Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Down with racism!

So, today I taught a class on racism. I have to say that it was the funniest class I've had so far.

I told them a bit about race issues in America, then we got to the fun part: a roleplay! Each group had a racist person and a minority of some sort and so forth and they were given situations to write a dialogue for (for example, someone starts working at an all-white company and his one coworker is a racist pig, etc.). It was very amusing. Some of them got...extremely into it.

See, Germans have this one problem with English. They don't seem to understand the concept of swear words, or offensive words. I suppose it's because the strongest word they've got in German is verdammt, and everyone uses that, from little kids to grandmothers to priests. They just don't really have any "bad" words. As a result, they don't seem to understand that profanity really isn't acceptable in most social circumstances in English. That can be quite entertaining at times.

During the time they worked on their roleplays, Enrico and I walked around the room helping them with things. It was funny listening to him on the other side of the room say "No, no, you should be louder. Call him lazy and stupid! You should use n***** if you want to be a good racist." And the group critiques of the roleplays were also entertaining - "You were not a very convincing racist, Felix. That wasn't discrimination at all!" "Georg, you make a much better racist." Etc.

The result? Well, suffice it to say that there's very little funnier than listening to a pair of thick German accents going "Get the f*** out of my country, you ass-n*****!" and "You are a piece of s*** racist f***er who should go to jail!"

I gave them all Mark 1 (A+) for enthusiasm.

PS - Lest you think my job is teaching Germans how to be good racists, rest assured that there were anti-racists in each group too. Tolerance just isn't funny, though, so I didn't write about it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

lolpaulz?



This was kicking around in my head a bit, so here. Enjoy the product of 15 seconds of finger-grinding labor.

Also, do look into Ron Paul. He's the only decent candidate up for election since I've started paying attention to politics...

*climbs off of soapbox*

Friday, November 16, 2007

How to get a Big Mac in Germany.

1: Find the teensy McDonald's counter in the crowded mall. This will be difficult since it is about three feet wide. Get in line.
2: Order your meal. While standing in line, you will have been practicing your umlauts, so asking for the "Big Mac Sparmen├╝" should be easy. Nonetheless, the girl will not understand you, so you must repeat it, and then point. She will then start speaking rapidly in German, so you must pay attention. Listen for key words, such as "Cola" and "mitnehmen," which will be sprinkled among improbably long sentences. She will assume you want cola and mayo, so be sure to specify "stilles Wasser" (you don't want that bubbly water) and "Ketchup."
3: Do not be surprised when she gives you your change entirely in coins, which you will never be able to get rid of, because the EU has eight different coin denominations, six of which are indistinguishable unless you squint (three large and gold, three small and copper), and you don't want to look like an idiot taking ten minutes to count out change.
4: Try to figure out where to stand. At this three feet of counter space, there will be six people waiting for food. Eventually decide to stand slightly to the left of the register, so that the next person can order but you're still visible enough that they won't give your food to some urchin. Try not to get elbowed out of the way by the other people who are also waiting for their food - German orderliness is entirely forgotten when it comes to "Pommes frites."
5: Take your food and find a place to sit. This will be awkward, because the food court has no tables, and also no chairs, only lightly padded rows of backless stools. Pick one and sit.
6: Eat. Resign yourself to developing a taste for bubbly water, because they will never give you still water, despite the sign. Realize your hamburger tastes like nothing but grease and salt, and acknowledge that the "native" food is really much superior. Wonder why you put yourself through this. Swear violently to stick to doener in the future.
7: Wait a week, get homesick, and come back.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

German phrase of the day.



"Doof" rhymes with "loaf" and means "stupid."  "Sau doof" ("sau" is pronounced "zow" and means "sow") means "totally stupid."  Enrico taught me this phrase the other day.  This thingy with the sheep is all over on bookbags and stuff here.  It makes me very happy.  Isn't "doof" a much more expressive word than "stupid"?  

(the big caption on the picture reads: "Without you, everything is stupid.")

Hallelujah, glory be!

I've been paid finally!  

I haven't posted in a week or so because it was really just too depressing.  I didn't care for the thought of having my whining preserved in a semi-permanent format.  I prefer my complaints to be more ethereal, dissolving like the whims on which they are based as soon as....um..right, lost my train of thought.

Anyway, I've been living for two weeks on eight euro.  Yesterday, I had a bowl of rice and an apple.  The day before, just a bowl of rice.  And so on and so forth for the past week and a half.  And it's freezing and raining and snowing here, and I didn't have money for a coat or winter boots or anything.  So I've been terribly traumatized - constantly cold, wet, and hungry.  But now it's okay!  I've got like fourteen hundred euro.  So, tonight I'm going to go get groceries (YAY!) and some winter clothes (MORE YAY!).

On a sadder note - Ira Levin died today.  Most people don't recognize the name, but he's a great author.  He wrote Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives, but his best work is his earliest: A Kiss before Dying.  Go honor the man (and appease me, hehe) and read it.  Go!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Stereotypes!

I did a lesson on stereotypes today.  I handed out a sheet with some American stereotypes about Germans (blond-haired, blue-eyed, orderly, hobbies include drinking beer and invading Poland), then asked them to come up with a sentence or two about America for each of my stereotype categories.  Here's what they came up with (things in quotes are direct quotations; things not in quotes are summaries of class feelings):

Society: Very open to other cultures except Afghanistan.  Friendly 
and funny.  Very individualistic. 

Lifestyle: Fast food and "secret parties."  One girl: "Americans are very nervous and eat a lot of hamburgers."  That cracked me up in class.

Entertainment: "The sound of guns being fired is like music to Americans."  Movie stars everywhere.  Country music. 

Politics: Everyone loves George W. Bush. Always going to war with other countries.

Economy: Big houses and big cars.  Only interested in other countries if they have oil. 
"Americans all want Mercedes but they can't get them." 

Religion: All Christians.  All irreligious.  Tons of different religions. (I laughed when we finished that one, because I got the whole spectrum after calling on three people)

Problems (hooo boy): "America is full of violent rednecks and the KKK and 
everyone hates black people." 
Homeless people. Drugs. Gang wars. Healthcare.  George W. Bush. 
Pollution. 

Miscellaneous: Americans are all out of shape. Americans see everything in black and white.  Americans are stupid.

It was a fun lesson.  We talked a little about how much of this stuff they thought was probably true (50-50, they said, much like the German stereotypes I told them).  Amusing stuff.

Hot air balloons and cake.


Pretty sky.


Prettier sky.


Pflaumenkuchen.


Dresdner Christstollen.

Edited to add - blargh, those came out much smaller than expected.  Oh well, you get the idea...  Full-size pictures are on Picasa, if you're desperate for them.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I'm druhnk1!!

So.

I wenrt out with Enrico and Clemens tonight. (Enrico wbrought his wife, Mom, so be relieved!) First we ewent on a night tour of the Altstadt. It was fun. I discovered lots of stuff I didn't know, like nickniames of kings, and who built the big schurch thingy (August der Staerke!), and what that mural thing is made out ofc (porcelain!). It was fun. And it was raining, but it's okay, 'cause I don't mind being a little damp,a nd it wasn't raining too much.

So after that (hah, how's hatat for a detailed description?), we went to a tapas bar in Neustadt. It was pretty good. I had rabbit in whiskey sauce and calf in caper sauce. The calf was better than the rabbit, but they were both tasty. I found out that I actually like Hefeweizen beer (Haefeweizen? Helleweizen? Something), and I had three of them. Doesn't sound like too much until you remember that beer is sold by the half-liter here...

Anyway, it was good. I'm kind of drunk right now, so forgive my spelling errors. Enrico's wife is nice, but I don't know her well, which made conversation a little more awkward. But it was still okay. I discovered that Enrico actually has pretyt gool taste in music. We both like Corvus Corvax. He was surprised I'd heard of them. He was telling me about concerts in Dresden this year. Motorhead and Nigthwish are both going to Leipzig apparently. I'm gonna go see Nightwish, and I'm going to go see Corvus Corvax with Enrico;

Anyway, a fun night. Wee!