Monday, November 22, 2010

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.”

Let me just start off by saying that I am really getting good at understanding movies that I don't actually understand. We watch movies here all the time and as you probably guessed, most of them are auf Deutsch. In the beginning I just kind of sat there and had no idea what was going on but now I can actually get what's going on without hearing it in English. With a mix of knowing more German, watching their mouths speak English and watching what's going on in the film, it's actually not that hard to understand anymore. Last Friday we went to see the new Harry Potter. I don't know why but for some reason I was prepared for it to be in English. I guess I forgot that I was in Germany for a moment. Needless to say once it came on and came on in German I was a little bit disappointed. Then once I realized that I didn't need it to be in English, it was all good again. Movie theatres here assign you a seat. It's not like at home where you can walk in and pick your seat. For those of you who haven't seen it, the new Harry Potter was good but it definitely wasn't the best one.

Being an exchange student in a tiny town definitely has it's perks. This morning while walking in the pouring rain to the bus stop, a girl asked if I wanted to share her umbrella. I have never met or talked to this girl but she knew who I was. Usually my accent gives away that I am "that exchange student from America" but I hadn't said anything when she knew who I was. The same thing happens in school. People are always saying hi to me and striking up a conversation. Two people in particular come to mind when I write about this. One is this girl who I don't know. I have never actually met her but everyday since school began she walks by and says "Hi Mike!" or some other friendly greeting. The other is this guy who I have also never met. Every single day he walks up and says "Mike, are we going out drinking this weekend?". This happens every day and every day I give him the same answer "yeah... of course" but we never actually go. Every time he says it I just think to myself "who are you and why do you want to go drinking so bad". At first I just thought he needed me to buy him alcohol (because I am 16) but he is also 16 so he can legally buy his own alcohol. So last week when we were in Reutlingen we met up with him on the supposed train home. Because we took the wrong train home and were stuck there for like an hour he talked about drinking, again. He gave me this exact speech
"Mike, you are in Germany now. This is the only year of your life where you can legally drink at 16, you need to take advantage of it!".
I find it kind of funny that he is so hung up on going out drinking.

The next thing on my list for this blog post is student teacher relationships. I can remember school in Spain perfectly. I walked into my first class (computer skills) and the teacher said "please open your books to page 37 and turn on your computers". This being European school, obviously it didn't happen. One kid yelled "Callate Elayna" (shut up Elayna). I just thought to myself "did he just call her by her first name?" and more importantly "did he just tell her to shut up?".Now in the USA if you called a teacher by their first name or told her shut up, you would be in a boatload of trouble. In Europe, not so much. She just became quiet and went back to her desk. The rest of the class was free time. Like really, you aren't even going to reprimand him? It was completely normal to call teachers by their first name in Spain. It is not considered rude and the teachers don't mind. In Germany school is like this except you can't call them by their first names. As far as being under control goes though, it's not much better. I am not sure if I already posted this but we had a bio test. Now obviously no one wanted to take the bio test. Three girls took out lighters (another thing I don't understand) and literally melted the soles of their shoes so the room would reek and we could leave. They got off with a warning. I gotta say though, European school is so much more interesting than American school. It always makes me laugh when I think about how teachers at home freak out about talking during a lecture, showing up late to class and chewing gum. Here that stuff is absolutely normal.

Keeping with the idea of school. PDA's (Public Displays of Affection) are basically everywhere. At home I go to private school so PDA is non-existent. Going off of what I hear from public school kids, it happens but the teachers break it up and usually give them detention. In Germany, as you probably can guess by now, that's not the case. Two people can be making out in the hallway and the teacher just walks on by. I also find it funny that teachers know that students drink/smoke and don't really care. Today in German one kid walks by and the teacher says
"You smell like cigarettes" and he replied "yeah I was smoking before class started". She just laughed and went back to the lesson. Wait what, you should at the very least say something about how bad smoking is for you, never mind the fact that he is not old enough to. Same thing with drinking. Last Monday in English class
Teacher "what did you do this weekend"
3/4 of Class "drank"
Teacher "did you show Mike some good German beer?"
Me "what?"

Honestly, you should probably stop encouraging them.

Don't let this fool you though, German school is legit. It is way harder than American school. Having Physics, Chemistry, Earth Science, Biology, German, French, English, Art, Music, History, NWT, GWG and GMK every year is a lot of work. German school is pretty demanding. It doesn't involve much homework (thank God) but it does involve many tests. If I had to stay in German school for 18 years, I would need to go out drinking on the weekends (just to de-stress) too.

Another thing that I like about German school is that they organize class trips. We have a class trip to Berlin and then another trip to Wales. The trip to Berlin is a tour but the trip to Wales is actually staying with Welsh students and going to Welsh school. I am not doing to the trip to Wales but the trip to Berlin should be great. Those are just for our "klasse" not for the whole school. We have trips to Europe through Canisius but they are for the whole school and cost thousands of dollars. Other countries are so close that the school trips don't drain your bank account.

I am not sure why I never posted about this before but something fun is that Germans don't say Michael. They say Mee-khy-ell. My host family asked which one I prefer but everyone else just says Mee-khy-ell. Well everyone except my German teacher. She thinks my name is Andreas. I am not entirely sure why. Michael, Andreas; they're clearly the same name. I never answer her because I am not used to being addressed as Andreas, it's not that I mean to ignore her. At least when other people don't know my name they just yell "Yo America" and I know that they are talking to me. Today when she called me Andreas, one kid was like "really why don't you just say that American, it's probably easier. On that note, one girl had to read an article out loud and she was making mistakes pronouncing the words so one kid yelled out "Come on, Michael can say these better than you can". I am not sure if that was an insult or a compliment but it was kind of funny.

Another thing that I noticed is that a lot of German people ignore each other when they say something. It doesn't matter if you're one meter away or across the hall. If you don't feel like answering, you just don't. Which I am kind of used too. At home we all sit upstairs and watch tv and when someone calls our name we just say "I don't really feel like getting up, if it is something important they'll call again". Sure enough there is the second call. "Ok now we will wait one more time." Either they let it go or they come all the way upstairs and say "why didn't you answer me" and then you have to use the whole "were you calling me" excuse. My mom knows exactly what I am talking about. Sometimes they just aren't in the mood to hold a conversation so they don't respond.

One more thing before we get into the latest news. Pronouncing things in German. In German, letter are not pronounced the same way they are in English.
R) pronounced like a gutteral W. Rot (red) is pronounced almost like Woht.
W) pronounced like a v. Wichtig (important) is pronounced like Vicktich).
V) makes an f sound. Vier (four) is said like fear.
ß) No this is not an uppercase B. Its an ess-zett. It makes the sound of a double ss.
ö) pronounced like oe. Sch
ön (great, beautiful, amazing) is said schoen.
ä) pronounced like ay. Spät (late) is pronounced spayt.
ü) almost like a mix of oo and ee. T
ür (door) is pronounced tour but with one syllable.
J) always makes a y sound. Ja (yes) is said yah.
Q) makes a kv sound. Quell (source) is said like kvell.
-e) at the end of the word it makes an -uh sound. Gute (good) is goot-uh.
-g) at the end of the word it makes a -ch sound. See W.

There are so many more differences but I don't feel like typing them right now.

Yesterday was a big fair in Stuttgart. It was an indoor convention. It was divided into a bunch of parts. There was electronics, games, baby stuff, home stuff, craft stuff and then more that i forgot. Well anyway on the way there I saw a US soldier. It was kind of cool to see. I knew there was a US army base in Stuttgart and that there were a lot of American soldiers here but it was still cool to see one. Then at the actual convention I met a lady from Montana. She has been here 26 years on the military base. She teaches there. The convention was cool. I bought a cheap German keyboard so that I can type all of their letters (ß,ö,ä,ü).

Today was the first day of snow.
It was the kind of snow that melts as soon as it hits the ground but it was still cool that it was snowing. It wasn't even that cold this morning but it must have dropped by 2nd period. Now the snow is gone and it is just normal rain. Also today I corrected my English teacher. I felt kind of weird doing it but it was a funny mistake. He told me to correct him when he makes mistakes so I guess it's not a big deal. He was going over some mistakes that they made on the last test and one girl wrote "the polars are melting and and the animals are dieing". He said the correct thing to say is "the Poles are melting and the animals are dying". I suggested the phrase "the polar ice caps". I wasn't sure if the "Poles" was correct though.

On that note, I guess that's enough for this blog post. If you haven't noticed, there is a new poll on the side of my blog about where you would like to visit most. Just something I was wondering about and thought it might be cool to ask.


  1. the paragraph about the names cracked me up. I literally laughed awkwardly at one point, and was relieved when I remembered that my host sister is upstairs. But seriously, "Andreas"?

    last summer when I was in Germany, we visited the grandmother of the family I was staying with and she couldn't remember my name so she just called me "Miss America." xD


  2. I honestly have no idea. If my name was Andrew or even Anthony it would be different. Even if she called me Matthew or Mark I would be like whatever and get used to it but nope its Andreas. How is everything in the NRW? Are you enjoying your year so far?