Advent adventure

As my fellow observer of the German culture Adam Fletcher writes in his new book How To Be German – Part 2, Christmas is serious business in Germany. And it all starts with the run-up to Christmas, which is Adventszeit (Advent season). There are certain things any self-respecting German should do. Here’s a bit of Adventiquette… Read more

Troubled transport

The other day I was working in Mainz, and a colleague on my team asked me if I had ‘mit der Bahn gekommen’. Indeed I had. But what do Germans mean when they say Bahn? And where do ice trains come from or go to? Come and join me on a railway journey through the land of trrrävelling… Read more

Mushy speak

Among the many things that can cause confusion – generally in this world, but in particular to persons like many of yourselves, dear readers, who live in a country where the main language is not their mother tongue – are words that sound the same but mean something entirely different in two languages. Here’s why you should never bring a ‘gift’ to a German home. Read more

Don’t Fräulein me!

Recently, I watched Season 5 of Homeland. (In British English, it used to be “Series 5” – and while people still say this, the American version of Staffel is slowly taking over.) This latest series of Homeland (and in my personal view best one yet) being based in Berlin, I was flummoxed by a few rather striking blunders. Here’s what Homeland doesn’t get quite right about Germany. (Spoiler alert!) Read more

Gendering German

It’s not easy to be English these days. First the Brexit shock, then being kicked out of EURO 2016 by a country that previously didn’t even exist on the European football map. Now you poor lads and lasses really have to take a lot of grief from your German and Icelandic friends. But cheer up! After the match is before the match, as Sepp Herberger once remarked. So let’s keep playing and look at a particular linguistic oddity in football. Read more

Happy holidays

If you happened to be on the verge of moving to Germany and had to pick a place to live, what would be your checklist to go by? Cost of renting? Climate? Food? Hospitality? These are certainly all important factors. But if you fancy as much time off work as possible, here’s a little secret that might help you decide. Read more

Smelly Pee Season

Dear Brits in Germany, relax, take a deep breath, you’ll live! Those of you who’ve lately noticed a certain physiological phenomenon to do with body fluid evacuation and were about to consult their doctor for fear of a rare, deadly disease, let me tell you a story about a fellow hypochondriac. One day in May, several years ago, my English husband approached me, doom-faced, and mentioned, in confidence, that his urine smelled funny. He was sure he wasn’t going to last much longer on this earth. I laughed. Wicked wife that I am. Here’s why… Read more

How to become a German

It’s happened! My valuable source of English quirkiness is henceforth lost. I regret to inform you, dear readers, that Mr K, formerly known as ‘My English Husband’, has now reached the ultimate stage of naturalisation. On Wednesday, 6 April 2016, at 11:49 hrs, he bought a Jack Wolfskin all-weather jacket. Meanwhile he has received a ‘welcome-to-the-club’ letter from Angie. Read more

Raven mothers

The other night I went out with a new German friend who had not long returned after living in the US for several years. When I asked her how she found life in Germany, she said the most difficult thing to do here was being a mother. I was intrigued and asked her to elaborate… Read more

The name

At times, the smallest word can make a world of difference. We’ve looked at the indefinite article before (‘Ich bin ein Berliner’). Today, let’s look at the power of the definite article. Not thrilled? Wait ‘till you meet Birgit! Read more