?
or C.) bust out the brotchen and cola and proceed to have a snack?

Now if you picked A, you should probably get out from underneath that rock you have been living under. If you picked B, you were correct. C was also semi-correct. Now it was completely obvious to the entire class that I had no idea what I was doing on this test. So they all tried to help out by giving me theirs to copy. They didn't understand that I couldn't copy theirs. They didn't grasp the fact that the clueless foreigner getting a perfect score on the physics test might have looked a little suspicious. So this test was on 2 months of material. One of those months was before I started school there and the other one I just didn't understand. So everyone was like "we want you to try these tests and when you can't do them, just tell the teacher. They will understand". That was incorrect. I told the teacher that I really could not do this test. He was not kind or understanding. Instead, he made a joke about it. It was in that dialect but I understood enough to pick out "something, something, STAY STUPID, something, something". That was a real confidence booster. So I just quietly sat back down. After the test when we were handing them in, he just asked "do you seriously want me to grade this?". I said preferably not so I guess now it just doesn't affect my grade. It doesn't help it but it doesn't harm it either. I just don't understand when I am ever going to need to use this. All of you people reading this who took physics in high school, how many times have you used it since you graduated? One of the test questions was "A train leaves the train station at 15:00. It gradually gets going. Please figure out it's velocity and current speed". First of all, I honestly do not care the least bit about the momentsangeschwindigkeit of a train that left the bahnhof at 3 o'clock. Second, there are no passenger trains in the USA so there is no reason for me to learn this.
I hate physics. This is an example of what we learned. I doubt I would even understand this in English let alone German.
On to some good news; Thanksgiving. Because of the wonderful Physik test I had today I didn't have time to make dinner today. Instead, I made Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday. I made a bird, potatoes, stuffing, carrots, gravy, bread and homemade apple pie. It was amazing. Unfortunately the pie crust took the entire can of crisco so I can see my arteries clogging. My host brother spent a year in the USA, so he knew all about Thanksgiving but it was still cool to get to put it all together and show them. Check out my shutterfly if you want to see the pictures from Thanksgiving.

This week in English class we have been working with the lyrics to the song "License to Kill". The lyrics are as follows.

Man thinks 'cause he rules the earth he can do with it as he please And if things don't change soon, he will Oh, man has invented his doom First step was touching the moon. Now there's a woman on my block She just sit there as the night grows still She say who gonna take away his license to kill ? Now, they take him and they teach him and they groom him for life And they set him on a path where he's bound to get ill Then they bury him with stars Sell his body like they do used cars. Now, there's a woman on my block She just sit there facing the hill She say who gonna take away his license to kill ? Now, he's hell-bent for destruction, he's afraid and confused And his brain has been mismanaged with great skill All he believe are his eyes And his eyes, they just tell him lies. But there's a woman on my block Sitting there in a cold chill She say who gonna take away his license to kill ? Ya may be a noisemaker, spirit maker Heartbreaker, backbreaker Leave no stone unturned May be an actor in a plot That might be all that you got 'Til your error you clearly learn. Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool And when he sees his reflection, he's fulfilled Oh, man is opposed to fair play He wants it all and he wants it his way. Now, there's a woman on my blocks She just sit there as the night grows still She say who gonna take away his license to kill ?
I had to clarify so much of this song and honestly I probably gave them the wrong meanings. There are parts that I was like what does that even mean. "Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool" is a good example. I know what the words mean but what is the actual meaning. Also, how am I supposed to explain it? Then we had to write about the meaning/message in the song and once again I blanked. I got it right but it took a while and a whole lot of useless (maybe correct) details thrown in. I was not having a good day today. A combination of it being Thanksgiving and me failing at trying to take that test put me in a bad mood. Like usual, German class put me in a good mood. German is the class that basically no one behaves in. We were talking about the book we are reading and about gestures. One kid said something about the middle finger and she replied with "no this [insert mental image of middle aged German woman flipping off her students] is not the gesture I was talking about".

Something actually pretty funny happened yesterday. We were in German, discussing the meaning of the song above and one kid suggested it was about dictators falling in love. My teacher then asked "do you mean dictators like (dramatic pause, then turns to me) GEORGE BUSH?". It was so awkward but yet still funny. Then he was like "no no I am just kidding, I have no problem with your presidents.". Then the kids around me turned to me and asked "do you like George Bush?" and I replied with an uncomfortable "umm not really I guess(I was to scared to say otherwise)". Then everyone let out this sigh of relief.

I found this on the internet and it made me laugh. I don't know if you can understand all of the things it talks about but i'll try to explain them.

You know you are German when...

You separate your trash into more than five different bins. (I have explained this before)

You carry a "4You" backpack. (they all have backpacks that say 4you on them)
You eat a cold dinner at 6pm.(by cold dinner, they are talking about bread)

You call your cell phone "handy" and a projector "beamer".

You have no problems with nude beaches and saunas.
You have gotten splinters from environmentally friendly toilet paper.
You call an afternoon stroll "Nordic Walking".
You own a pair of jeans in a color other than blue.

People start talking about Hitler and Hofbräuhaus when you tell them where you are.
Your diet consists of beer and Döner.

You yell at people for jaywalking.
You think college tuition is an outrage.
You routinely go 100mph on the highway and tailgate heavily.
You wear brown leather shoes.
You have ended an English sentence with "..., or?".
You expect chocolate in your shoes on December 6th.
You complain that in other countries everything is dirty.
You spent hours in school learning to pronounce "th". (almost no one here can say th)
... taxi drivers drive Mercedes and the police on the Autobahn drive BMWs.
... if you go to school in a gymnasium.
... if you say PorschE, not Porsh!
... if you freak out at the fact that Canadians/ Americans/ Brits use margarine for EVERYTHING... or SALTED BUTTER! For cooking! For BAKING! ON BREAD WITH NUTELLA!
... if ich ständig Nutella Brote verdrücke - I can't get enough Nutella sandwiches.

... if you have guests coming and everything must be cleaned so it is sauber....even though it already was.
... if there is no such thing as BBQ only grillen
... if the cold evening meal is eaten off wooden boards not plates.
... if you are looking for the "esszett" i.e. ß on your keyboard
... if you know what Das Sandmännchen is.
... if you can identify with movies like: Die Fetten Jahre sind vorbei, Sonnenallee, Good Bye Lenin... (I have seen 2/3 movies, that has to count for something)
... if you eat raw pork with raw egg mmmh, lécker Hackepeter ;) (just for the record, no one believed me when I said the people here eat them raw. Everyone thought I made it up, well I didn't)

... if you do gifts on Christmas Eve - the proper way. Or is it just the Brits, US Americans, Canadians etc. that don't do it the proper way? Most European countries do!
... if everybody calls you "zee german" and thinks that you LOVE sauerkraut and sausages... then you are german.
... if you own a David Hasselhoff tape (they have inexplicable infatuation with David Hasselhoff)
... if you just don't get baseball and think it's boring
... if you speak English but the German way...even when it sounds strange e.g. 'everything in order by you?'because order is so important! OR "I made the laundry"
... if you only drink Sprudel Wasser and you add it to every other liquid you drink and call it Schorle!
if you like to eat your french fries with mayonaise and are revolted by the thought of vinegar on them.
... if you keep going on about the ear worm that you currently have and people look at you like you have some tropical disease. (here an ear worm is a thought or song that is stuck in your head)
... if you think stores are closed on Sundays apart from the local railway station store (in most probability LIDL)
... if you confuse your "if" and "when".... ;-) (almost everyone mixes these up)
... if you cringe when you hear the English version of 99 Luftballons - 99 Red Balloons.
... if the concept of small talk still puzzles you
... if you’re the only one recycling not just bottles and cans but also light bulbs, water filters, batteries, printer cartridges …

... if you reuse the plastic bags from the supermarket for your rubbish
... if being on time means 15 minutes earlier to you

. ... if you wonder why all those people are standing waiting in line when it's easier to walk straight to the front
... if you can't stand the sloppy white British/ American bread - the one where you try to spread your Nutella and it falls apart!
... (native German) if you have absolutely no idea who the von Trapp family are and you can't sing along to any of the Sound of Music film songs.
... if you have a compulsive feeling to correct things that are wrong - Ordnung muß sein! (order must be) (also, this one is really true)
... if you still differentiate between West Germans and East Germans (Wessis & Ossis) after xx years of reunification
... if greet everyone in a doctors' waiting room with a friendly "Guten Tag!"
... if you always complain about Dutch caravans on German "Autobahnen"
... if you can't laugh at British humour. (we have such different styles of humOR)

... if you go to the pictures, the cinema/ theater is empty but you still look where your assigned seat is - even if it's the left-most seat in the front row

... if you are queuing for bread rolls at 6am in the morning whilst on holiday ... on the other hand:
... if you refuse to stand at the back of a queue!
(first of all, it's a line not a queue)
... if you own a bicycle that brakes when you try to peddle backwards
... if you know at least 15 different ways to cook potatoes (they love their kartoffeln)
... if you are really upset when the Deutsche Bahn is yet again 5 minutes late (that's late? If only it were only 5 minutes in the UK!)
if you feel uncomfortable saying "you" to adults in English classes. (that whole du vs. Sie thing for respect)
... if you're the only one knocking on your desk after a lecture to show your appreciation while everyone else stares at you. (they don't clap, they knock on the something to make noise)

... if you switch the light off when you leave a room, (much to the dismay of your British flatmates).
... if you wish every person around you "Mahlzeit" at mealtimes.

...if the sentence "you can say you to me" makes perfect sense to you. (in German you have to say "can you please here to visit", the infinitive is always the last word)
... if you have a blue eye instead of a black eye.

... if you love your Apfelschorle. (watered down, carbonated apple juice)
... if you write your Nouns with capital Letters when writing in english... and your Nationalities and Languages beginning with a small letter! (German grammar says that all nouns are capitalized)
... if you say "Guten Appetit" before lunch and dinner, but NEVER before breakfast (ever noticed?)
... if it's your birthday and YOU are paying for the drinks!
... if you answer the phone by identifying yourself with your surname rather than just "hello".
... if you get a Zuckertüte on your first day of school
... if you wait for the pedestrian light to turn green before you cross the road for fear of being fined!
... if the English words 'peddle', 'paddle', 'puddle' and 'piddle' confuse you when you hear them!
....if you think all houses should have wooden/PVC roller shutters (Außen-Jalousie) so it´s nice and dark in your bedroom even in daytime & rain isn´t so noisy on the window you have to turn up the volume of your TV to watch your favourite "Tatort"!!!
if ... you mix Coke and Fanta and call it "Spezi".

Top 10 Reasons You know you're in Germany

  1. It costs as much money to buy a coke as a beer
  2. There is a transportation system, that is very efficient, running within each city and going to neighboring cities with buses, street trams, taxis and trains. Also special bike paths and walkways are made so one can go all over town.
  3. You eat sandwiches for breakfast (especially Nutella on bread) (even more bread)
  4. Beer actually tastes good
  5. There are 4 cans/trash bags to put garbage for every household (yellow is normal trash, blue is paper, green or brown is glass, and clear is plastics and metals).
  6. If you drive 4 hours almost in every direction, you will be in a new country which speaks a completely different language and has a new culture.
  7. Saying "Wie geht's'" (how are you?) will certainly not be responded to with a short phrase such as gut (fine or good) but rather by a long explanation of everything on that person's mind.
  8. People are allowed to drink (age 16) before they learn to drive (age 18)
  9. The date is day.month.year
  10. McDonalds serves drinks in Liter sizes rather than Ounces (also, they serve Schnitzel McNuggets)

More reasons You know you're in Germany

  1. Mayo on fries (Pommes) is normal
  2. The street light turns from red to yellow before it turns green (so that you know to change gears)
  3. People go for a walk after lunch, and sometimes after supper, through nearby park, forests or pathways.
  4. You pay extra for mayo or for ketchup, about 30 cents
  5. People go to the grocery store, the backery and the butcher meat shop every day or every other day.
  6. There are nude beaches and even at the local swimming pool people like to lay out and tan themselves without tops on.
  7. Everywhere you go or look you see graffiti
  8. Alcohol-free beer is available at any restaurant/brewery/bar that beer is served at
  9. A train can split up and move on different tracks or just have half the train not move at all.
  10. Cars park half on the sidewalk and half on the road
  11. There are no water fountains nor free water anywhere
  12. There is beer available for breakfast
  13. There are Autobahnen and Zuge rather than Highways and Trains
  14. There are no ice cubes in the refrigerator. (they don't use ice, ever. The only reason we have ice is because my host brother prefers it since he came back from USA. The fridges/freezers here don't make it)
  15. "Eis" means ice cream and not ice.
  16. You must tip people to use the bathroom, but it is not required to tip for a meal
  17. Salads come with a variety of lettuces and cabbages, and you do not get to chose the dressing.
  18. Burger King tastes better than McDonalds
  19. You have to return bottles and cans from where you bought them to get your pfand (deposit) back
  20. People will hike up mountains, go over boulders, or go across country sides when they have time to spend for fun exercise
  21. There are cigarette ads on billboards and in the movie theaters (especially Marlboro) (don't forget to mention the cigarette vending machines that are everywhere)
  22. Fruits and Veggies are not sprayed as much with pesticides or herbicides
  23. It takes an hour or more to wash clothes in the washing machine (and often times there is no drying machine).(I don't understand this one. The washer is really fast and we have a dryer).
  24. Buildings do not have air conditioning.
  25. Cereal is available only in hostels (because real Germans eat bread for breakfast)
  26. Streets and sidewalks are all stone bricks
  27. Water comes only with carbonated bubbles
  28. Watching Wild West movies in black and white is popular
  29. There are no water towers (can't see what city you are in) and no above ground
  30. If someone bumps into you, they do not say "sorry"
  31. Any chain store or restaurant is from America.
They are all so true. This weekend we are going to Nuremberg for the world famous Christmas Market/Weihnachtsmarkt/Christkindlmarkt. Here are some pictures from the internet.

Well that is all I got for this one. I get to eat Thanksgiving with my family home. Thanks to Skype, I can sit at the dining room table and converse with everyone live via webcam even though I am in Germany. I am really looking forward to that. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Also I just remembered that 3 people had a birthday recently (well alright 2 people and a dog). Happy Birthday to Oma, Grandpa and Flash! I hope you guys/creature had a great birthday.

Also today is the 25% mark. It didn't really phase me though. It was more the whole Thanksgiving thing.

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