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Life in Germany

Originally uploaded by ahansen54.
I have no idea where to begin summarizing the last six months or so since I stopped blogging. For those who don't know, I'm living in Göttingen, Germany for the year, studying on a Fulbright grant. I have a research project on nineteenth-century German Protestantism, but right now I'm just concentrating on learning German. I follow Jacob's lead and just list some thoughts:

I'm probably stating the obvious, but long-distance relationships are hard. Bethany and I are constantly confronted with the difficulties of an engagement separated by 6000 miles. Still, it's been challenging in a good way and we've grown tremendously in our communication abilities. We can really say that we're closer now than we ever have been. She visited for a week in October, which was wonderful, and now we're counting down the days (17) till I come home for Christmas. And June can't get here soon enough.

German is difficult. For some reason I thought I'd pick things up faster and be very comfortable by Christmas. I know I've learned a lot since coming in August (considering I could barely form a German sentence then) but I'm constantly realizing how much I have yet to learn. Learning German is my primary goal for the year, and while speaking is important, the main thing is learning to read German, since that's what I need most for intended graduate study.

No longer having mom or the dorms to cook for me, my options were either learning to cook for myself or microwave dinners and restaurants for the year. I opted for the former, especially given that it will be a useful skill to have once married. As with the language, I'm a slow learner, but I also find it quite rewarding. So far my experience has been limited to Italian-ish dishes, and the oven still scares me. I tried a red curry once but it was a little out of my league. But I can now cook the following quickly sans recipe:
-Pasta w/ Arrabiata Sauce
-Pasta w/ a Garlic Olive Oil Sauce
-Pasta w/ Tomato Sauce
-Salmon w/ Oregeno and Lemon
-Chicken breast w/ vegetables and gouda cheese

The City
Göttingen is a small-ish university city of around 130,000, with around 30,000 students. The city is built around the oldest part of town, the Innenstadt, a circular tangle of old steets and buildings surrounded by the old city walls, most of which are still intact. I love the Innenstadt because of the historic buildings and winding, narrow streets, so it's great that I live just a five minute walk from the heart of it.

Cultural Differences
-Because the built environment is much more walkable/bikeable in Germany, Germans are much more active in their daily life. Most people walk or bike whereever they're going rather than drive. This means less overweight Germans, and I think is a huge advantage of German urbanism over American suburbanism.
-Germans are more direct in their speech than Americans. They'll just tell you what they want without politely trying to hint at it, the way we sometimes do. I suppose that's both good and bad.
-Recycling is mandatory. Every house has about four or more trashcans with different rules for what can go in each. Despite the hassle, it's good and America could learn something here.

Obviously, there's lots and lots more to be said about my experiences in Germany, but I leave it at that for now.

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Needless to say, I am pretty excited about the cooking skills. Mmm...salmon.

As I was reading the list of what you can cook, I started to think "Did Andrew steal the recipe list from Spaghetti Works?" In any case, very impressive. You ought to try beer can chicken one of these days. It's fun to make AND to eat!

Actually, my garlic/olive oil sauce is very similar to their "Hot Naked" sauce...only way better, if I'm allowed to say so.

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