Schooling & Education: Germany vs. USA |  EP 79

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We'd like to introduce this episode's sponsor, the Germanic-American Institute (GAI) in St. Paul, Minnesota.  

 

They offer immersion-style German language courses for all levels and ages, in-person or online. Fall classes just started this week, but there is still time to register at gaimn.org

 

Past GAI students eventually took the German skills they learned and moved to Germany to live, work, and just have fun. They also have our own podcast, called “Hier & There” which covers grammar questions, cultural topics, and interviews with famous people, just like Alex and I.

 

The GAU also provides online and in-person “Samstagschule” for kids and teens, and a new online enrichment preschool age program called “Kinderstube German@home” 

Their ultimate goal is to connect the people of the United States and Germany through language, culture and increased understanding. 

 

To find out more about German classes, events, and cultural resources, please go to gaimn.org

Berlin vs. Bavaria: Part 2  |  EP 77

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We'd like to once again give another special thanks to Aspen of "Aspen Abroad" and the "Dating Abroadcast" podcast for joining us! We had a great time hearing about Munich, and more specially what the dating scene is like down there in the south. Will she be back on the show for a part three? Who knows...

If you enjoyed the episode, then you should definitely check out her new podcast, which focuses on what it's like to date in Germany as an expat. As their slogan goes, they date Germans so you don't have to!

"Dating Abroadcast" Podcast

Aspen Abroad Website

Aspen Abroad Instagram

Things the USA Does Better Than Germany: Part 2  |  EP 73

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Image copyright: Getty Images

As most of you have already seen in last week's news, Germany was hit hard by a devastating flood, which has thus far claimed the lives of over 160 people. Our thoughts are with those that have endured this horrific event and we hope you are all safe and doing well. As we mentioned during this week's episode, we have provided links below of organizations you can send donations that will help the victims and infrastructure that have been affected by the floods:

The German Red Cross

The DRK provides huge support in emergencies, such as medical services, care, accommodation and food.

The German Life Saving Association

The DLRG is involved in water rescue.

Aktion Deutschland Hilfte e.V.

They have created a donation account for victims, which will help provide emergency aid and helps those who have lost their homes due to the flooding. 

Berlin vs. Bavaria  |  EP 71

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The epic showdown between the North and South is finally here! However, considering only one of us has lived in Munich and for only a few months at that, we needed an expert who could help fill in all the blanks. We'd like to wish another special thanks to Aspen of "Aspen Abroad" for joining us and making the episode fun for all of you! Hopefully in the future she can join us again at some point, because we simply could not fit all of the comparisons between Berlin and Munich into one episode.

If you enjoyed the episode, then you should check out all the other content Aspen has to offer:

Aspen Abroad Website

Aspen Abroad YouTube

Aspen Abroad Instagram

Traveling Around Europe on a Budget  |  EP 68

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This week we gave tips on how to travel around Europe cheaply. If you want to backpack through Europe for several months or simply want to enjoy a one week tour of Italy, this information will be very helpful for you. 

PACKING

When we say pack light, we mean PACK LIGHT. As we mentioned in the episode, lay out in front of you everything you think you absolutely need for your trip. Then, remove half of the items. Bring only what is left and you'll thank yourself later. 

If you truly think brining just one backpack for a week's travel is impossible, look below. This is the only bag I carried for a nearly 2 month backpacking trip around Europe!

HOSTELS

These are cheap, simplified versions of hotels. They offer very few frills or services beyond a basic place to sleep and keep your belongings. Hostels are known for their "dorms", in which a single room can have on average between 6 - 12 bunk style beds (sometimes much, much more). Some dorms are co-ed and some are gender specific. However, most hostels tend to also offer a few private rooms as well, if you'd rather not share a room with strangers. 

Below are some examples of cheap hostel rooms we have stayed in over the years. Most offer lockers for you to keep your belongings safe from the others you'll be staying with. Keep in mind, they usually rely on you to bring your own padlocks for use with the provided lockers. 

During the trips in our early twenties, we specifically stayed in very low cost hostels because we were backpacking on a nearly non-existent budget. Fancier hostels do exist, however you will obviously pay more for the higher quality furnishings, etc. 

Story Time: Travel Beauty & Chaos  |  EP 66

This week's episode had a whole new format and we hope you guys enjoyed listening to it as much as we did recording it! Let us know if you enjoyed and if so, we'll do more "story time" style episodes in the future. 

Below are pictures related to the four stories we told. Enjoy!

STORY 1: "A Long Night in Sofia, Bulgaria" - 2016

Sofia, Bulgaria
Sofia, Bulgaria

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Sofia, Bulgaria
Sofia, Bulgaria

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Sofia, Bulgaria

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Sofia, Bulgaria

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Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the bar from the story :(

STORY 2: "First Time in Germany...with Mono?" - 2005

Munich Hauptbahnhof
Munich Hauptbahnhof

The first image I ever took on my European backpacking odyssey. From the airport I arrived with my taxi at Munich's main train station.

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Munich, Germany
Munich, Germany

My first experience with a classic German radio/TV tower.

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Olympic village - Munich
Olympic village - Munich

I took this photo of my friend Jameson only moments before blacking out and falling to the ground. However, after 2 days in the hospital I was back on my feet and on my way to Berlin for the first time.

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Munich Hauptbahnhof
Munich Hauptbahnhof

The first image I ever took on my European backpacking odyssey. From the airport I arrived with my taxi at Munich's main train station.

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STORY 3: "The Alps, the Beautiful Alps..." - 2018

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STORY 4: "A Really Long Night in Bayeux" - 2005

Bayeux, France
Bayeux, France

This photo was taken well into one of the longest nights of my life. Here you can see how tired and cold we are (this is why they have their arms in their shirts).

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Normandy Coast, France
Normandy Coast, France

One of the D-Day invasion beaches in the background. Unfortunately, I can not remember which one we visited.

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Normandy Coast, France
Normandy Coast, France

One of the fortifications has been turned into storage for someone's home.

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Bayeux, France
Bayeux, France

This photo was taken well into one of the longest nights of my life. Here you can see how tired and cold we are (this is why they have their arms in their shirts).

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A German Perspective From Our Girlfriends  |  EP 65

Thanks again to the lovely women in our lives for joining us on this week's episode of the podcast. We had lots of fun and are so thankful to be sharing our life with them. 

As Alex promised during the show, we have posted below some examples of Alex's old fashion sense back when he first moved to Germany. In fact, one image shows the actual "Blue Moon" beer shirt that he was wearing during their first encounter! To hear her describe the day they met in detail, give the episode a listen :)

The German Shuffle (5)  |  EP 64

This week's episode was another good ol' fashioned "shuffle". One of the subjects we covered was how a person living in Germany could possible carry large items to their home, without a car,. Of course, a person could always bring a large item on the subway, tram, etc. However, the walk from the store to the subway, and the subway to your final destination would still involve you carrying the awkward and heavy items yourself.

 

An alternative is a bicycle, which is capable of carrying lager items than you would think. Geoff, for example, often uses his bike to haul construction materials (including wooden boards) to his house for the various projects he works on. 

NOTE: Carrying large items on your bicycle is done so at your own risk! When cycling on public roads, only do so in a safe manner!

In both cases, bungee cords were used to maintain tension and keep the items firmly attached the bicycle. Also, the weight was distributed in such a way as to not affect my balance or the bicycle's center of gravity. This ensured cycling did not feel more difficult than usual. However, for safety reasons, I cycled very slowly.

German Sports & Games  |  EP 62

During this week's episode we covered football (soccer) extensively and reminisced about the moment when Germany won the World Cup in 2014. However, Geoff forgot to mention he was fortunate enough to actually attend the 2018 World Cup hosted by Russia and went to a group stage match between Sweden and Germany. Luckily, Germany won, but as many of you may know, it was one of these few times they were victorious during the 2018 World Cup games...

Above are some images Geoff took while traveling in Russia and attending the World Cup match between Sweden and Germany. Enjoy. 

Raising Children in Germany  |  EP 58

Shaun, again? It's almost like we can't keep him away from the podcast! Special thanks to Shaun Behrens, the host of the Germany Experience Podcast for joining us for a 2nd time to help discuss this week's topic. We always have fun chatting with him on the show and he was the perfect expert for this episode due to his experience of raising his own three children in Germany. To check out his show, please click the image above!

Listen to this episode

Apparently our podcast was featured in an article back in December and we didn't even know it! The website HousingAnywhere.com featured us on their list of "3 Podcasts You Shouldn't Miss as an Expat in Berlin". And, look who else is there, Shaun once again! Thank you to their writer Marle for including us.

Read the Article Here

Useful "Just Landed" German Words & Phrases  |  EP 57

This week we did something a little different and turned our podcast into a hybrid German language course. However, don't worry we still had plenty of funny stories and descriptions on where you'd use such words and phrases and why they are important. We focused on the phrases that for some reason German language classes do not teach you in the beginning, even though you'll be using them in your daily life from the moment you touch down in Germany. That's why we felt we'd take it upon ourselves to spread the knowledge and help you learn these phrases sooner, rather than later.

The only mistake we made in the episode (according to my Dad) is that we did not spell the words and phrases. As he points out, and rightly so, this makes it hard for any of you to write down these phrases and practice them. Below you'll find the German mentioned in the episode and please refer to the episode itself for the pronunciation. 

Listen to the Episode Here

German Words & Phrases Mentioned in the Episode:

 

  •  Entschuldigung - "Excuse me" (when accidently bumping into someone, etc.)

  • Ich hätte gern - "I would like" (more widely used version of "Ich möchte")

  • Zum mitnehmen - "to take away" (phrase you would use at a fast food restaurant, for example)

  • Danke - "Thanks"

  • Danke dir - "Thank you"

  • Danke sehr - "Thanks a lot"

  • Vielen dank - "Many Thanks"

  • Dankeschön - "Thank you very much" (literal translation is "thanks beautifully", hence why we consider this the most extreme version of "thank you")

  • Gerne - "With Pleasure" (this is a versatile word that can be used as a very polite "you're welcome" or a very polite "yes, I would like that")

  • Wo ist die... - "Where is the..."

  • Wie bitte - "Excuse me?", "What did you say?" (more polite version of "what?") 

  • Americano - A normal black coffee

  • Genau - "Exactly"

  • Alles Komplett - "With Everything" (when ordering food, etc.)

  • Tschüss/ciao - "Bye"

  • Gross/klein - "Large" & Small (for sizes of a beer, for example)

  • Bar oder Karte - "Cash or card" (a cashier might ask you this)

  • Mit Karte bitte - "With card please" (you tell this to a cashier indicating you'd prefer to pay with your credit/debit card)

  • Kann ich bitte bezahlen - "Can I pay, please?"

  • Können wir bitte bezahlen - "Can we pay, please?"

  • Kassenbon/kassenzettel/ Beleg - A receipt

  • Ich heisse... - "My name is..."

  • Nachbarn - A Neighbour

  • Haben sie ein paket fur mich? - "Do you have a package for me?"

  • Ich kann kein deutsch - "I do not speak German"

  • Notruf - "Emergency"

  • 112 - The emergency phone number for the fire or ambulance

  • 110 - The emergency number for the police ("polizei" in German)

Cultural Differences: Part 2  |  EP 56

We'd like to thank you all for patiently waiting an entire year for us to finally produce a second instalment of our "cultural differences" episode. 

During the beginning of the episode we both mentioned we had done some "urbexing" (urban exploration / visiting abandoned buildings) the previous weekend. Alex revealed that he felt one of the photos from this particular trip was his best he ever took. Above are some samples from the abandoned Flugplatz we visited, including the infamous photo. Is it amazing? You be the judge. Yes, that's right, we want judgement. 

Cultural Identity  |  EP 54

Last week Alex and I were guests on an episode of Shaun Behren's podcast, the Germany Experience. We both had a wonderful time chatting with Shaun and being on his show. The episode had an extremely interesting topic and we couldn't figure out why we had never talked about it on our own show before (what's wrong with us?).

 

Please check out our episode of the My Germany Experience podcast here

The German Shuffle (3)  |  EP 53

February 2021

Last week marked the one year anniversary of the AGDW podcast. Who knew we'd still be around after all this time...certainly not us. Regardless, we're thrilled to still be making weekly episodes and we truly enjoy interacting with all of you. Above is an updated version of the first photo we ever took that was related to the podcast. Below is the original photo from the recording of the very first episode. 

February 2020, where it all began

While discussing the Berlin filming locations of the Netflix series the Queen's Gambit, we mentioned that Geoff had a very brief "cameo" during the show's 3rd episode as a Life Magazine photographer.

Questions & Answers  |  EP 52

Thank you to everyone that submitted questions for our first Q & A episode! During the episode I mentioned I had made a businessman (tie included) out of snow a few days prior. Alex said it didn't look good, but I disagree. You be the judge.

Germany During the Pandemic  |  EP 51

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Thanks again to our listener Joe that donated the bottle of Heaven's Door whiskey for this week's episode. You went above and beyond the call of duty!

Dating & Relationships in Germany  |  EP 50

Unfortunately, this week we have no extra content to post. Please, enjoy the episode and the great picture of this week's whisky bottle!

Shared Apartments & Roommates in Germany  |  EP 49

While we were testing this week's whiskey, Writer's Tears, we mentioned how much we liked the box the bottle came in. Here it is.

Above is a rather insane image I took while walking around Berlin a few years ago. I had never seen so many apartment buzzers in all my life! For those of you who would like to know, there are 280 apartments in this building. Most likely, it's housing specifically for students, so each apartment would be a very small studio. Regardless, I can't imagine living with so many people in one place!

And the answer to your question is: no, this is not normal in Berlin. On average, you'll see about 10-15 names listed on an apartment building (most buildings in Berlin do not exceed 5 stories tall). Berlin is not a city of skyscrapers such as New York or London.

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Useful links for apartment searches in Germany:

WG-Gesucht

Immobilienscout24

Note:

We recommend not using Craigslist.org to find an apartment. There tend to be many scams on the site (most Germans aren't even aware of Craigslist)

Each city has its own facebook groups for posting available rooms/apartments. This is also a great place to find accommodation.

These Things Actually Exist: Germany's Surprises  |  EP 48

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During this week's episode we went through a list of things we never knew existed until we moved to Germany. Could some of them exist elsewhere, including the USA? Sure, however from our experience none of them are widespread in the USA and if they exist there, we never saw them ourselves. 

A few of the items on our list were a bit difficult to describe, which is why below we've placed photos of a few of them in order to be clear what we were talking about. Enjoy. 

Mettigel

 

Mett is minced raw pork that is often spread on bread during breakfast or brunch. A popular dish made out of mett is a Mettigel, which is mett and onions in the shape of a porcupine. 

Räuchermännchen:

"Smoking Men" are wooden carvings used as incense smokers. They are traditionally placed in German homes during the winter. 

Cyclist Traffic Lights:

Small traffic lights specifically for cyclists that are separate from those for normal street vehicles. 

Public Ping Pong Tables:

Ping pong tables exist in the USA, however these are usually in your friend's garage. Until moving to Germany we had never seen public ping pong tables provided for anyone to use and definitely not on the scale that you see in Berlin and the rest of Germany. Hundreds of these tables exist in various Berlin parks and other outdoor spaces.

Vomit Sinks:

They're exactly what you think they are. These are sinks with the dedicated purpose to receive vomit from drunk people. The basins are wide and two handles are usually placed on the wall above as something to hold on to while you "brace for impact." These sinks are not a common sight in Germany and are featured in only a small percentage of pubs/bars. 

Sausage Vending Machines:

A vending machine for sausages. Mainly seen in southern Germany. 

Pfand Machine:

Machines for recycling glass and plastic bottles. These machines are a common sight in all German supermarkets. Bottles are placed in the large opening and the barcode is scanned. The digital screen then tells you how much money the bottle is worth. After depositing all your bottles, click "print" and take your receipt to the cashier when you are paying for your other items. The amount on the receipt will be deducted from your total.  

"Poop Shelf" Toilets:

A large percentage of German toilets have "poop shelves". When using the toilet, feces are left sitting on the ceramic "shelf". When you flush the toilet water rushes in and pushes the feces into the small opening at the front of the toilet and out through the pipes. American toilets tend to have feces drop straight into a large basin that is full of water. 

Exterior Blinds:

Blinds are a common window treatment for privacy in the USA, however they are almost always featured on the inside of the window. While living in Germany we've come across many instances where large blinds are hanging outside the window on the exterior of the building, exposed to the rain and other elements. 

The German Shuffle (2)  |  EP 47

We hope you all had some lovely holidays filled with good health and good times. It's clear everyone is ready to move ahead in 2021 towards what will eventually be a semblance of normalcy. Alex and I are excited to be back recording the podcast and look forward to putting out some great episodes in the coming months!

Above is an example of the unbelievably well trained dogs in Germany. This little guy just sat there, not tied to anything, and never moved or attempted to go anywhere. He just dutifully waited for his owner and didn't seem to care about anything else. The crazy thing is this is not a rare occurrence, but the standard. 

Germany

USA

One of the other topics in this week's "shuffle" was the differences between beer packaging in Germany and the USA, more specifically six packs. Above are some pictures to better explain what we described in the episode. 

We discussed the phenomenon that is "Dinner for One." It's a 18 minute film (during the episode we incorrectly said it was about an hour long) that most Germans watch every New Years Eve. The odd thing is that it is an English language film from the UK and is mostly shown without subtitles or voice over. While it is immensely popular in Germany, it is fairly unheard of in its country of origin. 

Click here to watch a short youtube video that gives some background information about "Dinner for One" and interviews Germans about their love for this cult classic.

Back to the...Past: Advice & Regrets |  EP 46

This week's episode involved Alex and I looking back and learning from our experiences, which is rather fitting since December is the month most of us tend to start reflecting on a year gone by. While this is our last episode of 2020, do not worry, the AGDW podcast will be back in the new year on January 6th! We're only taking a little break for the holidays to recharge our batteries.

We wish you all a lovely holiday season and most importantly, good health in the coming weeks. We'll be back soon!

Most Frustrating Things About Living in Germany |  EP 45

Originally, the episode was to be called "Our Top Pet Peeves About Living in Germany." This is why we mention the term "pet peeve" many times throughout. However, we soon realized that not many non-native English speakers had heard that phrase before or knew what it meant. We decided to change the episode title to prevent any confusion. Did we succeed? 

The very first annoying thing about living in Germany we mentioned was how in certain types of stores it is very difficult to leave if you don't buy anything. Above are two examples of the kinds of security gates or "arms" you pass through when, for example, entering a German supermarket. These gates have sensors and open up automatically to let you in. However, they will not allow anyone to exit the store, only enter. There are designated exits you must use. The problem is, to get to these exists requires walking through a cashier line/check-out line. These are extremely narrow and if people are standing in line, it's almost impossible to walk past without each person turning their body sideways and you physically rubbing up against them.

You might be thinking, well why couldn't you just walk through an unused or empty check-out line to make your way towards the exist? The above photo shows what prevents this. Any cashier station not being used has its own metal security arm that blocks the path and prevents anyone from walking to the exit.

In the end, you either have to buy something or ask everone in line to move out of the way to allow you to get out of the store. It's something that at times can be quite annoying and claustrophobic in a sense, because you simply want to leave the store and get on with your day, but you have to jump through hoops to do so. 

In our opinion, there are far too many Euro coin variants. Why would you need a 2 cent coin when you can simply use two 1 cent coins? Plus, as we mentioned, the 1 cent coins are far to small and are easily lost or dropped out of the bottom of your wallet. For our listeners from the USA, the 5 cent coin you see above is roughly the size of an American penny (1 cent coin). By comparison, you can probably imagine how small the Euro 1 cent coin is. 

We think both the 1 cent and 2 cent coins need to be retired. What do you think?

Christmas in Germany |  EP 44

December is here and that means Christmas is just a few weeks away! We thought this was the perfect time to dive into the German roots of the holiday and the many ways a German Christmas is different from that you've experienced in the USA or elsewhere.

One of the German traditions that is not seen in the USA is the Advent calendar. In the Christian religion, the Advent season is the four weeks before Christmas, which is seen as the time leading up to the nativity of Christ. Of course, you do not need to be religious at all to purchase an Advent calendar. It provides a fun little treat each day in the lead up to Christmas. There are many different types of pre-made Advent calendars you can buy that have various themes. Above is an example of the general look of an Advent calendar. This one in particular has a make up theme, which means each little door has lipstick, mascara, eye liner, etc. 

Most Advent calendars offered at local grocery stores feature mainly candies and chocolates. Depending on the quality of the calendar and the treats inside, the cost of an Advent calendar can range from 5 Euro to 50 Euro. However, on average they are around 10 Euro. 

You can also create your own form of an Advent calendar, which is what my girlfriend and I do every year (see above). We buy each other small little gifts, wrap them, and hang them on our stairs. They are numbered so it is obvious which gift to open on which day. We alternate, meaning we each receive a gift every other day. This way, we only need to buy each other 12 small gifts, instead of 24. Keep in mind, these are small, low cost items. If you bought a proper gift for each Advent day, you would most likely have no money left for an actual Christmas gift!

We also mentioned the German "Adventskranz", which also celebrates the anticipation of the nativity of Christ in the Christian religion. For some, however, it is just a festive decoration to show the passing of the weeks in December as the Christmas holiday gets closer. The candles are lit one after the other during the Advent season. One candle is lit on the first Sunday in Advent, the second one from the second and so on. Most Adventskranz that you buy at the store are a green wreath with four candles attached to it. Some people make their own, which is what we did here with four candles surrounded by some greenery and other decorations.

The Expat Files: From India to Berlin |  EP 43

Thanks again to our friend Prayag for sharing his story! We hope it gives confidence to all those who wish to move abroad and assume there will be many set backs put in their way. 

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Above is a small collection of images I took while working in India on the film "Umrika" several years ago. During the few months I lived in India I had some amazing experiences and met some truly kind people. Most of my time was spent in Mumbai, however for a few weeks we were in Satara, which is a small village in the mountains about 250 km to the south.  I was also lucky enough to briefly visit Goa, which is a tropical paradise on the western coast of India. 

The German Shuffle (1)  |  EP 42

Let us know if you all liked our experiment (also known as the German Shuffle). If so, maybe every few episodes we'll do another "shuffle" where we talk about several small topics, instead of one overall topic for the entire episode.