Friday, September 17, 2010

Random Thoughts by Brzan

It’s been a full week since we’ve touched down in Germany and so far it’s been quite a week with a lot of new experiences. Dana and I have also been sick (kronk) the entire time, which means that Dana has to take care of two babies instead of one. We are being very well taken care of and are settling in nicely.

Here are some random thoughts from my first week back in Germany:
  • I am in a foreign speaking country. This should be an obvious thought instead of random, but we have realized that we have a lot of work to do in order to learn German. We have learned a lot of new words in one week, but we are looking at a long road ahead. To add to the pressure, I said in my press conference that I would do next year’s press conference all in German. Maybe I can blame my jet lag for that comment and take it back.
  • I am short; Really short. You would think that after 29 years of being short, I would be able to accept this. In Jacksonville, I was at least average, but now in Germany, I am back on the ‘short list.’
  • We don’t get the websites we’ve taken for granted. We were exited that we wouldn’t miss any of our favorite TV shows in America thanks to and That led to a huge disappointment when the error message for both appeared saying ‘Video is not available in this area.’ We were devastated, but our German friends were quick to help with other sites that we can work around to watch American TV and Sports for free.

  • I can get arrested for not recycling correctly. Germans take their recycling very seriously. Instead of the American recycling container that contains all things that can be recycled, we have to sort into separate paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum bins. When I asked what would happen if I get it wrong, a friend told me that I could get arrested by the “Recycling Police.” He wasn’t joking. Evidently, they can rummage through your trash and find your name in the trash that is not recycled and give you a ticket. I almost want that to happen as it would make for a great blog post. Bring it on Recycling Police.


  • Don’t walk on the red brick road. Muenster is the bike capital of the world (I think there are 500,000 bikes for 250,000 people) and their bike paths are packed with people riding bikes. The sidewalks here are split, with a gray sidewalk and a red sidewalk. I learned the hard way that the red path is only for bikes. Now, whenever I hear a bike bell behind me, I freeze and look down to see if I am on the red brick. I am getting better, but still put my chances of getting hit by a bike are between 99.5% to 100%. Sadly, these bikes are very well built, which means I will lose the battle if I get hit.

  • The bus driver will ask you your destination when you get on the bus. For some reason, I forgot this when we took the bus for the first time, leading to a very awkward standoff in front of a packed bus. It was a local bus and I was almost 100% sure that the driver said “’Free Pass,” so I just walked through. I learned that I was wrong when the bus wouldn’t move and the bus driver was saying something to me. I went back up and told him where we wanted to go and gave him money. He was not very happy with me.
  •  The @ sign is impossible to find on a German computer. My office at the University is very nice and it comes equipped with a nice computer. However, it has a German keyboard, which isn’t too different, except the ‘y’ and the ‘z’ are in opposite places. I wonder how long I will type Brzan? Also, I could not find the @ sign. I had to ask a colleague to help me type it. “I am smart, I promise.”

  • Espresso Shots are readily available here. We have an espresso shot maker at our flat. As a person who loves efficiency, coffee, and process improvement, this concept makes me giddy (and shaky). I can consume an equivalent of two cups of coffee in 2 minutes. That means I can have two shots before our coffee is ready (we have that here too). What I am also saying is that my caffeine consumption problem is going to get worse before it gets better.
We will keep you posted as more adventures come along.

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