Winner: YTI Essay Competition 2021

We’d like to congratulate Mr. Vladimir Stosic on winning the YTI Essay Competition 2021! The essay contest was held by the Young Transatlantic Initiative, a non-profit organization that is committed to fostering stronger cooperation between the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States of America. Mr. Stosic chose the topic “Rethinking Cyber Strategies: How Transatlantic Cooperation can be utilized to combat Cyber Threats.”

Cyber Achilles? On the Importance of Undersea-Cables in the 21st Century

by Vladimir Stosic

Among those photos, which were sent from Europe across the Atlantic to the USA on July 23, 1962 as the first intercontinental television signal by means of the TELSTAR satellite, is an image of the Beli Anđeo (English: White Angel) from the Serbian Orthodox monastery of Mileševa in Serbia. The White Angel is a 13th century fresco depicting a young man dressed in white -an angel – and the women who came to the tomb of Jesus Christ on Easter morning to anoint him. It was meant to be a message of peace between the old and new world. If one thinks about transatlantic cyber security today, two developments are surprising: First, satellite has not been able to establish itself as the main medium of international data traffic -95% of international data traffic runs over undersea cables. And second, discussions about cyber security are narrowing down to mostly autocratic regimes that want to manipulatively gain interpretive sovereignty over certain political actors or campaigns before and during elections, or around the involvement of the Chinese company Huawei in 5G expansion.

It is those undersea cables that represent a critical infrastructure in the field of cybersecurity. Undersea cables, according to the thesis of this essay, represent the digital Achilles heel of transatlantic security in the 21st century. Undersea cables are an understudied area of international relations. 97% of international data traffic and $10 trillion in daily financial transactions pass through undersea cables that span 1.2 million kilometers. (1) Undersea cables are critical infrastructure, because nearly every communication passes over them; from business contracting to scientific publications to government business.

Three trends are causing undersea cables to receive increased attention. First, authoritarian states are reshaping the physical Internet layout through companies that control infrastructure elements to better direct data, control data bottlenecks, and thus more easily spy on data. (2) Second, more and more companies are using the system of remote management, which is poorly secured and accordingly pose an increased risk of cybersecurity. (3) Third, the increase of cloud computing has increased the volume as well as the sensitivity of data. (4)

These three trends prompt a rethinking of transatlantic cybersecurity and a focus on undersea cables. It is not that the geostrategic relevance of undersea cables is entirely overlooked. However, the way in which critical infrastructure can be cast into an overall strategy in the transatlantic discourse on cybersecurity leaves some questions unanswered. Other actors are better positioned to do so. For example, cybersecurity seems to be a top priority in Russia: meetings between President Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Oseyevsky, president of Rostelecom, to exchange views on the pressing issues of undersea cable development potential are not uncommon. In the recent past, Russian submarines have been located in the Atlantic Ocean near undersea cables. (5)

And the People’s Republic of China also weights the issues surrounding security in cyberspace differently than the transatlantic players. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) -a maritime and terrestrial infrastructure project launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013 -also includes the Digital Silk Road (DSR) announced in 2015. In addition to the development and expansion of intercontinental economic sectors by the People’s Republic, digital projects are also being specifically pursued. The Chinese company Huawei is often in the spotlight. To stay with the case study of Serbia mentioned in the introduction, a smart city project is being set up in Belgrade using around 1000 Huawei-brand facial recognition cameras. (6)

Probably the most striking example of a Chinese undersea cable project is the Pakistan East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) project: starting in China, it is to run via Pakistan and the Strait of Hormuz to Djibouti and through the Bab-al-Mandab and the Suez Canal to Marseille, France. The interlocking of economic and military projects of the People’s Republic of China is particularly striking. In Gwadar, Pakistan, and in Djibouti, the People’s Republic of China maintains military bases that can provide military protection for the landing stations of the undersea cables. Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that the Strait of Hormuz has been used by China, together with Russia and Iran, for joint naval exercises since 2018. The merging of geostrategic and geoeconomic components illustrates that the People’s Republic of China is taking a holistic approach: The critical infrastructure mandatory for China in order to rise economically is being accompanied militarily to ensure the long-term nature of its development.

And what about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU)? NATO has recently increased its emphasis on the relevance of undersea cables. For example, at a press conference in the fall of 2020, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized the importance of undersea cables to the Alliance’s deterrence, defense, and resilience. (7) And the communiqué from NATO’s Brussels Summit on June 14, 2021, also includes the following note: “We will maintain awareness of any potential threats to our critical undersea infrastructure and will continue to address them nationally and, where needed, collectively.” (8) And a similar realization seems to have taken place at the EU. In her State of the Union Address on September 15, 2021, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a connectivity strategy as a counter-model to China’s BRI with the “Global Gateway.”(9) Nevertheless, one looks in vain for concrete plans for action by the EU on the issue of undersea cables.

The growing attention regarding undersea cables is a positive development. But regarding the relevance of undersea cables for the prosperity and economy of the U.S. and Europe, one misses a coherent transatlantic strategy that includes critical infrastructure. So how can transatlantic cooperation for resilient transatlantic cybersecurity be operationalized?

The first step of such a transatlantic cybersecurity strategy could imply the continuous exchange of information on undersea cables between the U.S. and EU. For example, the U.S. and the U.K. could join France and Germany in regular meetings to initiate an exchange of information on undersea cables. This could also include possible cooperation opportunities and joint fleet exercises to maintain and secure undersea cables and their landing stations.

A second step could be to ensure high safety standards for undersea cables: By setting standards regarding the security of landing stations in coastal regions, the EU can make a sustainable contribution to securing the infrastructure, especially through its regulatory power for the member states.(10

Third, transatlantic actors could advocate for legal protections for undersea cables. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) does not prohibit states from considering undersea cables as legitimate wartime targets.11 International legal cover under the UN would be profitable for all actors, regardless of their different interests. The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China can also have no interest in enormous economic damage and interdiction of communications caused by destroyed cables.

The current situation reveals how vulnerable transatlantic security is. It is to be welcomed that attention around critical infrastructure is increasing even if there is still no talk of a holistic strategy between the transatlantic players. Military-civilian protection of undersea cables within the institutional framework of NATO and the EU can be used as a first step toward legalization within the UN framework. Whether attacking undersea cables in the context of war will be prohibited within the UN framework also depends on Russia and China.

(1) Colombo, Matteo/ Solfrini, Federico/ Varvelli, Arturo (2021): Network Effects: Europe’s Digital Sovereignity in the Mediterranean, European Council on Foreign Relations, Policy Brief, p.2

(2) Sherman, Justin (2021): Cyber Defense Across the Ocean Floor. The Geopolitics of Submarine Cable Security, Atlantic Council, p.1

(3) Ibid.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Roblin, Sebastien (2020): Russian Submarines Could Be Tampering With Undersea Cables That Make the Internet Work, The National Interest: undersea-cables-make-internet-work-169587

(6) Gomez, Julian (2021): Should citizens in Belgrade be concerned by newly installed surveillance cameras?, Euronews, surveillance-cameras

(7) North Atlantic Treaty Organization (2020): Press Conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, 22. Oct. 2020,

(8) North Atlantic Treaty Organization (2021): Brussels Summit Communiqué, Press Realese (2021) 086, 14. Jun. 2021, para 10

(9) European Commission (2021): 2021 State of the Union Address by President von der Leyen, 15. Sept. 2021,

(10) Morcos, Pierre/ Wall, Collin (2021): Invisible and Vital: Undersea Cables and Transatlantic Security, in: Center for Strategic & International Studies, transatlantic-security

(11) Sunak, Rishi (2017): Undersea Cables. Indispensible, insecure, in: Policy Exchange, p.17

Frederick Douglass inspired Germans | #BlackHistoryMonth

Frederick Douglass inspired Germans, and he inspired our team at the German Embassy. Here’s how.

Frederick Douglass fled slavery in 1833, and went on to become one of the most important figures in American History. As a notable abolitionist, he advised, lobbied, criticized, and befriended president Abraham Lincoln. To this day, his thoughts on the merits of the US Constitution and founding ideals, such as those found in his famous speech, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” continue to influence and challenge thinkers.

After the Civil War, he held high office in the District of Columbia and the US Federal Government, always advocating for equality for all Americans, regardless of race or gender.

Americans weren’t the only to notice the ideas and dynamism of this self-made man. Ottilie Assing, German feminist, journalist and abolitionist, befriended Douglass in 1856 after reading his autobiographical work, “My Bondage and My Freedom,”. As a German of Jewish decent, Assing found herself interested in the parallels in the struggle against discrimination in the United States, in which Douglass played a major role.

Continue reading “Frederick Douglass inspired Germans | #BlackHistoryMonth”

The Bastei: one of Germany’s most Instagrammable places

If you’re looking for a place with jaw-dropping views, add The Bastei to your bucket list. This rock formation stands 636 feet above the Elbe River in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, southeast of Dresden.

What makes this majestic rock formation even more spectacular is a wooden bridge that connects several of these rocks together. Visitors have been walking across the bridge since it was constructed in 1824 (and replaced by a sandstone version in 1851).

From the 12th to the 15th century, a fortress known as the Felsenburg Neurathen stood by the rock formations. This fortress, however, was burned down by an opposing army in 1484 and there is little left of it to see.

In 1801, tour guide Carl Heinrich Nicolai perfectly described the rock formation from one of its lookout points:

“What depth of feeling it pours into the soul! You can stand here for a long time without being finished with it (…) it is so difficult to tear yourself away from this spot.”

The rock formations have impressed so many people that The Bastei was even the location for Germany’s very first landscape photographs, taken by photographer Hermann Krone in 1853.

The Bastei continues to draw in photographers, as it has done for many years!


Word of the Week: Lebenskunst

Is your life as beautiful as a painting in an art gallery? Then you have mastered Lebenskunst! Lebenskunst means “the art of living well”. It comes from the words leben (“to live”) and Kunst (“art). If your life is filled with fine wines, exotic travels, delicious food, strong friendships and many hobbies, you have probably mastered the art of living; in other words, your life itself is beautiful – like art. You don’t have to be wealthy to be a Lebenskünstler (“artist of life”). You simply need to understand how to make the journey through life as joyful as possible.

Every individual has a different idea of how to create an artful, magical life that gets you excited to wake up every morning. Some people may be struck by the magic of a beautiful sunrise, and need nothing more to experience joy. For others, drinking a $300 bottle of wine would be an example of Lebenskunst.

But here’s one tip we can give you: if you see the beauty in every detail of life and use this beauty to create your own happiness, you’ll be on your way to becoming a Lebenskünstler. In very little time, examples of Lebenskunst will surround you.

A Survival Guide To Recycling in Germany

One of the most immediate culture shocks of traveling to Germany, especially if you grew up in the United States, is Germany’s seeming obsession with recycling. Whereas in the U.S. you are lucky if you can locate a recycling bin in public areas like parks or street corners, you’ll have the opposite problem in Germany, where you’ll find a sometimes confusing plethora of multi-colored bins. If you have been in this situation, looking around desperately to strangers or waiting to see what items other drop in each bin, we feel you. YOU are not alone. Even Germans sometimes question which bin is appropriate for which items.

Due to this common culture shock and the often harsh punishment one receives for a wrong move, we thought we’d give you the lowdown on German recycling.


Step 1: Prevent creating waste in the first place

Germany has created and continues to develop a culture of minimal waste. This is true for projects big and small: here are a few examples of major reducers of waste.

Bag fee: Germany combats the environmental threat of excessive plastic bag-use by adding a small fee onto bags at stores. Even though it’s small, the fee has further motivated people to bring their own reusable bags or carts to stores. Some stores now don’t offer plastic bags at all–opting instead to offer paper bags for those who need them.

Lack of excess packaging: Say tschüss to those individually wrapped fruit packages or items wrapped individually in plastic, then wrapped collectively in plastic.


Quality over quantity: According to a 2016 report by Germany Trade and Invest, Germans are well researched and particular consumers. They are much more risk averse and likely to return items that don’t meet their expectations. This makes things like quality labels or reviews really important and generally lends towards a population that has fewer, but higher quality possessions that don’t need constant replacement.

Step 2: Pfand

Imagine if, for every bottle–plastic or glass, you bought, you had to pay extra for it. The deal in Germany is that you pay more initially but then receive that surcharge back when you give the bottles back for recycling. So, just like when you weekly take the garbage out in the States, in Germany it is a regular habit to return your bin of recycling to super markets where you will find a machine like this:


This machine scans the bar code of your items, and prints a receipt for you to redeem at the register. Basically, if you don’t recycle your eligible items for Pfand, you are losing money.

As a tourist, you have potentially experienced Pfand in a different way. At Christmas markets, stands will charge you extra for the mug that hot drinks are served in. You can choose to keep the mug as a memento, or to return it for Pfand.

You may have also been asked for your empty bottle in public by someone collecting them to return. This is potentially convenient for you, earns them a little money by returning them AND it is good for the earth. Triple whammy! There are even entire non-profits that fund themselves by collecting Pfand at events or concerts.

Step 3: Choose your bin

This part sounds really uncomplicated from an American perspective. Trash or recycling…right?

After giving back bottles for Pfand, Germans sort trash typically by paper, plastic, bio/organic, glass, and other. Though details are dependent on town or region, a general breakdown goes like this:


Paper= blue bins. This bin is for cardboard, newspapers, magazines, waste paper, paper bags, etc, etc.

Plastic = Yellow bins. This is for plastic such as body wash, shampoo, sunscreen, laundry detergent, and juice bottles

Glass= Glass is sorted by color. There are different slots for depositing green, brown and clear glass. In this bin you should be putting any kind of jars (mustard, jam, yogurt, etc), oil bottles, wine bottles or the like.

Bio (organic) = green bins. This is for food waste like egg shells, banana peel, or scraps of food you didn’t eat.

Other = black bins. You choose your size and you’re charged accordingly. They send you a sticker each year to show that you’ve paid for it. Residual waste is garbage that neither includes pollutants nor reusable components. For example ash, dust bag, cigarette ends, rubber, toiletries, and diapers are thrown into the black bin.

Step 4: Enjoy a cleaner earth!

Though the effect of one person caring about the environment is small, the collective effort of a nation makes a dent. Germany leads the European nations in recycling, with around 70 percent of the waste the country generates successfully recovered and reused each year.


Recycling is only one part of Germany’s environmental efforts. Find more about national and local environmental initiatives here:

Word of the Week: Schenkelklopfer

You may have heard of the word Sparwitz, which describes a joke that isn’t funny. Now, let’s look at a word that describes a joke with a bit more humor: 

A Schenkelklopfer is a simple, corny but effective joke that evokes serious laughter. The direct translation is “thigh slapper” but in English, the term “knee slapper” is a more commonly used equivalent. The German word Schenkel means “thigh” and Klopf means “to knock” (or in this case, slap). This type of joke is so funny that it may have listeners slapping their knees while laughing. It’s not clear why certain jokes prompt listeners to slap their upper legs while laughing. Think back: have you ever laughed so hard that you slapped your thigh or knee? It’s common – both in German and American culture.

Unlike a Sparwitz, which usually evokes little to no reaction, a Schenkelklopfer is so funny that it promps belly- aching laughter. 

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

German vs. American Universities

Though you can’t avoid the reading or the due dates, studying at a German university can differ in some significant ways from the United States. The obvious differences are that courses are, generally, conducted in German. But there a few less obvious things to consider when trying to study full time abroad.

Basically free

Probably the “least best kept secret” about German schools are their low cost. In 2015, all 16 German states had officially gotten rid of tuition fees. There is still a small fee to cover administration and other costs per semester and often housing is paid for separately from the university, but generally it is very cheap compared to the tuition costs at American schools.

Public vs. private universities

Since public universities in Germany are free, it makes them that much more competitive. Want to be a doctor? You better have almost perfect grades and Abitur score (university qualifying exam) to even be admitted. Though private universities are still high quality, most students would choose no tuition over even the low tuition of a private school.

Young, Woman, Girl, Lady, Female, Work, Working, Study

Forget the rankings

Sure, lists ranking German schools are out there, but any German would tell you that it basically makes no difference if you go to one public university vs. the other. All public universities are thought to give you an equal quality education.

Degrees are different lengths

Gone away are the automatic four year degrees. Instead, many bachelor programs are just three years. Dual programs to receive both a bachelors and master’s degree are very popular and often four years long.

Laptop, Woman, Education, Study, Young, Computer

One big exam or paper rather than smaller assignments

There is relatively little hand holding at German universities. You don’t get points just for attending, or for small daily assignments. Rather, typically, your entire grade depends on one or two exams or papers and going to lectures is not mandatory.

Students don’t always start college right after high school

In the United States, the percentage of students who defer admissions for a year or more remains very small—generally 1% or less of an admitted class, according to PBS. In Germany, many students take time off after graduating from high school and travel for a year (or two or three). In fact, the tradition of setting out on travel for several years after completing an apprenticeship as a craftsman dates back to medieval times!

People, Girls, Women, Students, Friends, Talking

Gemütlichkeit: how Germans find coziness while home alone.

The German word Gemütlichkeit describes coziness and belonging. Here are tips to find this feeling while home alone.

Over the coming weeks and months, millions of people will face the same challenge: defy your social instincts and stay inside your home. It’s a dark irony that the most social thing to do is to be antisocial.

City, Man, Person, Solo, Window, Alone, Thinking, Relax

Hunkering down at home will prove a challenge. We’ll tire of our streaming service queue, our noisy neighbors, the monotony of the same setting and lack of outdoor time.

Window View, Sitting, Indoors, Girl, Woman, Female

So how do we cope? While we’ll all be figuring this out together, a quick glance into German culture and vocabulary may hold a cozy little secret to surviving at home. It’s called Gemütlichkeit.

What is Gemütlichkeit?

The German word Gemütlichkeit has found its way into English. Gemütlichkeit or “coziness” describes a feeling, something like a well-heated, nicely furnished room with a fireplace on a rainy day and a good book. It also connotes a strong notion of belonging, a sense of well-being or simply the lack of hecticness and uneasiness.


One could say that the term is also multi-layered, in the sense that it can be applied on a public as well as on a private scale. Very open and crowded places, like an evening spent at the Christmas Market, can be just as gemütlich or cozy as the silent comfort of one’s own living room. But of course our focus for today is the latter.

Here’s an example from pop culture that we’re sure you’ll recognize:

“Look for the bare necessities

The simple bare necessities

Forget about your worries and your strife

I mean the bare necessities

Old Mother Nature’s recipes

That brings the bare necessities of life.”  – © Disney

Many people are familiar with this song from the famous 1967 Walt Disney movie “The Jungle Book”.

“Bare Necessities” was translated into German as “Probier’s mal mit Gemütlichkeit,” which roughly means “Just try it with coziness”. However, the accuracy of this translation is debatable. “Bare necessities” translates to Lebensnotwendigeiten in German and does not exactly have the same connotation with respect to the imperatives in life. But it shows how varied and vague the definition of the term Gemütlichkeit actually is.

Queen Victoria is said to have been the first English native to use the term in the form of the adjective gemütlich. If her idea correlated more closely with Balu the Bear’s or with the association of an eased Sunday at home remains unknown, but we know that Gemütlichkeit can actually be found anywhere. And that is a very “cozy” thing to keep in mind.

‘Coziness’ and lack of ‘worries and strife’ are rather antithetical to our current circumstances. How can we capture a little Gemütlichkeit in our life? Our goal for today will be to discover ways we can bring Gemütlichkeit into our homes. And we’re in luck. The Germans have a few ways of capturing that feeling of warmth and relaxation.

Tea, Cup, Rest, Calm, Afternoon, Beverage, Mug, Morning

Here are just a few German methods to find that sweet sweet feeling of Gemütlichkeit!

Floral & Funa

Germans love gardening. And even for those who don’t have a proper outdoor garden, balcony gardens are a common sight. At times like these, adding some flowers to your home or balcony may bring you some joy. Here are just a few photos of some awesome German balcony gardens.




Why plants? Research shows us that gardeners and plant parents are happier than the rest. Much like care for a child or pet, taking care of others can make us more content with ourselves. In times when closeness and affection are scarce, we can pass on good vibes to our green friends.

Home, House, Interior, Design, Living, Bedroom, Side

Do you have a balcony garden or indoor plants? If not, all hope isn’t lost. Plants can be ordered online through many retailers. More likely, however, and out of respect for delivery workers, you might ask your neighbors for so-called ‘cuttings’ from common plants that you can grow yourself. To maintain social distancing, they could leave them outside your door or their own for pickup and disinfection.

Arugula, Seedlings, Plant, Plants, Young, Leaflet

There are many herbs that can grow very well from cuttings. Here’s a list.

Have a Digital Kaffeeklatsch (Coffee Chat)!
© dpa / picture-alliance

You probably know that Germans love gathering for Kaffee und Kuchen (“coffee and cake”), traditionally in the afternoon between lunch and dinner. But did you know there’s a name for this type of social gathering? Germans call their afternoon coffee-and-cake sessions a Kaffeeklatsch (“coffee gossip”).

Like the name implies, a Kaffeeklatsch presents the opportunity for coffee (or tea) and conversation. It can be held in someone’s house, at the office or even at a cafe. Traditionally, however, a Kaffeeklatsch is held in someone’s home – often on Sundays. In times like ours, this won’t detail won’t be possible.

© dpa / picture-alliance

But we can still do it over a video chat service, like Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, or Google Hangouts! Schedule a digital date with a few of your friends, brew a cup of coffee or tea, grab a few cookies or a slice of cake, and enjoy their company over the internet!

Many Germans use Kaffee und Kuchen as an opportunity to invite friends or family to catch up. And they’ll sometimes make quite an event out of it, bringing out a pretty tablecloth and their best tableware. In addition to coffee, Germans will usually serve some sort of pastry, whether it’s homemade cheesecake or something sweet from the bakery. So bust out that fancy tablecloth for your digital Kaffeeklatsch, and get to baking!

Some people compare the Kaffeeklatsch to the British version of five o’clock tea, but there are quite a few differences. For one, a Kaffeeklatsch is less frequent and more likely to occur on a weekend when people have more time on their hands. A Kaffeeklatsch is also more likely to include a group of women who gather for gossip, while afternoon tea is more inclusive.

Technology, Tablet, Digital Tablet, Computer, Device

The origins of the Kaffeeklatsch have been traced to around 1900, when German housewives gathered at each others’ homes to drink coffee and chat. Over time, the ritual became deeply ingrained in German culture, and soon spread to neighboring countries. If you grew up in a household in Germany, Austria, Finland or Luxembourg, there’s a good chance that the Kaffeeklatsch might have been a part of your weekend activities.

The Kaffeeklatsch is a wonderful German tradition sure to bring a little Gemütlichkeit into your life!

Be a Bücherwurm!

75% of Americans say they read a book in the last year, and 61% of Germans say they read regularly. What better time than now to do more reading than ever! Grab a book you’ve been setting aside for another time, and dig in!

Kindle, Ereader, Tablet, E-Reader, Ebook, E-Book, Adult

The German word Bücherwurm translates to Bookworm. And just like in English, it denotes someone who loves books, reading, and maybe even writing.

Books and book culture is deeply ingrained in German culture. Famous authors and thinkers such as Goethe, Humboldt, Kant, Hegel, and Mann have inspired generations to turn to the next page, or grab a pen and paper themselves.


Don’t have many books at home? It’s easier than ever to become an avid reader. For copyright-free literature, see Project Gutenberg. Their top 100 Ebooks list should keep you busy.

If you’re after something more modern, use a local library card to access OverDrive, an app that lets you check out Ebooks from your local library for easy reading on a Kindle or similar device.


Maybe even grab a German book while you’re at it. Each year, German books are translated and published in English. Many are awarded the “German Book Prize” by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. Here are the winners from 2019.


What’s your favorite German Buch (book)?


Give in to your Wanderlust (if you’re allowed)

Sometimes you just have to go outside. In these difficult times, it’s not always possible. But if you’re able to go out in a safe way that keeps you distanced from others, give in a little to your desire to “wander”.

Germans are obsessed with hiking in the great outdoors. The German word “wandern” means to hike or to roam, a purposeful version of the English word “wander”. When Germans crave exploration on foot, they’re said to have Wanderlust.


Some of the most brilliant minds of history would invigorate their brains with a daily walk, maybe even a jog. For maintaining a healthy weight, mind, body, spirit, and inspiring a bit of Gemütlichkeit, we couldn’t recommend anything better!

If you can’t go out physically, take a digital walk! Here an example from YouTube:

But again, please be safe and follow instructions from your local authorities!


Play a Brettspiel (Board Game)!

Board games can be a great way to bring your whole family together, and leave the digital world behind. If you’re quarantined alone, many popular board games can be found online.

Game, Board, Catan, Leisure, Entertainment, Strategy

Germans have a particular affinity for board games. As it turns out, German board game aficionados have helped fuel the explosion in popularity of board games in the US. Read more on that in The Atlantic:The Invasion of the German Board Games.

Games like Settlers of Catan have brought groups together for countless hours of fun (and yes, admittedly a little stress too). So put on some relaxing music, grab a glass of wine, and settle in for a game with your family at the table, or with friends online.

Board Game, Settlers Of Catan, Game, Cards, Dice, Play



Bringing it all together.

We hope we’ve inspired a few ideas to spark Gemütlichkeit in your life. If you have other ideas, share them with us @GermanyInUSA on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Coffee, Winter, Warmth, Cozy, Cup, Drink, Hot, Warm


By William Fox
German Embassy


Word of the Week: Popometer

When you’re shopping for a new car, what do you rely on most as your deciding factor? Some people may rely on ratings, reviews or research, but most of us make the decision based on how the car feels when we test-drive it.

Similarly, people employed to test cars rely most often on their Popometer when writing about, recommending or rating a vehicle. Race-car drivers, in particular, use this measurement more than others.

The German word Popometer comes from Popo (a colloquial word for your buttocks) and Meter (a measuring stick). A Popometer is a word that describes someone’s rear end as a measuring device. When someone sit down in a new car, motorcycle or even on a bobsled or a bicycle, they get a feel for the vehicle – a measurement of comfort taken by their buttocks. When a professional reviewer or race car driver tests a vehicle, the results of his or her Popometer are very important, since it measures the level of comfort someone may experience in that vehicle for years to come.

Although the term is often used in automobile magazines or by people who review vehicles, it is perhaps most commonly used by race car drivers in Germany. The closest English translation is “seat-of-the-pants feel”.

Even if a car has high ratings and good reviews, you will probably not want to buy it if a reviewer’s Popometer gives it a low score. So make sure to find out what the Popometer says about it, since those results are ultimately the most important!

Meet Jakob Backes, the German Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Participant of the Month for December 2019

Having recently been named the December 2019 CBYX German Participant of the Month by the U.S. Department of State (click here to read profile), we wanted to learn more about Jakob Backes’ experience in Brooklyn, MI. Placed by YFU and hosted by the Shay family, Jakob currently attends Napoleon High School.
How did you first learn about CBYX/PPP? What motivated you to apply?

Last summer, I went on an exchange to Beijing, China, for two weeks with the scholarship program Culture Connections China. Just these two weeks amazed me so much that I wanted more. I loved not just being a tourist, but living in a host family, and getting involved in the actual culture. So, I researched other opportunities to go abroad, whereby I learned about the CBYX program. I applied for not only the CBYX program, but also an exchange year in Paraguay. After I was accepted for both programs, the scholarship, political, historical and social aspects of the CBYX made it an easy choice for me to go to the USA.

What was it like to join the football team at Napoleon High School? How did you learn to play the game? What were the greatest challenges, and most rewarding moments?

Football is a sport I always wanted to play. However, in Germany the closest football club is over than an hour car ride away. So, I took the chance to join our high school´s football team here, and it was the greatest experience that I could ever imagine. We practiced three hours every day, and the competition was big. I guess due to 15 years of playing soccer in Germany, I was athletic enough to make it onto the Varsity team, and the individual football skills came through hard practice. After a few games I was even able to establish myself as a starting wide receiver. The greatest challenge was to keep going in the first weeks without getting much game time. But it paid off. I was given the senior award for hard work and positive attitude. Through football, I found new friends, became a part of the American sport culture, and found a sport that I definitely want to continue in Germany, no matter how far I have to drive for it.

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