Word of the Week: Frühjahrsmüdigkeit

This week marked the first day of spring. In light of this, let’s examine the word Frühjahrsmüdigkeit.

When spring arrives, not everyone is struck purely with joy and vitality. Some are just the opposite, developing a fatigue that Germans call Frühjahrsmüdigkeit (“spring tiredness”).

In German, the word Frühjahr means “early year” and Müdigkeit means tiredness. Thus, Frühjahrsmüdigkeit is usually attributed to weariness, laziness and lethargy in the springtime — generally between mid-March to mid-April.

Do you find yourself staring at the flowering tree outside your window, unable to concentrate on your work? Has it become more difficult to wake up early? Do you get headaches more often than usual? Do you spend weekends on the couch rather than outdoors? Then you might be suffering from Frühjahrsmüdigkeit.

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Intern Q&A: Jana Hofmann

This week, we are introducing one of our interns in the press department. Our Q&A with Jana sheds light on her experience as a German in the US – and the Embassy!

Name: Jana Hofmann

Where you’re from: I’m from Menden, a town in the Sauerland, a region in Germany famous for winter sports.

Where and what you’re studying: I’m doing my master’s in Peace and Conflict Studies at University of Marburg.

What is one project or activity you enjoyed at the Embassy?

I am so thankful for the many doors the Embassy opened for me: I was able to visit the White House, participate in an intern exchange with our co-workers from New York at the United Nations, and was included in media briefings with Ambassador Wittig. Every other week, I had the morning shift, starting at 5 AM, and did a press screening. As a news junkie, I enjoyed reading the papers and working on our daily press report . One highlight during my internship was the visit of our Minister of Economics, Peter Altmaier. I was allowed to cover his meetings for our social media channels and shadow the press secretary’s work.

German Embassy intern Jana spent many early mornings compiling the daily press report.

What do you think is one of Germany’s main foreign policy challenges and what should Germany do about it?

Growing up in a peaceful and united Europe, I can’t imagine Germany without the EU. I can travel through most of Europe without passing “real” borders and even pay with the same currency. I am thankful for all of the benefits my generation has because of the EU. That is why I am worried about the rise of extremism and populism in Germany and in Europe. I think my generation needs to stand up for the EU and speak up against populism and hate. The U.S. is our most important ally and we should strengthen the German-American friendship.

Besides, I have met so many Americans who have either served or lived in Germany. Our personal ties are tight, and we shouldn’t forget that the Germans and Americans are close on the personal and business level, while discussing and solving political differences.

What are some impressions you gained of the United States?

I am always happy to go back to the U.S. for a visit because people are so friendly and easy to talk to. I love that everyone greets you with a smile and starts small talk. Every time I visit, I realize again that this country is too big to explore in one trip or to understand from one experience. There are still so many places to visit!

What has been your biggest surprise with regard to living in Washington?

How much the city has changed in just four years! I studied here for one semester during my bachelor’s and really fell in love with D.C. — the cute neighborhoods in Georgetown, the “I am in a movie”-feeling while walking past the White House, Capitol, and the monuments. When I first got here, it was sometimes hard to find restaurants and cafés that were not part of a chain. Now, there are so many up and coming neighborhoods.

I am, however, worried about the change of the city’s vibe. Everyday life has become even more politicized, if that is possible in one of the world’s most vibrant political cities. At least it’s more visible, and yet it has a positive flip side: people are standing up for their values and discussing what policies work best for the US and the world as a whole.

What do you miss about Germany?

“Kaffee & Kuchen”

My family and friends, and my boyfriend. I think you can get most German products in the US, and technology makes it easy to stay in touch, but I miss having a typical German “Kaffeetrinken” (drinking coffee) with homemade cake or cookies with my loved ones.

But I wouldn’t mind having my D.C. roommate’s chocolate cake when I’m back home!

What has been your biggest lesson learnt during your internship?

Ask questions – and, to quote a former professor of mine: “Do what makes your veins throb!” For me, the Embassy is more than a fancy building; it’s the people working here that make German foreign politics move forward, and everyone is doing his or her part, everyone has a story to tell. I loved learning more about a diplomat’s life and I am thankful my co-workers always made sure to take time to answer all my questions. I was also able to get to know people from the other departments and talk to them about their work. There are so many different people at the Embassy and when you talk to them, you can hear that they love their jobs. You can learn so much from those conversations, and many people are happy to give you advice – may it be on what to do and see in D.C. or helping you figure out what could be your next career step. You just have to ask.

Where do you plan to go or what do you plan to do after your internship?

I’ll be staying in D.C. for two more weeks to do some sightseeing and visit the Shenandoah National Park. I feel like I’ve had enough snow and cold for one winter, so I’m really happy that I’ll end my stay in the U.S. with a trip to Florida.

German Embassy intern Jana spent many early mornings compiling the daily press report.

Travel Tuesday: Vischering Castle

Castle Vischering by Michael Guenther on 500px.com


If visiting a moated castle is on your to-do list, then Vischering Castle is the place for you. This German castle takes you on a trip back to medieval times.

The Vischering Castle was built in 1271 and stands in present-day Lüdinghausen, North Rhine-Westphalia – an area saturated with castles. Germans call it a Wasserschloss (“water castle”) because it is surrounded by water for protection.

The castle is a product of a family feud between Bischop Gerhard von der Mark and the Von Ludinghausen family. In the 13th century, the bishop constructed it to compete with the other family’s castle, which was located nearby. Family feuds were common in those days, but they did not always lead to magnificent castles!

The horseshoe-shaped castle was built for defense and still contains its drawbridge, courtyard, strategic gateways and defensive wall. Although it was partially destroyed in a fire in 1521 and partially damaged during World War II, it was rebuilt and continues to stand open to visitors today.

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

German exchange student Alexander Willers describes living in the US as a CBYX student

Alexander Wills is participating in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX), a student exchange program jointly sponsored by the US Congress and the German Bundestag. Name: Alexander Willers

Grade: 12th in the United States, 10th in Germany

Hometown: Hamburg, Germany.

Current location: I am living with my host family in Flint, Michigan.

What motivated you to apply to the CBYX program?

The CBYX program is an amazing opportunity to learn more about the culture of the United States and to meet new friends. The program allowed me to not only understand the culture and way of life in the US but to get in touch with interesting people from politics. I truly feel that within the program I can contribute to the understanding between Americans and Germans.

What reaction did you receive from friends and family when you decided to join CBYX?

We were all happy and sad at the same time. I was very proud and happy that I could join the program but I also felt sad because I was going to leave my family and friends soon for a full year. My family and my friends were also proud to hear that I have been elected for the CBYX program. Everybody is excited to learn about my experiences once I am back in Germany.

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Word of the Week: Dreikäsehoch

What do you call a tiny little kid in German? A Dreikäsehoch! Literally translated, this colloquial German word means “three-cheeses-tall,” but has little to do with cheese and instead defines a child (usually a boy) that we would refer to in English as a “tiny tot.”

A Dreikäsehoch usually refers to a curious and intelligent child who is too small to do much, but tries to act like a “big shot.” If, for example, an ambitious five-year-old tells his parent that he wants to run in a marathon, the parent might respond, “but you are a Dreikäsehoch” – thereby indicating that the child is too little (only three cheeses tall!) to do so.

But why does this colloquial term refer to cheese, of all things?

Throughout history, cheese has always been an important resource. The Greeks considered it a delicacy, using it as a sacrifice for the Gods. The Romans considered it an important part of their diet, carrying slabs of cheese with them as they roamed through Europe. Cheese quickly gained popularity across Europe in the Middle Ages, and people soon knew what to expect when they obtained a wheel, which were usually about the same size and weight, according to WDR.

As a result, cheese become a standard measuring device in homes across Europe. In French, the word caisse refers to both boxes and cheese, and both were used as measuring devices. Similarly in Germany, large wheels of cheese were used as measuring units.

Thus, the word Dreikäsehoch originated in 18th century Northern Germany, referring to little boys no taller than three stacked wheels of cheese.

However, this mildly humorous reference was chosen as the third-most endangered beloved German word in 2007, and is slowly falling out of use in common language.

But perhaps you can help bring this 18th century word back into conversation. Next time you see a tiny tot trying to engage in activities he is too small for, you can remind him that’s he’s still only a little Dreikäsehoch.

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy


Intern Q&A: Henri Dörr

This week, we are introducing one of our interns at the German Embassy. Our Q&A with Henri sheds light on his experience as a German in the US – and the Embassy!

Name: Henri Dörr

Where you’re from: I´m from Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, a small city in Bavaria half an hour north of Munich.

Where and what you’re studying: I´m just finishing my undergraduate studies in European Studies Major at the University of Passau.

What is one project or activity you enjoyed at the Embassy?

I had the great opportunity to take part in and report on the State of the Net-Conference, an annual summit of experts and politicians, where current and future developments in the field of internet policy were being discussed., e.g. blockchain, 5G and net-neutrality.

What do you think is one of Germany’s main foreign policy challenges and what should Germany do about it?

The Brexit and the rise of Euro-skeptical parties throughout Europe is and will continue to be one of the biggest challenges. Germany has to take a leading role here and protect, defend and foster the values and achievements of the European Union together with the other remaining 26 member-states.

What are some impressions you gained of the United States?

Without a car it’s quite hard to get around. In the bigger cities you can always find a public transportation system, but if you want get a little bit outside the bigger towns, a car is definitely necessary. Apart from that, I got to know Americans as being very polite, open and interested in Germany. They are always open for a quick chat and it´s much easier to start a conversation here.

What has been your biggest surprise with regard to living in Washington?

There are so many things to do and see here and most of them are for free. (The Smithsonian, National Archives, Library of Congress, Arlington Cemetery, Memorials, etc.) People in Germany are more focused on New York, Florida, and the West Coast and see Washington mainly as the seat of the US government and not as a cultural hub with so many amazing museums and places to see.

What do you miss about Germany?

I miss the public transportation system, which is more tightly knit and a bit more reliable in Germany.

What has been your biggest lesson learned during your internship?

If you’re in Washington, even as an intern, you need your own business cards. At every event I attended I was handed several and experienced surprise and sometimes even irritation when not being able to hand one of mine back.

Where do you plan to go after your internship?

After my internship, I have two weeks left here in DC, which I will use to visit the museums at the National Mall that are still missing on my list and make a short trip to Philadelphia. After that I will return to Germany to apply for a master’s degree in the field of political science.

Travel Tuesday: Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

Europe’s largest hillside park is located in Germany – and it happens to be an UNESCO World Heritage site, as well! Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is a Baroque “mountain park” west of the city center in Kassel, Germany.

Built in 1696, the large park is laid out in a Baroque style with beautiful gardens and architecture. The most interesting feature, however, is its waterworks. About 92,000 gallons of water flow through the park, connecting to reservoirs and channels. The waterworks begin at the top of a hill and flow down to the Grand Fountain, which shoots the water 164 feet into the air.

The waterworks are a sight in and of themselves, but the park also features old architecture, a giant Hercules memorial, faux ruins, a Roman aqueduct and a Chinese pagoda. One of its most picturesque attractions is the Löwenburg Castle, erected by landgrave Wilhelm IX at the end of the 18th century.

The best part about visiting Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe: there’s no entrance fee to get into the park itself! It’s a great spot for those summer picnics we’re so eagerly anticipating right now!

German exchange student Tim Oswald shares his experience with CBYX

CBYX student Tim Oswald at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Name:  Tim Oswald

Grade: Junior / 11

Where you’re from:  Weisenheim am Sand in the Palatinate region, close to Mannheim/Ludwigshafen in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

Current location: Brentwood, CA –  a suburb of San Francisco located in the East Bay region of the Bay Area in Northern California.

What motivated you to apply to the CBYX program?  

What motivated me the most to apply for the CBYX program was my desire to leave Germany for a year and participate in an exchange year to learn more about a different culture, meet different people with different ideas and improve my English skills. When I found out about the CBYX program I was thrilled because I have been interested in politics since a very young age and the CBYX program combined all my interests including international politics, leadership, language and culture into one and therefore was the perfect program for me.

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Word of the Week: Bandsalat

If you’re a Baby Boomer, Generation X or (in some cases) a Millennial, you may still remember what life was like before the invention of CDs or DVDs. In those long-ago days, you had to listen to your favorite music on cassette tapes or watch movies on VHS. Which means you probably dealt with a Bandsalat at some point.


Bandsalat translates to “tape salad”, and no – it’s not the type of salad you can eat. Bandsalat is the mess that forms when a cassette or video tape goes crazy and the tape comes out and gets tangled up in itself. This frequently happened to music tapes when you had to turn the cassette around to listen to the other half of it. Since the music or movie was stored on this tape, a Bandsalat had the potential to ruin it entirely. If the tape had a tear in it, you may not have been able to do much to fix it. But if it’s just tangled, you may have been able to detangle it and roll it back up with the help of a pinky finger and some patience.

Most 80s kids will remember their beloved cassette tapes and the anger they felt when they ended up with a Bandsalat.

If you grew up in the pre-CD era, we know you’ll relate to this word.

And if you didn’t, we hope you feel fortunate that you don’t have to do deal with “tape salads”.

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

12 German women who influenced the world

Let’s take a look at 12 influential German women whose names have gone down in history. Who would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

Hildegard von Bingen

Hildegard von Bingen (also known as Saint Hildegard) is the oldest person on our list. This influential German woman is largely considered the founder of scientific natural history in Germany. She was a Benedictine nun who was also an abbess, artist, author, composer, pharmacist, poet, preacher, mystic and theologian! It seems there is nothing that von Bingen couldn’t do! In 2012, she was named a Doctor of the Church, a rare title only given to saints who contributed heavily with their theological writings. Only three other women in history have received this title.

“Humanity, take a good look at yourself. Inside, you’ve got heaven and earth, and all of creation. You’re a world – everything is hidden in you.”

Empress Elisabeth of Bavaria („Sissi“)

Many of you may have watched or heard about a royal Austrian woman nicknamed “Sisi”. Elisabeth of Bavaria was born into a royal family in Munich, Germany, which was part of the Kingdom of Bavaria at the time. At the age of 16, she married Emperor Franz Joseph I and became the Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary. Her biggest achievement was helping to create the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary in 1867. She was killed during an anarchist assassination while in Geneva in 1898.

Bertha Benz

Although the invention of the first practical automobile is credited to Karl Benz, his wife also had an enormous impact on the industry. Bertha Benz, a German woman from Pforzheim, was Karl’s business partner. She financed the manufacturing of his first horseless carriage with her dowry. In 1888, she took her two sons and drove the Patent Motorwagen Model III 120 miles from Mannheim to Pforzheim without telling her husband. This was the first time someone drove an automobile over a long distance, fixing all technological complications on the way. Bertha made history; her drive alleviated fears that people had about automobiles, bringing the Benz Patent-Motorwagen its first sales.

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