International Gossip: Canada according to Germany

America Shocked

The USA was shocked the other day when reminded for the umpteenth time by Canada that Germany views them as a perfectly real and rather powerful first world nation.

Canada snubbed?!

The USA then felt embarrassed about being shocked because all of that is sort of ‘safely assumed’ ‘goes without saying’ about what Canada is like.  The USA was confronted by emotions one has when instead of trying to keep up with the Jones, the Jones can’t quite keep up…I mean, fortunately that’s how it seems from the American perspective about Canada….but Canada doesn’t really see it that way.

Canada smooches Germany?!

Canada felt slightly, but not severely nonplussed when the USA offended them again.  Canada took solace in Germany’s 2nd post-WW2 generation of “Not NaZis, but still speaking the German language” kindness and more respectful manner towards them.

Canada snubs the USA

Canada decided to sit next to Germany at the picnic.  Educated Germany can speak enough English and also provides universal health coverage.  Canada shared with Germany the rumor that the USA had a per capita consumption of more than double the rate of the next nearest nation: the big hog of the globe, they said.

Male & Female USA

Male USA pretended to not notice and didn’t believe the rumor.  Male USA felt superior to both Canada and Germany.  Female USA felt embarrassed by male USA but still needs his money and help raising the children.  She realized that the criticism made by Canada and Germany might have some truth to it.

Last words:

In truth, blog readers, I was told that Canada noticed me today, so I wanted to say something to you.

 

A European Destination – Germany

Deutschland

I’m in Germany.  Some of you know that.  There is more than one stereotype of Germany, and of the Germans.  Let’s see:   Dancing and singing in the mountains of Bavaria:  Blonde  women with lots of cleavage, and long skirts serving beer in large metal steins.  Portly men named Guenter,  in lederhosen, but evidently both strong and fat rather than, say, weak and fat.  Men like Guenter love drinking the beer served by the large breasted women, who are also able to tend cattle when not at work ‘down the Pub’ as the English would say.

Then of course, there are NaZi military Germans, as seen in the WW movies.

One that most Americans know but easily forget is the close cultural relative of the NaZi: the Jewish German immigrants to the USA and Canada.  In all honesty, I learned my first German words, not from the NaZis nor from regular Germans but from middle aged German Jews who relocated to America to evade the NaZis.  Their grand children are all Americans and Canadians.

Meanwhile, back to Germany after WW2 ended, which none of the Jewish German immigrants know about so much:  Of course divided Germany: the Germanies.  On one side, cap in hand, capitulated at the end of the war and thrilled to not have become Soviet Germany, the West Germans.

In truth, there are Central and Northern Germans: it isn’t only that the people of Berlin do not dance in the mountains of Bavaria, but for some reason that does ‘seem like what it is supposedly like’.

The Wall.  Eventually, I learned that thing was called Die Maeur (Mahhweer)

*Tips to work on German: 1) Don’t open your mouth to speak, 2) Imagine that someone has set a flat piece of wood atop the tongue.  Just leave it there when speaking; don’t make it fall off.  3) If it sounds like a cat is suffering from a hair ball or someone needs to cough up a bit of congestion, that’s probably the right way of pronouncing it, but it doesn’t yet feel natural.

Then of course, East German imagery is like propaganda of everyone eating the same and working out together throughout the nation before work…and the East German women, after winning at the Olympics in swimming, are found to in fact, have been on steroids for years.

 

It is not like that in the village where I have been living for the past few years.

Wappen Dörverden © Gemeinde Dörverden

The thing is, the symbol is accurate.

The village of Doerverden has an actual history going back over 1000 years in real time.  The terrain in the NW of Germany is as flat as the South and SE are hilly and mountainous.  There really are the rivers Weser and the Aller, but the one shown above is a rendition of the river Weser, and thank God for reading icons if not well versed in the German language.

The horse heads on wooden sticks is not “the riders of Rohan” from The Lord of the Rings, but might as well be, in the sense that Doerverden does have riding schools, and horse stables.  In truth, now that there is no impending danger of a war, it is not espionage to divulge to you that Verden, just one town over from Doerverden was home to the North’s Cavalry, and they have trained world class, top notch horses there for something like 500 years.

Due to the importance of such information at some periods of history, I developed the truth-bearing-joke that the German language is simply designed to prevent innocent children and women (or fools, for that matter) from accidentally spilling the beans, so to speak about anything from location of the cavalry to ….well, really, that Germany is a lovely and fertile enough nation for others to covet it….but of course not if they don’t know that.  Freizeitpferd mit Potential: » Reitbeteiligungen aus Stöckse

Logo des Ehmken Hoff e.V.

 

Click on this link to see pretty horsies

Final Statement in English

I will confess, that while I had a hard time there, I repeatedly posted that the village of Doerverden is so beautific as to be reasonably described as “a Saxon Heaven on Earth”.

 

It’s Cross-Cultural Wednesday

Here at the blog, it’s cross-cultural Wednesday.

During the previous week the simple cultural differences about grocery shopping came up. When I was young and had never been to Europe I had heard that the Europeans were more likely than Americans to do daily grocery shopping and to get less at a time.

Now it is decades later: is it still like that? So far, in my own humble experience, which may not be typical, the difference that I have felt the most is this: 1) In the USA, usually, if a customer dares try to assert their right to use a re-usable bag they brought with them, the cashiers normally manage to force at least one or two more plastic or paper bags onto the customers. Those who accept being supplied their bag by the store, may be allowed to choose paper or plastic. 2) In Germany, many shoppers show up with their own basket. The situation is the opposite of how it is in the USA. If you have really neglected to bring your reusable bag or basket with you, the shop can sell you one – but they are able to trigger your sense of guilt or just social faux pas. Germans bag their own groceries except that they re-use their own devices meaning their skills at packing and estimating exactly how much fits both their budget and their basket – and often to ride their bike or walk it home.

For Americans in Germany the shock of the cashier staring at you as if you are nut job for not having brought your basket is profound. For Germans, I imagine that it may be truly upsetting – especially for the environmentally conscious, to bring in their basket and have unecessary plastic bags forced on them and to have cashiers look at them as if only naughty idiots touch their groceries immediately after purchase. In either direction, one can adjust but I think it is natural for someone to feel weird when confronted by the other approach.

Granted many of those who only use one shopping basket either shop often even though they are not financially poor or because they are. A lot of married women in Western Germany have not had careers and if their husband has not provided two cars or if she has not traveled with him in order to retain control of the car while he is at work, they are left with bikes, or public transit and their own feet. As a side effect, there are a lot of married German woman out there with their baskets as one means of getting out of the house even if they don’t have jobs.

Germany and the USA

Today is going to be mainly links. Spending time anyplace can go well or badly or a bit of both. It often depends on a variety of factors.

Like so many of you, for whatever reasons I had some online activity. Amongst it all, have been videos. Today I will share the links to a few of these. Thanks to all readers, but also to the folks out there who decided to try making the videos and sharing them with the rest of us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhQpb2N8s_o As it turns out, despite other efforts, the most watched video I have made is this one. In some ways the situation has not improved since then but in some respects it has. My life was not a constant flow of happy happy joy joy back in my native country either. Sometimes I get my way on what matters most to me and only some of the time do I get my way without guilt and without being punished for doing so.

Germany / USA Cross-cultural information December 2013

Coming at this from the American side, most of what I discover about the Germans they already know.  There are some other YouTube videos out there about this.  Some are simple video clip German lessons, often made by exchange students who used some of their free time ‘constructively’ and did things like make language education videos instead of just getting drunk in local bars or staying sober and playing loads of “fooz ball” in the student lounge.  I have watched some of them and found them helpful.

There are some bands that even Americans knew about.  In all my childhood I heard of course about Beethoven, Wagner, Bach, Mozart – all Germans, but of contemporary bands in the rock world:  Nina Hagen, the Scorpions and Einsturzende Neubaten are the only German bands I believe I ever heard of…and two singles that have any German in them at all:  Neuen und neuenzig lufballons, in one song, Alles klar Herr Kommissar / Der Kommisar’s in town – oh yeah, that’s English again.  Anyway, that was “it” for German bands in America in the 1980s and 1990s.  The last time I was there in 2010 and 2013 that hadn’t changed.  There is some polka rumored to have come from Southern Germany.

Up here in Northern Germany they aren’t running around in Lederhosen, and don’t have the giant horns for playing on the sides of mountains. 

The topography of Germany is very much like the American state of Indiana, where there are a lot of Americans with German great grandparents: there are hills and mountains in the South but up North it is flat, flat, flat and a bit windy.  Southern Germany is more mountainous than the South of Indiana and the North of Germany may be even flatter than North Indiana (we may need a level to judge it properly) but both have wind farming nowadays.  North Germany so far 2010 – 2013 seems warmer in the Winter than Indiana but breezier.  The wind is sometimes scary due to how strong it is, which is more encouragement to continue the wind farming. 

The people in Indianapolis, Indiana are pretty friendly and rather direct and straightforward – they say it actually is partly or entirely because so many of the Americans there have German ancestors and so even though they are Americans they act a little more like the Germans than some of the other Americans. 

Where I grew up in Syracuse NY, just South of Lake Ontario, there were a few people who had German great grandparents – mostly “Bavarians” or Southern Germans, but most Americans there have British – English or the Irish, or Italian great grandparents, but at least 50% have mixed, as Americans so a lot of those Americans – where I grew up are 3rd or 4th generation Americans with one English and one German set of great parents and then someone from “God knows where” – Sweden or a town in Denmark or Mexico or Peru or even Wales or the Netherlands. 

Out in Minnesota they say, there are so many Americans who’s great parents are from Norway and Sweden that out there, they still have people called Sven. 

Anyway, that’s America and North Germany “cross cultural points” for today.

More about the readers December 2013

Hi everyone.  Today I’d like to thank you all for your patience as I learn how this thing works.  There are some comments making it through the layers of filtration.  Some filters are IP addresses and levels of computer hardware and cross-system networking that I don’t even know exist let alone understand, whereas other filters are ‘things’ such as subjective minds, personal defenses and occasionally generalized disbelief. 

Sales of the books could use a boost, so please do spread the word.  As I’m sure you understand, I do want to find those who are interested and will like them and can spend the money or have someone buy for them without any injuries and I would prefer that no one cries – not even me, from ‘the sales process’.  Urban crime fiction or a nonfiction self help booklet that can also be used for intro to philosophy classes in English speaking schools and universities. 

The wind here in the lower of the Saxonies is strong enough that there are weather warnings about it.  I haven’t lived anyplace where that is ‘so true’ before.  Hopefully it is not witchcraft from somewhere or a side effect of the pollution where the real ‘witchcraft’ was abusing the environment in our human lust for power.  In some cases that does mean electricity.  If the wind gets too intense they stop using the trains.  This makes sense but has not come up much before in my life so I notice it a lot.

Scattered thoughts about real life: cross cultural November 2013

At the moment, I’m in the USA after 3 entire years in Germany, actually a little more.  At this point, I expect to go back to Germany at the beginning of December. 

The time in Germany is the longest that I ever been out of the USA at one go.  I had not actually intended for that to be the case.  I had intended for both my son and I to spend weeks of each of the years that we lived over there, over here – keeping in touch with it.  Sometimes plans don’t work out, but sometimes they do. 

It is nice to have relief from what has been hardest for me over there that first 3years.  I feel like I haven’t figured out ‘how to work Germany’.  By that I mean: it is clear that it is a place that can be wondrous and is loaded with great potential.  Nowadays, it is also a popular nation, internationally.  Nevertheless, in some aspects I had a very hard time there, whereas other aspects were pretty good.

Obviously, I hope to be able to make it work better in all aspects over there when I go back.  I do plan to move me and my kid back here, but not until my son finishes secondary school.  As a heads up, they have Grade 13 over there, like the Canadians, which I had somehow not found out despite having had a German partner in my home for 9 years (in that case, I mean my kid’s father). 

Blah blah blah, stuff that’s different / stuff that’s the same.

General cultural statement about the Germans:  They probably did tell you, in very clear German, which is why you still don’t know even though they told you.