Culture, Expat Insider, Expat Life, Featured

Expats Feel the Most Unwelcome in Germany

Germans are known for being cold and distant. And while stereotypes are unfair to the stereotyped, maybe – just maybe – they also sometimes hold a bit of truth.

Earlier this week, I introduced InterNation’s recent Expat Insider report, which analyzed the feelings of 12,500 expats around the world – nearly 800 of which were living in Germany.

If you believe the stereotype, then it should come as no surprise that Germany ranked particularly low in the section “Ease of Settling In” – just 10th from the bottom (#56) among the 65 most popular countries for expats. Other areas where Germany ranked quite low included:

  • Language: #56
  • Finding Friends: #59
  • Friendliness: #51
  • Feeling Welcome: #50

Language

If you’ve ever taken 5 minutes of a German class or spent 5 minutes in the country (or read one of the my Mistranslation Mondays), then you know that German isn’t an easy language.

Globally, half of all expats report that it’s overall not easy to learn the language of the country they live in, but this figure is almost 20 percentage points higher in Germany, with 69% saying they struggle to pick up German. Only 5% of expats strongly agree that it is easy to live in Germany without a grasp of the local language. Internationally that percentage is far higher at 18%.

While the language is difficult, I find Germans very accommodating to foreigners that struggle with the language. The overwhelming majority of Germans under 40 can and will speak English. And in my experience, anyone that can’t speak English is open to (and thankful for) foreigners that speak broken German with a bad accent. However, I do agree that at least a loose grasp on the language is required for living here.

Friendliness

In the Expat Insider survey, expats in Germany placed Germany far right on the scale of friendliness. The only countries that expats find more “reserved and calm” than Germany are Denmark, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Norway, and Sweden.

Friendliness of Countries to Foreigners

Finding Friends & Feeling Welcome

Knowing that expats find the Germans so un-friendly, then it follows that these expats also find it difficult to find friends, causing Germany to be ranked at 59 of 65 countries. InterNations reported that many expats in Germany tend to stay in the “expat/foreigner bubble”, where they have a social circle solely comprised of fellow foreigners.

The metric of “feeling welcome” was visualized in the below graphic. Respondents placed Germany pretty central along the axis from “Constant & Traditional” to “Dynamic & Innovative.” However, Germany is at the far left end of the “Rational & Distant” to “Emotional & Welcoming” scale.

What do you think about these results? Do you agree? Disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Culture

When it comes to fame, Germany has its own set of rules. The Germans have shot lots of foreign-born singers and bands into international stardom throughout the decades – the most famous example being The Beatles.

Even today, there are Americans that can’t walk the streets of Germany without being recognized, yet hardly anyone in the U.S. has ever heard of them.

Here are three of such Americans that are more famous, if not only famous, in Germany:

Bruce Darnell

It’s hard to turn on German TV nowadays without seeing this American man’s face. Bruce Darnell is currently famous for serving as a judge on German reality TV competitions, but he actually started out his career as a paratrooper for the U.S. Army. After leaving the army in the 1980s, he came to Germany as a model. Apparently, Bruce rubbed elbows with the right people over the following decades, because he was soon BFF with Heidi Klum and became nationally famous when he served as a judge on Germany’s Next Top Model.

If you live(d) in Germany, you may know him for his grammatically-incorrect catchphrase “Das ist der Wahrheit” (it should be die Wahrheit):

Although I usually hate watching talent competitions, I do really enjoy seeing Bruce and hearing his awesome American accent (which my German fiancé tells me I should practice doing because the Germans seem to love it).

Dana Schweiger

Even if you live in Germany, you may have not heard of Dana Schweiger, but you have definitely heard of her ex-husband, Til Schweiger, and at least one of their children (their daughters Emma, Lilli, and Luna have been in quite a few Til Schweiger films).

If you’re American, then let me explain: Til Schweiger is a famous German actor, director, producer… blahblahblah. Basically, he has his own production company and loves making movies for himself and his daughters to star in. Also, his facial expression never changes from what you see in the above photo.

Dana and Til have been divorced since 2014, but Dana is still semi-famous in Germany and is currently on the TV show 6 Mütter, where she talks about raising her celebrity kids.

Since Dana has lived in Germany for decades, she can speak German pretty well. However, as you can hear in the video, she does still have a strong American accent.

David Hasselhoff

This list wouldn’t be complete without the Hoff! The rest of the world loves to joke about the Germans’ obsession with David Hasselhoff, and I am here to conform that these jokes are based on fact.

David Hasselhoff’s fame in Germany all stems from the 1980’s TV show Knight Rider, which I had actually never heard of until coming to Germany. However, my German fiancé (who was 3 years old when Knight Rider was cancelled), claims that he was obsessed with the show as a kid. So, that should show how popular it is. Also, I regularly see reruns getting aired on TV even today.

It was because of the show’s popularity, and the Germans’ yearning to see Kitt (his talking car from the show), that David Hasselhoff was invited to play at the Berlin Wall on New Year’s Eve in 1989 – a concert that iconified him in German culture for decades to come.
Just look at the reception he got when he appeared on a German late night talk show a couple years ago!

Do you know any other Americans that are only famous outside of the USA?

Culture, Voting from Abroad

The time has finally come. The U.S. presidential elections are tomorrow, and we will soon know who the future President of the United States will be. And if you are an American, you better go vote (I already did)!

Over the past few months, it has been just about impossible to turn on the TV here in Germany without seeing coverage of the U.S. presidential election. I can only imagine what it’s like to actually be in the U.S. right now… *shudders*

But if you know anything about Germany, then it should already be pretty obvious that Clinton is favored among Germans. In fact, infratest dimap held a poll last month, which found that 86% of Germans said they would vote for Clinton and only 4% would vote for Trump.

The surprising part of this poll comes from AfD supporters. AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) is a right-wing populist political party whose rhetoric on refugees and immigrants very much mirrors Trump’s statements about Mexicans and Muslims. However, it looks like even Trump is too extreme for them, as AfD voters were made up 14% of the poll’s respondents. This means that the majority of AfD supporters would support Clinton over Trump.
Over these past few months, however, Germany’s political leaders have been relatively quiet on this topic. Trump did claim that Chancellor Merkel “ruined Germany,” but Merkel refused to retaliate. However, Germany’s foreign minister did call Trump a “hate preacher.”¹
If you follow Welcome to Germerica on Facebook, then you know that Germany’s comedians have been more vocal about their views on the U.S. elections. Jan Böhmermann, the comedian who became quite famous after criticizing Turkish president Erdogan, covered the U.S. election in the Neo Magazin Royale episode from November 3, 2016. 
If you have the time, I highly suggest watching the entire episode. But if you don’t have the time, you will get a gist of his message from the closing song that he created for the episode: 

Ultimately, whether you agree with the majority of Germans’ opinion on who would make the best presidential candidate or not, I think we can all agree with the portrayal of both candidates on the current cover of Der Spiegel.

Culture, Expat Life, Working in Germany

No matter how long you live abroad, you still come across little everyday things that will surprise you. Things that you know would be so simple in your home country, but are confusing, over-complicated, or even archaic in our host country.

Today, I am talking about cashing and depositing checks in Germany versus the USA.

Checks in Germany vs. USA
As I already bragged about multiple times on my blog, I won an academic prize from the DAAD in July, and this prize included a check for 1,000€. Desperately needing the money to pay for my upcoming semester, I took it to the bank the next day to deposit it in my bank account.
To deposit checks in Germany, you (at least at my bank, Postbank) have to bring it to a teller, who will write down the check number and your account number on a little slip of paper, which you will receive a carbon copy of. Then, you wait for the money to appear in your account 3-5 business days later.
Although you can still deposit checks like this in the U.S., it feels quite archaic for me. In fact, just one week after depositing my prize money, I flew to the U.S., where my wonderful grandmother gave me a check for my birthday. 
To deposit the check, I simply drove to the ATM, feed my check into the machine, and made sure that it read the amount correctly. I could see the pending amount in my account almost immediately.
But who cares? If you have been to Germany, then you know that it’s not the most technologically-advanced country in the world. But as long as the system works, it’s fine. Right?
Well, after spending 2 weeks in the U.S., I came back to Germany and checked my bank account to see if my 1,000€ check was ever deposited. It wasn’t. Cue panic.
I searched for my little carbon copy stub that the bank teller gave me, but I couldn’t find it. I stashed it away god-knows-where when I was cleaning out my wallet before traveling to the U.S. Luckily, my proud fiancé had taken pictures of my check on the day of the award ceremony. [Note: I later found the receipt, and all the numbers on it are correctly written.]
So, I called Postbank.
“It’s been over 2 weeks and my check still hasn’t been deposited.”
“Yeah…That’s not normal.”

I gave the customer service woman the check number and date of deposit. It wasn’t in the system. “Just wait for a letter in the mail with more information.”
Yeah. I couldn’t wait. So, I complained via Twitter.
Die @Postbank hat mein Scheck mit meinem Preisgeld vom @DAAD_Germany verloren. Kein Scherz. pic.twitter.com/uLCDr9RfOI

— Courtney Martin (@courtneydmartin) August 1, 2016

The next day, Postbank calls me to tell me that if the money still isn’t on my account. The check disappeared. Of course they don’t outright say that they lost it.
Now I have to ask my university if the check was cashed (Postbank did mention that it was possible that the check was stolen or deposited into the wrong account). If it wasn’t cashed, then I have to ask them to cancel the original check and issue another one. Too bad I already tried contacting my university, and  they said it would be too difficult for them to do that. It’s Postbank’s fault, so they have to fix it.
So, here I am stuck in the middle with no money and no idea who to contact at this point.
Moral of the story? Avoiding using checks in Germany. And maybe bank somewhere else than with Postbank.
Germany, this is an area where you can learn a thing or two from the U.S.
Have you experienced any differences when banking in different countries?
Culture

Would you send your 3-year-old to daycare in the middle of the forest? Even in the middle of winter?  The Germans do.
Forest Kindergarten in Germany - Waldkindergarten

Although not the most common kind of daycare in Germany, forest kindergarten (Waldkindergarten) is an increasingly popular form of daycare for young children to play, explore, and learn outside before having to start school when they turn 6 years old.

Forest kindergartens have existed in Germany for nearly 50 years and are a state-recognized form of daycare. Today, there are over 1,000 forest kindergartens throughout Germany.

Forest Kindergarten's Construction Trailer

For the past three years, I have lived across the street from a fairly large piece of forest with a large stream running through it. I regularly walk and jog through this forest, but I was quite surprised one morning, when during my walk, I came across a group of little kids hitting trees with sticks. What the heck is going on here? Where are there parents? Isn’t it too cold to be outside?

I’m a cynical American, if you can’t tell. It turns out, these kids belonged to the local forest kindergarten called “the forest turnips” (die Waldrüben). And as the name suggests, forest kindergartens are held exclusively outside—no matter the weather. However, this particular group does have a construction trailer…

Forest Kindergarten's Construction Trailer
Forest Kindergarten in Germany

Here is a translation from the Forest Turnips’ bulletin board, which describes how their program is run:

Our group consists of 15 children between 3 and 6 years old, and they are guided by two teachers. The group meets each day at 8:00 a.m. at our construction trailer in the forest.

The day starts with a morning circle at 8:30 a.m., where the kids greet each other, sing, and plan the day. After this, the group goes to one of their many play areas in the forest where they will eat breakfast together and begin an activity such as climbing, building, sawing, whittling, crafting, reading, singing, exploring, and more…

If you are like me, then you are probably thinking, “Sawing? Whittling? What, are they really giving 3-6 year-olds knives?” And the answer is yes. Yes, they are.

I was pretty shocked one of the first times I walked through the forest and saw the forest children with little pocket knives, cutting branches in order to build a bridge. When I later asked Marco about it, though, he acted like it wasn’t a big deal. “I always had a knife as a kid so that I could do things like make spears and play with sticks in the forest.” Well, okay then.

Don’t believe me? Just check out the kids in this video:

My local Waldkindergarten includes this notice on their bulletin board as well:

Experiencing the stillness and noises of the forest promotes inner peace and concentration skills in the children. Unlike traditional day care centers, there is no over-stimulation in the forest. Without prefabricated toys, every child has the possibility to create their own toys and games by using their own creativity and imagination.

German forest with stream

Here are some of their play areas that I discovered on my recent walk through the forest. I regularly come across tipis (or is it teepees?) and bridges that the kids have built. You can see that they even have their own hand-made bows and arrows!

Forest Kindergarten Tipi in Germany

Forest Kindergarten Bows and Arrows

Forest Kindergarten Zip Line
I also came across this awesome zip line in the forest, but I don’t think it belongs to the forest kindergarten

What do you think? Would you send your child to a Waldkindergarten?

Culture, Expat Life

Back in September 2013, my German fiancé gave me my first stick shift driving lesson. We went from driving circles in the parking lot to driving around a traffic-filled roundabout in about 15 minutes, which was too much too fast. I was terrified the entire time, and I never got back into the driver’s seat of a manual transmission car for the next 2.5 years.

Learning to drive stick shift in Germany

Over Easter this year, Marco and I drove 800 km (500 mi) south to spend the week at his childhood home in Ravensburg. As usual, Marco drove the entire way, as I fed and watered him from the passenger seat (I’m a great passenger).
A couple days after arriving, however, Marco started suggesting that I try driving stick shift again. Just the parking lot, he kept saying. We don’t have to leave the parking lot.

Learning to drive stick shift in Germany

Well, that boy convinced me to drive circles around the parking lot that afternoon, and it went pretty well. It was especially entertaining for the nearby construction workers, who I think the workers had a fun time watching me sporadically stall the car. 
Learning to drive stick shift in Germany

The parking lot experience went so well, in fact, I asked Marco to take me to some country roads where I can drive faster without encountering many other drivers. And that’s exactly what we did. And it went pretty darn well.

A couple days later, Marco and I were invited to his cousin’s house for a grilling party. Over dinner, Marco tuns to me and says, “That should probably be your last beer, because you are driving home.”

Since he didn’t ask me previously, I felt quite anxious at first, but I agreed to the arrangement. And when the party finally died down around 3 AM, I actually ended up driving home Marco, his brother, and his cousin – a car full of drunk German men.

The drive home from Marco’s cousin’s house was only about 15 minutes, and I don’t think I ever saw another car (it was 3 AM on Easter Sunday). And although I did drive well under the speed limit, it went pretty darn well.

Learning to drive stick shift in Germany

On Easter Sunday, Marco was anxious for me to practice driving again, so he suggested we go to McDonald’s to grab a coffee (yes, we went to McDonald’s on Easter Sunday). I quickly agreed, thinking that I could handle anything after the drove home the night before.

Unfortunately, there was one thing I didn’t take into consideration when I agreed to drive into town: stop lights. There were five stop lights on the way to McDonald’s, and every single one turned red just as I pulled up. The first three were fine, as there was nobody behind me, so I felt comfortable going really slowly. On the fourth, there was a car behind me, and in my attempt to take off quicker, I stalled the car. Luckily, I got it on the second try, and the person behind me didn’t seem too perturbed.

When trying to turn left into McDonald’s side street, I got caught by my fifth and final red light. And, of course, there were three cars behind me. The light turned green, and I stalled the car. I turned the key again, let my foot off the clutch, and it stalled again. Third times a charm? Nope, it’s dead.

Then the light was red again, and as I sat there waiting for the green, I tried my hardest not to look in the rear-view mirror.

I didn’t drive home from McDonald’s that day.

After that slightly traumatic experience (“Scheiß Anfahren!” – as Marco’s father said to me), we headed back to the parking lot, where I practiced stopping and starting again over and over and over.

Learning to drive stick shift in Germany

On the day after Easter, Marco and I were planning to drive the 800 km back north. After strategically building up my driving confidence over the past week, Marco asked if I would like to drive “just the first half hour” of the trip. “Sure,” I said, “as long as there aren’t too many stop lights.”

Well, that half hour quickly turned into four hours. That’s right, I drove half of the way home! And I did it with only one minor freak-out when traffic on the Autobahn slowed to a near stand-still for a couple kilometers. Otherwise, Autobahn driving is pretty easy, considering you can just stay in 5th gear and forget that you are driving a car with a manual transmission.

Unfortunately, I am still nervous about driving through city traffic and have not yet taken to the wheel in our city. Hopefully with a little more practice, however, I can reach that level.

Can you drive stick shift? How did you learn?

Culture

German-produced TV series suck. Even Germans are quick to admit it. However, if you pay close attention, you can find a diamond in the rough every once in a while.

I love TV. Unfortunately, it seems like 99% of what German TV stations broadcast is either American or British TV series or horrible German reality shows. Over the past few years, however, I have found some favorites.

Here is my list of the top 5 best German TV shows:

1. Tatortreiniger

Der Tatortreinger (crime scene cleaner) is a show all about Heiko Schotte (better known as Schotty), and the interesting situations and people he encounters as he simply tries to go about his job as Tatortreiniger. I love this show for its character-driven plot and dark humor.

I also have to admit that I have a bit of a crush on Schotty, who is a walking German stereotype with his blond hair, blue eyes, love of Hamburg SV, and Tatort (see #3) ring tone. Watch the show, then maybe you will understand.

2. Türkisch für Anfänger

This is the #1 series that always shows up on lists about great German TV shows, and season 1 is definitely a must-see (especially for my fellow immigrants living in Germany). Unfortunately, the show goes downhill from there. Season 2 is pretty good, season 3 is bearable, and season 4 was almost unwatchable (although I did watch it). There is also a movie that was created after the TV series ended, but I never watched it, as I doubt it is worth the time.

3. Tatort


Tatort (crime scene) is the THE German TV series. In fact, I am pretty sure if you do not watch Tatort within the first 90 days of receiving your residence permit, you are deported from the country.

As you can guess from the name, Tatort is a crime show, but it was created with a unique approach: Each of the local public-service TV broadcasters throughout Germany, Austria, and Switzerland contribute episodes. This means that each week, you are treated to a unique story in a different city. This also means that some episodes are amazing while some are pretty bad – regular watchers always have their favorite cities and police commissioners.

The show airs Sunday evenings at 8:15 p.m. and has been since 1970, making it Germany’s longest-running TV drama.  

4. Doctor’s Diary

As Netflix always like to remind me, I am a fan of “TV series with a strong female lead,” and this show has just that (kind of). Doctor’s Diary is about Margarete Haase (also known as Gretchen), who begins working in a hospital after breaking up with her fiance. There are two male love interests, making it a bit of a stereotypical medical drama. I must also admit that I have only seen a few episodes of this show (there are 3 seasons total). However, I tend to despise German comedy (I am looking at you, Stromberg), and I found this show surprisingly funny. So, it is definitely worth a a watch for any romantic comedy fans out there.


5. Bauer sucht Frau

Yes, this is a reality show. Yes, Bauer sucht Frau does mean “farmer looking for a wife.” Yes, this is technically a dating show. But let me explain myself!

Unlike “The Bachelor” or spin-off versions of Bauer sucht Frau from other countries, Germany’s Bauer sucht Frau is more like a human interest story than a dating show. There are several candidates (farmers) each season, and each get to choose one partner at the beginning of the show. They can then take this partner back to their farm, where they live and work together, and, just maybe, find love.

Cheesy? Yes. But it is also hilarious and, at times, heart-warming. Best of all, you get to hear all kinds of crazy hillbilly dialects that you probably won’t understand a word of  (lucky there are subtitles for most of them). If I haven’t convinced you yet, just take a look at the farmers from the 2015 season!

What are your favorite German TV shows?

Culture, International Relationships

If you didn’t already know, my German boyfriend asked me to marry him, thus becoming my German fiancé. Exciting, right?! While I have received nothing but congratulations and excitement from my family and close friends, I have noticed some questionable reactions from some of my German peers.

Marco and I have been together for nearly 5 years. We love each other. We have decided we want to be together for the rest of our lives. So, he asked me to marry him.

But that’s not the part the Germans have a problem with. The problem is that I am only 25 years old.

The longer I live in Germany and study at a German university, the more I see how many German students (at least at my university) tend to belong to a kind of liberal hive-mind. And according to the faux-feminist logic that women should marry and have children only after building a successful career, considering marriage in your 20’s is taboo.

This reluctance towards marriage is reflected in the average age at first marriage in the U.S. and Germany (shown in the table below).

Country Women   Men 
United States
27 years old
29 years old
Germany
30 years old
33 years old
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_at_first_marriage

But statistics are not important here. Marco and I are choosing to get married because we want to. We feel ready. And while there my be a such thing as too young, I wouldn’t question anyone’s choice to get married as long as they were in a mature and loving relationship (and over 18). Heck, my mother was only 19 years old when she got married, and it lasted!
Now, don’t get me wrong. nobody has openly told me that I am crazy or that I should not get married. Rather, I have just grown accustomed to questions such as “Really!?” or “But you’re so young!” or “Why don’t you wait?” when I tell someone I am engaged. And I am not the only one.

I was actually inspired to write this post after reading an article written by a German student at my university (who got married “young” at 25 years old). For those that know German, you can read the article here: http://www2.leuphana.de/univativ/warum-ich-jung-geheiratet-habe/

But don’t worry. Nobody can get me down! Marco and I are hoping to get an appointment at the Standesamt (civil registry office) this week, and the wedding planning will hopefully begin shortly thereafter. So, prepare yourself posts about the beautifully bureaucratic process of marrying a German in Germany.

Do you think that 25 years old is too young to get married? At what age did you/your parents get married?

Culture

I was sitting in a 6-hour class last week, when I heard some of my fellow students talking about much “Müller” is in them. For a second, I thought they were talking about genealogy. But no, they were talking about the Müller Meter.

ZDF, a German TV broadcaster, created the “Müller Meter” – a 15-question test to see how people compare to the average German. 

Wie viel Müller steckt in Ihnen?
Sind Sie die/der Durchschnittsdeutsche?

Since I was the only foreigner in the room, everyone thought it would be pretty funny for me to take the test as well. The other students were about 50-60% Müller, so they were all surprised when I told them my result.

My Müller meter
That’s right, I am 70% Müller! And people always worry about foreigners integrating. I fit the German stereotype more than many of my friends.
The funniest part of the quiz for me was the German living room. Did you know the average German has a coffee table, a floor lamp, a shelving unit (or entertainment center? I’m not sure how to translate Schrankwand), an orchid, curtains, and woodchip wallpaper in their living room?
We have four of the six items, including the horrible woodchip wallpaper (Raufasertapete), but I think it’s next to impossible to find an apartment in Germany without it.
average German living room
The day after my class, I was hanging out with my friend from Lithuania, who moved to Germany around the same time I did (we actually met in German class). Curious about how a fellow foreigner would do, I had her take the test as well.
Adele's Müller meter
She is even more Müller than me! Crazy to think that a country’s population can be so heterogeneous, that a 15-question quiz isn’t an accurate representation of all its citizens (/sarcasm). Still, it’s fun to try 🙂
If you know a little German, you can take the test here: http://muellermeter.zdf.de/
And make sure to tell me how much Müller is in you in the comments below!
Culture

Now that 2016 is here (YAY!), the holiday season is officially over (BOO!). Although this was my second time spending Christmas and New Year’s in Germany, I was still able to experience a few traditions that I missed out on the first time around.

Just like New Year’s Eve 2013, our final evening of 2015 started with Raclette and a bottle of Prosecco.
Beginning on December 29th, just about every store in Germany sells fireworks for Silvester (New Year’s Eve). Being from Illinois, it still shocks me to see everything that is legal to buy here (even if it is only allowed to be sold for 3 days per year). 
When buying fireworks, the German fiancé told me he also wanted to do Bleigießen with me. I had no idea what he was talking about, but we bought a little set anyways. 
Bleigießen technically translates to “lead pouring.” However, upon looking it up on Wikipedia, I found that it is actually known as Molybdomancy in English, which is a “technique of divination using molten metal.”
Our Bleigießen set had 6 lead figures, so Marco and I each used 3 to make our shapes.
I started by melting the 3 lead pieces in a spoon over a candle flame.
Once the lead is completely melted, I quickly poured the metal into a jar of water.
The person that poured the metal then has to interpret the resulting shape. This interpretation then serves as a prediction for the new year. What do you think my lead figure looks like?

I saw a sword, which (according to www.bleigiessen.de) means “perseverance is necessary” (Schwert= Durchhaltevermögen ist nötig).
Next, it was Marco’s turn.
Here is his resulting figure. What do you think it looks like?
I claimed it was a feather, but Marco said he saw a whale. Well, (at least according to www.bleigiessen.de) Marco needs to go on a diet (Wal Diät machen). If he had picked feather, like I said, his divination would have been to “remain steadfast” (Feder Standhaft bleiben). 
Both of our predictions were pretty lame and general, basically like reading a horoscope. I think the action of pouring the metal and interpreting the shape is way more fun than actually finding out what it supposedly means.
Shortly before midnight, Marco and I headed outside with arms full of fireworks. There were already several groups in the street, shooting off fireworks in every direction. After setting ours off, we danced around in the street for a while, enjoying the sounds of explosions and ambulance sirens.

Afterwards, we went back inside to shoot some bottle rockets off of our 3rd floor balcony. The first few went great!

Then Marco accidentally shot one off horizontally, and it exploded directly in front of a window on the neighboring building. Oops. We took that as our sign to go back inside and call it a night.
Happy New Year’s!