• Berlins and Outs

    One Year in Berlin

    One year ago today, we landed in Berlin with 4 suitcases, 2 backpacks, 1 visa, and nowhere to live. Our first night in the city, we got dinner at a beer hall down the street from our hotel. We ordered half liters of beer, pretzels, a cheese plate, and Weißwurst (white sausage). I later learned that Weißwurst is a typical Bavarian breakfast food — no wonder the server gave me a weird look for ordering it at 8pm. What’s changed in the last year? Well, we don’t make as many faux pas when eating German food. As our friend, Ramona, puts it: going to a Bavarian restaurant on your first…

  • Berlins and Outs

    An Ode to Peanut Butter

    At first I thought it was just one badly-branded jar of peanut butter. It was rife with US stereotypes. The Statue of Liberty, an anthropomorphized peanut wearing a cowboy hat, and a color scheme reminiscent of the American flag covered all but a few inches of space. Most damningly, the brand name was “McEnnedy.” I thought it was such a bizarre mash-up of American-sounding name conventions. It reminded me of “Häagen Dazs,” the ice cream brand whose nonsense name is meant to sound Danish, but is a decidedly American invention. Of course, E and I bought a jar of McEnnedy brand peanut butter and ate it all. It tasted… fine.…

  • Berlins and Outs

    To Make “Local” Friends or “Expat” Friends, That is the Question

    People tend to want to make local friends when they live abroad. Spending time only with people you could have met at home creates this bizarre sense of failure. I remember it from when I studied abroad in Barcelona – I hung out mostly with the other Americans in my program, but it was a point of pride for me when I spent Halloween teaching a couple of Catalan women how to play Kings. That was my go-to I-hung-out-with-the-locals anecdote. It was a fun evening and it makes a pretty good soundbite. But “I want to hang out with locals” is kind of an odd, potentially tokenizing way to look…

  • Berlins and Outs,  Close to Home,  Feeeeelings

    Righteous Fury: Thoughts on Politics and Religion

    I joined a church in Berlin. I’ve only been three times, but my most recent visit disappointed me. In particular, the sermon, which is usually my favorite part of church, disappointed me. I like sermons because I’ve always found the way preachers contextualize the Bible more interesting than the Bible itself. Growing up my priest was very conversational. She preached without notes and didn’t stand behind a pulpit. She was a good storyteller and shared anecdotes from her life that illustrated the same themes and morals as the week’s readings. A conservative friend of mine came to church with me once and told me afterwards that my priest was not…

  • Berlins and Outs

    A Whirlwind Summer in Berlin

    It’s officially fall, which means it’s time to reflect on summer. Doesn’t everyone do an end of the season reflection and make a short video of what they’ve been up to? Just me? Okay, well… A lot happened during our first summer in Berlin! Our friends Eben and Laura came to visit! It was their first trip to Europe and they were here for 4 weeks using Berlin as a home base. We did a lot of sightseeing around Berlin with them and with our friend, Ramona. Ramona also took us on a day trip to Dresden. And camping on the Ostsee (the Baltic Sea)! We spent a lot of…

  • Berlins and Outs,  The Great European Adventure

    Berlin, Revisited

    As you (probably) know, I did a lot of traveling around Europe 6 years ago. Gosh, it pains me to realize that trip was 6 years ago. This feeling is only going to get worse as I get older, isn’t it? Sometimes when I travel, I have to assume I’ll be back again someday. Otherwise I drive myself mad trying to fit in as many experiences as possible and lamenting all the things I don’t have time for. Three years ago, E and I took a vacation to Barcelona and a couple days into the trip, I was in tears because I realized there wasn’t time to show him everything…

  • We made a second episode of our dubbed Star Trek podcast!

    Good news! After an overwhelming audience response of “… wow, you really didn’t know much about Star Trek, huh?”, Emma and Ian are back with a brand new, very exciting episode where we struggle to understand the plot of an episode of television older than we are that’s been dubbed into a language we don’t speak! Admittedly, this episode is slightly more straightforward than the wonderfully mystifying Farpoint Station duology that we covered in the first episode … or maybe it’s that Emma’s German skills are improving! Will the crew cure the mysterious horny illness that’s going around? Will Emma’s German class pay off and will she laugh at a bunch of…

  • Berlins and Outs,  Close to Home

    What makes a new city feel like home?

    A couple of weeks ago, I said to E, “I don’t miss Boston, not exactly, but I do miss knowing a place well.” It was a weekend evening and we were trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. I ended up saying, “what I really want to do is go to Aeronaut.” Aeronaut is a brewery in Somerville, MA that was a 5-minute walk from our old apartment. Their beer is good, but that’s not what I was missing. What I was missing was knowing where to go. There are plenty of breweries in Berlin, but we don’t have “our place” yet. I had a level of familiarity…

  • Berlins and Outs

    Mundane Cultural Differences – Berlin vs. Boston (Part 1)

    Emma and I moved from Boston to Berlin almost exactly 4 months ago, and there have been a lot of huge changes. We’re far away from family and friends, I’ve started a software development job, Emma’s just finished the second draft of her book, we’re both working on learning a new language … it can be a bit overwhelming when we think about it all. That’s not what I’m going to talk about in this post, though. In this post, I want to talk about the strange minutia that we’re already starting to take for granted, the little things that make us pause and go, “Huh. I guess that’s not…

  • We watched Star Trek dubbed into German so you don’t have to

    E and I have wanted to start a podcast for over a year now. We have several ideas, but this was the one that finally inspired us to sit down and record: “What We Think Happened” is a show where we watch a piece of media in a language we don’t speak and then attempt to recap it. Hopefully, we’re funny about it. For our inaugural episode, we watched the pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation dubbed into German, without subtitles. A month ago, we recorded an hour and a half of audio trying to make sense of this bizarre tv show. It’s taken us a while to finally…