It’s all in the details: looking critically at my daily life in Germany.

Hallo, class! 

It’s been a busy and interesting week for me. My laptop died, and it took me way longer than I wanted to get it to the Apple Store in Stuttgart (there isn’t one here in Tübingen) so I apologize for not being able to get back to you guys for a little bit. Thankfully, it’s finally fixed! It was definitely interesting talking to an Apple employee in a mix of German and English about what was wrong with my macbook. (Also, the Apple employees here wear red, not blue!)

I wanted to talk to you guys this week about observing the world around you and thinking about things you may normally not critically consider. I’ve noticed lots of little things about my daily life here that strike me as very German, and after discussing them with my floor mates we’ve decided they are! (Most of my floor mates are German, but a few are from other countries.) We had a fun discussion about habits that are typical of Germans.

One of the greatest things about being in another country is seeing how the local people live their daily lives. There are a lot of things about life in America that are easy to take for granted until you see things done differently! As you read these, think about things you do in your daily life or see that may be typically American. 

To illustrate what I mean by looking critically, here’s an example from me and some of my friends from PSU. We decided to take a weekend, and watch how much time we all spent on our cell phones, laptops, with headphones in, etc. We noted when we were with other friends how frequently we checked our text messages. After the weekend, we were all shocked at how much time we spend on them! There were times where we would all be ‘hanging out’ but all of us would be on our phones. How weird is that? 

That was something we never really thought about until we stopped and really looked at our actions. Now I notice when people are on their phones all the time! 

Here are some of the things I’ve noticed. 

Pizza in Germany doesn’t usually come in slices. Instead each person buys a whole pizza that’s smaller. Most people eat it with a fork and a knife.

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The best place to get pizza in town, just 5 Euros! 

A German post office is more than just a place to mail letters. They are also a phone company and a bank. Also, the phone booths and mail boxes are all yellow.

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Some restrooms in the larger cities cost a fee to get in of about 50 cents. There are some in the train stations that cost 50 cents as well, and they’re incredibly clean! 

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Business hours are structured a bit differently. In Germany businesses and shops can’t be open as long as they please. There are strict regulations set up on the hours they can be opened. Before 9 or 10 am almost the only shops that are open are Bakery’s. (So you can pick up fresh bread for breakfast) Many businesses close for an hour or two during lunch in order for families to go home and have lunch with one another. They reopen at about 1 or 2 and remain open until about 6. Restaurants and different eating establishments are allowed to be open for a longer time. And, pubs and disco’s usually close at 3 or 4am, but some clubs are open until dawn! Saturdays are usually half days and so things close up early. And on Sunday there is almost nothing open. 

In Germany it’s rare to find door knobs. Instead there are door handles.

 

When I first came to Germany I started to think that all Germans like to be by themselves or that they are very private people. While it’s not an overall fact that they like to be by themselves all of the time, they do greatly value their privacy. They show this in a few different ways.

 

At first glance inside a German home you might notice that all of the doors are closed, even in the in the bathroom when no one is using it. A door being closed in Germany is a statement of keeping things in order, and doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t go in.

 

Almost all private homes in Germany have a fence or a hedge around it to keep out the noise and outside world. They also keep the drapes drawn at night.

Professors keep their office doors closed, even during office hours. It makes it easier for them to work (with less noise from the halls) and if someone wants to come in, they just have to knock! I have seen a few students sitting outside an office waiting for the door to open, because they thought there was someone else in a meeting inside already, but the teacher was waiting for them. 

Sharing a table in Germany isn’t uncommon. The lack of space makes it acceptable to eat with complete strangers. Although don’t expect them to start up a conversation with you. It’s typical just to ask if you can sit there, and then when their food arrives to say “Guten Appitite” and that’s all. This happens to me all the time with my floor mates in my kitchen in my dorm. Outdoor eating in Germany is very popular, and it’s not unusual or unacceptable to find someone’s dog that they’ve brought along, lying underneath their table.

German waiters and waitresses aren’t bothered with everyone at the table to have separate checks. It’s common practice (when out with friends) to pay for yourself.
It’s rare to get a check at a German Restaurant. Instead, after they have taken your plate, the waiter or waitress will ask you what you ate, and then you pay right there. They carry a money pouch with them to accept your money and to make change.

Have you visited somewhere that you noticed interesting habits or customs? What do you think Portland or the United States does that other places don’t? What sort of customs have you noticed in your own community? 

Thanks a bunch for reading! 

Bis Bald,

Maddie K

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Markets in Tübingen!

Servus guys!

This week I wanted to talk to you about one of the markets for which Tübingen is famous. 

It occurs in December, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I’m referring to the Chocolate festival! (Schokoladenmarkt) 

Several of my teachers have told me that it’s impossible to miss, and have kindly sent me some photos I want to share with you from years past. The whole town gets decorated for the month of December for Christmas, and Tents start going up selling goodies. 

The chocolate market here is so famous, because the best chocolates from all over the world are sold here! The sellers bring treats from France, Colombia, Italy, Austria, Denmark, Ghana, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Belgium, Latvia and Switzerland and selected houses from Germany. 

So without further ado, here are some of the photos of the magic of the Schokoladen Markt! 

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About 300,000 people come to the market every year!!! 

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Schokozeit translates to Chocolate Time, and the other tent reads Cocoa Bar!

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People at the market make sculptures out of chocolate! The above one is a clock. How neat is that? Would you want to go to a market that specialized in chocolate? Do you have a favorite sweet? Have you ever been to a market that had a theme? 

Have a great week! 

Maddie K

 

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Rathaus Bells! (Glockenspiel)

Rathaus Bells! (Glockenspiel)

I’ve included a link I found for you guys to hear the bells that ring from the Rathaus, the City Hall in Tübingen!

http://www.tuebingen.de/Dateien/Glocken3.mp3

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University Life!

Servus!

I got to tell you guys a little about middle school here, but I don’t think I’ve really shared what life is like here on campus for the College students. My University is pretty special, and I’d like to share with you why, and a glimpse of what my campus looks like.

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen (Uni Tübingen for short) is really really old. It was established in 1477, making it not only one of Germany’s most famous, but also oldest universities.

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Neue Aula, one of the main campus buildings. Lots of law classes are held here.

Uni Tübingen is internationally known for studies in medicine, natural sciences and the humanities. In the area of German Studies (Germanistik) it has been ranked first among all of the German universities for many years. I’m very lucky to be here, since my two Majors are English Literature and “Germanistik”. That’s why so many international students come here, because Uni Tübingen is the best school in Germany to learn the language and the culture.

Tübingen is one of five classical “university towns” in Germany; the other four being Marburg, Göttingen, Freiburg and Heidelberg. This means that the city centers around the University, somewhat like Corvallis. There are about 22,000 students enrolled here, and out of 89,000 people in the whole town, that means a lot of them are students (about 1/4)! The Uni and the students here are a huge part of the town’s economy, as you can imagine.

The university is associated with some Nobel laureates, especially in the fields of medicine and chemistry. Also, Uni Tübingen is essentially an Ivy League University, like Harvard or Yale. It’s not the same, because it’s not a private school (not very many colleges here are,) but it’s part of the German Universities Excellence Initiative, which is similar here.

My school is really old, but the architecture is a definite mix of old and new. A great example is the library. Here is the old library building:

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Believe it or not, this older library building is attached to the new library addition, which looks like this:

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As you can imagine, a lot of the students spend quite a lot of time here. There are rooms for study groups, tons of computers, and of course reference books. The library here is called the Bibliothek, and it’s common to hear students say they’re going “zum Bib”, a shortened way to say “to the library”. (Normally it would be zu dem Bibliothek!)

A lot of my classes are in this building “Brechtbau 50”

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Can you see all the bikes? A large number of students here ride them to and from campus. Bikes are really common here, maybe more common than in Portland. As a side note, the big 50 you see is actually part of the address. German addresses don’t start with a number, like in the U.S. They begin with the street name, and then the number!

Of course, the oldest and possibly coolest Uni building is the old castle.

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A great picture I found of this castle. Can you imagine having class here? Sadly none of my classes are in this building. The inside section with classes has been renovated, so it looks like a traditional classroom, but the outside still looks the same!

There are lots of libraries in Tübingen. Almost every main study has it’s own library! There’s a law library, a medicine library, a philosophy library, and more. It’s cool to have all of the books for a particular subject in the same place, and thankfully I don’t have to run back and forth between them.

My classes meet (except for one class that’s 3 days a week) only one day a week, for an hour and a half. So for example, my Modern German Literature class is Mondays from 2:15 – 3:45. It’s very different than at PSU!

One of the neatest things about my school is the Botanical Garden. The garden traces back to 1535 and started out with medical plants, and it now houses over 12,000 plant species.

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I’m hoping to take pictures of the garden in the snow, as I’ve heard it’s also really pretty then!

My school is similar to PSU because it’s a “city-university”. That means the school buildings are interspersed between other buildings like restaurants and offices, and not all together in one place. My classes aren’t very far apart, but I don’t have to leave the city to get to any of the school buildings. It’s pretty handy.

Where do students hang out? Most students will tell you, “Mensa!” which is the cafeteria here. It’s huge! Here’s the most popular one (there are several).

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There’s also a place aptly called the Cafeteria Clubhouse, that’s run by students. During the day it’s a cafeteria, (with the best coffee and pretzels!) and by night it’s a clubhouse with dancing. Of course, they are separate sections of the same building. It would be pretty odd to have a dance in the cafeteria, I think.

What do you guys think of having a University be a big part of the city? Would you go to a school like this? What parts of your school do you usually hang out in, and what traits do you think is important for a school to have?

Thanks again for reading!

Bis bald,

Maddie K

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Twilight themed shower gel?

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Getting around in Germany!

Servus, class!

(Servus is a common way to say hello here, the “Ser” part rhymes with scare, and “vus” rhymes with “boo”.)

I wanted to share with you guys some about the transportation here.

In the U.S., Portland is well known for it’s great public transportation, and it’s the same with Germany! Germany is centrally located, and is a transportation hub.

Germany has one of the longest highway systems in the world! Germany’s autobahn network has a total length of about 12,845 kilometres (7,982 mi) which ranks as the fourth longest highway system in the world! The only 3 that are longer are the National Trunk Highway System (NTHS) of China, the Interstate Highway System of the United States, and the autovías of Spain.

To give you an idea of how extensive that is, consider the size of the United States vs the size of Germany.

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Another way of looking at it,…

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So that’s a lot of highway!

Germany is well known for auto manufacturing, home of Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche and Volkswagen to name a few, and I see tons of those cars here! Actually, the only time I’ve seen an American car was in Frankfurt near the American Consulate.

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The Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, not too far from me!

One thing the autobahn is known for is it’s lack of a speed limit. German autobahns have no general speed limit, but there is an advisory speed limit (Richtgeschwindigkeit) of 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph). Other streets have speed limits, though, and there are a few exceptions to the rule.

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A slightly older picture of the Autobahn.

I don’t have a car here, so most of the time I take the bus.

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Bus in Tübingen!

There are a ton of bus lines all over Germany, and Tübingen is no exception. There are signs by almost every stop (Haltestelle) that update how long it will be until the next bus shows up, and I have never seen a bus run late. There’s a bus that runs every 10 minutes or so from my building to campus, so it’s really convenient.

I noticed something interesting about the bus lines soon after I got here. Most of the buses have a digital sign on the front and back with the bus line number. Three of them also have pictures! One has a picture of a coffee cup, one an umbrella, and one a moon. I was really confused by this! Did the bus with the coffee cup go by coffee shops? Not really. Did the bus with the moon run at night? No, I saw it during the day.

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I had to have an answer, so I asked the tutor for the Oregon students here what it meant, and apparently I’m the first student in 2 years to ask! She said that the symbols on those buses are for people who have trouble reading, like very young children. The buses go by schools and recreational places for youth. A parent can just tell their child to get on the bus with the coffee mug picture on it, so they can still get to the right place. I think that’s indicative of how children are treated here. I’ve noticed kids here run around town doing stuff without supervision a lot. Can you imagine a kid who can’t read numbers getting on a bus by themselves (younger than 4 or 5)?

I know my parents got on buses by themselves when they were kids, and no one seemed to worry about them too much. It seems to be normal for kids here too. It may be because Tübingen is a relatively small city, and very safe. I can’t imagine that children would do that in Berlin.

The other big way to get around here in Germany is by train. The train stations here are really clean, and remind me of airports with arrival boards, snack stands, magazine and newspaper stores, etc. The trains here are pretty cheap, and will get you to almost every major city in Europe. There are some really fast ones here, too!

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The ICE (Inter City Express) Train in Stuttgart.

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The U-Bahn (underground train, mostly) in Munich!

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The Hauptbahnhof (Train station) in Frankfurt. ICE trains like this can go up to 300 kph (186 mph)!

Germany also has S-Bahn, which is like the streetcar in Portland, in most major cities.

Another common way for people to get from place to place within Germany is carpooling. Students will post on flyer boards around campus if they’re driving to Berlin, for example, and people that want to go along can share the price of gas.

There are two main Airports here, but within the country it’s more convenient and cheaper to take one of these other forms of transportation.

Have you ever taken a train? Do you think it’s important for a country/city to have good public transportation? Would you like to drive on the Autobahn?

Thanks for reading, guys! Bis Bald! (See you later!)

Maddie King

 

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Snow in Tübingen!

Snow in Tübingen!

I was walking through the trees when it was snowing! This is really close to my building.

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