All posts by admin

German Household Waste

Expanding more on how waste is handled in Germany vs The US, I also found that there is quite a big difference in the household. Again, slight disclaimer, this has only been my experience in the few households I have experienced in Germany in comparison to households in the Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, there has been an increase in recycling especially with the newish city-wide recycling, but Germany places a bigger emphasis on it in the household than we do. There is practically no one-time use water bottles to be seen in the houses, and when there are plastic bottles that are promptly separated into their corresponding recycling groups or are prepared to be returned for vouchers at the grocery store.

Food waste and material waste are also considered. Paper napkins and food scraps are used for composting and composting bins are rotated out of the house to be used when full. As for material, it is very uncommon to just throw things away just because they look tired or have a broken component. There is more of a fix-it approach rather than a throw away and get a new one, and I don’t think these traits are solely in Germany. My visits to Sweden showed similar approaches. This approach decreases waste by reducing the demand for new items. I think it is always important to learn and better our current system by looking at the successes of other countries.

German Water Bottles

Waste in Germany is handled quite differently in the US, and especially Oklahoma. Granted there are many places in the US that are much more progressive when it comes to waste management, but I am most familiar with Oklahoma’s. With that being said most of my statements are based on those experiences.

My favorite and most genius waste-related system Germany has deals with its one-time use plastic and glass bottles. They actually have you to recycle these bottles and turn them into the proper disposal locations. This is possible by up charging the bottles at the beginning of the purchase. So instead of a €1 bottle is it €1.25. The .25 is then credited back to you when you return the bottle to its proper recycling channels by means of vouchers to grocery stores. This not only helps proper recycling but provides a small way the homeless can get money especially after big street parties. A large bulk of trash is cleaned up and returned to vouchers for food. I think this program would be extremely beneficial and successful in the US and in Oklahoma.

Taufe

Another experience I had was a christening while I was in Germany. This again is a tradition in Catholicism that isn’t common in the religion in which I grew up. I enjoyed being exposed to this new experience even if I, again, couldn’t understand everything that was happening. The christening followed the catholic service, and the family of the child being christened stay behind. There was another small sermon (that I didn’t understand), and then the priest poured water over the baby’s forehead that signified the giving of her name. Later after the ceremony, I was asked about my christening and how it was different in the US. They were confused to find out that I never had one as a child. Their response was “How did you get your name then?” It is funny how things can be so normal to one family and so foreign to another.

After the taufe (German for christening), lunch was provided, and I got to have apfel wein (apple wine), snitzel, and sauce that is directly translated as “green sauce”. The creativity of the German language never fails… Just kidding..kinda, but I must say that German is the most direct/descriptive language I have come across thus far. But anyway, the lunch and celebration were great, and I am so happy I got to be exposed to this new experience.

Catholic Service

Continuing with my experience in Würzburg, we also attended a catholic church service. In this region of Germany, Catholicism is the typical religion, and it is considered to be one of the most religious areas. This experience was extremely new and different for me as I had never experienced a catholic service even in English. During the service, we sang different hymns in which I constantly got lost and no doubt butchered the pronunciations in the seldom times I found our place. This part wasn’t that different than my experience in churches but going up and taking communion was quite different. I had never taken communion in the manner of going up to the front and I had no idea if I needed to say anything… Which I didn’t, but no one knew I didn’t speak German. This was both cool and kind of nerve-racking at the same time. I felt like one of the crowd – a German crowd, but not knowing the proper thing to do or possibly say was quite intimidating. It all worked out in the end, and I, of course, had over thought everything in my head, but this experience was quite everlasting. I got to experience a different religion in a different country, which I never pushed myself to do when I was in Spain.

German Birthdayyy

This past spring break I went Germany and spent half of the time in Würzburg, which is a town in the Franken/Bavaria region there. My boyfriend’s family lives there, so we were there visiting the family. During our visit we celebrated my boyfriend’s birthday, and I noticed they celebrate slightly different than us. They still do the cakes and food, but they do things in a different order. It is very typical to start around 15:00 with cake and coffee for the guests. They also usually have drinks such as orange fanta, carbonated water, and apfelschörle (which is half apple juice half water, either carbonated or still) in the middle of the table. Then there is usually a few hours break in between the cakes and the actual dinner which is different than the normal order of food in the US. The break is usually filled with the kids playing games of some sort and the adults just talking which is quite similar to the US at gathering such as this.

Importance of History

I have recently seen Les Misérables and I always forget what a moving musical it is, and the powerful message is portrays. The musical takes place in the 1800s in Paris when there are many uprisings due to an increasing pay gap and a decreasing working class. Over this Christmas break, I am going to be in Paris and having even just a little history behind a city can make such a visit even more meaningful. While I have been to Paris, my first visit was rushed and spontaneous, which was still an amazing experience. I am excited though to take a little more time before I go to understand more of the historical events that have happened in Paris such as the revolution in the 1700s, the uprisings in the 1800s depicted in Les Misérables, as well as the many important meetings and treaties that have been signed there.

On this trip to Europe, I will also be visiting Brussels, as well as Amsterdam. I am excited to know more about these cities in order to enjoy more than just the pretty buildings and structures.

Momo

Currently I am reading a book called Momo by Michael Ende. This is technically a children’s book, but the overall meaning it has stretches beyond the typical children’s book. This book was originally written in German which makes the meaning even more interesting to me. The main message revolves around time and how adults can so easily get wrapped up in work and prioritize not “wasting time”. The book basically tries and gives the message that taking the time to use our imaginations to tell stories or spending time with each other is what a life is really about. Looking specifically at the German culture, we know they generally have such a strong emphasis of efficiency and time. Knowing this fact, depends the overall meaning.

Berlin Wall

This photo was taken at The East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall in Germany. It is one of many paintings there that have political and social messages. Many of these paintings’ meanings are driven home by the fact that they are on the wall that separated East and West Berlin. While each of these paintings are photo worthy, “How’s God? She’s Black” stuck out to me. It was the only painting I saw on the wall that had an obvious feminist message that went against the assumptions of everyday life. In the image’s description, which I couldn’t fit in the original photo, explains how this piece was dedicated to the civil courage for the oppressed and brought light to how a black lesbian woman was almost gassed in a train station in 1990. This painting shows that women, regardless of color, are just as capable and strong, and should be respected in the same regard as men.

This painting, or graffiti might be a better word for it, does not need to be analyzed or examined by a specialist to understand the intended message. Four words are all that it takes to create the feminist meaning in this painting. “How’s God? She’s black.” These two sentences would be considered basic by an English speaker, but their juxtaposition exposes a strong feminist message to the audience that is hard to ignore, especially when the words take up half of the painting’s designated area. One of my favorite parts is the handwriting. It’s nothing special, even childlike, much like the sentences themselves. This gives off the impression that the idea that God is a black woman is plain and simple, just a normal idea.

Examining the first sentence, “How’s God?” shows nothing of real interest. How’s God? God is everywhere. God is great. God loves you. In my head, those are the typical responses, but the response of “She’s black” challenges the idea of who God is and his typical image. Is God a bearded white man? Or is God a black woman? God is constantly described with words such as all-powerful, righteous, strong, the ruler of the universe, etc. Throughout history, these words have had no association with either women or black communities, but this painting does just that. It forces the image of God to be a black woman who is powerful, divine, and strong. This painting challenges the way we view women, and it normalizes women in a “man’s role” using the most important job imaginable.  The image of God being a white man is an assumption commonly accepted, but this painting demands that theory to be questioned.

The ideas put forth by “How’s God? She’s Black,” encourages social change by going against stereotypical ideas of gender and race.  This painting identifies the assumptions of today and forces women and women of color to be seen in the same light as men, to be seen as equals.  “How’s God? She’s Black” focuses on the images of race and gender, but in a sense, it gives the message we are all equal and can accomplish anything, which brings in the significance of the Berlin Wall. Men and Women, East and West Berliners, yellow, black, white, purple people… In the end, we are all human beings and we should be treated and respected as equals.

German Class

This past summer I took a German class in Berlin for a month. I really enjoyed this class as is was extremely different than another class I have taken before in school. It was made up of people ranging from 15 to 50-year-olds, which is extremely different from the 19 to 24-year-old range almost all my classes have been in so far. Another interesting aspect is that this class was taken in a language learning center and the students were taking the course because they truly wanted to learn the language. It is true that students in the university courses want to learn, but many times, courses are taken just to complete degree requirements. That being said, the vibes in this class were extremely positive and at times intimidating because everyone would spend a lot of time outside of class studying and practicing. At the end of the class though, my German level drastically went up.

Sarkeys Info Session

This semester I have had many classes in Sarkeys, and it looks as if the study abroad programs have grown. There are now many offices over there that support different study abroad programs. I knew there were many different options to study abroad, especially having looked for my semester in Spain. Half way through the semester there was a study abroad information session in the Sarkeys basement, and I got to learn about the new opportunities offered. The one I was most surprised about was an option in Romania. I had no idea that this country was an option when I was looking, but it is exciting to see OU promoting new locations to study abroad. I always enjoy going to the information sessions because I can always learn about something new.