Deutschland and beyond

Living in Germany

Resolutions

So, one of my resolutions is to keep up on updating. I actually thought I did pretty well up until December, but really I wasn’t near a computer for the last half of the month so not completely my fault. My family and Jessie came for Christmas and New Years which was absolutely great, and I’ve forced them all to become guest bloggers for various parts of the trip. So, as the reports trickle in I’ll post them. Until then, here’s a quick catch-up of what’s been going on:

zurich at night

Second weekend of December I headed down to Zurich with my friend Nadiya to stay with a friend of hers. Zurich is ridiculously expensive (in comparison to what I’m used to in Germany) but apparently people earn much more there so it all balances out. From what I experienced in Zurich, I liked it, but I don’t think I could live there permanently. It’s a hub for a lot of businesses and of course has tons of the infamous watches and chocolate. We were lucky enough to take a day trip to Luzern (Lucerne), about an hour away from Zurich, which is absolutely beautiful. It’s still in German-speaking Switzerland (thankfully) and the views are wonderful due to the lake and backdrop of mountains. A side note about Swiss German, or Schwitzerdeutsch- it is nearly impossible to understand if you’re not from Switzerland. The Swiss can easily understand the Germans, and everyone understands one another if you speak Hochdeutsch (high German, which is taught in the schools and is what I learned, no dialect), but Swiss German might as well be another language.

Luzern

Back in Würzburg, school rolled right along until Christmas break (which didn’t start til the 23rd!), but during my conversation lessons with the students, I did learn a great deal about Christmas in Germany. It’s celebrated on the 24th, instead of the 25th, and the 25th and 26th are two observed holidays. So, really, Christmas is 3 days long. Awesome.

There’s a pretty distinct North-South divide when it comes to the Weihnachtsmann (the equivalent of Santa Claus) or the Christkind (has the same role as Santa, but is an angel with long blonde hair, or the baby Jesus; my students were always split half and half on how the Christkind looks). Anyway, bottom line is the kids still get their presents from this foreign, magical source but they get them on the 24th. Apparently sometime after church (which is attended on the 24th as well), back home all of the children have to leave the living room and the doors are closed so they go watch tv or something. Then, magically, 15-20 minutes later a bell rings from the living room. The bell means the Christkind/Weihnachtsmann has come and the kids can come into the room and open their presents. This is where I have a problem. What?! Presents on the 24th? Okay, I could deal with that. But no build up of anticipation, dancing of sugarplums in their heads, waking up at 6am to race down the stairs and see what Santa brought? No. Not to mention the complete lack of imagination involved here (a bell, that’s it?). Somehow it still works. Good for them.

And while we’re addressing slight cultural differences, New Years here is called ‘Silvester’, named after a Pope who apparently did lots of important things, among them converting Constantin I to Christianity. What I found to be one of the coolest things about Silvester here though, is the fact that everyone lights fireworks at midnight. No, not just the official-sponsored city fireworks show, everyone. It’s like the 4th of July, in the middle of winter, and probably way more dangerous. We were in Cologne and the street we were on clouded up within 3 minutes of midnight, people had sparklers left and right and fireworks were being shot off literally from street corners. Of course this lasted about 30 or 45 minutes, and I can’t forget to mention the legality of open containers so of course we popped open some champagne as well. I already mentioned one ‘resolution’ (to update this more often), but I’m really not a big fan of New Years resolutions. I think from age 8-16 I vowed to stop biting my nails which of course never lasted more than a few weeks (still guilty), so instead I like to make goals.

Other resolutions/goals:

– Get the lacrosse team officially registered and have a schedule for next season

– Don’t turn down an invitation. My friend Pat, in Russia, has commented on this more than once in his blog, but you never really know who you’ll end up meeting or what kind of fun you’ll have when you get invited somewhere.

– Keep traveling/taking advantage of my current position. I have absolutely NO idea where I’ll be next year (the possibilities are literally all over the globe) so I’d like to take advantage of my place in central Germany, not to mention central Europe.

Hope everyone had great holidays and look forward to entertaining updates coming from my family and Jessie!

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January 8, 2011 - Posted by | Germany | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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