Word of the Week: Familienkutsche

If you have a large family, how do you transport everyone all at once? In the olden days, you would use a horse and buggy. Today, you might choose to buy a minivan for that purpose.

To take your whole family with you on a trip, you would probably need a Familienkutsche. This form of transportation usually has a large amount of horsepower. And no, we are not talking about the animals. We are talking about a vehicle with a lot of power and space – something like a camper van, SUV or minivan.

The term Familienkutsche comes from Familie (“family”) and Kutsche (“carriage”). In the olden days this may have referred to a horse-drawn carriage, but today, it refers to a large automobile filled with parents, children and all of their stuff. A Familienkutsche is great for road trips in the countryside, but it’s not something you want to try to find parking for in a city!

Intern Q&A: Tobias Schneider

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

Name: Tobias Schneider

Where you’re from: I live in Cologne.

Where and what you’re studying: I studied law in Cologne, where I now seek admission as a lawyer. Therefore I’m undergoing a two-year trainee program – the so called “Referendariat”.

Why did you apply to intern at the German Embassy? As part of my traineeship I wanted to learn more about diplomatic service and figure out what working for an embassy is like.

What is your favorite project or experience at the German Embassy so far?
There has been a lot of interesting work. Every project and experience is connected with new and different people – both from the German Embassy and various organizations. That’s what makes the job special and way more interesting than others.

What are some impressions you have of the United States?
Especially in D.C., due to the political scene, you meet people from every state and all around the world. You soon realize the enormous size and diversity of the country.

What is your favorite part about living in the United States?
Living in the United States invites you to travel. There are few countries that offer a similar variety of places and landscapes. I, for example, traveled from an icy New York City to a spring-like Florida on New Year’s Eve.

What do you miss about Germany?
I miss my four-year old niece – and that there are less stop signs and there’s no speed limit on the Autobahn…

Where do you plan to go after your internship?
As part of my education I will work with the IP section of an international law firm at their Cologne office.

Word of the Week: Narrenruf

We’re in the midst of carnival season in Germany, so it’s only fitting that our Word of the Week is something that will come in handy during these festive days!

© dpa / picture-alliance

Our Word of the Week is Narrenruf, which means “fool’s shout”.

A Narrenruf is whatever revelers shout to each other on the streets during a carnival celebration. It is a call used to greet each other in the midst of the partying and festivities. In this way, you greet others celebrating carnival and acknowledge your mutual excitement.

Each carnival-celebrating region has its own unique Narrenruf. In Cologne, you’ll most likely hear people shouting Kölle Alaaf (“long live Cologne!”).

In other parts of Germany, including Düsseldorf and Mainz, you may here people shouting Helau!

In Berlin, you may hear Hajo! Other common Narrenrufe are Ahoi! (Bavaria and northern Germany), Ho Narro! (Konstanz) and Schelle-schelle-schellau! (Allgäu).

Make sure you know the proper Narrenruf for that region before shouting it out!

The word Narr is the medieval German word for fool. In 18th century writings, the term was often written as Narro. Its origins, however, are not known. The word Ruf simply means “call” or “shout” (as nouns). The Narrenruf has a huge cultural value for carnival in Germany. Everyone who celebrates knows and uses one. It is simply part of the tradition.

So next time you’re celebrating carnival with Germany, find out what the Narrenruf is in your area and use it to greet others during the festivities!

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

Intern Q&A: Sophie Hölscher shares her experiences at the German Embassy

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

Name: Sophie Hölscher

Where you’re from: Essen, Germany

Where and what you’re studying: I study a Bachelor’s degree of Political and Economic Sciences in the cute little student town of Münster, Germany.

Why did you apply to intern at the German Embassy?

I am very much interested in different aspects of international relations and one of my big goals is to help reduce conflict and hardship in the world. Diplomatic relations are among the most important tools to peace and well being, which is why I wanted to gain an insight in how everyday diplomacy works. Maybe, becoming a diplomat will prove to be an option for my future…?

What is your favorite project or experience at the German Embassy so far?

My favorite experience is the general feeling that my opinions and expertise are being valued and taken seriously. I’m “only” an intern, but I never get the impression that people look down on me. Instead, despite having fewer experiences than everybody else, my colleagues let me contribute a fair share to the German Information Center’s projects and discussions based on what I’ve learned in University.

Also, I really enjoy being able to learn about many different realms of diplomacy: I have done press work, public diplomacy projects, foreign and domestic political and cultural work. The tasks here are very diverse!

What are some impressions you have of the United States?

Everything here is bigger than back home – especially houses, cars and grocery packages. Maybe that’s because Germany is only half the size of Texas but has a quarter of the population of the entire United States – we simply have less space! But despite that: smaller, more energy efficient cars wouldn’t hurt anyone, would they?

What is your favorite part about living in the United States?

I love the diversity of Washington, DC! On every corner I get to eat delicious foods from all parts of the world and hear the stories of people from all kinds of different places – those that are on a visit and those that are here to stay. To me, this is one of the great advantages of living in an immigrant country.

What do you miss about Germany?

That’s easy: I miss a good, wholegrain rye bread with aged cheese from the Alps! Otherwise: not much to complain!

Where do you plan to go after your internship?

I will go back to Münster to work a little bit and stock up on savings. After that, I hope to be able to intern at one of Europe’s major international policy research centers before starting a Master’s degree in the field in September.

Who will bear the German flag in the Winter Olympics?

Nordic-combined skier Eric Frenzel has been chosen as Germany’s flagbearer for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Friday.

© dpa / picture alliance

Frenzel was selected for the honor by the German Olympic Sports Association, which held a poll on its website. When Frenzel found out he was nominated to be in the top 5, he said “I feel honored and it is a certain recognition for our sport and me individually.” (Source: DPA)

© dpa / picture alliance

The 29-year-old athlete won the Olympic gold medal in the 10km individual normal hill at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He also won a bronze medal in the 2010 Olympics and a silver medal in the 2009 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.

Frenzel will carry the German flag during the opening ceremony tomorrow, becoming an “enduring symbol of (Germany’s) national values and indeed of Olympic ideals” and “an inspiration for future generations.”

Word of the Week: Elefantenrennen

Few things are as annoying as being stuck behind a truck on a highway – with no way around. Germans have a unique word for one such phenomena.

The German word Elefantenrennen translates to “elephant racing”. But this strange German word has little to do with elephants.

“Elephant racing” occurs when one truck tries to overtake another truck on the highway with minimum speed difference. This results in a blockage of lanes – making it challenging (or sometimes impossible) to pass the large vehicles.

Like elephants, trucks can be massively sized, take up a lot of space and keep you stuck behind them.

An Elefantenrennen can cause slow-downs and traffic jams when there are many vehicles on the roads. In fact, Elefantenrennen is even illegal in Germany (that is: trucks overtaking trucks at “low speeds” is illegal). That doesn’t stop it from happening every once in a while.

If you’re stuck behind two racing elephants, the best thing you can do is slow down and hope the race ends quickly.

German Embassy endorses e-mobility at Washington Auto Show


The German Embassy endorsed e-mobility with its very own stand at the Washington Auto Show this winter. The German government supports the use of electric cars, offering incentives for consumers and investing in infrastructure and R&D.

This year, we are proud to announce that the German Embassy will be converting its entire fleet of cars to electric or hybrid cars and install charging stations on Embassy grounds. This switch will create an environmentally friendly transportation option for diplomats and staff that avoids emissions and protects public health.

German companies have long stated their plans to switch over to electric vehicle production. Car manufacturers like Volkswagen, BMW, Smart and Daimler are working to produce many new models of e-cars. Some of these were on display at the Washington Auto Show. By the year 2025, VW and Daimler expect that 25 percent of their sales will consist of e-cars alone, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported last year.

This fast progression of the transition to e-cars is aided by the tax incentives put forth by the German government. In 2015, the German government dedicated 600 million Euros for e-car subsidies. In Germany, those who buy an electric car receive a 4,000 Euro subsidy, while those who buy a hybrid car receive 3,000 Euros. The car owners are also exempt from car ownership taxes for 10 years.

To make e-car ownership easier, the German government also plans to install at least 7,000 fast-charging points throughout the country, mostly along the Autobahn, by 2020.

With more than 129,246 plug-in electric cars registered in Germany between 2010 and 2017, the future looks electric!

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

Word of the Week: Herrengedeck

When you find yourself at a bar, do you usually opt for a mixed drink consisting of beer and liquor or a strawberry daiquiri?
If you go for the beer cocktail, then you are ordering a so-called Herrengedeck.
The German word Herrengedeck means “gentlemen’s menu”. And no, we’re not talking about steaks or other “manly” foods. A Herrengedeck is a “manly” drink consisting of two types of alcohol. Stereotypically, men order beer, schnapps and whiskey, while women order sweeter mixed drinks.

© colourbox

Of course, this is merely a stereotype, but Germans have a word for everything – including manly mixed drinks. So if you’re a man and you’re trying to impress the other guys, make sure you order a Herrengedeck. If you’re in eastern Germany, you’ll probably receive a cocktail containing beer and sparkling wine. If you’re in northern or west Germany, you’ll probably get a mixture of beer and Korn (a German hard liquor made from fermented rye). A Herrengedeck varies based on the region but one thing is for sure: it’s manly. You don’t want to be caught dead with a pina colada in your hand, do you?

Word of the Week: Litfaßsäule

© picture alliance / Johann Pesl

If you’ve been to Germany, you’ve probably seen many Litfaßsäulen – especially in the cities.

Litfaßsäule is a tall cyclindrival advertising column usually placed on sidewalks (in English, you would call this a Morris column). Although several European cities use this type of structure for advertising, they were actually invented in Germany. Thus, the word Litfaßsäule is also uniquely German.

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Germany prepares for Bobsleigh World Cup

© Sebastian Kahnert/dpa

Germans have a vast selection of winter sports available to them, ranging from skiing to snowboarding to ski jumping to bobsledding. In fact, Germans are highly talented in bobsleigh. This weekend marks the final races of the 2017-2018 Bobsleigh World Cup in Königssee, Germany. Top bobsleigh and skeleton sled athletes will go on to represent their countries in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The top forty sleds qualify for the Olympics!

Bobsleigh is a sport in which two or four teammates race down an icy track in a sled, with the goal of getting down the fastest. Skeleton is a similar sport, but it only involves a single rider on a small sled. The reported world record speed for bobsledding is 125 mph!

So far this season, Germans have already won 11 gold medals in bobsleigh and 27 total medals – more than any other country. Canada is currently in second place with five gold medals and 14 total. The United States is listed third with three gold medals and 14 total.

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