Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Sense and Sensibility

A short post, as I am drowning in schoolwork...this is the first week back at school, and today was the first day that I had my new homeroom of 3rd graders. I love them. Truly. I was doing orientation with them for the 1st two periods today, and was at the point of discussing expectations for behavior. I asked if anyone could tell me how they are to behave in class, and one of my prize students raised his hand and earnestly said, "We should behave sensibly."

Well, I nearly melted right then and there. His teacher from 2nd grade is one of my British colleagues, and when I heard him say that, I just knew he had picked it up from her.

A couple of my little girls have started calling me Mrs. Mulan. Got to nip that one in the bud.

Ok, back to work.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Copyright Infringement

I was at school the other day, and one of my fellow teachers excitedly showed me her bottle of water (water is a big industry here - nobody drinks from their taps, they imbibe from giant bottles of water). It is from an Italian manufacturer, and it is called "Levissima Allegra". That is not the only instance where my name appears on a mass-market product. There is also a German fashion/beauty/lifestyle (aka "women's") magazine called Allegra.

I feel I have moved up here - I'm no longer associated with an allergy medication and its side effects.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


This means 'shit' in German. It is a word I used more than once today. It was the second day of orientation week at my school. And I just found out that the classes I was told I would be teaching, I am in fact not teaching. When the school year ended last July, I went home to NY feeling good about what I was told I would be teaching: english, social studies to my 3rd grade homeroom class, and beginner english to 4th and 5th graders. No more math!

Today I found out that there have been some changes - I'll still be teaching the 4/5 beginner english class, but the english and social studies are being taught by other folks, and instead I am teaching math - again - and science...!

Science? Me? Anyone who knows me knows that is not the best idea. I don't like bugs, which, based on our brief science teacher meeting, are going to be a part of my lessons. Not just any bugs, but mealworms. The word itself - mealworms - makes me feel all squeamish.

I'm so bummed. I'll just have to hope for the best.

Monday, August 22, 2005

My how I've grown...

A general rule of customer service in Germany is that there is none (this is according to all the German folk I've met here so far). I've been told that salespeople will literally hide from you in order to not help you when you are shopping. Now, this has not been a problem for me, as the less opportunities for me to speak my broken Denglish, the better. That said, I have had mostly favorable experiences while shopping, actually having salespeople ask me if I need help when I'm wandering aimlessly around a store. These experiences are easier for me to handle now, as I recognize the word 'hilfe', which means help in German. When asked, I usually reply, "Nein, danke, ich bin..." and then I point to my eye, because I still don't know how to say that I'm 'just looking'. However, that all changed this past week when I was in Frankfurt visiting Florian...

Since Florian was working during the day, I occupied myself by heading down to the main shopping area to, well.... shop. So I wandered into Karstadt, one of the big department stores, primarily to use their ladies room. But as I got off the escalator, I encountered the bras, and remembered item 4 on my To-Do list: "get bras". So I started looking around, and found one that I liked. I reached for the tag to check the size, and didn't see any numbers that made sense to me. I froze. How was I going to find a bra that fit (always a trying task) if I had no idea what size I was over here? Florian would be of no assistance in this matter. I continued to wander around, thinking that if I just looked at the cups of the bras, I'd be able to tell what size I might be. Not very scientific, nor accurate, as it turned out.

Then it happened.

I heard, "blahblahblah.......hilfe?" And I thought, "Yes. Yes. I need help." I swallowed my pride and fear and said, "Ja, bitte, ich weisse nicht meine..."**and since I didn't know the word for size, I ran both index fingers under my chest (as opposed to just pointing to my breasts). The saleswoman seemed to understand, as she turned on her heel and indicated for me to follow.

The next thing I knew, she had wound a tape measure around me, just under my chest. Then with a flick of her wrists, the tape measure was up around my breasts. I should mention that the saleswoman, who was probably in her early twenties, stood about eye level with my chest. She quickly determined my size.


Russ Meyer immediately popped into my mind. 80D? I was relieved that I now knew what size I was, but I couldn't help feeling like it was time for breast reduction surgery. When you come from a land where bra sizes are measured in smaller numbers, it's a bit of a shock to your system to come here and learn your size. I'm looking at the tag from one of the bras I eventually ended up buying, and these are the equivalent sizes listed:

EU 80 D (European Union?)
F 95 D (France?)
I 3 D (Italy?)

Now obviously the European Union Constitution does not stipulate that all member nations have the same sizing regulations for women's undergarments. And I guess that if you live in France you have a really great feeling about your assets, while living in Italy might have a negative effect on your body image...I'll be sure not to buy any undergarments when I visit Italy.

** Ich weiss nicht = I don't know

Missed the Pope!

It is Sunday, the last day of the new Pope's visit to Cologne for World Youth Day (WYD). If you have seen any of the coverage on the news, you know that there were a few people in Cologne for this event. In case you didn't know, Dusseldorf is about 1/2 hour away from Cologne, and so Dusseldorf was handling the overflow of people who couldn't fit in Cologne. There were young folk from all over the world here - all congregating and travelling around the city in groups, usually following a person raising aloft a flag of their country (I imagine so as not to lose their countrymen and women).

It was a fascinating thing for me to see, this overwhelming devotion and excitement (as I am not a religious person, this kind of fervor is rarely aroused in me; however, my growing fascination with Robbie Williams may be the thing that does it). I must admit, it was also a little scary - total mob mentality in action. I went out of town (to visit F in Frankfurt) on Wednesday, which was the official second day of WYD. I arrived at the main train station here, and had to fight my way through the throngs of youth milling around and chanting in the main level of the station. The groups seemed to be dueling - one group would start chanting something in their language for a few minutes, and then erupt into a loud scream and finish with thundering applause. Then, while one group was chanting/singing, another group in another part of the station would begin their rallying cry. I thought I would escape it once I got up to the platform where I would wait for my train to arrive.


There were what seemed like a few hundred kids up there, repeating the same scenario as downstairs, which is a little scarier when you are precariously standing on the edge of a train platform. I think the reason there were so many still downstairs was because they couldn't all fit on the platform! I figured out that they were all waiting to go to Cologne, and I panicked because I knew that my train would stop in Cologne on its way to Frankfurt - I thought I was going to have to press in to the train with all of them and find a seat (I had reserved a seat for the wrong train - long story). I was soon relieved when the local train to Cologne pulled in across the platform and they all piled in without injuring themselves or any innocent bystanders.

It seems that it was a big success for all involved, and quite something to witness.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Mein Erste Post (My First Post)

Welcome to my blog, where I hope to chronicle my (mis) adventures learning to live in Dusseldorf, Germany. I moved here from Brooklyn, NY on New Year's Eve 2004 to live with my long-distance boyfriend, F, and to start a job as a teacher at an international school.

Before you think, "Oh, wow, the word 'post' is the same in German and in English," I must inform you that the title of this post is an example of 'Denglish'. Not to be confused with Esperanto, Denglish is an amalgam of German & English words and phrases. If you want a more thorough explanation and some other examples of Denglish see: http://www.wordspy.com/words/Denglish.asp

As I am new to the German language, I make liberal use of Denglish, and will most likely continue to do so, much to the amusement (and occasional chagrin) of F.