Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Three small things.

1.) "Ingwer" is an adorable word. It means "ginger" (which the Germans think is a hilarious word - maybe it's just a hilarious thing in any language?), and I ran out of it on Christmas Eve, darn it, so my Christmas stir-fry was mediocre.

2.) I don't know if it's all Germans or just the ones at my school, but they pronounce the letter v as a w when speaking English. "Will someone wolunteer to read?" "Patience is a wirtue." "Who did you wote for?" I try not to giggle.

3.) One of my students mixes up the words "tourist" and "terrorist." This leads to statements such as "lots of terrorists visit New York every year." I try to correct without snickering too much.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Of grease and gluehwein.

As indicated in my previous post, I had a lovely bratwurst (and a couple of kraeppfelchen) for breakfast. After that, I ran off to the English Club Christmas Party, which I was expecting to be an hour or so of awkward chat over, I dunno, potato salad or something.

It actually turned out to be quite fun. The gluehwein flowed like water (provided by our dear Clemens), and Frank (one of my 12Ls who is currently in training to be a chef) brought some lovely pralines, which were possibly the most delicious thing I've ever tasted. I was very responsible and all and didn't get drunk, but a ratio of about 1.5 glasses of gluehwein per hour is brilliant for loosening the tongue.

We played a very enjoyable game of Taboo, which is hilarious with a bunch of non-native-speakers. I kicked ass all around, of course, but my team still came in last. It was really fun though. Much laughing.

After this, I wandered out with Daniel and we had an excellent chat. He baffles me, really. His English is great when we're just talking - his grammar isn't great, but it's okay, and his pronunciation isn't great, but it's understandable. When we get into the classroom though, he goes completely afraid of speaking English and doesn't say anything. I think he's afraid of the other students making fun of his English or something (which is crap, because his English is by no means the worst in the class).

Anyway, we wandered around for three or four hours and eventually stopped at "McDoof" (an amusing nickname for McDonald's) when I realized I hadn't actually eaten since my breakfast bratwurst. Grease and gluehwein are both lovely (and both in wild abundance in Germany at this time of year), but subsisting only on those for ten hours apparently leads to a very displeased gastrointestinal system. So I had a cheeseburger. Then I went home. Then I wrote this. Now I'm going to sleep for ages.

Bratwurst for breakfast... the most brilliant idea ever.

Additionally, here are some pictures that I've been taking over the past month and neglected to upload: Oooh shiny!

Monday, December 10, 2007

...and another thing!

When Clemens found out that I was sick today, he followed up our Friday-night shenanigans perfectly by giving me the following piece of advice:

"Go home and drink some warm beer."

In which our heroine gets schnockered and traipses around the woods with a torch.

So, Friday night I took part in what is apparently a local Christmas tradition: the Lichterfahrt. It was a school-sponsored trip, on which about a half dozen teachers and me and the 12th-year students went. The order of events is roughly as follows (please keep in mind that this is a school-sponsored event, involving a bunch of students):

We get into the bus. They give us mulled wine to drink (it's a BYOB occasion - Bring Your Own Becher [cup]). We drive a couple of hours (having our wine refreshed periodically) to a Christmas market, where we can buy sausages and more mulled wine. We get back in the bus. They give us more mulled wine and start bringing out the beer (90 cents a bottle - good deal, but not as good as the free wine). They let us off at the beginning of a path through the woods (approximately 8pm, so pitch black now) and give us all torches. With fire. Actual fire. We walk through the woods to get to a cottage, where they have more mulled wine for us. Then we walk through the woods some more to get to a restaurant, where they give us food and beer. Then we are served more beer as we stand around a campfire. Then we get back on the bus, where they bring out more beer, because the wine is all gone. Then we go home.

So, summary: they get a bunch of high school students trashed, hand them fire, and send them through the woods in the middle of the night. I have no idea whose idea this was.

It was rather fun. You really would not believe how much better my German is after a couple-six glasses of the mulled wine (not going to discuss the beer, sorry, except to say that "helle Hefeweizen" or however it's spelled is delicious). When my improved German was combined with the students' improved English, and inhibitions were lowered all around, we wound up having an excellent time. I had a great discussion about gun control with a couple of them, and just generally goofed off all night mostly. I'm starting to actually make friends with a couple of them, which is odd, but kind of good. We decided that it'd be a good idea to start having English Club at a local bar/pub/brewery/what-have-you in the interests of lowering inhibitions (environmentally as well as chemically) and encouraging people to come.

It's strange how many school events are geared toward getting the students and teachers inebriated together (not just me - Clemens and Enrico and the other teachers present were all less than sober as well). I suppose it leads to greater comradery or some such.

Anyway. I woke up Saturday with a raging disease of some sort - sore throat, nasty cough, stuffy nose, etc. I went in to school today, but they told me to get some medicine and go home, so I wound up stopping at an Apothek (pharmacy, basically).

They're a bit different here than in the US. Instead of picking out what you want and paying, the store is basically just a room with a counter in it, and you go and tell the pharmacist what's wrong with you. She asks a few questions then picks out what you need and you buy it. It's kind of nice for indecisive people, as long as you can remember how to say "Help! I've coughed up one lung and can't afford to lose the other!" in German.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Not a European swallow, that's my point...

I had a funny conversation today. I was in Jutta's office, waiting for her, and one of her officemates (Frau R.) struck up a conversation with me, in German. I handled myself pretty well - didn't look retarded or anything! Anyway, there's some work going on at school, so there were also these two big burly grubby workmen in there putting up carpentry. So, somehow the conversation turned to me going to the Semperoper (the official city opera house or some such - the Dresden one is very good), and she's apparently highly involved there and can get me cheap tickets to a show. So...conversation went as follows, roughly:

Frau R: So, you like opera?
Me: Yeah, but I don't know much about it.
Frau R: Okay, so we'll have to start you off with something simple. Definitely not Wagner.
Burly Workman: What? But Wagner's operas are magnificent!
Frau R: Yes, although I can see why Hitler liked them, but they're not for a beginner, don't you think?
Burly Workman: Oh, certainly not, you'll want something a bit softer and lighter. Mozart, perhaps?
Frau R: Oh, good idea, Mozart is perfect...

I was almost laughing the whole time. It was very Python-esque. The teacher started talking about Mozart, and the very unlikely-looking worker guy starts chiming in with insightful critiques on composers. But hey, cheap opera tickets, good stuff.