The Dutch city that was the summer capital of Europe

Nijmegen. This small but vibrant city, located in the eastern part of the Netherlands close to the German border, has a couple of uncommon claims to fame.

It is the oldest city in the Netherlands and is more than 2,000 years old.

It was carpet bombed during World War II, meaning relatively few buildings more than 50 years old still remain.

And it is the self-described “summer capital of Europe.”

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Nijmegen is located at the bend of the river Waal. As with most Dutch cities, cycling is a popular mode of transportation.

Continue reading “The Dutch city that was the summer capital of Europe”

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Easter with the Anarchists (and some tourist stuff too)

Hey there! Long time no blog… I know, I know, I’m bad. Well, to make up for my lack of activity over the past couple of months, I’m going to write you a blog post with LOTS of pictures…

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See, here’s a picture already! That guy’s backpack says “FCK NZS” – a popular slogan here in Hamburg.

I spent Easter weekend in a rather non-traditional fashion this year: at an anarchist street festival. While Americans were out hiding eggs, Christians were going to church, normal Hamburgers were enjoying bonfires on the beach and Swedes were hanging colorful feathers on trees, the Hamburg neighborhood of Sternschanze was throwing a block party/street festival/demonstration. Continue reading “Easter with the Anarchists (and some tourist stuff too)”

The surprisingly slack standards of food safety in Germany

In the U.S., food workers are required to wash their hands multiple times a shift.
In the U.S., food workers are required to wash their hands multiple times a shift. Photo: Kelly Thomas

For a country known for its bloated bureaucracy and strict regulations, Germany has comparatively lax food safety laws – at least in comparison to Washington state.

To get my Washington food worker’s card, I had to watch a little video online about various food-related rules and answer simple questions related to them afterwards.

In Germany, I showed up one evening at a repurposed furniture store, sat in a crowded room, and watched a video on an ill-fated food worker who got a bad case of food poisoning and had to stay home three days from work. Continue reading “The surprisingly slack standards of food safety in Germany”

Stadtrallye – a different kind of new-student orientation

One of the most memorable university orientation events was the Stadtrallye. It turns out “rally” has a completely different meaning in German than in English, and rather than a pep assembly or political demonstration, this was more of a scavenger hunt/team challenge.

The challenges mostly involved a lot of alcohol.
The challenges mostly involved a lot of alcohol.

Continue reading “Stadtrallye – a different kind of new-student orientation”

What I am learning about German culture from working in a supermarket

To celebrate my new income, a few days later I got a haircut - badly needed, as you can see in this picture.
To celebrate my new income, a few days later I got a haircut – badly needed, as you can see in this picture.

After a month and a half of tangling with bureaucracy, bellyaching over budgets and nearly driving myself crazy with the amount of free time I had on my hands, I finally got a job.

I work at a supermarket chain collecting items for customers’ online orders and packing them neatly into boxes. I get to carry around a neat little scanner and push around a large shopping cart and learn the location of even the most obscure supermarket products, from Studentenfütter (which literally translates to student food and turns out to be a type of trail mix) to mango-flavored buttermilk (yes, Germans drink plain buttermilk, how gross) to Hüttenkäse (which literally translates to “little hut cheese,” which, as you may have guessed, is cottage cheese in English). Continue reading “What I am learning about German culture from working in a supermarket”