Happy Fourth

4 07 2012

Today I dressed up in red, white and blue and wore my Maryland necklace to show pride for my home country (and state!). As I think about my [church] wedding just one month from today (!!!!), I am a little bit more introspective about this year’s Independence Day. Of course no one knows exactly what the future may hold, but I am faced with the decision that I have made, that I am making, that Germany is the place where I will be setting up residence for the long haul. We may decide to live in the States at some point, for a few years, but I think Germany will be the place we’ll keep coming back to.

Germany has changed me in many ways, of course. I think I certainly would have been a bit different had I stayed in the States. Not bad, but…different. But I will always cherish my American upbringing. That feeling of independence that we so celebrate today, that pride for our country and for our nation and the values it stands for. A lot of people ask me if I’ll get “my German citizenship” when I get married, which is not really such an obvious assumption. As far as I know, the only way for me to get a German passport is to give up my American nationality, and there is no way in hell I would do such a thing. (Sorry, Germany. It’s not you, it’s me.)

Of course America is not perfect, and neither is Germany. There are good things and bad things about both countries, and I would be happy living in either one! But luckily Germany feels enough like home to me that I feel well here.

I think most of the reason I feel so at home here because I’ve got a man who loves and appreciates me for who I am, who takes cultural differences in stride and has never once made me feel bad for being an American. (Although he does joke lightheartedly about the fact that I like to eat cereal as a meal…)

And my guy really made today special. I came in to get dressed after my shower this morning and Tobias, still in bed, immediately started whistling the Star-Spangled Banner. Made me laugh. And then he wished me a happy Fourth as I was leaving for work. For lunch, he crafted this beautiful yogurt and fruit snack, but not before putting on a YouTube recording of the US national anthem to accompany as background music. (The anthem generally puts tears to my eyes, but today even more because of Tobias’s sweet soul!) And then he pulled out the yogurt and presented me with this very patriotic dessert.

So thank you, my love, for making me feel special today and for bringing a little bit of America to my Fourth of July here in Germany.

Now I’ll just have to go watch some fireworks (online!) to finish off a perfect Independence Day…not quite like the real thing, but Fourth of July without fireworks is a bit like Christmas without a Christmas tree. Happy Fourth!





Thank God for spring

9 05 2012

Spring has sprung and I am enjoying the abundance of green I’m seeing around here. I absolutely love these red flowers on a bush that’s near one of the places I teach at. It’s interesting how they bloom so close to the branches, with the leaves on the outside – just clustered together in the middle of the plant. Does anyone know what kind of plant this is?

So pretty!





Alstervergnügen

21 02 2012

I’m sure you’ve heard of Fahrvergnügen thanks to the Volkswagen ad from 1990. (No? Check it out!) Well, we’ve got something different in Hamburg. Two Sundays ago now, right after we got back from snowboarding, we headed out with thousands of other people (750,000 in 3 days) onto the big frozen lake in the center of town for the first Alstervergnügen party in 15 years!

Every winter, if the Alster freezes over, the local government double-checks the stability of the ice. If it reaches 20cm thickness, the authorities clear it for safety and then the Alstervergnügen can officially take place. But that doesn’t happen every year, so it was something quite special this time around.  Two years ago, in 2010, Tobi and I also went out onto the ice, but it hadn’t been quite thick enough then for the government’s stamp of approval. This time, however, there were even booths along the side of the river (though not on the ice) where you could get Glühwein or hot waffles or a number of other goodies.

Anyway, it was fun (as the name suggests – Alster fun!) going out there. Thousands of other people were on the ice, slipping and sliding, ice skating, sledding…winter fun galore! Even though Tobias and I were wearing our hiking boots, it was quite slippery! It was probably pretty awesome for those who had ice skates, except for the places in the middle of the lake that had big ragged chunks of ice sticking up. That’s something you don’t want to trip over or fall on, that’s for sure!

Look at those chunks of ice!

I’m so glad we got back in time to go experience this! And even though they say pictures tell a thousand words, I think you’ll get a better idea of the fun if I share a video:





Sort of a snow day

27 01 2012

 

I’m pretending today is a snow day. We do have about an inch of snow (our first snow that has stuck this winter!), but now that I’m an adult, of course work isn’t canceled when there’s snow. Especially in Hamburg. They’re so much better at dealing with the snow than the DC/MD/VA area!

But I only had one early class this morning, after which I went back home and went right to sleep.  Since I don’t have to work this afternoon, I’m just going to pretend that the rest of the day was canceled due to the snow, just like the good old days!

Remember that feeling as a kid when school was canceled? It was so exciting because those days were always so few and far in between that it was really special. We could finally pull out those sleds we got for Christmas and spend the day making snowmen, having snowball fights with the neighborhood kids, or sledding down the neighbor’s big hill. Those days were absolutely marvelous, and there was always a cup of hot chocolate ready for us when we got back inside. One year, I remember making a spray bottle with water and yellow food coloring, and my brother Jonathan and I laughed ourselves silly as we went around to every tree and sprayed the base of it yellow as if our dog had peed there. Yellow snow!

Now that I’m an adult, I’m happier to stay inside, eat a bagel and drink hot chocolate and just keep everything cozy. We’re going snowboarding in Austria next weekend for one week, so I’ll get to “play” in the snow then!

Happy snow day, Hamburgers!





First Snow(s)

7 12 2011

Monday morning I was teaching at a company and I had paired up the students for partner work. There was an odd number of people, so I partnered up with one of the students. After finishing our task, we got to talking my partner and I were saying how there hasn’t been any snow yet this year, and that this time last year we had snow.

And wouldn’t you know it, 5 minutes later, I was back up at the front of the class teaching again and looked out the window and I exclaimed, “IT’S SNOWING!” And for the next 10 minutes or so, it continued to do so in big, puffy flakes. It was just lovely and, I must admit, a teensy bit distracting during class.

It snowed again as I was walking back to the metro, so when I got there I took a picture and a little video as evidence. Turns out Tobi also took a video for me from our window in case I didn’t see the snow.

So let it be recorded for this year: our first snow in Hamburg was on Monday morning, December 5.

Our second snow came not too much later. We had some more last night, as well as this morning. Luckily, it didn’t stick to the ground. I mean, I do appreciate a lot of snow every once in a while, but I don’t like the day after when everything gets muddy and gross. So as far as I’m concerned, our first snow was the best of both worlds: seeing the snow fall and having it not stick to the ground.

Any signs of the fluffy white stuff where you live yet?





First Frost

14 11 2011

Early this Sunday morning, on our way to church, we saw the first frost of winter, which I think is one of the most beautiful things in nature. Probably because it glitters when the sun shines on the frosty ice crystals.  (And you know I love me some sparkles!)

Last year’s first snow was around November 25th. So it seems things are right on schedule this year, if not a little warmer than last year.

I use that term “warmer” very lightly, because it really has gotten COLD here, with temperatures reaching into the negative (Celsius) degrees. (Cold enough to have frost, duh!)

But this is an exciting time, because the colder weather just ushers in the holiday season, and that’s something to look forward to every year. Even if it means cold toes and having to wear 2-3 more layers than usual. They’ve started setting up the Christmas markets, which officially open just one week from today, on November 21! (Coincidentally, the same date that Michel Legrand’s Christmas album comes out!) There are 17 different Christmas markets in Hamburg this year, and can’t wait to go visit all of them!

 





Finally weekend

27 08 2011

I’m so very glad for the weekend again.

We’ve got a rainy, thunderstormy weekend ahead of us here in Hamburg.  But that’s nothing compared to what my family and friends back on the east coast will be experiencing this weekend.  My thoughts and prayers are with everyone there – stay safe and dry, and I hope hurricane Irene isn’t as bad as they predicted!

So here’s a little sunshine for you…

and wishing you all a safe weekend!








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