Tag Archives: life in germany

National Pride

I had already started drafting this post a while ago, but as the FIFA World Cup just started and Germany are playing their first official game today and I still have my memories of visiting the KZ Memorial in Ravensbrück I wanted to reflect a bit on the National Pride of the German people. With ideas to cover some language stuff and views on Germans in shows and movies (like Sherlock and Grimm) I simply wanted to express my thoughts before I dive into those topics.
I have lived my whole life in Germany, I was born and raised here, yet I do not feel any sentiment for my nation, even as citizen of Germany.

But why is that? Why can I not be proud of where I am from?

Everyone knows about the horrid history an Austrian bestowed upon the Germans where, even seventy years later, we still have to live with the repercussions, prejudices and fears. It is not easy to see the good things our country has to offer with that background. National sentiment or even national pride, let alone patriotism – which all can be some kind of synonyms for each other – is all in all a weird thing in Germany.

The evil flag

To underline my point I’d like to quote this comic from Scandinavia and the World by Humon:

*Sweden, Denmark and Norway are waving the German flag to congratulate Germany on his birthday.*
*Germany panics*
Denmark: „Don’t be like that, Germany. It’s just your flag.“
Germany: „Yes, but what if I felt pride from you waving it?! Then what would happen?! Bad things! I’m not allowed to feel pride! People die when I’m proud!“
Denmark: „Your flag is harmless. You’re even wearing it.“
*Germany looks down at his shirt and freezes in fear*

Like Humon describes it in the comment for the comic do (some) Germans only wave their flags during sport events. During World Cups it’s also common to decorate your car with flags hitched on the doors or attached to the exterior mirror. You might even be frowned upon if you do not support our team by wearing flags on your clothes or as painting during public screenings of the matches (which is called „Public Viewing“ in German by the way).
At every other time, showing the German flag seems to imply Nazi tendencies and people frown at you for keeping the flag after the game. Needless to say that every flag „vanishes“ just when the tournament is over – or Germany failed at some point, which makes this whole deal totally ridiculous.
Unfortunately there are far too many cases were this prejudice is indeed true. Even in our day and time, where you would think everyone knows of the wrongness of Hitler’s thinking there are people that follow in his belief that everyone not-German is bad. I am more than glad that there are institutions trying to get a hold of these people and their political parties.

Things to be proud of

I personally can not be proud of Germany as a whole, as it has far too many things I do not agree with, but there are things I am indeed proud of.
For one do I really like the general living standards. While not everyone has a proper flat and the prices differ greatly, it is great to have all these possibilities. If you find a place, you can live where ever you wish and only have to get through tons of bureaucratic nonsense to do so. In every town/city there is at least one supermarket (my home town with not even 3.000 inhabitants has four) and you have at least a chance to get from one place to the other without having your own car (taxis, public transport, even planes). It’s not always easy, but it is possible.
With all the stupid things the state can throw at you (taxes, fees, etc.) it also does good (payment during unemployment, support for businesses, schools, children) and supposedly tries to help its citizen.
What we/I also can be proud of are the people that became known not just here, but internationally.
We are the home of important scientists like Albert Einstein and Konrad Zuse (first functioning computer); famous poets/writers like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, but also inspiring musicians like Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friedrich Händel; just to name a few.
The music tradition even continued with bands like Blind Guardian, Rammstein and Edguy.
And let’s not forget our current chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. 😉 As bad as people talk about her, I think she at least managed to improve our (political) image quite a bit.
But I think the thing I am most proud of is our language.
As I wrote here do I really like my mother’s tongue and I am quite certain this is not because it’s the language I know since I am capable of understanding spoken languages.
I really like how you have so many different ways to formulate what you want to say. Of course each language has something like that, but I also like the words that are used, especially the older – and in a way more sophisticated – ones. Though I am (ironically) at a loss for words when describing why I simply love my mother’s tongue. I just do…

A look from the Outside

As I mentioned above do we Germans still have to endure the aftermath of WWII.
Many people still seem to have a quite negative view on my country and our politicians seemingly try to better this in an awkward “we’re not like that any more”-kind of way. It’s always strange to see officials interact, mostly when the other country is one that is still sceptical about us.
If a German isn’t classified as Nazi, the next picture is the Lederhosen-wearing Bavarian, which really isn’t a German “standard”. Interestingly is Bavaria not really seen as actual part of Germany by most Germans and therefore this picture couldn’t be more wrong.
The third picture people have of Germans are the weirdo tourists who expect everyone to speak/understand German and demand their German bread everywhere. I can understand the bread part as I quite enjoy German bread (propably another proud-thing), but I already mentioned what I think about having to speak in a different language if you are native in the land and will not get into detail here.
Let’s not forget the over punctual hard-working engineer, who doesn’t really exist as people are either on time or take at least the academical quarter.
But there are also people who like Germany at least for its travelling properties and I can agree to that as I have seen one thing or the other on my travels (report 2012, 2013, 2014 follows soon) or on my way to festivals or concerts and stuff.
If you like you can tell me in the comments how you see Germany and the German people. For me it is always interesting to encounter people from other places and to see what is different and what is similar in our countries/cultures/customs/etc.
Other than that can I only conclude this post by saying: I am glad that I live and grew up in Germany, but I couldn’t proudly say “I am German” as there are still far to many things I don’t agree with.
PoiSonPaiNter

Blood donation

Everyone probably knows by now, that blood is one of the most important essences in the human body.
In folkloric myths you see blood in different perspectives, but all pretty much say the same thing: Blood is life.
The most prominent example for this would be the nowadays ever present vampires. They drink blood to survive, to keep themselves “alive” (how far this goes differs with each author, some even go as far as to give them reproductive abilities…).
But not just them. Even our regular selves are dependent on the red liquid.

If you ever got/get into a situation, where you lost/lose a high amount of it or simply have a disease where your own blood isn’t healthy enough, you are more than grateful to every volunteer that donated his or her blood.
Luckily I haven’t been in such a situation, but I can proudly say that I am one of the volunteers.

A lot of people are afraid of donating because of the big bad syringe.
But let me assure you: It’s not that bad.
Of course it hurts and of course it feels really odd when the needle enters your veins, but after that is done you don’t really feel anything.
But maybe I should start with explaining the procedure (at least how it is done here in Germany) before getting to the pain.

The procedure

At first you have to sign in and/or give them your id and/or your donation pass so they can find you in their database. In Germany you have a pass called „Accident Aid and Blood Donation Pass“ („Unfall- und Blutspendeausweis„) that is given to you by the DRK (Deutsches Rotes Kreuz – German Red Cross) that holds not just your blood type, but also information on your last donations. However, so far every federal state has its own pass and identification number for a donor, but they are working on unifying that (Through donating in both Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig Holstein I for one have two donor-ids).
While one person is checking your ids another one is checking your temperature and the amount of iron in your blood. The last one being done with a little needle-thing that pokes either your fingertip or your earlobe.
Next you have to fill out some forms concerning your health and than have to see a doctor. She or he then also checks your blood pressure and helps you through the questions you couldn’t answer yourself.
This person than decides whether you are allowed to donate.

Reasons, why one could not donate:

  • You do not have enough or too much iron in your blood.
  • You took “wrong” medicine (one you shouldn’t have taken previous to a donation, like pain killers).
  • You are younger than 18 years or older than 69 years and older than 65 years when you first donate.
  • You don’t feel well.
  • You weigh below 50 kg.
  • You don’t have a stable blood pressure.
  • Your temperature is above 37,5°C.
  • You didn’t eat and drink enough beforehand.
  • You drank alcohol within the last 12 hours.
  • You consumed drugs within the last 4 weeks.
  • You got pierced or tattooed during the last 4 months.
  • You had a larger operation within at least the last 4 months.
  • You have already donated 6 (4 for women) times that year.

As you see some of these reasons are a bit odd, but they have to check stuff like that. You don’t want to get rubbish blood into your veins do you?
And if you are indeed wondering why women are only allowed to donate four times a year, have a little reminder that women lose quite an amount of blood each month without donating any of it…
Preparing the donation

In case you didn’t drink or eat enough, they have a lot of food and drinks with them, so you are asked to eat/drink previous to the donation.
Well, in any case you should drink around 1-2 litre before you participate. The blood just runs faster if it is more liquidized. Besides it helps you to better cope with loosing 500 ml of your life-force.

Are all the preconditions met and you are allowed to donate you decide which arm you want them to poke.
I’m mostly taking the left one for the donations as I am right handed, but some staff tell you that you have to change once in a while.
And then comes the point everyone fears:

The big bad syringe.

My advice: Just look to the side when it is put into your vein in the crook of your arm. It stings, but the pain will fade.
I do not like needles myself, so I can’t watch them being injected into my arm or I would clench that hard, that I definitely would have a bruise afterwards.
After it is injected you just have to pump (opening an closing your hand, they lend you a toy for that if you want) a bit till the plastic bag is full.
For everyone who will donate: Try to not move your hand for a second, you might be able to feel the blood flow, which is pretty cool.

The donation aftermath

Round about 5 to 10 minutes pass and you are ready to go to the buffet.
Yes you read correctly, there is food waiting for you for!
To get your system back to work they give you all kind of stuff. Preferably coke because of the sugar.
You spend there like 30 minutes and that’s about it. That’s the whole donation process.

But regardless of the food and drinks you get afterwards: If you feel dizzy or unwell: TELL the staff! They are there to take care of you and forcing yourself to get up when you feel like that, is the wrong thing to do. Believe me, I have just spent some time lying on the donation bed when my circulation system didn’t wanted to work properly again and everyone was being very kind. The staff is trained to handle situations like that and if they just leave you be, you shouldn’t be using that donation service/centre again.

Bloody donations…

If you ever come across a (professional, like from your version of the DRK) donation date. Just try it.
It is totally worth the time.
You get a health check (as they have to check your blood before releasing it into the blood banks and they will notify you if something is wrong), you do something good and you might learn your blood type – if you don’t already know it (I first donated because I wanted to know mine).

Still, you shouldn’t go there merely for the food (or money as some facilities offer a little reward).
You should go there to help other people.
Especially if you have a rare type of blood. Like I do more or less, for example.
With my O positive (It’s a zero – 0 – not an O, but as you can see it looks odd) blood I can provide a donation for everyone, but I myself am only able to get donations by other O positive people.
So maybe I’m only doing this, so I have a slight chance that there will be blood if I need some.

Interesting fact: With blood plasma it’s the other way round. I can get everyone’s plasma but cannot give anyone except other O’s.

Fun fact: In the Japanese culture they judge people by their blood type and apply traits to them. For my blood type it is said that I am agreeable, sociable and optimistic, but also vain, rude, jealous and arrogant.
What lovely traits…well, I have to admit, that some of them are true, while others aren’t that much.
But I wont tell you which ones. You would have to figure that out yourself.

Anyhow, I did not donate that much yet. Only five times.
So all this talk about donating seems to be pretty much contradictory in my case.
But I know people that are donating on a regular basis, that even give away their blood plasma (Even though it’s more for the money than the good cause).
I think it’s a good idea to donate what will be rebuild anyway and as long as it helps others it’s a good thing to do.

PoiSonPaiNter

Frohe Weihnachten

or Merry Christmas as you would say in English. Alternatively I could wish you many other things for all those other holidays that are celebrated around this time of the year, but I stick with this one today.
A few weeks ago I was asked by the Fairytale Traveler Christa Thompson to write a guest post about the Christmas traditions in Germany.
Between writing my Bachelor’s thesis, getting sick and my laptop deciding to bit its final farewell, I managed to write a bit about how Christmas is celebrated around here. You can find the full post on her website: Christmas Traditions in Germany.
Thanks to TheFairytaleTraveler again for publishing my post. 🙂

Adventskranz (by SolLuna from Wikimedia)


Christmas is a time for the family to get together, a time of light and a time of wonder. Experiences you gain from your childhood sip into your adult life. For a long time now Santa Claus is just a man in a suit for me, but I still think it’s great that children do believe in this being, this guardian of wonders (A few weeks ago I reflected on my experiences on this Guardian of Childhood).
The lights that shines through the streets at this time of year. The candles that are lighted in the rooms. The Christmas pyramids turning their wheels and creating magical picture on the ceiling. It all has something special, something unique, that isn’t quite the same at any other time of the year. In short you could say: Halloween is fascinating for me because of the darkness surrounding it, Christmas because of its lights.

Weberglockenmarkt in Neubrandenburg (by Weberglockenmarkt)


Also the Christmas markets that you can spend hours at with friends and families. Drinking Glühwein (hot spiced wine), eating Mutzen or roasted almonds. If you pass through a market on an every day basis like I have to with the Weberglockenmarkt in Neubrandenburg you could think you’d become tired of it, but it’s different. If you go there in private the atmosphere becomes different than just going there for lunch or passing through. I can’t explain why, but it just is that way and I don’t mind. This way a Christmas market can still be nice even though you’ve been at it several times.
So far I haven’t been at that many different markets. The most times I was at the ones in Neubrandenburg and Greifswald.
And only this year did I read the story behind the name of the Weberglockenmarkt, which is quite interesting as I might add

In a cold winter night a weaver (Weber) made his way home to Neubrandenburg, home to his family for Christmas. Shortly before he reached his destination he ended up in a horrible snow storm. The storm was that bad that he could not see where he was going. Whether he was coming closer to the city or straying further away.
For hours he wandered through the snowy forests until he heard the bells (Glocken) of the St. Marien church. The sound of those bells finally helping him to find his way or he would have frozen outside the gates of his home town.
In his memory the bells ring throughout Christmas and the market (Markt) gained its name.
(Read the full story in German here: Weberglockengeschichte)

Greifswald was always closer to my home town than Neubrandenburg. But it is a quite charming one with occasionally a Ferris Wheel that allows you to look high above the city, an area for children with booths were different Fairy Tales are portrayed and just a nice atmosphere in the more historic part of the city.
One time visits include Schwerin, Berlin (Gendarmenmarkt) and a small one in Hamburg and passing through the one in Elmshorn.
Schwerin was in my school time when we made a visit to the art museum and finished the trip with a stroll over the market. I can’t really remember it any more though.
The Gendarmenmarkt is a smaller and secluded market in Berlin where you even have to pay a small entrance fee. When I was there with Conan and Plusquamperfekt from The Forum and a childhood friend of mine, several years ago, it was just 1 Euro (as I just found the ticket in a book I try to finish until the 31st). It was also quite full. Full of people and full of interesting (and quite expensive) self made goods. It still had a nice atmosphere for chatting about projects and Fantasy stuff.
I can’t remember which one we visited in Hamburg, but it was only a small one we had chosen for the Christmas staff party for the Eventteam (a small student project team for creating events for the students). It still was a great evening with some former, some current and new members of the team and a nice market.
I would like to see a couple of more markets in the future, even some bigger ones. They, however, have so many attendees that it’s far more stressful than fun and maybe not worth the trouble.
Even though there is much good done throughout the season for my family it unfortunately is also a time of mourning.
It was this day, five years ago that my grandfather passed away.
The first passing I consciously experienced within the direct family and it is still a sad memory. He will always be dearly remembered. Christmas time is a time to remember after all.
To remember what we have, what he have lost and to decide where we can go from there.
With this I wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope you will have some quiet time with your loved ones.
PoiSonPaiNter

Improvement

When I looked through some old stuff today I discovered something incredible: My English used to be sooo bad only a few years ago…well there would still be worse people, but I was quite shocked when I read some of my old essays for my English classes during Vocational High School…
And I even still have an old story of mine already typed from that time to prove this. And I have to admit that I used to be „proud“ of what I’ve written, but now I just am laughing at it the all the way through…it’s sooo bad… XD
So. if you dare to find out, where I started with my story-writing skills in about 2008, just read on. (Well, we had four pictures and then to write a story according to what they portrayed, so we did not have much space for imagination.)
On a side note: I think it still has all the spelling errors in it as well…or I added typing errors…probably both…
If you are not brave enough, just scroll down to my continued rant below it 😉

Monopoly
It’s a friendly, peaceful day. The sky is blue, only some clouds are hanging around in the sky. Ignorant people do their egoistic things in a world full of hate.
A woman is walking out of the door of a bank. She’s sad. She lost her job and won’t get any more credits. She isn’t noticing any cars on the street. A moment earlier an other woman came out of this bank. She’s self-confident and proud and she’s in a snit! A banker wasn’t friendly to her. The third woman is gazing at the bank and surveying the situation. May she’s planing something. In front of her there is a man. He seems to be very sad and he’s walking very slowly. His eyes are looking at the bank with every step he’s making. Looking, looking away, looking, looking away, etc. The second man is walking in the opposite direction as the other guy is doing. This man is looking at the starring girl. She’s nodding. The man is answering with a nod. Something strange is going on here.
All of these people had been disappearing in a few seconds, so that the streets are empty now. A second car is arriving. Three guys are getting out of it. They are wearing masks, even you can describe it as only some black ties in front of their mouths. For the last time they’re looking over the street. There’s a little discussion between them, if it’s the right moment, but this isn’t of much interest. Now they are going into the bank.
The people in the bank aren’t noticing those strange guys. Suddenly they are realizing, that this is a bank robbery, because one of the guys was making a shot in the air. After this everyone is shocked for a while. The bank robbers are going straight through the masses to the lady behind the window. The boss of the robbers is just saying: “Give the money!” As self-confident as it’s possible for her in such a situation she’s answering: “We only have some banknotes here! The rest is in the safe deposit!” “Then open it!”, the robber is becoming nervous. “I don’t know the combination and I’m unable to find out what it is!”, she is answering relaxed. “Why aren’t you able?!”, the man is screaming now. In this moment another woman is sinking on the floor. Someone of the witnesses is screaming: “Help her!” One of the guys is a friendly one, but also a very naive. He is going to help her. Suddenly she’s starring straight into his eyes, taking his gun and kicking his ass, so that he is falling on the floor. In the same moment the lady behind the window is hitting the distracted guys in front of her.
So these to tough girls adjusted the bank robbers and got an award by the police for their courage. The bank robbers went straight to prison, without getting any money. And if they didn’t get acquitted, so they even sit imprisoned!
© As horrible as the story might be: It still is my intellectual property and therefore is only allowed to be used with my permission.

Now as you might have read this horrid peace of written work, you might understand why I wanted to improve my skills. And seeing as I myself can tell that the stuff above is bad, makes me believe that I actually have improved over the last few years.
I would even dare to say greatly improved.
But as improvement has it, it only comes with time and practice and I can say that I practiced quite a bit. Classes during A-Level did little, though I had to write even more than before, but my classes during studying indeed did their part. While I only had German natives teaching me foreign languages before, I now had English-natives as teachers. Beside that I also had started reading Manga in English and watching Animes with English subtitles and so on. I didn’t really sat down and studied that much, I just learned it while using it. It’s far easier that way.
By now I watch series and movies in English, read stuff and write all this stuff here on this page (posts and stories) and on fanfiction.net, translate the stuff for our posts on dfppentertainment.wordpress.com and even try to improve my speaking skills by recording my Fanfics – though that’s a work in a really slow progress. And if you still not believe that I have improved, just look through this blog and read some more. For example my dwarve-story The Quest for Ore, to have a comparison to how I write stories these days. 😉
But don’t think my writing skills in German were much better in the beginning…no, they clearly weren’t…but they were even funnier…there is a story of mine from second or third grade about a horse that befriends itself with a kangorooh (kangaroo) from the far away continent Australia, where everyone speaks backwards…because Australia is on the other side/half of the Earth, you know? 😀 Oh, the logic of an eight year old kid… 😀
Anyway, I’d like to improve my skills even further, especially my speaking skills, and not forget this incredible language – as I mostly did with Russian, which I would like to re-learn. But I can’t say, if I actually be able to do either of that.
I’m still going to try.
Who knows, maybe in a couple of years I’m looking back at this and think the exact same thing I did, when looking through my old school stuff. 😀
PoiSonPaiNter
Oh, by the way: The last lines, the so-called „punchline“ of the story was supposed to be the translation of the Monopoly go-to-jail-card, thus explaining the title. 😉