Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Never let school interfere with your education."

Well since my last post, school started again, I saw a very strange (but good) show and I received my Christmas presents from home. It was a pretty interesting week. We will start with the most interesting part of this post; Saturday.

For Christmas my host mom got tickets to some show in Stuttgart. The show was last Saturday and we all went. Before the show, we all went into Stuttgart to look
around. I bought two books. They were books to teach yourself Swabian. That would be the local dialect where I live in Germany. Swabian is proving to be a challenge but I have done the research and bought the books. I will learn Swabian before I leave. Here's some Swabian for you guys. The sentences are in normal German, English and Swabian.

Wie viel Uhr ist es, bitte?
What time is it please?
Wia schbääd h
êmmer's bidde?

Können Sie mir ein gutes Restaurant emfehlen?
Can you recommend a good restaurant?
K
ênnat Se mr a guade Wirdschafd saga?

Hier draußen auf der Terrasse geht ja ein schrecklicher Wind! Da weht es einem glatt die Nudeln von der Gabel.

There is a lot of wind outside. It is enough to blow the pasta right off my fork.

Dô hussa uff dr Terraß gôhd a Sauwênd. Dô wedelt's oim jô d'Nudla õm d'Gosch rõm.

Because it looks so easy to learn...

First I thought it was some sort of performance show, then they said something about a concert, then it was something about a comedy. I am not entirely sure what category it goes into. There were two men who sang songs and acted. They sang "classic rock" but modified it. By modified it, I mean they translated the songs into German and changed some stuff. Song number 1, the lead people drove out on motorcycles while playing bag pipes. They went on to sing Smoke on the water (in German) while dressed as motor homes. It was still funny though. They spoke English during the show a lot so that was a bonus. When they weren't speaking English, they were speaking Swabian. I either completely understood what they were saying or understood absolutely none of it.

Monday we went and picked up 2 packages from the customs office. One was the box that Verena sent home with Christmas gifts. The second was the box that my family sent over for Christmas. I now have my class ring (from CHS), a Bayern München (arguably the best soccer team in the world) polo shirt and enough candy to gain 10 more pounds. I said that Bayern is arguably the best soccer team because in all honestly they are, some people just choose not to accept that. My host family all got Northfaces so now we have a "familie Jacken" or "family jackets" because we all have one. They all also got fluffy pajamas and then a wide assortment of staple Buffalo food (Weber's mustard, which we immediately opened and tried, sponge candy, Buffalo Wing sauce etc). They also got this really nice blanket with a family picture on it (and by family picture I mean one with me in it too). Also, now that my parents opened their gifts that I sent I can say what they were. They got a boatload of German candy. All the really good kind (Ritter Sport, Nimm 2, Haribo, Schokobons, Lindt and Maoam). Aside from that they got Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread), Christmas ornaments and a wall hanging that my host mom made. I also managed to send home a bottle of local German wine complete with a Santa suit wine cozy that my host mom made. So basically if you are in the mood for German wine and chocolate (and who isn't), you know where to go.


Here is a picture of the Christmas gifts I sent back home.

Unfortuantely school started on Monday so Christmas break is over. The good news is that I have like a week off in February to do some exchange student things and then another week off in March. I got invited to go to Poland for the March break with another exchange student. I don't know if I will actually go but it would be cool anyway. Then comes Easter break in April. A week off of every month for the next three months? Not bad Germany, not bad at all.
I got my English test back yesterday. I got an A+ which I don't understand because I thought I was getting points off for writing too much.

I made a fool out of myself in English class on Wednesday. I turned it around and made everyone laugh though so it wasn't too bad. The teacher asked me he difference between "might and may" and I replied with "ich weiß nicht" to which he replied "when I speak English to you, I expect you to reply in English.". It wasn't like I was trying to show off my German, it's just German came out before English did. So I said "I don't really know". He was like "why don't you know, why would you have two words that mean the same thing". To which I very cleverly replied "why do you have der, die and das?". Everyone cracked up so it wasn't a total loss.

I did school people on a religion quiz though. It was a "how well do you know the Bible" quiz. The questions were like "who were the three Kings of Israel?", "name the three bodies of water of in Israel", "name three cities in Israel", "name a Bible story that deals with exile, nomads, Evangelism, Paul and give five modern names that are in the Bible". I even got the one right about who first translated the Bible into German.

We had biology yesterday and we got back tests we took a few weeks ago. I didn't get the lowest grade in the class. I beat 4 or 5 actual German students. It was actually kind of funny; ton my test, the teacher wrote "much better than many Germans". That kind of made me laugh. After class, everyone split up into their little groups and I swear, I heard the same thing at least once from each group. Someone in every group said "are you kidding me, Michael did better than you." or "what, the American did better than you". Good thing people here don't think I'm dumb.

I got to say though, I get the same reaction on every single test I take. Every teacher writes something along the lines of "wait, you speak German?!". Which maybe they would know if they stopped insisting that I speak English with them.

Today I had NWT for the first time since I started school. The teacher was like "oh I see we have a new student" and one of the girls was like "yeah, he's from England". Let me just say, this was the ultimate face palm moment. I have been in their class for over 3 months now and she thinks I am from England. Then another girl was like "well at least she got the language right". It would be pretty hard to not get the language right, seeing as (as I mentioned above) the teachers insist that we speak English. It was actually pretty funny though.

I got 3 packages this week. I got the one from my parents that I talked about above and then one from my grandparents and one from my Uncle AJ and Aunt Sally. The two new ones contain everything that I could possibly think of in terms of snacks that I missed from home. Cake mixes (Germany doesn't have normal cake!), frosting (they don't have that either), brownies (dont have it here), fruit roll up (also no), granola bars (also not in Germany), enough Kraft and Mac and Cheese to survive a nuclear winter, and a wide variety of cookie mixes (they don't have normal cookies either). That would be probably the thing I miss most about the USA, the level of snackage that I consumed on a daily basis. Thank you guys!

Here is a picture of my American junk food cabinet!

Now for some fun facts about Germany.
  • After Irish, Germans are the second biggest consumers of beer in the world. The average beer consumption of the country is 119 liters per person per year.
  • Angela Merkel, elected in the 2005 elections, is first woman chancellor of Germany.
  • Berlin became home to the biggest train station in Europe in the year 2006.
  • Berlin is the capital of Germany. Other major cities of the country are Hamburg, Colonge, Munich, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, Hanover and Bremen.
  • Football is the most popular sport in Germany and ‘The German Football Association’ is the largest association of its kind in the world. They mean soccer here.
  • German Autobahn is the oldest, and one of the densest, motorway networks in the world.
  • Germany became world’s first country to adopt Daylight Saving Time (DST), in the year 1916.
  • Germany is a member of NATO, G8, G4 Nations and the European Union (EU).
  • Germany claims the distinction of being the fifth biggest economy in the world.
  • Germany is one of the few countries of the world where Holocaust Denial has been declared as a crime.
  • Germany is situated in West Central Europe and its official name is ‘The Federal Republic of Germany’.
  • Germany is the homeland of numerous renowned scientists and theorists. They include Albert Einstein, Max Plank and Werner Heisenberg.
  • Germany is the largest economy, and the second most populous nation, of Europe.
  • In case of iron, steel, coal, cement, chemicals, machinery, vehicles, machine tools, electronics, food and beverages; shipbuilding and textiles, Germany is the largest producer in the world.
  • Many great philosophers of the world, like Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Heidegger, were German.
  • The tallest church in the world, Ulm Cathedral, is in Germany. It is 161.53 meters (530 feet) high. I climbed to the top of this church.
  • The Wurzburg Residence of Germany boasts of housing the largest fresco ceiling in the world, measuring 7287 square feet and done by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, a Venetian painter.
  • World's most colorful caves (as per Guinness Book of Records), Fairy Grottoes, are in Germany.

Here is a video with some useful German phrases. It is around 4 minutes but it covers some of the basics.

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