Post #50: A Retrospective Listicle

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So if my calculations are correct…this is my 50th post! 😁🎉

It just so happens that I’m also going on my 18th month of living in Germany- a whole year and a half!  I thought I’d take a minute and reflect on everything I’ve learned in this time, and so in lieu of a formal post, I present instead a listicle: 50 Dos, Don’ts, and Nuggets of Wisdom from the past year and a half.  😉

1.) If you plan on moving to Germany, DO consider learning a little German before arriving. 😅
2.) If you’re an expat, DO let yourself feel overwhelmed at times.  Learning a new language and adjusting to a new culture is hard!  But it’s possible!
3.) DON’T let yourself get discouraged.  Ever.
4.) When you’re about to enjoy a meal, DO say “Guten Appetit!”
5.) DON’T say “Friss das, du Schlampe!” 😵
6.) DON’T settle for the first opportunity that comes along, whether it be a new apartment or a new job.  Take the time to make sure it’s the right choice for you!
7.) DO make friends with Russians.  The Cold War is over people, and they’ve always got vodka on hand! 🇷🇺
8.)DO eat paella, at least once in your life.
9.) DON’T forget to dress up for Halloween!  #nevergrowup
10.) DO sports!  It’s a great way to meet people and stay in shape (I could stand to do more too 😅)
11.) DON’T try to play Underwater Rugby unless you can hold your breath at 12 feet deep for 30 seconds 😰
12.) DO learn some idioms!  They’re fun and funny- i.e. Putzteufel and Giftzwerg 😂
13.) DO go to the international orientation, even if you’re not international.
14.) DO be aware of earthquakes and hurricanes, because ~surprise~ they happen in Germany of all places.
15.) DON’T forget about where you came from!  This means celebrating Thanksgiving abroad, fellow Americans! 😋
16.) DON’T be afraid to ask for help!
17.) DO go to the Christmas Market!
18.) DO go to the Castle Christmas Market!  For God’s sake, GO!
19.) DON’T take your family for granted, especially if they’re nearby. 😊
20.) DO drink Glühwein.
22.) DON’T drink Glühwein though if Glühbier is available.  🍻
23.) DON’T, I repeat, DO NOT drink Eierpunsch.  😝
24.) DON’T get in between two Spanish people who are having an argument.  😅
25.) DO go see a movie every once in awhile.
26.) But DON’T go alone! 👯
27.) DO try to go to church on Sundays, especially if you’re Catholic and you know the mass like the back of your hand.  Free German class, and you’re winning points with Jesus 😇
28.) DO be warned that Germans can’t make lines, and therefore communion is rather stressful.
29.) DON’T work on New Year’s Eve!  Even if you’re getting overpaid- start the New Year off right by being with friends!
30.) DON’T believe the Bleigießen.
31.) If you have the opportunity to slide down a snowy mountain on your back like a penguin…DO it.  🐧
32.) DON’T be a hater!
33.) DO/DON’T Karneval…still on the fence about this one. 😂🎉
34.) DON’T go into the sauna in Europe, unless you’re ok with being totally naked.  No pants allowed!  🙈
35.) DO respect your elders, especially if they remember the war. 😳
36.) When staying in a hostel, DO make friends with the others there.
37.) DO send postcards/letters/things made of paper that require stamps!
38.) DON’T even think about travelling through Europe and skipping Prague. 😍
39.) Beer gardens are the best gardens.  DO be sure to know where the closest one is, at all times.
40.) DO visit the little places, like Würzburg and Speyer!
41.) I know it’s hard, but DO share your Skyline Chili. 😅
42.) When in Amsterdam, DON’T forget to eat at FEBO, and DO join a game of Disco Bingo!
43.) DO ride through the Mosel valley on your bike.  🚴
44.) DON’T drop the jar of honey that you just got as a gift 5 minutes prior…
45.) DO learn how to make Käsespätzle, Borscht, and Gumbo from scratch. 😋
46.) DON’T forget to Skype with loved ones!
47.) DO be sure to read for pleasure.
48.) DON’T drink more than three coffees a day! 😬
49.) DON’T sweat the small stuff. (Duh.)
50.) DO.  Just do it all.  When it comes down to experiencing something new, or playing it safe…well, how lame is it to be safe all the time? 😂

Also, unofficially at #51, I’d like to add that maintaining a blog is a great way to retain all of these things I’ve learned.  If you find yourself abroad, consider blogging too!  Thanks for reading this far, and here’s to 50 more posts in the future!

Danke für deinen Besuch!
Ben

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Dark Wings, Dark Words: the Legend of Krabat

I’ve done it!  I’ve officially read a book in German! 😁🎉💪📚

To clarify, I’ve officially read a book that was originally published in German, and contained a story that I was not previously familiar with.  Yes, at this point I’ve read a number of children’s books, a few translated entries of the Harry Potter series, a few short stories, and a few poems (<-that last one was a total mistake. 😂)  But this is a real accomplishment.  👍

Henni gave me a book called Krabat as a gift. 😊  Written by Ottfried Preußler, the book is actually a retelling of a Wendish folk tale.  The Wends are a minority ethnic group, composed of a number of subgroups, historically located in Eastern Germany near the Polish/Czech border.  Because of their multicultural makeup, the actual terms “Wend” and “Wendish” are a bit complicated, as these are used to refer to many groups of people who differ greatly from each other.  The one unifying factor of Wendish identity, however, is that they’re all slavic as opposed to germanic!  Therefore, some of the more Wendish aspects of the book, (like some of the food being described, religious ceremonies, and even wendish words) were somehow familiar to me, because they’re distantly related to Russian, another slavic culture. 😁🇷🇺

The story is for children more or less, but seeing as how it was published almost 50 years ago, the language itself is a little dated, and was therefore rather challenging for me.  The book introduces us to Krabat, a young Wendish orphan living on the streets.  In his dreams, he starts to hear a voice that is calling him to a mill located near the village of Schwarzkollm.  Following the voice’s guidance, he makes his way to the mill, where he meets the one-eyed Master in charge.  The Master offers Krabat a 3-year apprenticeship, which Krabat accepts.  He soon learns, however, that the mill doubles as a school of black magic, and Krabat is the newest pupil! ✨

He joins the ranks of the Master’s 11 other apprentices, thus bringing the total to 12.   Every Friday night, the apprentices transform into ravens, and the Master reads aloud from the Koraktor, a book with black pages and silver ink, filled with spells that the apprentices learn by rote.  Every chapter is a bit of a short story in itself, and describes how Krabat and the other apprentices get themselves in and out of sticky situations with a little help from magic.  😉  But the book soon takes a sinister turn.  At the end of the first year, one of the apprentices is found mysteriously dead.  Krabat learns from some of the veteran residents of the mill that on the last day of every year, an apprentice’s life is taken, and that the risk of death is part of the conditions of the apprenticeship.  How, why, and by whom, then are the apprentices being killed?  Well I won’t give away all the answers.  😉  Krabat then finds himself racing to win a game in which he doesn’t know the rules, before the end of the year…😳

I’m going to remember this book for awhile, if not forever.  Not only because of my pride in having worked my way through it, but also because of its riveting plot, and themes of friendship and death.  💀 I also relate profoundly to Krabat.  The poor boy is Wendish, and therefore German isn’t his first language.  He periodically complains about having to speak in German…well, I’m right there with ya, kid.  😂

I’m considering picking up the book in English, so that I can see how the translation checks out.  😉  Plus, I think it will help plug in a few details that I didn’t get from reading it in German.  It comes highly recommended, in whichever language you’d prefer.  But maybe it’s best not to read it just before bedtime… 😉  And thanks Henni, for sharing it with me!

Danke für deinen Besuch!
Ben

Zwei Feier in Speyer

Visiting Würzburg last summer has been a highlight of my time here in Germany.  😊🇩🇪

As I explained in the post about that trip, it’s kind of novel to visit places like that, because they’re not exactly cornerstones of the tourism industry.  Yes, they’re beautiful and fascinating, but they also have this charm that is lost when you’re going on your third hour of waiting in line to go up the Eiffel Tower.  😅

Rafa has been in Germany now for about four months, and in that time he hasn’t left Heidelberg.  Not once!  I had to remedy this immediately!  I also don’t think my case of Fernweh was fully resolved by my trip to Strasbourg, so I proposed that he and I get away for a day.  Our destination?  Speyer! 😍

I’d heard that Speyer was nice, and I had heard correctly.  The city is one of the oldest in Germany, and it dates back all the way to the Roman times, when it was known as “Spira”!  Speyer also used to be a part of what was called the “Jewish Triangle”, which was a triangle on the map between the three cities of Speyer, Mainz and Worms, and in the early Medieval period, a great amount of theological knowledge and scholarship was exchanged between rabbis and jewish intellectuals within the triangle.  Then, however, the Black Plague broke out in Europe, and out of fear, everyone blamed the Jews for the disease’s spread.  The Jews in the area were eradicated or expelled, and the triangle was broken…😔

Speyer
On the left, the Old Gate, and on the right the interior and exterior of the Speyer Cathedral

Despite some grim chapters in its history, we decided to check it out ourselves!  It’s only about 45 minutes away from Heidelberg with the train, so it was ideal for a day trip.  We arrived without any complications and enjoyed a nice (albeit cold 😰) day wandering around the picturesque town, enjoying a coffee in an endearing little café, exploring a few museums and churches, and taking the required touristy pictures.  In the afternoon, we had lunch at an Italian restaurant, and Rafa showed off his Italian skills by talking with the owner.  😉🇮🇹  It was a really great day, especially because we were able to get some roomie quality time squeezed in. 😁

On Friday night, Patrick, Simon and I were hanging out at Fabi and Tine’s place, and we spontaneously decided to go to Speyer the next day together!  Two times in one week?  No objections here.  😁

Speyer’s probably easily overlooked by travellers in Europe, but it shouldn’t be!  I’m beginning to learn that simple joys are to be found in simple places.  😁☕️🚞🇩🇪

Danke für deinen Besuch!
Ben