A Golden Cup

German flagTomorrow one of the most coveted trophies in sport will come to Berlin. Today Germany woke up collectively hungover but with a jubilant smile on its face. Yesterday, just before midnight, the nation erupted into euphoria when the German football team won the World Cup.

Around the world, online and print media is chock full with articles on that extraordinary night: why the Germans won, how they won, what the players’ wives and girlfriends wore, what Rihanna did to celebrate the goal, what type of beer Joachim Löw (the German coach) and Angela Merkel drank when they celebrated together in the hotel. Sitting here in Berlin there can be no other topic to write about today, but as neither football expert nor celebrity gossip connoisseur, I ask myself what relevant and original ideas can I add. The English expat’s view perhaps …

First this – how Germany became England’s favourite. For English fans, Germany would not be the obvious team to support once our own boys failed so miserably to progress beyond the group stages (yet again). Most Germans would not perceive a direct rivalry between the two teams, but most English do. Continue reading

“Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known” reviewed

What happens when an all American woman with a French-Italian name moves to Switzerland? American writer Chantal Panozzo tells all about it in her recently published book, Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known. With her trademark humor, she shares  her evolution as an American transplant through all phases of withering and thriving as an expat in the extra clean cantons of Switzerland in 30 tightly written essays.

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Confessions of an Expat TV Addict in Germany

VPN options for GermanyThis is the most honest way to introduce myself to German-Way readers,

Hello, my name is ebe and I am an expat TV addict.

It’s true. Despite living in Germany for several years, I still watch American TV every day. As a writer working from home, I have the freedom to tune into the squabbles of various housewife franchises, observe the zombie apocalypse and evaluate cooking competitions any time I want. And I want.

It’s comforting in this strange life abroad to hear those familiar accents discussing things I understand. Unlike German politics, the best Fleischsalat or how to help the refugees in Oranienplatz, I have opinions on TV. It helps me stay connected to that life I left behind and keeps me in the loop with my stateside community. Continue reading

Das Bombing: Graffiti in Germany and Europe

Graffiti and tagging are a phenomenon seen all over the world, but how they are regarded and dealt with varies widely, depending on the location. A stroll through the streets of Berlin quickly reveals why it is sometimes referred to as “the graffiti capital of Europe.” The very graphic graffiti term “bombing” (das Bombing in German) takes on a whole new meaning in the German capital, which suffered actual massive Allied bombing during World War II, but today seems to be under attack yet again by aggressive taggers and so-called “street artists.”

Oberschule graffiti

This graffiti “gallery” is on the grounds of a Berlin high school (Oberschule). PHOTO: Hyde Flippo

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Expaticus germanicus: An Expat Species Catalog

A few years ago our co-blogger Geoff wrote about two types of expats: integrated and non-integrated. Those who adapt and blend in, and those who don’t. And for the point he was trying to make that was quite adequate. But in the meantime I have discovered a much wider scope of types or subspecies under the species we shall call Expaticus germanicus, aka the expat in Germany.

Of course there are as many kinds of expats in German-speaking Europe as there are expats. Every expat situation is unique. However, that won’t stop me from identifying various types of English-speaking expats in Germany by various characteristics. But before I begin, I want to quote one of my favorite German authors, the Berlin-born satirist Kurt Tucholsky (1890-1935):

Neben den Menschen gibt es noch Sachsen und Amerikaner, aber die haben wir noch nicht gehabt und bekommen Zoologie erst in der nächsten Klasse.” (“Besides human beings, there are Saxons and Americans, but we haven’t had them yet. We won’t cover zoology until the next grade level.”) – from “Der Mensch” (1931)

Tucholsky wrote “Der Mensch” as a schoolboy’s essay that begins: “Der Mensch hat zwei Beine und zwei Überzeugungen: eine, wenns ihm gut geht, und eine, wenns ihm schlecht geht. Die letztere heißt Religion.” (“Man has two legs and two convictions: one when things are going well, and one when things are going badly. The latter is called religion.”) For some reason this short essay by Tucholsky popped into my head when I began to try to classify expats. Unfortunately, I’m not as good a writer as Tucholsky, but I’ll do my best. Continue reading

Drinking Kaffee in Germany

You can tell when you have crossed the frontier into Germany because of the badness of the coffee.
– Edward VII (1841-1910, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert)*

I’m a devoted coffee drinker. I drink it wherever I am, especially in Europe. I’ve had coffee in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and even Slovenia. The Germans always rave about their coffee, but I think German coffee is highly overrated. There, I’ve said it. Now here’s why I say it.

First, there is no such thing as “German coffee.” Coffee trees don’t really flourish in northern Europe. All that Dallmayr, Hag, Jacobs and Tchibo coffee gets to Germany via Bremen, Hamburg and other European ports. That’s no different than the rest of Europe. Other than the type of bean, the main difference is the roast. (The brewing methods are pretty similar all across Europe.) The beans are usually Arabica, so that leaves the roast. And I think the roast is the problem.

A German Coffee
A “German coffee” is a type of cocktail made with Kirschwasser, coffee and whipped cream. That’s definitely not what we’re talking about here!

Germans generally like milder flavors. They really aren’t into spicy or pungent. That’s why “Mexican” food in Germany is not even close to Mexican. Foreign foods (Chinese, Indian, even Italian) get toned down for German taste buds. Continue reading

Luisa Weiss’ Advice for the Expat in Germany

It’s Monday, but I got to talk to the creator and author behind the popular food blog The Wednesday Chef, Luisa Weiss, last week. She’s also the author of the best-selling memoir, My Berlin Kitchen which came out late last year, and as you may have guessed, she lives in Berlin.

My Berlin Kitchen

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Berlin still waiting for a new airport and its first Apple Store

When it comes to new airports or new Apple Stores, Berlin is what the Germans call a “Katastrophe”!

Visible construction work on a new Apple Store on Berlin’s elegant shopping boulevard, the Kurfürstendamm, began in January 2011. Even before work began, several Apple blogs, both German and American, breathlessly announced the news: Berlin, the German capital, was at last going to get an official Apple Store! But with January 2013 only a week away, Berlin is still waiting for its first Apple Store to open.

On January 14, 2011, ifoAppleStore.com posted an article entitled Century-Old Building To House Berlin Apple Store. Complete with photos of the building, the article stated: “Almost 100 years after it was constructed along tree-lined Kurfürstendamm avenue in Berlin (Germany), the historic UFA Film-Bühne Wien cinema will regain some of its original glory when Apple opens a retail store inside the building by year’s end. According to the Kurfuerstendamm.de Web site, Apple has leased the building at #26 and is awaiting permit approvals to begin construction. The store will finally bring Apple to the capitol [sic] city, four years after the first Germany store opened in Munich.” Continue reading