Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ich spreche Deutsch gut!

I'd like to label this post "Ich spreche Deutsch super," mostly because I love that Germans still use the word super in 2014, but it wouldn't be true.  However, I can speak enough Deutsch to get me through everyday activities.  I wish I could relay to you the excitement I had on my first day out shopping and not having to say the words "Sprechen sie Englisch?"  While that is a Deutsch phrase it's literally feels like I'm saying, "Hi, I'm a stupid American and haven't tried to learn your language yet" insert face of shame here -->___.

The school is actually the best thing I've done with my time here in Germany.  It is a must do if you are spending more than a year in Germany.  Looking back on it, I wish I would have started earlier!  Even if you're working all day they have classes available at night a few days a week too.  
The cheapest course books I've ever bought, and my bookbag. I'm sure the non-English speakers think English is such a weird language now.  Thanks Jen, Annie, and Nicole!  
I'm taking the course through Volkshochschule in Mainz because my amazing new friend Colleen is on a sabbatical and said she was taking it, so I decided to join.  I'm so grateful that she moved to Germany because I'm not sure I would have actually taken the course by myself.  I've heard from friends that the Mainz course is a lot younger crowd because of the university nearby, and the one in Wiesbaden has more Americans.  I'm happy I took the Mainz course because taking a class where over half of the people don't speak English really makes you immerse yourself in the language (I know, living in Germany just isn't enough, right?).  Each day when we learned how to ask new questions I end up learning so many new facts about my classmates.  I LOVED it!  It has given me such a great, new perspective on life.  My classmates are from:  Indonesia, Iran, Nepal, Poland, Romania, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, and Ukraine.  Crazy, right?   One of my favorite days was learning how to sing Happy Birthday in German to Colleen! We had a Funfetti  cake, and most of the people from other countries had never had it (I just checked the box for major contribution to society, don't you think?).  We had fun feeling like we were in 3rd grade again sitting around and eating cake from paper plates.

Colleen about to blow out her candles!
Reasons why you MUST take this course:
  1. You learn enough Deutsch in the first course to buy food at the markets, order at a restaurant, and shop in all of your favorite stores.
  2. It only cost 255€ for an intensive 5 week course that meets 3 hours a day.  This includes a bus and train pass good for 2 hours before and after the course lets out.  Sadly, they wouldn't take a VAT form (I had to try!).
  3. The course books cost about 8€ a piece!  This is cents compared to my $200+ used science books back in college.  
  4. You meet some pretty amazing people from around the world, and get out of your small American-military bubble! 
Signing up for the course:
  1. Walk into the Volkshochschule building and tell them you would like to take the Deutsch als Zweitsprache A1/1 - intensive course.  They will more than likely give you a sheet of paper with hours on it for you to come back and assess your German knowledge with a teacher (I know it sucks to make two trips, but you can do it).
  2. After you show that you don't know any German words, the teacher will then say you qualify for the beginner course.
  3. Take your approval form to the front desk and pay (bring cash, yup this place doesn't like your fancy card either). 
Unfortunately, circumstances out of my control caused me to only take three out of the five weeks of the course, but even with three weeks I feel more confident while speaking Deutsch.  I'll leave you with a small video of me speaking Deutsch, so you can see how far you can come after one course!  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Entryway - Gallery wall and bench

A gallery wall?  I know, I'm so late in the game with adding one to our home.  Especially for a picture / memory freak like me, right?  Well, after several months of trying to decide my layout and find the perfect accents for the wall, it's finally here.  

It all started when I saw this entryway in a Real Simple magazine and HAD to have it.  I also wasn't fond of tracking dirt all over our tiny apartment.  Has anyone else noticed that with a smaller place you see ALL the dirt?  I think it's because there's not enough far off places for the dirt to scurry off to.  So, the hunt was on for a bench and decor for our giant blank wall.  
You have to have it, right?


I had dreams of finding a nice authentic bench made in Germany, but after a few dud trips and a lot of dirt being tracked in our home I headed to the local Ikea and bought a bench in a box.  Sam and I swore we would never buy anything again that had to be put together after he moved into his first townhouse and we managed to effectively put everything together wrong (Go figure eight years of combined post undergraduate degrees and we still can't follow directions).  We even managed to think that Target sold us stools without hardware and went out and bought all the parts (Don't worry, we found them later and have a few 100 extra screws/nuts/bolts if you need them).  Later that day, we got to the last step of putting the grill together and realized that we had to take it all apart to do it the right way.  So much for grilling out for dinner that night.  We ended the night with overly salty hot dogs from Sonic (welcome to Clarksville and adulthood where you have just enough money to buy stuff from a box).  Anyhow, since I wasn't doing too much with my days when we first moved here I decided that I could waste a day away putting a bench together ten different times if I needed to.
"You know we went to Ikea, I bought a bed bench, put the bed bench together myself"

Gallery wall 

The idea for my gallery wall all started when I found this little moose head at the Depot (my favorite store in Germany).  I only really knew these were cool because my sister-in-love said faux taxidermy was all the rage this past winter.  It came unfinished, so I painted it and added a cute little pattern.  
If I can do it, you can do it!
I started with all of the picture frames that we didn't hang in our home after the move to Germany. I threw in some 4x6 frames and added a little gold paint to accent the corners.  This arrangement felt too big.    
The idea was to mirror the left side to the right...too many holes, right?

This made me feel better, but it still seemed like it would overwhelm the space on the wall, and let's be honest, do we really need three 8x10 wedding pictures on one wall?

I finally remembered to check my folder that I keep filled with old magazine pages that I tear out of ideas for home decor.  I usually do this before I recycle my old magazines.  It helps me not be a hoarder of 50,000 magazines because I like three or four ideas in them.  I know, I know, everything is digital now, but I haven't quite figured out how to just like a page on my digital version and compile them. 

How fitting that my bench came from Ikea, and I ended up modeling my gallery wall after this advertisement.

Ahhh, this look a bit better, right? The different sized frames and symmetry of the circles throughout help give it some "gel" to hold the whole arrangement together.  


Okay, so since I'm really bad at committing to putting 1000 holes in the hall, I decided to put some newspapers up on the wall in the same layout.  After 20 minutes of looking at it from every angle in our tiny apartment (i.e. the hallway, dining room, doorway, which are all in our living room) and sitting on the bench to see if the height was okay, I was committed.  We actually found that the newspaper made it easier to hang the photos.

Our boot tray was really doing its job that day.

Entryway accessories 

The bag that I bought from a Thirty-One party last year fits perfectly under the bench and holds winter gear, and the boot tray came from my amazing mom who bought it locally at Target and shipped it over.  Target does ship to APO, but the estimated date of arrival was two months later.  I couldn't wait that long.  I NEEDED it now, so my mom gave in to my neediness and shipped it on over within the week. Love Her!  Don't you love the copper boot tray?  The price was hard to beat and the copper really adds a hint of regal-ness.  Don't you think?  I added the gray accent rug because I'm trying to add more gray into my color scheme, and it helps bring together the drum shade light fixture located five feet away in the living room.  

All together  

So, what do you think?  Are you in love with it as much as I am?  I told my hubs every day for a week how happy I was to just look at it and thanked him for being an expert picture hanger (positive reinforcement for my next project).  I also love being able to see the smiling faces of our family members.  The fact that it's not difficult to switch out the photos with new memories every few months makes me happy too.  Although some pictures will never change like the one of all of my nieces and nephews together frozen in a moment in time. 
Final touch of Emmie dog to have my Real Simple entryway :)

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