Tag Archives: Germany

Why Germany Is a Great Place to Have Kids

Why Germany Is a Great Place to Have Kids

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by Kate Müser
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Parental leave – or rather its absence – has recently become a hot topic in the US. Will a sinking birthrate in the US lead to financial motivation for struggling parents?

In Germany, on the other hand, the birthrate has been rising recently, up just slightly from worrying lows. Here, generous parental benefits were implemented years ago.

Most Americans would fall out of their chairs to learn that new parents in Germany can receive around two-thirds of their salary for up to 14 months after the birth of their child – without going to work.

Meanwhile parents can plan the years after birth with a great deal of flexibility – taking turns working part-time or not at all, and with a high degree of job security.

With my first baby on the way, I’m about to experience the full extent of German family benefits first hand.

But are state subsidies and time off work the only reasons why German is known for being an ideal place to have kids?

I chatted with German YouTuber and mommy-of-two Charlotte from the channel MenschFrau to find out.

©KateMüser

Image: Pixabay.com

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Kate Müser, who grew up in Pleasanton, California, was surprised to discover that she feels even closer to her home state now than she did when she first moved to Bonn, Germany, over 13 years ago.

She is the creator of the successful YouTube series #thoseGermans and the portrait series #germany24. Visit Kate’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/katemuser and her website, justkate.de.

For over a decade, Kate has been a TV, radio and online journalist at Deutsche Welle, where she currently hosts the video series Meet the Germans with Kate and the TV show PopXport.

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Looking back at the 2017 Oktoberfest in Munich – A Report in Pictures

Auf Wiedersehen Oktoberfest

– A photo of Matthias-Pschorr Strasse from the Bavaria Statue –

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Greetings from the Wiesn!   For more than two hundred years, the Oktoberfest has been the highlight of Munich’s calendar, and is considered the world’s largest folk festival.  This year, the weather has been very cooperative so far, with mostly fair weather greeting the estimated three million visitors to the Theresienwiese in just the first week and a half.  By the end of the 18 days, an estimated 6.2 million visitors enjoyed the Wiesn.

Typical food offerings like Hendl, Brezn, and Spätzle have been abundant, and a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes are also available in many tents.  In the Ochsenbraterei, sixty (60) Ox were already cooked and served by the Fest midpoint (in comparison to 55 by the same time last year), and by the end of the Fest, 127 had been served!

This was my second time auf die Wiesn;  I was out here last year for the marriage of two dear friends, and their celebration coincided with Oktoberfest, so it was practically a requirement that we make a trip to the Wiesn part of my visit.  I immediately knew that I’d be returning again and again, and that I would want to share my experience with others.

A quick tour of the perimeter to get a feel for the Stimmung of the fest revealed the usual revelry and an abundance of souvenirs including the famed Gingerbread Hearts (Lebkuchenherzen).

– One of the more robust offerings of Lebkuchenherzen –
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We then made our way to the Ochsenbraterei for lunch and a Maß, and while the Ochsenbraterei is best known for its meat offerings, there were substantial vegetarian offerings noted on the menu.

– The front entrance to the famed Ochsenbraterei –
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– Interior of the Ochsenbraterei, which seats nearly 6000 people (with another 1600 outside seats) –
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– Rows of empty mugs await filling –
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– Hungry fest-goers are served –
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Our next stop was the Löwenbräu Festzelt, where we enjoyed a bit more food and a change in atmosphere.  Even at 5pm, the mood in the tent was starting to change, but it was almost on cue at 6pm, when the tent felt more crowded, and more and more people began singing and dancing on the benches.  The “Oktoberfest-Barometer” (available via the official Oktoberfest App) can predict when the Wiesn might be busiest, and the App can also inform on how full various tents are.  The App can be downloaded from http://www.muenchen.de/app .

– The front entrance of the Löwenbrau-Festzelt, which seats 5700 inside and another 2800 outside) –
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 -The interior of the Löwenbräu-Festzelt –
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– A tray of food headed to hungry fest-goers at the Löwenbrau-Festzelt –
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 – Traditional breads, including the giant Breze –
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– Festgoers in Tracht in the Löwenbräu-Festzelt –
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–  The servers working hard to keep everyone happy, with just a few of the estimated 7.5 Million Maß served –
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One of the treats this year was the Oide Wiesn – a traditional and historical corner of the Wiesn.  An estimated 480,000 visitors enjoyed this look back into history as well as the constant cultural performances in the Festzelt Tradition like partnerdances, Schuhplattler Dances, and the Whip cracking (Goasslschnalzer).

– Festzelt Tradition, with a capacity of 5000 inside (and an additional 2700 outside) features a large dance floor for performances –
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– Festzelt Tradition offered more traditional feel and plenty of Tracht –
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– The Alphorn performance was a crowd favorite –
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This year’s Fest ended on 03 October 2017, and I’m already looking forward to kicking off next year’s event on Saturday, 15 October 2018.  For more information about Oktoberfest, you can visit the official site at http://www.oktoberfest.eu.

Until then, Prost!

All Images: Copyright ©2017 http://www.splitsecondimaging.com

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Christopher Chin is an accomplished underwater videographer and writer who has traveled extensively and speaks several languages. He studied German at the University of California, Berkeley, and quickly fell in love with the German language, culture and people. In early 2006, Christopher co-founded The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education (COARE), and currently serves as its Executive Director.

Christopher is an internationally recognized expert in ocean policy and conservation issues, and has provided valuable and persuasive testimony to various governing and legislative bodies in the U.S. and in Canada, and he has had the privilege of addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations on two separate occasions.

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October 3rd, Germany celebrates “Tag der Deutschen Einheit” – The German National Day

Today Germany celebrates its National Day, the “Tag der deutschen Einheit” !

Today Germany commemorates the reunification of Germany. After WW II Germany got divided into East and West Germany. A fortified wall made sure that interaction between these two Germanys was limited and especially controlled .

Many Germans never believed that they would ever witness a unified Germany again, but November 9th, 1989 should catch them by surprise.

On this fateful day in history the East German government declared that all East Germans were free to go to the West and visit West Germany and West Berlin. Germany and the world went wild! Impactful, dramatic images of that day still captivate us today.

So why don’t we celebrate our German National Day on November 9th after all?

November 9th happens to be a day for a variety of  historical events in Germany, and not all were such that they should be honored or remembered positively on a day that shall celebrate the National day of Germany .

November 9th was the day on which the German republic was proclaimed in 1918, and it was also a November 9th when Hitler’s first coup in 1923 was defeated. This ominous date however also marks the anniversary of the Reichskristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) in 1938, the day of the first large-scale Nazi-led pogroms against Jews.

November 9th therefore did not seem an appropriate date for the German National Day.

October 3rd was chosen instead since this was the day in 1990 when the formal reunification took place.

October 3rd replaced the date of June 17, which used to be the date for “The Day of German Unity” during the days of the BRD ( The Federal Republic of Germany).

Images: Pixabay.com

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5 Ways Elections in Germany are Different from US Elections

5 Ways Elections in Germany are Different from US Elections

by Kate Müser

Last year I had to register to vote in the state of New York, since that was the last state I’d voted in, which felt odd since I only lived there for 10 months. But given the absurd campaign in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, filling out my absentee ballot became all the more important to me.

I held out hope that some miraculously competent third-party candidate would pop up on the ballot – that is, until it turned up in my mailbox.

In Germany, politics are not like grocery shopping: Germans apparently appreciate choice, and, anti-Aldi-style, there are more political parties than the average German could name without googling. Admittedly, I had lost touch with just how few choices there are in the US.

Nearly a year later, it’s Germany’s turn to head to the polls. The result will eventually be the most powerful person in Europe and – considering the current global political climate – potentially even the world.

But Americans might be shocked to find out that no chancellor candidates will appear on Germans’ ballots, since the chancellor is chosen later by the ruling coalition formed post-election by the leading parties.

Instead, national elections consist of a local candidate for the federal parliament, the Bundestag, and a nod to a party of their choice. It seems fairly unspectacular for a vote that will help shape the future of Europe.

In fact, “unspectacular” can apply to elections in Germany in general. There is no mudslinging, no late-night Twitter rants, practically no merchandising, no big televised rallies – and only recently have the top chancellor candidates started holding debates.

Germany’s big 2017 election on September 24 is only weeks away, but if you were to visit Germany now, you’d be hard pressed to notice it.

In this video, I’ve gone into 5 big ways that German national elections are different from those in the US. Both systems have plenty of pros and cons – but not much in common.

©KateMüser

Image: Pixabay.com

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Kate Müser, who grew up in Pleasanton, California, was surprised to discover that she feels even closer to her home state now than she did when she first moved to Bonn, Germany, over 13 years ago.

She is the creator of the successful YouTube series #thoseGermans and the portrait series #germany24. Visit Kate’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/katemuser and her website, justkate.de.

For over a decade, Kate has been a TV, radio and online journalist at Deutsche Welle, where she currently hosts the video series Meet the Germans with Kate and the TV show PopXport.

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Spice Up Your “Fahrvergnügen” – Go Big & Bold With Color

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Car Colors in Germany – All Used to Be Possible

Did it ever occur to you that car colors here in California are quite boring? A recent look at a major shopping mall’s parking lot seems to proof my point…

It almost looks like a car dealership; all white cars on one side and black/dark colors lined up on the other. Pretty subdued, no?

In my childhood, car colors must have gone wild in Germany… At least, I remember our cars having all kinds of vivid colors then. In fact, over the years I would say that we had cars of a pretty broad variety of colors. From a bright red to an ochre Special Jeans Edition” Volkswagen Beetle to a green VW Bug, all the way to a dark violet Mercedes that belonged to my uncle, and my Dad’s lightly linden green 1980’s Mercedes that got replaced by a (boring) silver Benz, to a strikingly yellow Ford and bright metallic blue Peugeot. A kind of gold/beige BMW was in our collection as well… indicating the doom of car colors ahead of us, I assume.

Coming out to California as a teenager, two particular facts regarding cars stood out for me. One was, these monstrous things on wheels roaming California freeways, called Monster Trucks. Second was the fact that the Mercedes Benz here in California had a golden-colored Mercedes star instead of the distinct silver one I was used to from Germany.

That golden Mercedes star together with a golden grill just didn’t cut it for me. It clashed with my image of Mercedes’ sleek elegance conveying a touch of understatement. Everything seemed to be so “bling” in California…

My last car in Germany before moving to California used to be a deep electric blue, but after coming out here I settled for a black one… yes, a boring, black colored SUV! Okay, I admit, not every color goes well with every car model. And the Ford Explorer I had then might not have looked as sharp in electric blue… Besides, at that time, I didn’t want to embarrass my son at his school by standing out with a color that would announce to everyone in the drop-off line that “the Germans” have arrived. We tried to fit in.

But honestly, if you look around you, the cars here in CA make up for a pretty boring car-landscape; from black to white to daring gold or beige/brown, and for the more adventurous type perhaps a dark blue! If you encounter a red, then I am sure it’s some unobtrusive wine/maroon red.

Okay, some Hippie Volkswagen Bus in happy, sunny colors might brighten up the freeway in front of us sometimes, while Ferrari & Co. of course stick out on the streets and call our attention; not only because of their design, but also because they seem to be the only cars these days that dare to put on some bold colors. That’s why, when we see one of them, we have to make sure not to stop breathing since the color alone is taking our breath away!

To my dismay however I found out that the Germans and in fact the Europeans as a whole, are now following the, supposedly fading, American trend towards boring auto colors.

According to AutoBild, the absolute favorite car color of the Germans in 2016 continued to be silver/grey, followed by black and white, and red fell to a sad fifth place. For comparison, in 1986 the color white had not even made it to 2%. Imagine that!

Americans, on the other hand, are on their way to discover (some) color again. While white, black and grey still dominate the top spots, “Blue…” according to the Chicago Tribune, “…is expected to be the hottest car color for 2017!”

I couldn’t confirm this striking trend yet. But, I’ll be for sure keeping an eye out for this splash of color on the streets…!

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Images: CaliforniaGermans & Pixabay.com

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