Saturday, April 19, 2008

For all those folks that have lived in Jyväskylä, only to eventually leave, here is a nice video to bring back the old memories. In my opinion, a video shot in winter would have been more appropriate.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I have now been back in Germany for about a week following a successful trip to Nebraska. Overall, mission accomplished. I relaxed, spent time with my folks, saw old friends, partied a bit, soaked in March Madness, ate various fattening American foodstuffs, and I even saw the migrating sandhill cranes. As with previous visits, there was a pleasant mix of change and familiarity. My parents house is mostly as I remember it, but with some new floors, countertops, appliances, etc. Friends are still friends, but with perhaps more or less hair. Roads have widened, but they still lead the same direction. Our cat got lazier, but is just as irritable as ever.

My favorite part about visiting home is re-discovering things that I have missed. I've long since become accustomed to living in Germany, and I don't spend much time longing for things that are uniquely American. After awhile, the things that I miss become difficult to even recall. So, when I return home, I am constantly proclaiming "oh yeah, I remember this!". Take, for example, drinking fountains. These water dispensing devises are ubiquitous in America, but unheard of in Germany. Now I admit that these things are probably extremely unhygenic, but they are certainly convenient for quenching a spontaneous thirst when on-the-go. Actually, Americans must hate being thirsty, because drinks there are enormous (in many cases bottomless) and cheap. The first morning in Nebraska, I went to the gas station to buy some coffee; the smallest size available was 16 oz (about 0.4 L). That is a lot of damn coffee. The same overindulgence applies to soda. In a restaurant, you can get as much soda as you can drink for less than two you would generally pay over two euros for exactly 0.4 L of soda. Though I tried to avoid too drinking too much soda, I did enjoy some old favorites that are unavailable in Germany...mountain dew (so ungodly sweet), dr. pepper (so unique), and root beer (most Germans I know hate it, but why?). America also remains king of processed foods, some of which I truly miss and thus happily devoured while home. Here are a few examples with parenthetical help for anyone that hasn't been in the U.S: doritos (nacho flavored tortilla chips), mac & cheese (just as it sounds, macaroni covered in unnatural, liquid cheese), frozen waffles (warm waffles just a toaster away), and toaster strudels (some kind of fruit-flavored jelly in a flaky pastry). I should actually take the effort to remember this stuff, because "things I miss" is something of a small talk topic. I should also note the cultural, not just culinary, differences for use in casual conversation, but perhaps that is a topic that could be given attention in a separate post...