Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Breaking Meet-Up News

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Hey fellow expats, the planning for this year's expat blogger meet-up has just begun! J and Regensblog have set up a board for us to all discuss where to have it and all the other fun stuff. Check it out at - you'll need to register. Right now brainstorming a location has just begun.

See you there!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fasching in Thesisland (with special French cookie bonus)

I'm missing out today; sitting in front of my computer. The lack of time for my blog is apparently hurting it; I lost two followers over the last few days!

To replace what would have been a story about going somewhere this year to celebrate Fasching (Rottweil was on the list), here's a blast from the past ones, when the man wasn't getting me down. ;)

Narrenfest in Endingen, January 2007

Fasching in Heidelberg, February 2007

And some pictures from Heidelberg's parade in 2008, which I apparently never got around to blogging! (It's just as well, most of the photos didn't turn out because of the drunks in front of us making it difficult!)

While I was digging up those photos, I came across another one I meant to blog and never did. We bought these cookies in France:Check out the bubble-gum-loving Statue of Liberty, and that they're all countries, except Africa, which is of course all the same. And now we know where that fancy French food comes from - a can! ;)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Best Countries for Expatriates: Germany Takes Second Place after Canada!

Yeah, I'm really supposed to be working on that thesis right now. Not even on my own computer at the moment, to minimize distractions. But by God, you're going to hear these cool survey results here first! (Unless you already read the news.)

In a survey conducted last year of expatriates conducted by a big banking company looking for the countries friendliest to expats, Germany took second place among the fourteen countries for whom they had enough respondents to reach statistical significance. It was second only to the lovely Canada (a country I unfortunately still haven't sold my husband on). Australia came after Germany, and countries like France, Spain, and the Netherlands were much lower, with the United Arab Emirates coming in last. Germany was second to Canada in the ability to meet local friends, first in expats learning the language (I think English-speaking countries took a hit in this category since the survey was probably mostly answered by native speakers of English, so they don't have to mess with learning the language in those countries), first expats joining community groups, and ninth in expats purchasing property here. (That one is not easy here.) The article cites Germany's high level of English knowledge and great work-life balance* as reasons. The US came in sixth in the survey.

It's interesting to see these results knowing how many expats do have trouble here with the language and with getting integrated and making German friends. I guess it all depends on what you might be comparing it to. Of course it will always be easier to make friends in your own country, where you have a complete understanding of cultural signals and jokes and whatever else, than it would be in any other country. But where expats complain that Germans are hard to make friends with, it would probably be just as hard in France or Spain or Australia or the UK, or if this survey is accurate, maybe even harder.

*Speaking of this, a friend I was talking to yesterday who comes from another country, when we reached somehow the topic of sick time and vacation time, said, "Yeah, you know, I used to really think about trying to move to America, but now that I know more about some of the things there, I don't think so!"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nelly on Europe

Every year a friend of mine gives me a "Stupidest Things Ever Said" calendar for my birthday. Here's today's entry from the calendar:

On Yeah, Go Figure:

"I could turn on just about any television channel in Europe and see full nudity. And their crime rate is a lot lower than ours. Go figure."

-rapper Nelly

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two on Tuesday

Ugh. Frankly, it has been an overall shitty last three months over here, with a few great moments mixed in. Things haven't sucked this much in at least two and a half years, if they have ever sucked this much.** But, I really should not complain. It only seems bad because the vast majority of my life is pretty much awesome. Anyway, as such I haven't composed any major blogs lately and I know I owe at least one explaining the little handwriting thing I did last week. But, today I am going with an easy post to just keep this blog operating - Two on Tuesday from Blogging Mama. Thanks, Andrea. :)

1. Tell me about something you collect. It can be weird, normal whatever. What do you collect? If you don't collect anything what would you collect if you could?

I try to avoid becoming the collector type because I don't like having a lot of useless things. But, I do actually have a collection, and it sort of became one without me noticing. I collect books about first names. I just find them fascinating and ideally my job would be doing something related, but, well, there's not much work in that field and I don't think I could stomach a linguistics degree anyway.
The great thing about it is that I've accidentally learned a lot about languages through knowing names. The downsides: if people see the books they think I want three thousand babies so I can name them a bunch of esoteric things. This is not true and actually I don't really care for babies much at all (though I think kids are great). Also, it's really hard to find name books at the used book store because they're not consistently filed in the same sections. And, I hesitate to ask the employees where to find them lest they assume I'm pregnant and start asking me about it, because that would be awkward.
I will take any name book in any language (with an alphabet I can read) from any time period off your hands, by the way. I have 35 books in 5 languages at the moment, or 36 if you count the fact that I bought Freakonomics just for the chapter on names. I'm really hurting for coverage of names from the African and Asian continents and Eastern European countries (Oxford has very basic coverage of E. Europe but I need something more thorough), if you can make any recommendations. (I need something accurate, not some poorly-researched farce like 90,001 Names for Your Baby that happens to include names from those continents. Those books are interesting in their own way, but for these language groups what I really want now is some accurate info.)

2. If you could spend an afternoon talking face to face with one (or two) other blogger(s) who would it be and why?

It would be nice to meet any of the bloggers I haven't met before.

** Whoaaaa peeps. You know you didn't come off right when your own husband calls you to ask what's wrong because your blog sounded so miserable. Let me clarify: My life is really, really, really awesome. I am not exaggerating here. So when things get just a little bad, by contrast they feel crushingly terrible. Things are not THAT bad, there has just been a lot of really bad stuff in a row. Let me explain. In December I had surgery. It was a surprise and not a nice one. My thesis was due at the end of that month and I got an extension because of what happened. The people at the university were not pleased to give me the extension. It's now due at the end of this month. I have been working really hard to try to get it done in time but it has been hard to focus. Then, three days ago, my grandmother died and under very unfortunate circumstances - essentially, a surgery that went wrong. I can't afford to make it home for the funeral. Meanwhile the thesis is still due even though I can't sleep thinking about how it must have been for her. (We were not even that close in recent years.) So, I'm just very tired and stressed, but I'm not crippled by utter misery or anything, thankfully.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Can you read it?


Click on them to enlarge. Please ignore my spelling error(s?). There is at least one!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Songs About Your Hometown

Well, the Kraut conversation was enlightening. Back to musical interludes while I try to put this nightmare of a Master's degree behind me!

A song for every place I've called home - it's a fun exercise, try it if you're looking for blog filler, I would love to see what people come up with.





Wednesday, February 04, 2009


I interrupt my regularly scheduled thesis-writing to ask:

What is up with use of the term "Krauts" to describe Germans? Is this offensive?

I know nothing about it, but my instinctual reaction is that it sounds terribly offensive and dismissive. I see it now and again used on otherwise okay blogs, sometimes by the bloggers themselves or in stories they tell where someone else who has lived here before uses the term. I'm always a little surprised and disgusted, and afterward I can't take anything the Kraut-sayer says seriously. It gives me the impression of a person who has rejected a whole culture with a big brush, doesn't want to be here/didn't want to be here, and therefore probably doesn't have much in the way of worthwhile commentary on life in Germany. Or probably on anything else either. I wish people who are such haters would just stay in the US and not spread their crap around, as it doesn't seem they're going to learn anything by going abroad.

Or am I totally overreacting and this word has just become a term of endearment?