Willkommen!!

Welcome to our class blog!  

We will be using this blog throughout the semester for two kinds of assignments:

1. Once per chapter, the homework plan will direct you to post a response to the culture readings for the chapter on the blog.

2. Roughly every other week, the homework plan will direct you to post here for your Abenteuer mit Deutsch (AMD) assignment. First you do a fun activity that involves German, then you post about it. You should spend an hour total on this (maybe 45-55 minutes doing something, 5-15 minutes posting about it). See Was ist ein AMD, AMD Ideen and Beispiele for ideas. This should get you excited about the kinds of things you can do!

Whenever you post something, please check the name of the assignment (e.g. AMD2, Kultur5) in the “Categories” list on the right. See “Blog: How To” for more details!

Kultur 6 – Thomas

I continue to enjoy reading these Kultur articles. It provides me with a sliver of what it would be like to visit or live in Germany. Although some might say that these articles are thorough exaggerations of what life is really like, it is still very interesting to read about another culture, especially a well educated one. The first article discussed the topic of Martin Luther’s influence over Germany. Luther started the Protestant revolution in Germany in the 16th century, and his fingerprints can still to this day be seen all over in Germany. The article mentions that the aesthetics of the church was important to Luther, and that it is also apparent in the way that Christian Germans present themselves today, as well put together.

The other three articles were much shorter. The first discusses the significance of a popular tabloid in Germany called the “Bild” which some 4 million Germans read every day. While similar to American or British tabloids in many ways, this paper does try to write stories that originally rooted in truth, but have been twisted. The article on privacy briefly tells the story of how an office setting might look like, where you have to be forward and loudly knock if you want to talk to your boss or professor. No passivity allowed. The last article was another brief one, discussing how Germans are very careful with trash. They are notorious for separating the trash into multiple different colored bins, which can kind of be expected at this point given how environmentally conscious they are.

Kultur – Kapitel 6

I was surprised that I have never heard about Martin Luther before.  But after I read the article, I understand why.  Before came to the US, I had next to zero exposure to Bible and Christian.  However, since I am here, I have many nice friends who are Christian and I started to learn Bible a little bit, which I think is actually very interesting.  Back to this this article, it is amazing that Martin Luther’s significance went beyond religious, but also influenced German language, mentality and way of life.  I think I can somewhat understand it if thinking about the history of China.  We also have a famous person who reformed almost the entire society at that time.  Things changed after several decades have past, but his influence is still affecting every generation.

The “door culture” in Germany is really interesting, almost exactly at the opposite of America.  For any American who first comes to Germany without being aware of this cultural difference, he/she will totally feel confused.  Still I think the opening door makes more sense – it conveys a clear message and makes everyone’s life easier.

Previously, I knew that Japan has a strict and comprehensive garbage system.  Now I am wondering if there is any difference between Japan and Germany in terms of garbage.  Well, I do think that a garbage system like this is a good thing for the country.  However, it is very hard and challenging to adopt and change in the other countries.  From residents’ perspective, it might cause extra label reading and more chores.  But from a nation’s perspective, it contributes to a better and sustainable development.  I hope that we can have a similar garbage system one day in China, at least moving towards it.

Kultur 6 – Camille

The article about Martin Luther’s influence over Germany was interesting especially since only 30% of the country identifies as Lutheran. Luther’s impact on literacy, music culture, and modest living has really shaped Germany. Many of German stereotypes seem to stem from Luther, such as, authoritative obedience, being well read and well informed, even the stereotype that they are less religious.

Bild Zeitung is a news source that baffles me. I don’t understand gossip rags here either. I was surprised that the paper was conservative enough to call East Germany a “Zone”. Exaggerated news sources really annoy me, because inevitably someone believes them. However, Germans tend to be more well read than Americans, and I would hope that this is no ones only news source.

The German closed door policy is very different than the US culture. An open door is an invitation here, with a customary soft knock to announce that you are at the door. A closed door signals that they do not want to be disturbed. I thought it was interesting that the knock had to be assertive and that you needed to walk in with confidence. I have found that even with an open door I apologize for interrupting the professor. I guess this habit ties into what we have learned about American habits of apologizing versus German habits.

I wish the Unites States was as conscious about the environment as the Germans! Recycling 65% of all waste is a tremendous improvement compared to us. I think that although the system may be complicated at first, once you get used to it or learn more about why it is that way, it would become easier. The effort towards conserving is never wasted. The anecdote about buying a subway (S-Bahn) ticket though gave me a good idea about how over complicated something could be, but in reality all of those different options service more people, better. So I think that idea transfers to the complicated recycling system. Having a user separating their waste eliminates having a worker doing the tedious task.

Kultur 6

I found the article about Martin Luther to be interesting because it highlights again how history can influence modern culture, although various aspects, such as theological, may not be as present. And that’s really the significance of Martin Luther and the Reformation,

But the Reformation was not just about God. It shaped the German language, mentality and way of life.

I was particularly interested in Martin Luther’s ideas against ostentation, and how this influences not only German culture and values, but invariably the entire world. I love understated pieces from IKEA, and it was cool to learn where the simplicity came from. I also liked learning about the exception of ostentation, music. If I remember correctly, music, particularly classical music, was seen as something very upper-class in history. However, music’s role in German culture is not really described to be that of an extravagant display, but rather one that was an ally to Germany’s theological underpinnings.

The article about the closed-door culture struck me as a small detail that illustrates a contrast between German and American culture. I think about how freshman in college are encouraged to keep their doors open to meet new people, and how professors often have their office doors left open. I wonder if there is anything like that in Germany, and if not, whether they view this as a weird American thing.

The article about garbage culture in Germany pointed me back to the fact that Germany is very environmentally conscious, and again to the differences between American and German culture. Although in many ways I consider myself to be environmentally conscious, I catch myself freezing when trying to tell if my trash is compostable or not. It’s definitely a more complicated system it seems, but perhaps that is part of the makeup of a country that leads the way in environmental innovation.

AMD 6

For my last AMD, I tried something that many others have this semester—switching my Facebook from English to German. Facebook is something that I use very often, both personally and for work, so I thought that it would be something fun to try and slightly immerse myself in the German language.

I think that depending on when one does something like this while learning a language, it can be very interesting in different ways. Since I started German Facebook at the tail-end of this introductory semester, I found myself recognizing many things that we’ve learned in class. For example, much of the user interface of Facebook combines past tense, indefinite articles, and accusative case. “Andy Bui shared a photo” translates to Andy Bui hat ein Foto geteilt, and “Andy Bui shared a link” translates to Andy Bui hat einen Link geteilt. Dative case is also present, as you may show that you like a post by clicking the button gefällt mir.

Many of these commands were fairly easy to recognize because social media is supposed to be easy to use. The only places in which one could find slightly more complicated German would be in things like settings. Because I work at the university, I am prompted in my profile with Welche position hast du bei University of Michigan? Even where you would go to make a post—Was machst du gerade?

I’ve had Facebook set to German for almost a week now, actually, but I think that I won’t change it back to English. With how I use Facebook everyday, it doesn’t warrant complicated interactions, and I find that I have very little trouble navigating the interface.

Kultur 6 – Spencer

I enjoyed the reading about recycling. I think it is interesting how in Germany all the recycling is divided so much where as in America at most it is divided into paper and plastic/glass. In my hometown the recycling is one big bin and it gets sorted at the recycling center. It was interesting because I did a tour at Bosch (a german company) recently and I remember the recycling and waste being divided into about 7 different containers. They were also color coded like the pictures in the article. I also had to do safety training because I am working there this summer and in the safety powerpoint there were a few slides on how the waste is divided, showing that recycling is as important as safety.

Connecting to the Brennpunkt Kultur section in the book about where students live, I thought it was interesting how limited the housing is near universities because the german exchange student that my family hosted is now studying in Darmstadt, and he couldn’t find housing for his first semester there. I also think it is interesting how few german students live in the residence halls. In America, a lot of people make friends in the dorms in America. Connecting to the friendship article we previously read, if people keep the same group of friends, then living in a residence hall to meet new people is not as important. I also understand the article about keeping doors closed. I never thought about it, but the examples from the article are relatable. In my hall, there is almost always a door open, and every professor that I have gone to office hours for keeps their door open while they are in there. I think it is interesting how Martin Luther still has influences in german culture today outside of religion.

Kultur 6 – Allie

As a pretty devout Catholic, the first article was pretty interesting to me, because I’ve grown up learning about Martin Luther’s break from the Catholic Church. Martin Luther’s 95 theses established the need for reform in the Catholic Church, but it also established the first Protestant church, somewhat by accident. I think it’s fascinating that Martin Luther’s way of thinking has influenced Germany in much more ways than religion. It explains their somewhat simplistic architecture and their love of classical orchestra concerts. I especially liked the part that explained why Germany has such a large book market – Luther wanted everyone to read the Bible after he had translated it into German. The article also claimed that anti-Semitism might have stemmed from Luther’s personal beliefs also, which I thought was a pretty large claim to make, considering Germany’s rather rough history with their Jewish population.

The other article that really interested me was the German Privacy article. I thought the author was pretty correct in his synthesis of American door policies: if it’s open, come in, if it’s closed, come back another time. The German way of a closed door surprised me in some ways and didn’t in others. It’s so different from America that it was startling at first, but as I thought about the closed door policy more, it kind of fits with what we’ve learned about “stereotypical” Germans this whole semester. They tend to be more private and direct than Americans, so it fits that their door would be closed for privacy, but then if you open it they would tell you exactly if they want you to be there or not.

Kultur 6 – Pheebe

In the first article, the author talks about how Martin Luther affected Germany as a whole. First of all, the article mentions that even though Germans are not particularly religious, Lutheranism has shaped the German language, mentality, and how they live. The aesthetics, such as architecture and furniture styles, and the music, such as orchestra, are all influenced by Martin Luther. One of the interesting facts is that Germany has the second-largest book market after America because Luther translated Bible into German and wanted everyone to read. Even though he had made many positive impacts in Germany, the author ended the article with negative qualities ascribed to Germans. He insisted on separating spiritual and worldly authorities, which attributed to German’s legendary obedience. The rigid moralism makes Germans hard to deal with sometimes.

The second article talks about Bild Zeitung, which is a very popular primary source of news for Germans. However, it usually contains a lot of sexual and “twisted” politician news. It is mentioned in the article that the motto of this paper is actually Bild Dir Deine Meinung, which can be translated as “we form your opinion so you don’t have to.” Even though it includes many disturbing facts and news, it is in fact extremely popular in Germany. I personally can kind of understand that because at my home country, we have a kind of magazine that has all the “gossips” and paparazzi shots of famous celebrities. Many people in fact enjoy reading it and it is one of the most popular magazines in the country. However, I always consider Germans as more serious and conservative comparing to people from other countries.

The next article talks about how in Germany, people usually have their door closed. In order to reach the person behind the door, one must knock “loudly.” In contrast, people mostly keep doors open to show a welcoming feel in America. I think it is pretty interesting to know about this because it could be useful for people going study abroad or travelling. However, I am not sure if the article is a little bit exaggerated or not.

Th last article is about how Germans have MANY different garbage cans for different kinds of waste. I personally find it extremely confusing, but I believe that it is a good thing that Germans are doing recycling with a very serious and careful manner. This reminds me that when I first came to the states, I could not believe that people actually dump their leftovers into the trash can. In my country, people do recycling for leftovers. Usually 75% of the leftovers are used to feed pigs and 25% are used to as fertilizers for farming. Overall, I believe that if people all over the world can do recycling like the Germans, we’d definitely have a more environmentally friendly place to live in.

 

 

Kultur-Texte 6

The first article discusses the influence of Martin Luther on German culture today, 500 years after his 95 Theses were first pinned to the door of a church in Wittenburg. Despite the fact that Germany is only 30% Protestant in the current day, much of what is perceived as “German culture” is really Protestant culture. This reality is reflected in several ways. The German emphasis on minimalism and asceticism can be traced back to Luther’s teachings, as well as the German love for orchestral music and literature. Lutheran ideals even extend to the German emphasis on austerity, which has been especially present in a time of multiple economic crises across the EU. However, the article ends by discussing the growing diversity of thought in Germany- while Martin Luther’s ideas have had a lasting impact on German society, there is a growing population of Germans who hold wildly unique and different world views and ways of life. I found the article very interesting. Germany is certainly not a religious country, but it’s fascinating how its religious past has affected the culture so heavily.

The next article is about the most popular German tabloid, Bild Zeitung. Despite twisting any minor news into an Earth-shattering story, the magazine is immensely popular in Germany. The magazine also relies on scandalous and semi-nude pictures of women to attract readers, and a scantily-clad model often adorns the front page. However, the Bild tends to lean in a conservative political direction, often attacking liberal politicians and policies. I’m actually a bit surprised by the popularity of Bild Zeitung in Germany. I would have thought that a country so focused on seriousness and practicality would not care much for the exaggerations and smuttiness of the tabloid. The combination of sex and conservative news doesn’t seem to mesh for me either. But Bild seems to have pulled it off.

The third article discusses German closed-door etiquette. Unlike the US, where someone available to talk will leave their door open, in Germany most offices have their doors closed at all times. As a result, one must assert themselves when meeting someone in their office- the article recommends a firm knock followed by entering the room. I’m not sure how much I believe the article on this topic, as Spiegel has exaggerated in the past. However, I’ll keep their recommendations in mind the next time I’m in Germany.

The final article is on the German obsession with sorting their trash into an array of different categories. Public trashcans across Germany, from apartments to the U-Bahn, require user to sort their trash into many different categories, from different colors of glass to packaging to organic waste. This can be confusing the non-Germans, who are used to only a few options for recycling, compost and trash. I actually think the system in Germany is great. The US could certainly do a better job of being environmentally friendly, and if the public could be as educated as Germans are on different types of waste, this issue could be improved.