advantages of living in the land of nutella

I just got back from going grocery shopping at one of the largest grocery stores I have been to in Germany.  Compared to my usual grocery haunts here, it had a much larger selection of just about every food category I could want, plus more.  There are benefits to going grocery shopping on the outskirts of town instead of in the crowded city center!

One of the things I bought today was proof of why living in the land of excellent chocolate and plentiful Nutella can be a Very Good Thing:

cereal on the outside, nutella on the inside!  and look at the cute little mascot guy!  he has a chocolate cape!  awwww...

That is a box of cereal.  Isn’t the little mascot guy cute?  He has a little chocolate cape!  But the best part about this cereal?  It has chocolate nougat (which is basically Nutella) inside! Delicious.  I think Kellogg’s should sell this in the USA.


the shower dance

I knew that there would be challenges in coming to Germany.  Adjusting to the culture, learning how the language is spoken in real life, and understanding my classes.

But I had no idea that the challenges would include using the shower in my apartment.

the showerhead, the button to turn it on, and the knob to change the temperature.  looks simple, right?

The basics of using this shower aren’t hard.  Push the top button to turn the water on, and turn the knob on the bottom to pick a temperature.  No problems there.  But how to turn the water off when you’re done?

That’s the easy part.  30 seconds after the button is pushed, the water turns off.  To have a shower that isn’t punctuated by the lack of warm water every thirty seconds, you have to keep hitting that button constantly.

And showering turns out to be more complicated than that, even.  Because of the motion sensor:

the motion sensor controlling the light.  the other box is a humidity sensor controlling the ventilation system.

The motion sensor controls the light in the shower stall.  Every time it senses motion, it turns the light on for three minutes or so. If it doesn’t sense motion within that time, the light turns off.  Since the shower curtain blocks my feeble attempts to re-activate the sensor by waving my arm above my head, I often have to move the shower curtain itself back and forth.  That lets a blast of cold air into the shower stall.  Brr.

The combination of the water button and the motion sensor controlling the light turn every shower into a sort of dance.  Activate the light, activate the water. Keep hitting the water button with my elbow every few seconds while shampooing and such, and then, suddenly, the light goes off.  Immediately move the shower curtain back and forth until I can see the light bulb starting to glow again, then immediately hit the water button so the water won’t turn off before I have light to see by.  And then go back to hitting the water button every few seconds.  And so on. I’ve gotten used to it.  It won’t be showcased on MTV anytime soon, but the shower dance gets the job done.

my one word for 2012: story

very inspiring story about one's life as a story.


I’ve been back in Darmstadt for over a week now. Christmas at home with the family was fantastic. It was hard to leave my parents and friends at home to come back to Darmstadt, but I’m refreshed and prepared to finish what I started here.

Since a new year has begun, I’ve picked my New Year’s Resolution. It is a single word, using a New Year’s resolution program started by Port City Community Church, the church I went to during my internships in Wilmington, NC. That system is called My One Word. You pick a word that represents the growth you want to see in your life for this year.

My One Word for this year is story. As in, my life story is part of a big, exciting story God has planned out. I can sit inside on my computer all day every day and make my story dull and uninspiring, or I can get out, explore, meet new people, take (sensible) risks, and generally make the story of my life a good part of God’s bigger story.

I’m making a consious effort to get out of my apartment and interact with the world, in order to have more chances to develop my story. For instance, I’ve started running. I can’t run for very long at the moment, but even running as a beginner is more healthy than sitting in front of my computer.  And it gives me more of a chance to see beauty in nature and to interact with the people around me. (Especially the people out walking their adorable dogs!)  And I’m making travel plans for later this year, which means more chances to develop my story.

This word goes along with the word I picked for last year, which was go. Go, as in stop-worrying-about-how-the-semester-defining-conversation-with-this-professor-will-go-and-go-ask-him-your-question-already, and go as in go-take-a-risk-and-study-abroad. Those were my ideas for the way go would work in my life in 2011.

The ideas I have for why I choose a particular word each year aren’t always the same ideas I have about the word by the end of the year. By the end of 2011, I began to go out of my apartment and take a walk around town to distract myself from homesickness, I had had to go ask professors and teaching assistants for help or advice (in German), and I had gone on trips to see cities I may not get much of a chance to see again.  I saw myself mature in the way I handled life situations by how I looked at the word go in January vs. in December.  There were both victories and defeats, but I learned a lot.

When I went to Nürnberg for the Christkindlesmarkt, I decided that My One Word for 2012 would be story. I had had the idea bouncing around in my head for months.  On the train ride, I read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.  That book convinced me that I want to focus on making my life a better story in 2012. (Very good book, by the way. A friend of mine who also blogs quoted it on Facebook, and I knew I had to read it.)

So that is My One Word for this year: story. Want to pick a word for this year? Great! Here is the page with a guide of how to do so.  I hope you find this approach to New Year’s resolutions as inspiring as I do.  Best wishes for the new year!

rothenburg ob der tauber: the main käthe wohlfarht

One of my favorite stores in Germany is Käthe Wohlfarht. It is a year-round Christmas store, similar in concept to (but much smaller than) Bronners in Frankenmuth, Michigan. I first visited Käthe Wohlfarht in Heidelberg but have seen them in other locations in Germany, such as in the Rüdesheim and in Nürnberg. The main Käthe Wohlfarht, however, is located in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Cameras were unfortunately not allowed in most parts of the store, but here’s a nice teaser photo of the facade.

the käthe wohlfahrt store in rothenburg ob der tauber

rothenburg ob der tauber christmas market

I visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber on Dec. 15, 2011. Since the trip was just a few days after I saw the Christkindlesmarkt in Nürnberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber’s Christmas market was a bit underwhelming. It was more spread out over the city instead of concentrated in one location, though it was fun to think I had found the end of the Weihnachtsmarkt only to discover even more vendor stalls another street over.

This picture shows the town hall (the big brownish building) and a bunch of Weihnachtsmarkt stands on the Marktplatz.the city hall of rothenburg ob der tauber, with weihnachtsmarkt vendor stalls situated on marktplatz