Write a Letter to Christkind in Germany

If you believe in the Christkind, then send your letter to Himmelpforten, a small town west of Hamburg in the district of Stade in Lower Saxony.

You may start  your letter with ‘Dear Christkind’ or ‘Dear Santa’ (much less common). Here in Germany (mostly the central and southern part) as well as Austria, Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, Hungary, Slovakia and Switzerland, children get their presents from the Christkind on Christmas Eve. The word Christkind translates to Christ Child. If you write from northern Germany, you might address your letter to the Weihnachtsmann (Santa).
 

Frohe Weihnachten!

The post office in Himmelpforten, which translates to Heaven’s Gates, will process your wish list. I don’t know if you get anything from your list, this depends on whether you’ve been good or bad. 🙂
The post office lets you address your letter to either one of them, both the Christkind and the Weihnachtsmann (Santa).
An das Christkind
21709 Himmelpforten
But the address in itself, says: To the Christkind
No worries, if you don’t know German. Most Germans, placed in a professional setting, can handle letters written in English too.
In German, children write a Wunschzettel (wish list) to the Christkind (or Weihnachtsmann), which is a much more direct statement than just ‘writing a letter’ to Santa.

DaF Test: Registration and Confirmation with the Goethe Institute Frankfurt

If you are looking for confirmation to your DaF proficiency test registration, check your  automatic response carefully. If you see the following words below in your mail, you are in.

Teilnahmebedingungen: akzeptiert

(eligibility requirements: approved)

Over the years, I heard from various sources about this lack of written communication between test applicants and the Goethe Institute in Frankfurt, once registration for the test has been made.

An outdated IT department sends out automatic responses in German, which clearly need an update.

As the test applicants are foreigners, I had wrongly assumed that they had just missed the written confirmation of their registration, or it might have ended up in spam.

Not so, it seems. I signed up my daughter on 28 December for the German proficiency test on 7 Feb. In response, I got a standard reply, listing my given data and asking not to reply to this e-mail.

Hinweis: Diese E-Mail wurde automatisch erstellt. Bitte antworten Sie nicht auf diese E-Mail.

(This is an automatic response. Please do not reply.)

So I contacted the Goethe Institute Frankfurt via private message on its Facebook page four days ago. It seems they have no social media manager, nor page administrator either.

Then I lost more time trying to find a contact e-mail address in regards to the test. No such luck. On the other hand, the contact e-mail address for signing up for a German course is clearly visible though…

I went back to the automatic response, and then I found it. In tiny writing, pressed between lines of data, I found it: Teilnahmebedingungen: akzeptiert

In spite of being German, I had a difficult time working my way through this. The registration confirmation procedure definitely needs improvement and a more customer-friendly service.

For a euro 200 test-taking fee, I expect more service, such as a clear statement of admission and links to important information.

Sledding at the Mountain Lodge Hill at Camp King Oberursel

The other day, when we had loads of snow right after Christmas, I knew I would find people sledding down the Mountain Lodge hill.

Mountain Lodge hill - Camp King Oberursel

The Mountain Lodge in snow

Mountain Lodge Oberursel

Passing the chapel

chapel in Camp King, Oberursel

Falling off the sled with your best friend can be part of the fun.

Falling off the sled

Most of the snow has gone by now, but there is more in the forecast.

And Happy New Year to all my readers out there!

Third Culture Kids or Where are you from?

Thomas, a freshman at the University of Nottingham, packed up his suitcase to leave Germany once more this morning. He wrote the following post about his experiences as an international student. He’s not quite a Third Culture Kid (a person whose personal culture is a fusion of two or more cultures exposed during childhood), but lives within the frame of one.

Where are you from?

That is one of the first questions I get asked upon meeting somebody for the first time, and it has given me headaches time and time again. I tell them: “It’s kind of complicated. Well, I was born in Japan, have lived in Germany for most of my life, but consider myself American”. And they inevitably look at me with a mixed expression of puzzlement and amusement. Or they just nod, and I remain in their mind an American. The accent fits, so the nationality should as well, right? Some ask me what citizenship I have. As I am a dual-citizen with both a German and US passport, this doesn’t really resolve things, either.

Sometimes I don’t want to say I’m either American or German at all and simply say I’m “of an international background”. But in my experience, people aren’t satisfied with that. I wish I could say I was either one or the other. The fact is, though, I am a mixture of both. The way I’ve thought of it most recently is that I’m German at mind and American at heart. I think in an analytical and methodical way (the German side), and I am quite open and empathetic (the American side). I know that these are qualities that are applicable to citizens of any country, yet for some reason I still associate them with those countries.

I am generally more hesitant to admitting my German heritage, especially now that I am studying at the University of Nottingham in the UK. I had a very uncomfortable experience in 2010 at a summer school program in Scotland. Once people knew that I was half-German, the name-calling wouldn’t stop. Now that I think of it, I got an impression of what the Jews must have felt like in the Third-Reich. I was first that “f@*king Nazi German”, then Thomas.

At University, however, my experience has been much the opposite. Only once have I been teasingly referred to, by a (inebriated) friend, as a “Nazi”. What I’ve gotten more is that they’ll do impressions of my American accent. As long as it’s not malicious, I don’t mind. I do a decent English accent myself! They probably wouldn’t agree – to them it sounds Australian, if anything.

I’m still not completely sure how to handle this question about origins. However, I don’t let it bother me too much. Once people actually get to know me, the nationality thing no longer matters anyway.