How’s work then?

Considering how much time I spend at work and how little on trains, I report relatively much more on trains than on work. That is not because work is worse than the train rides but more because obviously, I can’t tell the internet everything about what I do at work. But what I can tell the internet is that it is truly amazing how quickly one gets used to better standards.

You might know that phenomenon if you have a dishwasher. Before you got a dishwasher, you were frustrated and annoyed that you had to wash those greasy pans and dirty plates with your own hands every day. You could rarely invite anyone over because the dishes would be so much work afterwards. Then, you acquired a dishwasher. You don’t have to worry about certain things anymore: you just put the dishes into the machine and it takes care of it. The machine does the dishes perfectly for you and at night, you put it on and listen to its beautiful humming sound. It only takes a few days and you are used to that luxury. You don’t ever want to go back to pre-dishwasher life.

Now I am certainly not saying my co-workers or bosses act as my dishwashers or anything. Not at all. But they are very friendly, we have similar values; it’s a relaxed and productive atmosphere. Every Friday at three, we have fredagsfika because that is what you do working with Swedes. Let me tell you, you get used to than faster than you can say kanelbulle. The same goes for the content of my work. What once was a highlight of the week – getting to work on something that had to do with something Swedish and staying on top of all things Swedish-German – is the usual routine now. You get accustomed to that in no time, too. I am not saying that work is perfect and that I am sad on Fridays to have to leave the office for two days. But I am saying: It’s good and it’s important to know not to take that for granted.

A Nation divided

You already know that Reunificiation and all that jazz is my thing. You also know that I religiously follow the weekly newspaper Die ZEIT (when time allows). So now these two things have come together, not too surprising given the major topic that the Fall of the Wall on the media agenda. It is actually very interesting to see how different media in different parts of Germany chose to tackle the topic: the East German Broadcasting Organization MDR publishes all things Fall of the Wall under “25 Years of Freedom”, Google launched the hashtag Deutschland25 and Stern Magazine was full of ads with companies celebrating 1989.

The way Zeit Magazin has captured all these interestings things is something you should see – and it is even in English! Hallelujah! No more excuses to not go infotain yourself: A Nation Divided: East Germany’s legacy remains visible in statistics. Learn about where people are called Ronny, where in Germany people own most guns and – important for German learners! – where which words for stapler and roast chicken are used. (Spoiler alert: There are four different ones and three make me crack up.)

While I’m at it, I might as well add something personal to this Friday post, and yes, of course: The Work Week Song # 44! Since one co-worker has quit and two others are on vacation, this is the appropriate song for this week:


Week Song #43: Med ena foten utanför

You know when you hear a song at a particular time and even though you never liked it that much before, it suddenly speaks to you and becomes your favorite for some time? This one works for work and life.


Jag mår bra och det blir vackert/och lika sorgset som förut. 

Melissa Horn is, by the way, an artist I highly recommend: for those who want to learn Swedish, for those who want to find deep meaning in simple texts, for those who like a beautiful voice, for those who long for the “She is singing about me!”-moment. Melissa Horn’s songs all sound the same and yet all very different. 

Work Week Song #42: Money, money, money

Well, it was only a matter of time until this ABBA song came up, right? I am sure many others have used it before for similar purposes. This week, it was my favorite activity to think aloud how many hours of work a lunch, a concert or a flight equals. I should have recorded the reactions.

I work all night I work all day to pay the bills I have to pay
ain’t it sad/and still there never seems to be a single penny left for me/that’s too bad.

Work Week Song #41: Euphoria

As some of you know, I have a history with „Euphoria”. When my friend Christian had just recently met me and we stood on our corridor, some 20 metres from the dancefloor, engaged in conversation, someone put on Loreen’s Eurovision song and without even properly exiting the conversation, I sprinted to the dancefloor.

I also have a history with calling radio stations and requesting songs. Or at least when I was in 6th grade I once did that to request “Killing me softly”, a song we sang in music class.

So when my co-workers put on Radio Hamburg where during the afternoon you can request songs, the idea came up to call them. Of course I did! My co-worker said I should ask for Euphoria (NB: not my idea, but I was more than happy to do that) and I quickly came up with a reason why and told the host, “Because the song reflects our work attitude. Even this late in the afternoon, we are euphorically doing our job”. (The Fake it till you make it approach, you know.) We were put on air, I did some own PR for us and my colleagues obeyed the radio host’s demand to dance on the table.

No dancing. Except on tables.

No dancing. Except on tables.

P.S.: The only faux-pas was that I forgot to mention we are looking for an intern.

Work Week Song #39: Nine to Five

Recently, I have been considering putting together a whole CD or at least a medley with songs I started re-writing for my work place. My junior colleagues are supporting this idea. We are thinking we could release it for the company’s jubilee at the end of the year. So far, the medley would include new versions to “I can’t live”, “Atemlos, “Kumbayah” and “The Winner takes it all”. That’s quite a spectrum, eh? Not so sure what the boss thinks of it. So until then, here’s my work week song for this week, a classic with excellent lyrics.


P.S.: I figured it would be smart to label the weeks. Also, it makes it look like I had posted 39 songs already 😉

Work Week Song: Defying Gravity

I am not even going to discuss how I am again late with my Work Week Song…

My colleagues are really into alliterations because they watch “Schwiegertochter gesucht”, a dating show where candidates are always attributed an adjective that matches their name. So recently they decided to nickname me “Heitere Helen”, Cheerful Helen, and they have the nerve to ask why I haven’t been cheerful from the very beginning. I let the music speak.


Work Week Song

This week, I was very occupied with the event we arranged for a customer. It was a lot of men there. Germany still has such a long way to go.

So here’s my Work Week Song:

Girls can wear jeans
And cut their hair short
Wear shirts and boots
‘Cause it’s OK to be a boy
But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading

I also left an issue of the German feminist magazine, EMMA, with Annelie, who needed some arguments against prostitution for her discussions with German men. All the Swedes I have discuassed this subject with hold an opinion that in Germany is regarded very feminist alternatively Christian-prude. (Prostitution in Germany is declared a legal, regular job, which has contributed to making Germany a trafficking hub.)


Work Week Song

I swear, I already had this post ready and done – and now it disappeared!

This week’s work song describes this week but even more last week. It is a Swedish schlager that is both annoying and somehow irresistable. The chorus very much captures my work week. I now know every version of music on hold and I am planning to publish a scientific paper on it soon, ” ‘Fly me to the Moon’: A sociocultural analysis of large publishing houses’ music on hold”.


Växeln hallå, hallå, hallå
Växeln hallå, hallå
Fröken hallå, hallå, hallå
Koppla mig till tjugotvå
Det blir inget svar där, hon är inte kvar där
Ja, jag är ledsen, försök på nytt igen
Växeln hallå, hallå, hallå
Koppla mig till tjugotvå

Switchboard, hello, hello, hello
Switchboard, hello, hello
Miss, hello, hello, hello
Connect me to 22
There’s no answer there, she isn’t there anymore
Yes, I am sorry, try again later
Switchboard, hello, hello, hello
Connect me to 22
This week, I finally revealed my secret super power to my colleagues as well. When one of them began singing a new line to the currently extremely popular German song, “Atemlos” (“Breathless”), I quickly wrote her a new entire chorus which reflected her feelings regarding work so well that she was completely delighted. I really got into the mood of song-re-writing again so when #mydanishintern and I entered the building again after lunch and I was lazy, I sang to her, “I don’t wanna walk. I want to take the ele-vator”… (I really hope you recognize the song?)