Category Archives: German


Woher kommst du?
He asks.
Why are you here?
Fragt sie.
Since I grew a different me, it’s always been the same answer…
Weißt du, es ist kompliziert.
Complicated…you could say that.
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Baumhaus / Treehouse

I once had a tree house. My father and my best friends’ father built it into the majestic fir tree in our garden. I still picture them, fathers of two six-year old girls, wearing chequered flannel shirts and old jeans. They worked the entire summer weekend: sawing, drinking sips of beer, hammering together boards of wood. At the end of the weekend they had created an impressively large wooden platform, hidden under the wide branches of the fir tree.

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Before I arrived in Berlin, I had read very little German literature. The only author whose stories I had read was Franz Kafka (who, technically speaking, was not German at all, but his stories were written in German). His horrifying and uncanny short stories so strongly impressed me that I found myself reading them over and over again. And as I began to study German, I became even more excited because I was finally able to read his stories in their original language. When I decided, after two years of learning German, to study abroad my junior year in Berlin, my father (who had recently read some Kafka himself) immediately quipped that I should hope Germany would not resemble the stories. At the time, I laughed at the unlikelihood of this. But now, after spending a semester there, I think back on his joke and I no longer find it funny, for my experiences were more similar to Kafka’s stories than I could have possibly imagined.

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