PARIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! from Marlena

We just got back to Paris and it’s soooooooo different. it’s enough learning German, but French as well??? We’ve been learning a litle French in school, but that only can go so far. At dinner on our first night there I got traditional Parisian food and crepes for dessert. I was telling my family ‘ Just as I get used to living in Germany, we come to Paris. ‘ Yesterday night was daylight savings. I woke up an hour early this morning, and I think that I woke up Henry as well ( we were sharing a room ). As for the rest of the nights I slept at our friends’ house. At the end of the vacation, I was to tears because I would miss my friend.


60th birthday celebration at Henry’s school

this post is narrated by Henry

Yesterday (October 10), there was a festival at my school to celebrate the exact-to-the-day 60th birthday of the Anger Gymnasium. There was an hour and a half celebration in the afternoon, including

  • speeches by:

the principal
a teacher who has taught there since 1994

  • musical performances by:

an accordionist,
two girls on the violin (playing a duet),
an ensemble of 3 flutes, a violin, and a tenor recorder                                                                                                           the chorus                                                                                                                                                                                                 the orchestra

  • poems by the founder of the school, read by two students
  • a rap and video by the tenth grade

Friday night service in Cologne

from Henry’s view

On Friday the 25 we attended a service at a temple in Cologne.  The temple was large, with a separate balcony for the women. Dad and I, who were on the lower level with the other men, had an okay time.  We met the rabbi and a man from Israel, and talked to a few others.  Mom and Marlena, however, were up in the balcony with, by the end, three others.  The service itself went fine. I was surprised at how much freedom the four other kids, none of whom were over six, had, because they were chasing each other and playing tag through the isles. We had a small kiddush (meal and ceremony) after the service which also went well, though I only liked the bread.

A Brightonian in Germany

I am a Brighton resident living this year in Jena, Germany.  Jena is a town of about 100,000 people in central/eastern Germany.  Most importantly for this blog, our family of four is here without a car.  Over the next nine months, I will be posting about our experiences with active transportation (biking, walking) and public transportation (bus, streetcar, train). 

So far, it has been unequivocally great to be car-less.  Part of what makes it possible is our physical situation:

  • The children’s schools are a 4-minute and 7-minute walk away.  My husband’s office is a 20-minute bike ride away, 90% of which is on bike paths.
  • There is a grocery store basically next door to each of their schools.  (And with a refrigerator that’s probably 1/6 the size of our NY frig, there isn’t any temptation to buy lots of food that would then be difficult to lug on bike or foot.)
  • The center of town is about 15-minutes away by foot, with safe sidewalks the whole way.
  • We are a 6-minute walk from a stop that is served by two streetcar lines and a bus.  I don’t think we’ve ever waited more than ten minutes to get into town.  This is in contrast to the bus we can take to work in Brighton, which is a 15-minute walk away and runs every 40-60 minutes weekdays and not at all on weekends.  The transit isn’t cheap, but it’s especially handy when the weather is rotten or one is carrying a heavy, bulky instrument (which we do twice a week to lessons).
  • Jena is in a river valley (the Saale, for the geographically inclined), so where we live and most of the places we go are FLAT.  There are steep hills all around the city, which are beautiful and are where a lot of people live.  If we were living up in the hills, we’d be getting a lot more exercise but would have needed more expensive bikes than the used ones we bought (see picture)Image, and we might not trust our children to bicycle independently as much as we do.

Marlena’s German language

In German, there are a lot of confusing words.  Their grammar is very different from ours.  For example, they always put their verbs second in a sentence, unlike in English, where the verb moves around. 

Can I give you an example = Kann ich dir ein Beispiel geben?  (Literally, can I you an example give?)
Tomorrow I will go to the movie theater = Morgen gehe ich ins Kino.   (Literally, tomorrow go I to the cinema.)

If there is more than one verb in a sentence, all of the extra verbs go at the end.  For example:

Deshalb sollten Schokolade oder Bonbons nur ab und zu in kleinen Mengen gegessen werden.  (Literally, therefore should chocolate or bonbons only now and then in small amounts eaten be.)  This is a sentence from my schoolbook.

The good news is, I have really been improving in German (as everyone of course has expected).  I have been speaking German so much that when I’m trying to say something in English, my brain just automatically goes to German and I have to think a while of the English word.  I hope I can survive next year being back in the States.

Marlena’s math

In school, math is very different.  On the first day of school, we were given a sheet that looked like the attached picture.  I looked at it for a while, shook my head, and went up to my teacher to ask what it meant.  These are what the problems looked like:

8 • 4 > 2 • 2  (   )

10 : 5 = 2 : 2  (   ) …

You have to say if it is true or false in the parentheses.

I asked her, “Is the two dots a plus or minus, and what about the one dot?”  She answered, “The one dot is multiplication, and the two dots are division.”  Then I thought, oh yeah, I’m in third grade.  Chances are they’re not going to have a sheet like this with addition and subtraction in third grade.  So I went back to my seat.

One time, when I accidentally wrote an American-looking division sign, I thought to myself, “What’s this?”  Then I remembered.  It’s going to be hard adjusting back to American things when I come back.