An Evening of German Theatre

Tags

, , ,

Credit: Klaus Lefebvre, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg

Yesterday morning I received a text message from my friend Eddie inviting me to see that evening’s performance of Henrik Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman at the Schauspielhaus. I will admit to having no idea who Ibsen was and never having heard of the play before, but I still seized the chance to go and experience my first ever German play. That’s right, despite having performed theatre in Germany, I had never been to see a real German theatre production. Most of that has to do with the ever-present language barrier, but I figured I now knew enough German to make sense of the general storyline and if my German completely failed me then at least I could enjoy the spectacle of it all.

I wasn’t really thinking it would be a spectacle but honestly that is the best way I could describe what I saw. Actually that’s a lie. The most honest description would be ‘What the fuck did I just witness?’. It’s a question I’m still struggling to answer this morning. Now I’ve seen many a modern interpretation of a classical play, but even this doesn’t quite seem to cover what I witnessed last night. The best I can come up with is that it was a modern interpretation by someone who was taking a whole bunch of drugs at the time. Apparently weird and distinctly odd interpretations of well-known or classical plays seems to be more of the rule than the exception in German theatre. Most people I’ve spoken to have had very similar experiences seeing German productions of plays ranging from God of Carnage to A Streetcar Named Desire.

For this production a family drama taking place in a house in the 1890s had been transported to what could best be described as an underground concrete bunker inhabited by strange zombie-like school girls who kept randomly walking into walls and actors that kept putting on and removing rubber masks for no apparent reasons halfway through lines of dialogue. There was also a character who spoke some of her lines in English and would randomly switch between German and English halfway through sentences. I think the point was that she was supposed to be a foreigner, but it just added another layer of surrealness to the whole thing. However it was rather handy for getting me up to speed with some of the more stranger parts of the actual storyline.

The only positive thing about the whole event was how many young people were there. We got very cheap tickets, just €5, through the Goethe Institute and I’m guessing other schools offer something similar. Getting young people exposed to theatre, no matter how damn odd it is, is just brilliant and something I wished happened more in Australia. Imagine letting students see plays for just $5 in Sydney??  That would just never happen.

Despite all the weirdness or maybe because of it, I would love to see more German theatre, especially if I can get really cheap tickets. It was just such a mind boggling experience that I feel the urge to repeat, cause let’s face it, I’m never going to see theatre of this level of weird anywhere else in the world.

Monday’s Musical Moment

Tags

, , , , , ,

To cope with having to be back at work this Monday morning, here is some music that might put a smile on your face.

First up, German band Die Ärzte present Gehn Wie Ein Ägypter – the German language version of Walk Like An Egyptian

Next, the Wise Guys, a German Acapella group do a fantastic rendition of Britney Spear’s Hit Me Baby One More Time German style – Schlag mich Baby noch einmal

Over the weekend Germany held its nation-wide song content – Bundesvision.  I didn’t even know this existed until I saw the results reported on the U-Bahn’s news service.  This was the winning entry Lass Uns Gehen by Revolverheld.  It’s surprisingly catchy.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

This is a new section looking at the interesting, hilarious and odd things I have discovered in the previous 7 days.

Books

This is a book that all death enthusiasts and those who fear death should have on their bookshelf. I’ll be ordering mine when my bank account forgives me for the last lot of books I brought.

Only In Germany

A large part of Lüneburg just 50km south of Hamburg was evacuated this week when an 250kg unexploded WWII bomb was found.  This didn’t even make the news on NDR (North Germany Radio) as this type of thing happens all the time.

Commuters in Berlin this week saw something not commonly seen that often – two people having sex on a station platform. What this article doesn’t cover that the German language news did, is that the guy was cheating on his girlfriend who subsequently broke up with him after this video went viral.

Science

Despite the fact that I work in IT, I actually hold a Bachelor of Science degree.  My speciality was anatomy and I had the honour of examining and dissecting many human remains including an actual human head we called Marlon.  I intended to return the favour when I die by donating my body to medical science.

For those of us who love to write in which ever form we write in, science has proven that writing has some surprising health benefits.

Exercising My Brain And My Body

Tags

, , ,

For the last 2 and a bit years that I lived in Australia I threw myself fully into the sport of Kung Fu. For a non-sporty person like myself this was both a challenge and a revelation. Whilst I don’t like doing sport, I love doing Kung Fu and by all accounts, I was pretty decent at it.

My Kung Fu trophies that my parents demanded I do ‘something’ with when I was back home for a visit in July.

However, when I arrived in Germany I stopped doing Kung Fu. I simply did not have the language skills to undertake a class run completely in German and my evenings were taken up with learning German. Now that my German classes are currently on a fairly long hiatus and my German has reached the functional stage, I decided I wanted to get back to doing Kung Fu. I was fortunate to find a Kung Fu school literally around the corner from where I live. It’s barely even a 5 minute walk away which will make excuses not to go to class when it is cold and snowing pretty hard to justify. The only two issues I had was being really unfit from 4 years of not doing Kung Fu and the fear that I wouldn’t be able to understand anything anyone said to me (which is actually a daily fear rather than Kung Fu specific).

So on Monday evening, I fronted up to my first class full of nerves but also secretly pleased that my Kung Fu pants still fitted me. I was pretty certain that I would be dead by the end of the warm-up and make a complete idiot of myself. Fortunately I did neither. The class was hard, but nowhere near as hard as I had built it up in my mind. I also had issues understanding the instructor as he speaks a hundred miles an hour and uses words I have never heard before, but I got the jist of what he was saying and it was easy enough to follow everybody else. Actually my biggest challenge is going to be that the style of Kung Fu I’m learning now is very different to the Kung Fu I did previously. I’m going to have to learn to be graceful and flowing instead of strong and powerful. That is going to be one hell of a challenge.

Still at the end of the class, completely and utterly exhausted, I was on a high. It felt so good to be back doing Kung Fu. Two days post-class and everything still hurts, however, I’m going back to class again tonight. It feels good to have this outlet back in my life and also it’s a great way to learn and practice German as my body is getting a workout as well.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

This is a new section looking at the interesting, hilarious and odd things I have discovered in the previous 7 days.

Art

I bet you have a fixed idea of what materials lamps & chandeliers should be made of.  Here are 21 Beautiful Lamps And Chandeliers Made From Everyday Junk.  I especially love number 15.

We have all imagined ourselves living different lives to the one we are currently living. We have fantasised over what this other self would wear, where they would live and the people they would love.  One photography has made her fantasies a reality, well at least on film.

Gender

As a woman working in a male-dominated industry, I am exposed to quite a lot of sexist behaviour on an almost daily basis.  However, it doesn’t take being in my position for sexism against women to have a huge impact on your daily life.  Now, transgender people are giving us a unique insight to how things change when you move from one side of the gender divide to the other.

Germany

Did you know that a large number of wild boar in Germany, particularly Eastern Germany are radioactive thanks to Chernobyl?  Apparently it is going to take 50 years for the levels of radiation in these animals to return to normal.

LGBT

Coming out is a difficult thing and every queer person has their own ‘coming out’ story. However, what the non-queer community sometimes fail to realise is that queer people don’t need to come out just the once, we have to come out hundreds of times and each coming out is still a nerve racking experience.

Preschoolers on Wheels

Tags

, , , , , , ,

I snapped this photo walking past my local preschool this morning. Sorry, it’s a little blurry but folks don’t like you talking photos of preschools (for obvious reasons), so I couldn’t stand around making sure the shot was perfect. It was more of taking a photo whilst still walking kind of thing. In Germany, preschools don’t have heaps of strollers sitting out the front in an undercover section, instead they have lots of tiny bikes. This is because, in my neighbourhood at least, the preschoolers ride their own bikes to preschool.

In Germany, parents get their kids onto bikes almost as soon as they can walk. My local Platz is often full of toddlers zooming around on balance bikes. Once they hit about 3 or so, the kids upgrade to their very own regular bike without any training wheels attached. Since bike riding is allowed on footpaths these little kids ride everywhere usually closely followed by one of their parents, who will have a younger sibling sitting on the back of their bike in a child seat. This can make walking past the preschool at drop-off time rather risky, as whilst the preschooler has learnt how to ride, their steering skills are often under developed.

This phenomenon does explain however why Germans choose to ride their bikes everywhere and why they are so comfortable on them. They have literally been riding a bike since they learned how to walk. Given how screwed up our environment is, it would be great to see other cities around the world (excluding Amsterdam of course) getting kids onto bikes at a younger age and introducing bike lanes on the footpath rather than on the street to allow kids (and adults too) to ride around the city more safely.

Welcoming A New Baby

Tags

, , ,

I saw this in the doorway of an apartment building in my neighbourhood and I have to admit it is something I have never seen before.  I thought perhaps someone had spent a little too much time on Pinterest but German friends have put me straight – this is how babies are welcomed in Germany.

On the day the baby is born, family and friends put up the line with some alcoholic ‘help’ supplied by dad. It appears to be a tradition more adhered to in the South than up here in North, but I’m glad that a neighbourhood family decided to bring the tradition up here with them.  I think it is a lovely way to welcome a brand-new family member and also a nice way to alert the neighbours to a newborn in the building.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Tags

, , , , , , ,

This is a new section looking at the interesting, hilarious and odd things I have discovered in the previous 7 days.

Culture

Pharrell William’s song ‘Happy’ is one song that I can’t listen to and still feel sad by the end of it.  Now, we’ve all seen this song performed in many gorgeous, far-flung places in the world, but I bet you’ve never seen in performed in ASL (American Sign Language).

Part of being a good parent is introducing your child to the most iconic children-friendly movies of all time. But which films should make the cut?  Here are the 55 Essential Movies Kids Must Experience by their 13th Birthday. It is an awesome list.

History

Admittedly there is more that we don’t know about the Stonehenge then what we do know. Now new research has discovered even more secrets about this iconic landmark.

Language

Everybody speaks English in Europe right?  Well, you might want to rethink that. Here’s a map that shows the percentage of people per country that are able to have a conversation in English.  In some areas, that percentage is pretty low and in others it is nowhere near as high as you might have believed.

Romance

We all know that readers make the best lovers (you all knew that, right?), well here are the reasons why. So date a reader today!

An Unexpected Award

I received an unexpected email last week that initially I thought was spam, but I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out not to be.

My blog has been listed as one of the Best 10 Websites for Expat Women on the website My Currency Transfer.  Joining me on that list was fellow Aussie now calling Germany home Liv Hambrett, so I am definitely in good company.  They even gave me this lovely little badge.  Thanks guys!


Finalist - MyCurrencyTransfer.com's Expat Stars Awards 2014

How To Apply For Permanent Residency In Germany

Tags

, , ,

Credit: BAMF

Regardless of how long you have been in Germany one day you are going to contemplate applying for permanent residency, even if it is just so you can stop having to re-apply for your work visa every year.  So, how does one apply for permanent residency in Germany?

Just before we get started, please note that this is just a general guide to applying for Permanent Residency. Not everything written here is going to apply to everybody seeking Permanent Residency. Please ask your local Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office) for what you need to do to apply for permanent residency based on the visa you currently hold.

Ok, now that’s out of the way, what does one need in order to successfully apply for Permanent Residency otherwise known as an Niederlassungserlaubnis?  Well in true German style it requires a lot of documentation and the documentation you need depends on what kind of visa you currently hold.

All of the information below was gotten from the Hamburg Welcome Centre who have guided me through getting my very first work visa, my EU Blue Card and now my Permanent Residency (when it comes through *crosses fingers*).

General Documentation

  • A completed application form
  • A valid passport
  • A biometric photograph (max. six months old) which complies to the German standards
  • Confirmation of registration of place of residence
  • Rental agreement or evidence of property ownership and last annual billing for heating and operational costs
  • Sufficient German language skills / certificate Integration Course Level B1 *
  • Confirmation of at least 60 months (5 years) of contributions to the German public pension insurance or comparable private retirement arrangement. If you hold an EU Blue Card you need to only provide proof of 24 months.  This document must be obtained from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung.

* Note about language requirements: What you need to provide to prove your German language skills seems to change depending on which visa you have. I needed to prove that I had a B1 level of German.  At the very least you will need to prove that you speak around an A2 level of German whether that is via a certificate or a short interview conducted in German.

The further documents you need to provide depend on whether you have a salaried position or are self-employed/freelancer. You may be asked to provide some or all of the documents below depending on the type of work visa you currently hold.

Salaried Employment

  • Employment contract
  • Confirmation of employment
  • Last three salary statements (payslips)
  • Tax clearance certificate. This document must be obtained from the Finanzamt

Self-Employed/Freelancer

  • Confirmation of employment
  • Tax clearance certificate. This document must be obtained from the Finanzamt
  • Last three salary statements
  • Calculation of profits from tax consultant/auditor
  • Excerpt of the Commercial register
  • Business registration
  • Audit report form filled in by tax consultant for Chamber of Commerce

The above checklist can be downloaded from here.

Once you have obtained all the documentation required by your local Ausländerbehörde depending on the visa you currently hold, you will need to make an appointment to submit the documentation and possibly undergo a short language test/interview, if required. Whilst I do have a B1 Zertifikat Deutsch, my application interview was held entirely German. I have no idea if this was to test my level of German or just done by default.  However, I was never asked if I preferred to speak German or English which is normally the case when I go to the Hamburg Welcome Centre to talk visas. So, please consider this a warning that you will be expected to demonstrate some German language skills.

After all of your documents are scanned and fingerprints taken, you will then need to pay the application fee which was €135 as of August 2014.

You will then need to wait a ‘few’ nail-biting weeks for a letter which will tell you whether or not your Permanent Residency has been approved.  Unlike other countries, you do not have to submit your passport at time of application, therefore, you will be allowed to travel out of the country during this waiting period.

Once you received your letter from Berlin stating that your Permanent Residency has been approved, you can pick up your credit card-like electronic visa from your local Ausländerbehörde office and go and celebrate your new status as a Permanent Resident of Germany.

 

For those of you who have already gone through the Permanent Residency application process, please let me know in the comments below how the above article compares to your experiences, especially when it comes to the German language requirements. Also, if you had another visa type, other than a work visa, please let me know what kind of documentation you needed to supply in order to apply.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,015 other followers