Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ich wohne in Deutschland...

aber Ich komme aus Amerika...

and I've discovered some things I've missed. First and foremost, friends and family. But also, Panera, everything bagels with cream cheese, speaking English to anyone and everyone (really just communication in general), reading the newspaper, normal TV, iced tea, bookstores with books in English, Mill Mountain, doors that don't lock automatically upon closure, Law & Order. The list, I'm sure, will grow the longer I am here. Wondering now if I will start to miss things (besides Alex, Bos, & Riva) in Germany.

Monday, March 22, 2010

America Bound

Morgen, I will be heading to America for two weeks to see all my friends and family! WOOHOO!! Sadly, Alex will be left behind working. If you're in the Richmond, Blacksburg, or the Atlanta area, let me know - I'd love to see anyone and everyone!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Kasel Artze

On base, Alex cannot go anywhere without getting a, "hey doc, i have this itch," or "hey doc, thanks for yesterday," or "my kid's got this fever and..." Similarly, I always get the, "Aren't you Dr. Rapalje's wife?" This phenomenon has now spread beyond base and into Kasel-Trier.

Last week, Svenja was rollerblading (on skates without brakes!) and ran into a stone wall and then fell to the cement. Jill hurried back to our house and I went to pick her up. Svenja was hurting. After dropping her off, her Mom asked if Alex could stop by later and check it out. He did and sure enough, broken knee. Ouch.

News travels quickly.

After Svenja's knee incident, multiple Kasel residents have randomly started jibbering to both Alex and I in German about their medical problems. Our neighbor, Frau Scherf, who just go out of the krankenhaus (hospital), starting talking to us about her illness. Surprisingly, I understood most of what she said and translated to A (proud moment). Another neighbor asked about something for her daughter. And even my German teacher (who lives in Schweich, not Kasel) asked about Alex making house calls (not sure how she knows??)! HA! I think it's official, Alex is now Kasel's (only) doctor.

Poor Svenja in her knee brace

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Sarah and I with grun bier
All the essentials
The boys

Happy St. Patrick's day from Deutschland! We had a fun night. We didn't eat the traditional Irish meal, but our food was green - pesto, salad, and veggies! While we had plans to attend our favorite Irish Pub in the City after, we wound up drinking green beer and playing Apples to Apples and Risk all night long and had a great time doing it!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Step in the German Direction

On the way back from a recent road trip, we made a quick stop to use the pay toiletten. I paid 50 Euro Cents to wait in a lange line with a bunch of other women, who apparently had to go just as bad as Ich. About halb-way through my wait, the fraulein behind me decides to pull a German fast one on this all-zu-obvious American frau, and blatantly just steps in front of me. SERIOUSLY!?! The line-cutting has got to stop. I am just steaming. She obviously knows what she’s done. What to do, what to do… With the line being so lange (literally 30 people deep), I had plenty of time to strategize.

I wait until the very end of the line, when the fraulein is NEXT to use the toiletten. As soon as that last toilette door opens, I quickly step in front of the fraulein, while at the same time, stepping on her foot (no, not a proud moment) and proceed to enter and use the toilette.

Yes, I win. Successfully, I got the next stall used the bathroom before the fraulein who cut in front of me in line.

Sometimes, a step in the German direction requires stepping on the German.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

North vs. South: an International Stereotype/Attitude Problem

Trier/anywhere in Northern Germany: Without perfect pronunciation and perfect grammar, the Germans of the North (Trier included) act as if they have no clue what you are talking about (refer to Pronunciation Frustrations). Sometimes, their mouths hang open like what you spoke was complete gibberish and you are a moron (whether they actually understand or not has yet to be decided, but I think yes). If you’re lucky (I guess), they immediately recognize your accent and being as well-rounded as they are, speak to you in whatever your native language is (I continue to be impressed by how many different languages many Europeans speak). Yes, I am so jealous that you can all speak English/German/French/Dutch/Spanish/etc., but for once, please recognize that I am attempting to learn/speak your native language and do not, I repeat, do not immediately speak English to me. Yes, while I can help you practice your already fluent English, I am living in Germany, I want to speak German, and I need to practice my German, not my English! Work with me people.


Bavaria (Southern Germany)/Northern, German speaking Switzerland (in general, the Swiss are just sweet): These Germans are of a different breed. They are generally impressed with those trying to learn their native language. Instead of staring, mouth open when something is mis-pronounced (let’s be honest, this is an every other word occurrence), they give those attempting the language a word of encouragement, some help maybe, but most importantly, errors and all, they (admit that they) understand what you’re trying to say!

This weekend in Interlaken was a perfect example. No, obviously, my German is not perfect and I speak with an “American” accent (imagine that), but boy do I try. I manage to infer about different things, order at restaurants, and meet and greet in GERMAN (yes, all proud moments), “American” accent/imperfect grammar and all. Despite being ignored/laughed at/looked at like a complete idiot in Trier (no give and take there, none), the Swiss, just like the Southern Germans, give me a pat on the back, a word of encouragement, a minor pronunciation correction, and although they can tell I am NOT GERMAN (too obviously American), continue to speak with me in German for my sake (practice does make perfect when talking about learning a language). MAN! I wish the Northern Germans had the same attitude when dealing with foreigners, it would sure help my language skills.

Do differences, other than attitudes, exist between Nord and Süd Deutschland?

Upon bringing this question/phenomenon up to my Southern-born Grandpa Martin, he said, well honey, it’s just like at home in the U.S. too… nice, friendly, pleasant in the South, versus cold, hard, and loud in the North. HA! Although I am sure some (or many) of you would disagree, it IS funny to think about those stereotypes and perhaps, how they carry from country to country (or at least Deutschland and US of A).

Friday, March 5, 2010

a Little Less Talk, a Lot More Action

Dave Matthews Band is good for the soul, so imagine my surprise when my darling husband took me to a "surprise" date in Frankfurt to see DMB perform! What a night! We love Any/All of Dave's music and decided last night we were going to get old and be "that" groupie couple, taking our kids with us to their concerts (Last night was A's 12th DMB concert, my 5th - yes, for real). Unfortunately, I have no pictures.. had you seen a picture from my perspective it would have consisted of the back/shouldera of a gigantor German who stood in front of me, smoking 3 packs of cigs (good thing the music was fabulous).

Interesting, seeing a concert in Germany. Of course, I wasn't expecting for DMB to speak German to the crowd (although he did throw a few dankes in there), but I was pretty unsure of how the night would go. I mean, do the Germans even know who DMB is? Well, yes, some. The concert was small, very few seats, mainly standing room. Dave spoke VERY LITTLE.. makes sense with the majority of the unable to understand English, at least spoken quickly, in conversation, and by Americans. But that just made for more music - even better!

In other German Rapalje news, salsa dancing lessons every Tuesday are a blast!, we have become vegetarian for Lent (no, this has not been nearly as hard as it sounds), are heading to Interlaken for the weekend with our friend Ryan (let's hope this hotel FAR surpasses the quality of the last place I stayed at in Interlaken - an R-rated story for another day), I have begun an countdown to America (18 days!!), AND I just finished a spectacular book that I could literally not put down and would recommend to anyone, called The Good German, by Joseph Kanon (recommended by Gpa Martin). Other than that, alles klar. Bis Montag!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bidet Benefits

While I believed the bidet to be a standard fixture in older times, I have been proven wrong. The bidet is back. Our brand new house is equipped with the favorite Europeans butt-washer. Being the stereotypical American, I number 1. Have no idea how to actually use the thing and number 2. Make the bidet the butt of many jokes. In the Rapalje household, the bidet is now a permanent fixture for meine Hunde (Boston and Riva), not as a buttwasher, but as a water bowl. Here is a picture of Riva making perfect use (in my opinion!) of the bidet, just don’t tell Axel!

Monday, March 1, 2010

das Wetter

Yesterday, we had some nasty weather. Lots of rain, but even more impressive, the crazy wind. The storm, named Xynthia, swept across most of Europe, with France getting the worst of it. Here are two related articles.

All of Europe:

Specifically Germany: