deird1: Aeryn holding a baby and shooting a gun, with text "working mother" (Aeryn working mother and baby)
In Australia, the gyno will happily take care of all your prenatal and delivery needs. Except for any blood tests or ultrasounds. For those, you'll have to go off site.

In Germany, your blood tests and ultrasounds will all be done right at the gyno's office.
...attend your delivery? Why on earth would he do that?



In Germany, you remove all clothing from the lower half of your body, walk across the room, hoick yourself up into the stirrups, and wait for large, cold objects to be shoved into you.

In Australia, you are given a hospital gown, and then the ultrasound technician, very discreetly, says "I'll just give you some privacy to change." After which, presumably, she comes back into the room and sticks large, cold objects into all the body parts she's carefully not noticing yet.
...at least, I assume so, if I hadn't snorted, told her about Germany, and stripped off right in front of her.



(Yep. You are correct in your wonderings.)
deird1: Sokka, with the picture he painted (Sokka picture)
If I take a yellow crayon, draw a circle, surround it with lines, and put a smiley face on the circle, you'll probably recognise it as the sun.

Even though the sun looks nothing like that.

Supposing, though, that you see these smiley-face-on-a-circle suns in books for years, and then one day you travel to the country of Storybookia, and you suddenly look up in the sky and realise that the reason the sun is always drawn that way in picture books is because, in Storybookia, the sun really looks like that.

...That's kind of what it's like going from Australia to Europe.



In my head, there's "what things look like", and "what things look like in picture books". These two things are rarely the same.

In Europe? Ducks look like picture book ducks, with the green heads and the neck stripe. Forests look like picture book forests. Houses have chimneys. Grass is green. Flowers grow out of the ground like it's nothing special. Squirrels exist! So do flamingos! Churches have church bells that actually ring on the hour. Birds say tweet (except for cuckoos, which really do say cuckoo). Christmas has snow and twinkly lights.

And no - the sun is not a big yellow smiley face. But it wouldn't have surprised me.
deird1: Sokka looking upset, with text "you're making me tearbend" (Sokka tearbend)
Five weeks to go before we're back in Australia.

I'm rather keen to go home (and show off the kidlet), but there are some things I will miss here.


German Things I Will Miss

- the snow
- the lockers everywhere, useable with a 1 Euro coin (which returns to you when you re-insert the key)
- traffic lights that turn orange before they go green
- the road signs saying "Stadtmitte", giving you a handy guide to where the local shops (etc) will be
- the bakeries and their wonderful pastries
- crepe stands in the street
- having France a few hours' drive away
- buskers who really know how to play the piano accordian
- squirrels
- little old ladies who stop me in the street to admonish me to put a hat on my son (yes, this is annoying - but I still find it rather sweet)


German Things I Will Not Miss

- the ice
- having to pay to use the loos
- traffic lights that only sit on one side of the intersection, making it impossible to see them if you're at the front
- freeway exits that seem designed for maximum chaos
- bakeries that DON'T HAVE MEAT PIES (oh the humanity!)
- all the food using pork instead of beef
- driving on the right side of the road


Aussie Things I Really Miss Right Now

- summer!
- cafés and coffee shops
- pies, sausage rolls, dim sims, thai food, hamburgers with the lot, flake, pavlova, lamb, and fruit that doesn't go off within a day
- magpie song
- footpaths that don't have cobblestones (prams are a pain to use in old towns)
- houses without steps up to the front door
- shops that are open on Sundays and in the evenings
- my family
- my cat



...so there's that.
deird1: Spike looking at Harmony, with text "you were meant for me; perhaps as punishment (Spike Harmony punishment)
People have different first names in different countries, for the record. It's like this whole thing.


I have found it very interesting having a son in Germany, for many reasons. But mostly because his name's gone all weird.

In Australia, he has one of the most common names ever to exist. It's been in the top 20 Aussie baby names since before we were even a country. In Australia, everyone already knows the spelling, the pronounciation, and the nickname, without having to ask.

In Germany... it's not just an uncommon name; it's a non-existent name.

Here, I'm getting very used to having the exact same conversation over and over:
"What's his name?"
"Lachlan."
"...what?"
"Lachlan."
"...Lach-lan?" (as though I've just presented them with a random mash of syllables that must be carefully tested)
"Yes. Lachlan. It's Scottish."
"...oh."
"Yep."
"...so she's a girl, then?"

They cannot pronounce my son's name. They cannot spell my son's name. The correct spelling convinces them they were wrong about the pronounciation. And they're all sure he's a girl.

It's rather fascinating.

TIRED

Sep. 11th, 2014 04:19 pm
deird1: Joey and Pacey at the prom, with text "I remember everything" (Joey Pacey remember)
In the last few days, we have:
- gone to St Paul's Cathedral
- gone to The Globe
- seen a performance of The Mousetrap, world's longest running play
- seen the Changing Of The Guard
- walked around Hyde Park
- used the loos at Harrods
- gone to the British Museum

...I am rather Londoned out, and lying on a couch.
deird1: Anya and Willow gazing after RJ, with text "if you'll excuse me I'm having a fangirl moment" (Anya Willow fangirl)
Today I fulfilled one of my lifelong ambitions, by standing outside Downing Street and eating half a Yorkie Bar. (The husband ate the other half.) We then walked to St James' Park, and looked at the ducks.


(We also went on the London Eye, had communion at Westminster Abbey, and went to Madame Tussauds. All very fun.)
deird1: Dawn glaring at Buffy, with text "Dawn Summers demands an explanation for this bullshit" (Dawn bullshit)
Seriously, Northern Hemispherites, you guys are missing out on all the good fast food. And the sad thing is, you don't even realise it.

KFC, for example. Their chips here are the same as the Maccas chips - ie, thin and kinda dry. Real KFC chips should be fat, moist, and yummily salty. They're awesome.

And Subway! How is it that none of the European Subways have grated carrot? Or chicken fillet? Or sweet chilli sauce?


You people are DEPRIVED.
deird1: Twilight Sparkle, looking thoughtful (Twilight Sparkle)
1) Stonehenge really exists, and is not an elaborate hoax. (Or else a really well-constructed one.)

2) Winchester Cathedral does indeed have a jigsaw puzzle window. One day I will solve it...

3) Walked on top of Jane Austen's grave without realising. Hope she'll forgive me.

4) The white cliffs of Dover are, in fact, white and cliff-like.

5) Stayed in the most adorable attic room known to man. Want to take it back to Australia with me.

6) Ramsgate does exist, but is slightly more modern than Georgiana Darcy would have found it.

7) London traffic is rather horrendous, as expected.

8) Also - have reached London! So far, have only seen our hostel. (And traffic.)
deird1: fantasy!Buffy pouring cereal, with text "making breakfast sexy" (Buffy breakfast)
English towns have delightful names. Yesterday we drove past a sign pointing right to Wigglesworth, and left to Giggleswick.

They also have ridiculously useful postcodes. British people, do you have any idea of how awesome your postcodes are? I can type a postcode into the GPS, and it'll direct us to within a few houses of our destination. Try that in Australia, and you'd have to spend a week tracking down the right house once you arrived...

And the sheep! They have tails! Real tails! This is seriously strange for me; Aussie lambs are de-tailed while still young, so all the grown sheep I've seen have been tailless. These sheep are new and funky.

on holiday

Aug. 31st, 2014 06:22 am
deird1: Sokka, with the picture he painted (Sokka picture)
Edinburgh!

My sister has been known to grumble about the weird British taps, and now I know why: it seems impossible to select both the water temperature and the water volume, simultaneously. You pick your favourite, and try to endure the other one.

We went to Edinburgh Castle yesterday, which was very cool. It's the first time I've seen a castle that has always (pre-museum) been a fully functioning thing, as opposed to being semi-ornamental, and it shows. Rather fascinating. It also afforded me the chance to drink my very first British cup of tea, which was as yummy as I was hoping.

The streets up to the castle could not be more clearly tourist-centric if they tried. If we wanted, we could have bought tartan (kilts, hats, bags, wellies, towels...) at twenty different shops. I was tempted, but refrained. The other standard souvenirs seem to be shortbread and whiskey. I even saw whiskey flavoured tea... which strikes me as slightly gross.

Today, we're going to Hopetoun House, where we will wander the grounds and have a traditional afternoon tea (scones and all), and then to Hadrian's Wall.
deird1: chibis of Kitty and Lydia from P&P, with text "fangirls at large" (Kitty Lydia fangirls)
Another 12 hours, and I will be in my favourite country in the world.

It has been my favourite country ever since I first learned how to read, and I've never ever been there, and this evening I will be!

(The UK being the country in question.)


We're starting in Edinburgh, then driving down past the Lakes, right down to the south coast, and thence to London. After which we'll go to WriterconUK, and hang out with many LJers.

YAY!!! *waves pompoms*

SQUIRREL

Aug. 15th, 2014 11:31 am
deird1: Fred squeeing, with love hearts (Fred squee)
Just had a red squirrel run past my window, examine the porch, realise I was there, freeze, and run off again.

I SAW A SQUIRREL. FROM LIKE A METRE AWAY.

*dances*
deird1: Mother Gothel, swooning dramatically (Gothel swoon)
Today I'm getting to witness Germans at their most wimpy.

It is, you see, a terribly hot day, and they're all worried about surviving the awful heat.

...of 30 degrees. *faints dramatically at such dreadfully warm weather*

(Americans: this is 86 Fahrenheit)


I'm just going to sit here in my non-air-conditioned house, happily lettting the wonderfully cool breeze waft fresh summer air through every room. Later, I might go for a walk.

(Note my lack of blocking up every door and window, blasting air-conditioned coolness into every corner, stocking up on icecubes, realising some rooms are a lost cause and blocking them off so the air-con can cope with a smaller space, wishing I could remove several layers of skin, sleeping naked on the floor of the living room, and cowering from the horrible skin-searing sun. Because this is not Australia.)


Remember the knife scene from Crocodile Dundee? Right now, I feel kinda like that. "You call that summer? THIS is summer."
deird1: Twilight Sparkle's hot air balloon (MLP:FiM hot air balloon)
Switzerland is PRETTY.

We went to Lauterbrunnen Valley – which I highly recommend – and saw lots of waterfalls, two lakes, and plenty of mountains. Seriously beautiful.


I briefly lost my camera – my precious, precious camera, with all my Paris and Switzerland photos! – but thankfully the restaurant I'd left it at found it for me, so hurrah! I must take advantage of this good fortune to post some photos of the pretty. And I will, I promise... just as soon as I've had a nap or three.

Paris

May. 27th, 2014 07:57 am
deird1: Willow dressed as vamp!Willow, with text "ceci n'est pas une vampire" (this is not a vampire) (Willow (french vampire))
Stuttgart is orderly; Paris is chaotic. Stuttgart is quiet; Paris is loud. Stuttgart is docile; Paris is on fire.

...or at least, that's how it seemed to me.


We had a fun weekend. I have now seen:
- the Louvre (incuding the Mona Lisa and Ecce Homo)
- Sacre Coeur
- Versailles
- the Arc de Triomphe
- the Eiffel Tower
- Notre Dame

Yay!


(I'm also recovering from morning sickness enough to walk around a city for three days. True, I got home and utterly collapsed for day four, but I'm still counting it as a good thing.)

bon voyage

May. 22nd, 2014 02:30 pm
deird1: Eugene, trying to "smoulder" Rapunzel into setting him free (Eugene smoulder)
Going offline for a couple of days – the husband and I are going to Paris. Try not to explode the internet until I get back.
deird1: Fred squeeing, with love hearts (Fred squee)
You guys. Europe is so pretty.

I mean, yeah. I knew this. I've been drooling over pictures of England for years. But it really is.


What do I mean by this?
1) The grass is green. Like, really.
2) There are forests. Actual forests.
3) The forests are clear at ground level, so you can see through them rather than having two-metres-tall ferns in every direction.
4) The trees are really good at that whole "dappled sunlight" thing.
5) There are pretty flowers everywhere.

But mostly... it's the European gardens thing.

When I say "European gardens", I don't just mean "gardens that happen to exist on the continent of Europe". It's actually a type of garden – one I have often seen in Australia.


You see, when the colonists first came over to Australia, they had to leave behind their gardens. Gardens which were full of neat flowerbeds, manicured lawns, and trimmed hedges. Gardens sort of like this:



Or this:



And, being rather sentimental, they came to Australia and promptly started trying to replant their beautiful European gardens in the good old Aussie dirt. It... didn't work very well.

We have different soil, different weather, different temperatures, and different... just about everything else that you need for gardening. So the European gardens in Australia take an awful lot of work, and still never quite live up to their full potential. Quite a few people realised this, and have instead planted beautiful gardens full of native plants. They're lovely – but end up in quite a different style to the European ones.

So, the nice gardens I have seen have been 50% gorgeous native gardens, and 50% kind-of-nice European gardens. Now, though... I'm in Europe. And just walking down the street, I will see the gardens that the Australian European gardens are shooting for. THEY'RE GORGEOUS.

It makes me feel sorry for the settlers. They had to leave their pretty pretty gardens behind, put in twice as much effort for a much more lackluster result, and didn't really have the know-how with native plants to do anything as lovely with them.


(BRB, enjoying the outdoors.)
deird1: Rapunzel, hanging just above the ground, afraid to touch down (Rapunzel nearly to the ground)
There are a few differences between being a non-(good)-English speaker in an English-speaking country, and a non-(good)-German speaker in a German-speaking country.


The Good

Germans correct you.

If you're talking in halting English, an English speaker will listen intently, pick up on approximately what you're trying to say, and nod understandingly. Polite, but not terribly conducive to improving your language skills.

In Germany, on the other hand, if you make an error, the person you're talking to will correct you the moment you make it. Very helpful.

(It also means that, if I want to, I can abruptly inform the Germans that their English is crap and I'm going to edit their writing so it makes sense - and no-one will find this rude.)


The Bad

Many native English speakers don't really speak anything else. Because of this, if they're talking to someone who's not good at the language, they'll dumb it down to kid-level.

German, though, isn't as flexible a language as English; it's harder to dumb down. And most Germans speak very good English. So, if you're having trouble keeping it... they'll switch to English. Nice, considerate, and makes it almost impossible to practise your German.


The Ugly Actually Rather Helpful

German is way easier to spell.

This means that it's ridiculously easy for me to look up unknown words in the dictionary and find out what they mean. Honestly, in English, I don't know how people cope.
deird1: Fred looking nervous (Fred nervous)
You might have noticed my lack of internettage.

Last week, I spent most of my time lying on a couch and groaning, wishing I felt well enough to go outside and actually interact with the world. This week, God answered my prayers by landing me in hospital, where I can interact with as many nurses as my heart desires.

(Nothing serious. I'm just having digestive issues, and they want to keep me on a drip for a few days.)

It's rather unnerving being in a foreign-language hospital. For one thing, I've discovered that my language skills plummet whenever I feel dizzy – leading to a lot of baffled nurses wondering why I'm unable to comprehend things I understood five minutes ago. And for another, I'd feel a lot more calm about taking medicine if questions like "Did they actually say this was a suppository, or was that just my imagination?" didn't keep occurring to me.



Anyway, still in hospital, but now with limited internet. Hurrah!

autofahren

Mar. 11th, 2014 01:39 pm
deird1: Anya, with text "is it difficult or time-consuming?" (Anya difficult)
When I was younger, we had a swing in the backyard.

It was very slightly lopsided, falling about a centimetre to the right. This was small enough to not be noticeable – the only reason I know about it is because, whenever I sat on other swings, I'd feel like I was leaning to the left.

This is what driving on the wrong side of the road is like. A bit unbalanced. The car is suddenly really close on the left, and sticks out way too far on the right, and I can't quite figure out how to turn corners properly, or where I am on the road.

It's vaguely like being drunk.



Not entirely helped by the fact that German roads are not nearly as well set out as Australian roads.* They give you almost no warning about things that are about to happen, so I keep finding myself about a metre away from taking the wrong lane, with cars wondering why I didn't telepathically figure out the lanes before I got to them.

The one thing I will give them is the traffic lights. It's nice having the red turn to red-and-yellow just before it goes green, rather than trying to take you by surprise.

* No, this isn't just patriotism and being-used-to-it; their train system, for instance, is amazing. It's just the roads that suck.

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