You have been learning German, on your own or with an instructor or class. Now you want to put what you have learned to the test and try speaking German in Germany (or Austria, or Switzerland). Ready or not, you had better be ready! I wanted to share a few of the things that I learned on my most recent trip to Germany. Here are five lessons that I learned from trying to speak German in Germany. Continue reading →
During my first visit to Germany in 2009, while visiting Berlin, everywhere I turned I saw people carrying these really cool, unique looking messenger bags. Those bags, I quickly found out, are by FREITAG. Clearly, this is no fashion or style blog. There are plenty of folks out there passionately blogging about clothing and accessories. However, I do love sharing things I think are special. FREITAG is one of those things. Continue reading →
As an actress, moderator, and musician Nora Tschirner does it all. After getting her start in the early 2000s as a moderator and VJ for German MTV, she transitioned to acting. These days you might happen to catch her on Tatort or with her band Prag, in which she sings and plays guitar. The band, by the way, released a new album entitled “Kein Abscheid” earlier this year. But that’s a feature for another day. Let’s focus for now on Tschirner as an actress with her roles in three fun comedy films: Kebab Connection, Soloalbum, and Keinohrhasen. Continue reading →
You know that you’re becoming a serious tea drinker (is there a special name for that? A tea head?) when your collection of tea accoutrements includes a clay teapot. I acquired one, along with some incredible organic oolong tea from Taiwan, from Eco-Cha. That’s when I found out that the teapot has to be cured.
A clay teapot is an unglazed teapot made of, obviously, clay. The pots are generally referred to as Yixing teapots, as traditionally clay teapots are made with clay from the Chinese city of Yixing. According to what I’ve read, many of the teapots that are today marketed as Yixing teapots are not, in fact, made with actual Yixing clay. If the Yixing label is important to you, you’ll have to do a bit of research to ensure that a teapot is “authentic.” One of the reasons the clay teapots are so popular is that they’re considered to be the best teapot for brewing tea. Continue reading →
German filmmaker Werner Herzog isn’t a man who can be pigeon-holed. He doesn’t stick to just one thing. In the world of film making, he seems to have tried it all. If Roger Ebert is to be believed, Herzog has done it rather successfully, too. Herzog makes films: big films, small films, long films, short films, documentary films, films that are not documentaries. He’s one of the German world of film’s most important filmmakers but he isn’t a strictly “German” filmmaker, as his films aren’t strictly in the German language. For this month’s German film feature, let’s focus on three of Herzog’s films that are in German and, coincidentally, all star German actor Klaus Kinski. Continue reading →
My week-long self-imposed German challenge is over. So how’d I do? I made it — but only just. The whole reason I challenged myself was because life has gotten really busy. But as we all know, if you don’t use it you lose it. After years of hard studying, I’m sure as hell not ready to give up all I’ve learned without a fight. Even with making special time in one week to take on the challenge, it was still tough to accomplish my task.
The German Challenge is half over! How about that? As I write this, I’m mid-way through my self-imposed challenge to do 30 hours of German practice in a week. There have been positives and negatives and I wanted to share those, as well as how I’ve been spending my time.
The last couple of times I’ve traveled to Manhattan I’ve ditched the awkward rides on the subway in favor of walking. In theory it sounds crazy but the island really isn’t all that large depending where you’re going. It’s great exercise (which means you can feel a lot less guilty enjoying food on your travels) and it’s a much better way to see the city. But when I started planning the trip to San Francisco I wasn’t quite as sure about walking the famously hilly terrain of the city. Would it just end up being too much? Would I end up with sore, tired feet and a grumpy attitude? Public transit for the places I was interested in seeing didn’t seem like much of a sure thing. I started considering taxi cabs, something I’d ordinarily never consider. That’s when my friend, who we were in San Francisco to see, recommended Uber. Continue reading →
I suspect there are some who read this post’s title and cringed a bit. But you know what, sometimes you need a good pop song! (That’s coming from a sworn rock-n-roll-til-I-die person.) And the late Austrian singer Falco has delivered more than a couple of those. While those outside of the German speaking world might think the only Falco song they know is “Rock Me Amadeus,” they’d be wrong. Falco’s track “Der Kommissar” was a hit in the United States and the United Kingdom for After The Fire once the lyrics were translated and loosely adapted into English. Guilty pleasure? Maybe. But Falco’s unique lyric delivery and catchy hooks will help you to process and comprehend what you’re listening to. And rock out. That’s why this month’s German language music recommendation is none other than Falco. Continue reading →
It’s difficult to think of a German actor who has more of a toehold on Hollywood than Til Schweiger. Inglorious Basterds, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Muppets Most Wanted, King Arthur, SLC Punk! — he’s got quite a list of credits. Back in the German speaking world, Schweiger is a big star. Wikipedia christens him “one of Germany’s most successful filmmakers.” He’s an actor, a writer, a producer and a director. He does it all. He’s even gotten his children in on the action, starring with them in several films. Schweiger does really likable, crowd-pleasing films. Here are a few recommendations to get you started on Til Schweiger. Continue reading →
I’m always trying to recreate at home the foods and drinks I’ve enjoyed in Germany. I’ve tackled spezi, Jägerschnitzel, Linzer cookies and Zimtsterne to name a few. But there are some things I can’t recreate. Some of the ingredients I can’t always get. Some of the condiments will just never be the same — and who would make their own mustard, anyhow? Most importantly, the sausages at the local grocery store chain are just never going to be the same as fresh German-style sausages. Luckily, I discovered that Philadelphia has a secret. It has an authentic German butcher shop Rieker’s Prime Meats. Continue reading →
Learning a foreign language is difficult. You simply cannot cut corners. There’s no secret trick. But there are things you can do to work smarter and not harder. I’ve put together a list of five simple things that I’ve found have helped me as I continue to tackle German. Continue reading →