02.09.2014 - Marburg Day 28…Mistakes and Confidence
German is finally starting to feel a bit more natural. I’m more comfortable trying to piece together sentences; unafraid to err. They’ll get the gist.
After such a good full day of German, I attempted conversing in Deutschglish to some students in our dorm. For the most part, it worked quite well.
We made chocolate-chip snickerdoodle cookies tonight, and they were delicious.
But note to self: don’t take a nap from 5-6pm and then eat tons of raw, sugary cookie dough. Oops!
Review of The Gaslight Anthem’s Get Hurt
Get Hurt holds the combination of every style of music Gaslight has ever tried and not-tried before…and I love it. It’s such a well put together album, taking us through the Gaslight repertoire in a meaningful way. Interestingly, it has a distinctive religious vein running through it; while previous Gaslight albums have songs alluding to Christianity and spirituality in general, such a theme flows through the entirety of Get Hurt.
Of course, a review wouldn’t be a review at all without a list of my favorite songs from the album:
I heard about a woman once, who did everything ever asked of her. She died last week and her last words were, “It wasn’t worth it.”
All being said and done, I absolutely love the album. The range of styles produced within it never leaves the listener bored, but they all have that distinctive Gaslight sound. A+
01.09.2014 - Marburg Day 27…Time Flies
It’s pretty hard to believe that I’ve already been here for a month. With only two and a half weeks left in Marburg, I feel as though I should be “living it up,” but that’s not real life. Real life is monotony, learning, and a splash of flavor.
We got word in the morning that we would be having the afternoon off. So after language course and some lunch, errands and Hausaufgaben were at the top of my To-Do List.
Dinner was an extra-special event. We had Taco Night, complete with homemade guacamole (yay for ripe avocados!). But what made the night special was the guests who attended. In the Mensa we had met a few other non-Fulbrighter American exchange students studying in Marburg for the year. We invited them to dinner, and they actually showed up (imagine that!). In addition, one of the guys who lived on my floor who got “kicked out for living there too long” also joined in. What resulted was a fresh group with novel interactions. After a month of living with the same people, it was nice to have someone new to chat with.
Of course, the night ended with Cards Against Humanity. What a way to get to know people intimately and quickly.
29.08.2014 - Marburg Day 24…Comfort Zones
After an awesome 3D late-night viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy (the English version) last night, today was a day to recoup.
Culture class in the afternoon dealt with the various dialects and accents present throughout Germany. Our guest lecturer took us through a cool presentation on the evolution of various Germanic languages and the eventual convergence of these different tongues towards (but not fully to) Martin Luther’s “Hoch Deutsch.” Along the way, we learned some very interesting things, such that English is derived specifically from Northern Germany’s “Low German” dialect. As it happens, Low German did not go through the large sweeping dipthongization and monophthongization changes that most of the other dialects did to varying degrees, so many Low German and English words are practically identical.
Throughout the presentation, we were also provided with sound snippets of the various historical and current dialects. I began to get nervous when the language from many of the regions sampled was practically unintelligible to my non-native ears. However, it seems that the “average” speech pattern and pronunciation in the Cologne (Köln) region are fairly close to the German I’ve been learning in class. Hallelujah.
On a completely unrelated note, I’m getting better at cooking. Or, more accurately, I’m okay with being a little more adventurous. I put my own spin on a prosciutto-chicken parm by searing chicken a bit before baking it in the oven with Spanish chorizo, spinach leaves, and mozzarella. A little less pepper next time, but it was pretty good (and totally edible!).
28.08.2014 - Marburg Day 23…My Vagina’s Angry
My sophomore year at Bowdoin was the first time I’d ever seen Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues. And what an experience it was. I found it powerful, sad, hilarious, infuriating, and moving. But there was one particular story that I never fully grasped until now, and it’s a tiny excerpt from the monologue most commonly known as “My Vagina’s Angry:”
Let’s just begin with tampons.
What the HELL is that?!
A dry wad of fucking cotton stuffed up there.
Why can’t they find a way to subtly lubricate the tampon?!
As soon as my vagina sees it, it goes into shock!
It closes up.
It says, “Forget it.”
You have to work with the vagina, introduce it to things, prepare the way.
That’s what foreplay’s all about!
You’ve got to convince my vagina, seduce my vagina, engage my vagina’s trust.
You can’t do that…
with a dry wad of fucking cotton!
I realize now that I had been one of “the lucky ones.” I had gone through puberty in the mid-2000s in the beautiful US of A, where Playtex and Tampax and all those other glorious tampon brands devised ways to work with my anatomy; where the stubborn cotton was and is tucked inside a smooth, plastic, bullet-shaped applicator; where positioning a tampon was painless and always accurate.
But here in Germany, where they’re super green and don’t make enough garbage to fuel their trash-burning electricity plants, apparently the applicator is the thing that just had to go. Because its plastic function wasn’t necessary. Now, when I go to the store, I pick up a box filled with “dry wad[s] of fucking cotton.”
Well excuuussseee me! Hello. I, as a person with a vagina, would like you to riddle me this. Why are applicators deemed unnecessary when you wrap both the sanitary pads and tampon bullets in plastic when they could be in recyclable cloth or paper? Why are applicators deemed unnecessary when the #1 selling German condom is still rubber and not sheepskin? Why must my body, when it already has to deal with headaches, backaches, nausea, fatigue, and painful uterine cramps, have to deal with yet another trauma? Because let me tell you, sticking a “dry wad of fucking cotton” up there with no smooth applicator is about as easy as batting 0.999 and as painless as a cat clawing repeatedly at your face.
Germany, there are so many ways that you can reduce plastic waste. I’m starting a list if you want tips (tip no. 1: introduce your denizens to Nalgenes or Camelbaks). Just please, please let me buy a pack of tampons with applicators at the store.
Sincerely, My Angry Vagina
- Prof. Dr. Albrecht Fuess, Center for Near Middle Eastern Studies at the Philipps-Universität Marburg
27.08.2014 - Marburg Day 22…On Islam and Germany
Today’s culture class focused on Muslims in Germany. This broad topic included where to, from where, why, and how many Muslims immigrated to Germany, what that means for the German religious structures, and how this immigration has impacted the country socially. To go over everything said would be too cumbersome, so I’ll skip to the closing statement of the two-hour presentation.
After the conclusion of his prepared slideshow, we had some time for Q&A. Earlier in the presentation, Prof. Dr. Fuess explained how two of the largest governmentally-recognized Turkish Muslim groups were somewhat merging due to similar political Islamist ideas. I asked about how these groups influenced and/or spoke about Germany’s political affiliation and support of Israel. After explaining how these groups walk a fine line and tend to remain quiet on the matter, he began to touch upon recent protests around Germany against the Israeli air-strikes. One such protest in Berlin resulted in anti-Semitic symbols (such as swastikas) and language being drawn and written.
Germans not involved in the protest attempt to distance themselves from the events by calling it a “Muslim (or Arab) problem” despite the fact that more than half of the country’s Muslim population carries a German passport and the harmful symbols used are of German origin.