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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Nine German words that perfectly sum up being in your 30s

Whether you're "settled down" or still figuring out what you want to do with your life, these distinctly German words shed some light on life in your 30s.

Nine German words that perfectly sum up being in your 30s
Thirty-something couple relaxing in their 'Freizeit' at a beach in the Baltic Sea. Credit: DPA

Hüftgold

Credit: depositphotos/Buurserstraat38

Let’s face it. Between juggling a family, career and other joys/stresses of daily life, many of us in our 30s put on a few extra kilos compared to what we had in our 20s. Sometimes we in turn develop – or form bigger – Hüftgold, or hip gold.

These love handles are also dubbed Hüftspeck, or hip bacon. Of course, some of us attempt our first Ironman in these Hüftgold-en years, but others are more inclined to grab a bite on the go as we decide we're a bit too tired to make it to the gym tonight.

Die Gretchenfrage

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This compound word dates back to Goethe’s Faust of 1808, in which the character Gretchen asks the protagonist, who is secretly collaborating with the devil, “Wie hast du’s mit der Religion?” (What's your take on religion?). In German, the word now means any question that gets to the core of an issue, usually with an answer we don't quite want to hear. In our 30s, when figuring out what we really want out of life, sometimes this is the question to ask.

Schnurzpiepegal

Credit: Desposit Photos/kues

While some of us in our 30s are philosophically posing the fundamental questions of existence, others just don’t care anymore. They don’t sweat the small stuff, and for anything gone awry might mutter a “Das ist mir schnurzpiepegal” (That doesn’t matter to me) or the even less literary “Das ist mir scheißegal.”

Geborgenheit

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Many of us in our 30s are past the days of all-night partying or staying up to take a budget flight at the crack of dawn. We feel less shame than our FOMO (fear of missing out) 20-something counterparts, and are more content to relax on a Friday with a book – or Netflix – than hit the bars. We like that feeling of security and comfort, loosely translated as Geborgenheit. It's very similar to its sister word gemütlich but also captures the feeling of being cared for.

Torschlusspanik

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Also applicable to your 20s, this “gate closing panic” applies to many in our 30s worried that we haven’t yet found that person to tie the knot with or no longer have the chance to change careers or locations. It’s also commonly used for women who can hear their biological clocks ticking.

Freizeit

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People tend to appreciate their precious free time more when they have less of it, as is often the case in our fourth decade. Often juggling a job Vollzeit and a handful of other responsibilities, Freizeit is a cherished and often scarce resource. But 30-somethings – learning from their 20s – often have a better idea of how they like to spend it.

Weltschmerz

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Filled with youthful optimism, many of us once had an idealized vision of the world. Upon getting older, some of us become a tad more cynical. They see rising coronavirus cases in the news, or the ever-rising rent prices in Berlin. There is an ache that the world can’t be better or simpler like in the good ‘ol days (whenever they were).

Familienplanung

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Last year it was announced that Germany had the highest birth rate since reunification. Like many Western European countries, German women are bringing their first child into the world at an average age of around 30, with that number reaching 35 for German men.

Needless to say, planning for (or in some cases against) a family is a theme many in Germany – locals and foreigners alike – deal with for the first time in their thirties.

Zugzwang

Credit: depositphotos/TarasMalyarevich

Originally used just by chess players, this word more broadly means feeling under intense pressure to make a move, even when they would prefer to do nothing because the move comes at a disadvantage.

In our 30s, we sometimes find we can’t avoid big life decisions anymore, or simply have to pay that pile of bills on the deadline day when we would rather be planning our holiday to Italy.

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LEARNING GERMAN

The best podcasts for learning and perfecting your German

Once you've learned the basics of German, listening to podcasts is one of the best ways of increasing vocabulary and speeding up comprehension. Here are some of the best podcasts out there for German learners.

The best podcasts for learning and perfecting your German

STARTING OUT

Coffee Break German

Coffee Break German aims to take you through the basics of German in a casual lesson-like format. It is extremely easy to listen to. Each 20-minute episode acts as a mini-lesson, where German native Thomas teaches Mark Pendleton, the founder and CEO of Coffee Break Languages, the basics.

All phrases are broken down into individual words. After new phrases are introduced the listeners are encouraged to repeat them back to practise pronunciation.

The advantage of listening to this podcast is that the learner, Mark, begins at the same level as you. He is also a former high school French and Spanish teacher. He often asks for clarification of certain phrases, and it can feel as if he is asking the very questions you want answered.

You can also stream the podcast directly from the provider’s website, where they sell a supplementary package from the Coffee Break German Academy, which offers additional audio content, video flashcards and comprehensive lesson notes

German Pod 101

German Pod 101 aims to teach you all about the German language, from the basics in conversations and comprehension to the intricacies of German culture. German Pod 101 offers various levels for your German learning and starts with Absolute Beginner.

The hosts are made up of one German native and one American expat living in Germany, in order to provide you with true authentic language, but also explanations about the comparisons and contrasts with English. This podcast will, hopefully, get you speaking German from day one.

Their website offers more information and the option to create an account to access more learning materials.

Learn German by Podcast

This is a great podcast if you don’t have any previous knowledge of German. The hosts guide you through a series of scenarios in each episode and introduce you to new vocabulary based on the role-plays. Within just a few episodes, you will learn how to talk about your family, order something in a restaurant and discuss evening plans. Each phrase is uttered clearly and repeated several times, along with translations.

READ ALSO:

Learn German by Podcast provides the podcasts for free but any accompanying lesson guides must be purchased from their website. These guides include episode transcripts and some grammar tips. 

DEVELOPING YOUR GERMAN

Easy German

This podcast takes the form of a casual conversation between hosts Manuel and Cari, who chat in a fairly free-form manner about aspects of their daily lives. Sometimes they invite guests onto the podcast, and they often talk about issues particularly interesting to expats, such as: “How do Germans see themselves?”. Targeted at young adults, the podcasters bring out a new episode very three or four days.

News in Slow German

This is a fantastic podcast to improve your German listening skills. What’s more, it helps you stay informed about the news in several different levels of fluency.

The speakers are extremely clear and aim to make the podcast enjoyable to listen to. For the first part of each episode the hosts talk about a current big news story, then the second part usually features a socially relevant topic. 

A new episode comes out once a week and subscriptions are available which unlock new learning tools.

SBS German

This podcast is somewhat interesting as it is run by an Australian broadcaster for the German-speaking community down under. Perhaps because ethnic Germans in Australia have become somewhat rusty in their mother tongue, the language is relatively simple but still has a completely natural feel.

There is a lot of news here, with regular pieces on German current affairs but also quite a bit of content looking at what ties Germany and Australia together. This lies somewhere between intermediate and advanced.

A woman puts on headphones in Gadebusch, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Photo: dpa | Jens Büttner

PERFECTING YOUR GERMAN

Auf Deutsche gesagt

This is another great podcast for people who have a high level of German. The host, Robin Meinert, talks in a completely natural way but still manages to keep it clear and comprehensible.

This podcast also explores a whole range of topics that are interesting to internationals in Germany, such as a recent episode on whether the band Rammstein are xenophobic. In other words, the podcast doesn’t just help you learn the language, it also gives you really good insights into what Germans think about a wide range of topics.

Sozusagen

Bayern 2 present their podcast Sozusagen! for all those who are interested in the German language. This isn’t specifically directed at language learners and is likely to be just as interesting to Germans and foreigners because it talks about changes in the language like the debate over gender-sensitive nouns. Each episode explores a different linguistic question, from a discussion on German dialects to an analysis of political linguistics in Germany.

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