Ada Abroad: Living and Working in Germany

An online journal recording two years spent as a Fulbright/Pedagogical Exchange Service Teaching Assistant at secondary schools in Germany. (2003-2004 I was in a village near Bautzen; 2004-2005 I will be in Nordrhein-Westfalen.)

Name:
Location: Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

I'm an American living in Germany, working as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school. Future plans: getting my Ph.D. (probably in Germanic Linguistics), becoming a professor, living an ethical and meaningful life.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Indianer-Woche

Next week is Indian Week at my school. The eighth-graders will be learning about American Indians in just about every subject: locating reservations on a map in Geography, reading texts about Indians in German and English, painting “chiefs” (complete with feathers and war paint) in Art, and so forth. Some of the stuff they’ll be doing is actually kind of cool-—I believe they’re building miniature wigwams, for example—-but a lot of it is hokey at best, or even disrespectful.

There will be a Mutprobe. (“Test of courage.”) This bothers me, and not only because it’s cheesy. The “tests of courage” and “vision quests” that some Indian youths underwent (and undergo) are religious rituals. Since when is it ok to half-assedly imitate other people’s religious rituals? Should we also hand out Ritz crackers and Dixie cups of grape juice so they can see what it’s like to be Catholic and take Communion?

Unfortunately, when it comes to this project I do not have high expectations of respectfulness or even accuracy. -–My boss honestly thought that the reason Iroquois Indians did so much of the construction work on the Brooklyn Bridge is that Indians have some sort of genetic mutation rendering them indifferent to heights! (This is b.s., of course. Indians do have a genetic predisposition to diabetes—and white people have a predisposition to near-sightedness—but there’s no such thing as a no-fear-of-heights gene.)

As calmly as possible (though actually I was horrified—what’s next, a Jewish money-lending gene?), I informed her that this is not actually the case. Finally she said, “Oh, maybe it’s just certain tribes.”

!!!!????

She also wanted me to tell the kids the old myth about how the nice white settlers invented Thanksgiving to thank their Indian brethren. So I told her the real Thanksgiving story: namely, that the Indians weren’t actually invited to the feast, but showed up when they heard gunfire. Relieved that the hairy, unwashed foreigners were preparing for a party and not a battle, they agreed to stay for the meal in order to mitigate free-floating hostilities.

The Boss didn’t believe me.

I skirted the issue by preparing an activity explaining the lifestyle of the Puritan settlers. No direct mention of the First Thanksgiving at all!

Frustrated and frankly freaked-out by the great font of ignorance that I work for, I sent an e-mail to a friend of mine who was a TA in Germany once, asking for advice. My friend, who happens to be a member of a federally recognized Indian Nation, told me that it sounds like my boss got her ideas about Indians from the novels of Karl May. Karl May is, as my friend put it, “the German Louis L’Amour.” He wrote immensely popular novels about an imaginary Indian named Winnitou, though in fact May had never met an Indian in his life. The one time he visited the States he didn’t make it west of Pittsburgh.

My friend was amused to learn that she is genetically incapable of being afraid of heights.

In the 8b, taught by the other English teacher, I will be presenting an activity called “Meet a Real Indian from Today” in which my students can look at a picture of my friend, who has short hair (no braids!) and does not go in for war paint, unless maybe you count eye-liner. They will learn that she is proud of her heritage, but has a regular job and a normal apartment and watches TV like everyone else. Essentially, I hope to show them that Indians today live in the modern world and are normal people, not all that different from them.

I offered to present this information in the 8a, too, but the Boss was not receptive.

I find it extremely ironic that we’re spending a whole week on Indians when they have their own oppressed indigenous minority group right here: namely, the Sorbs. (Who don’t get much coverage in school at all, as far as I can tell.) So my eighth-graders, including two Sorbian eighth-graders, will be learning about how we American white folks mistreated the Indians for four hundred years. I am tempted to mention that what white Americans did to the American Indians isn’t much different from what the Germans did to the Sorbs—namely, invade their country; steal their land; enslave them; and attempt to destroy their culture—but I doubt that this would go over well.

What would be comparable:

A middle school in small-town America, located 20 miles from an Indian Reservation, with two Indian kids in the class, spends a week learning all about Sorbs. Painting colorful Easter eggs, finding the towns of Chroscicy (aka Chrostwitz) and Pancicy-Kukow (aka Panschwitz-Kuckau)on a map, and even organizing their very own Corpus Christi procession, complete with a paper-mache Mary statue and Druzka (Honor Maiden) costumes made out of old newspapers…

Ridiculous, at best.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The German School System, Part II

In the last post I discussed the school system in general. In this one, I`ll focus more on day-to-day life in German schools.

One difference that I brought up in the last entry is that homerooms always stay together. In Saxony, children are assigned to a homeroom in seventh grade at a Mittelschule (after they`ve been devided into Hauptschüler and Realschüler) and in fifth grade at a Gymnasium. They are also assigned a homeroom teacher. The classes have all of their lessons together, and they stay together until they leave school-- homerooms don`t change from year to year, and neither do homeroom teachers. This system has its good points-- German students have a kind of comeraderie that American students usually don`t get to experience.

Another difference is that while American middle school and high school students have the same schedule each day of the week, German students (and therefore also German teachers) have a different schedule each day. So they might have Music lessons only on Wednesdays, for example. The lenghth of the school day also varies from day to day-- on Mondays everyone stays at my school until 3pm, but on Fridays most people go home after noon.

German schools have no substitute teachers. This means that when a teacher is sick, her colleagues have to cover her classes. However, they teach their own subject of specialization. For example, when my boss got sick this week the kids had an extra Biology class instead of English. --If no one is available to cover the class, then the kids are simply sent home early.

By American standards, German classrooms are very formal. Seating students around tables never caught on here-- they all sit in rows, facing front, two to a desk. When a teacher enters the room they have to stand and say 'Good afternoon' (or 'Good morning') and they may only sit down when the teacher gives them permission. There is comparatively little misbehavior-- but also not nearly as much creative thinking. I find that my students are quite passive and have trouble with tasks that require critical thinking skills. They tend to accept whatever the textbook or the teacher says (or at least pretend to accept it), and have difficulty with assignments involving things like evaluating newspaper articles for bias.

Grades in Germany are on a scale of 1 to 6. 1s are only awarded for really exemplary work-- most papers that would have gotten As in the US are given 2s here. (No grade inflation!) A 6 is failing. Teacher announce students' grades in front of the entire class, as well as specific criticisms like 'your pronunciation was terrible' or 'you didn't make eye contact with the audience.' Praise, on the other hand, is doled out sparingly, as if it were a rationed commodity. (I try to be the exception in this regard!) Students are also invited to critique each others' work in the upper grades. The result is that German students (and German adults) are used to public criticism and are therefore more self-assured than most Americans. But they also tend to be on the defensive side.

Corporal punishment is not allowed, but comments like 'If you do that again you'll get a black eye' are standard. This is mostly in jest, though. (It's still interesting when you think about the fact that even joking about that would get you fired from an American school!)

Younger German kids (grades 5-8, or so) seem more innocent than their American counterparts, and also more responsible-- they`re used to riding public transportation and running errands by themselves. Older kids (grades 9 and up) are more worldly and more jaded. At 16 they can drink legally, and it`s common practice for teenage kids to have their boyfriends or girlfriends spend the night! (I find this kind of disturbing.)

Other random differences:
-German students are required to take either Religion class or Ethics class. My school offers Catholic and Protestant religion classes. Some schools in areas with large immigrant populations also offer Muslim religious ed.
-German kids snap their fingers when they want to answer a question!
-There are two long breaks: one for breakfast at around 9 am and one for lunch at noon. On Tuesdays a bakery truck comes to the school during the morning break and sells fresh bread, rolls, pastries and sandwiches!
-Instead of one long summer vacation, German school breaks are spread throughout the year.
-Extensive class trips are very common. This May I`ll be going to England with my ninth-graders!
-There are no water fountains in the school (bad!) but also no vending machines (good!). The school does sell a hot lunch, and students can buy milk or juice during the morning break.
-German students are in better physical shape than their American counterparts.
-EVERYONE, regardless of their type of school or educational track, learns at least one foreign language: English. Students in Gymnasien also learn a second foreign language: usually Latin or French, but sometimes Russian, Polish, Czech, Spanish, or Italian. Since I`m in a theoretically bilingual area (actually only the Sorbian minority is bilingual, but that`s a topic for another post...) my school also offers optional Sorbian lessons. But we have only two students who participate, although there are a lot more who come from Sorbian families!

Well, I hope that was enlightening for you, and maybe also entertaining, or at least not deadly dull. I know that some of my readers work (or have worked) in schools-- as for the rest of you, I`ll try to come up with something really sarcastic for the next entry!

Monday, November 15, 2004

The German School System, Part I

People back home ask me home German schools differ from schools in the U.S. In the following couple of posts, I will attempt to answer this question. Hopefully my explanation will be of some interest to at least some of you. But if I bore you to tears, then I apologize, and I promise to return to sarcastic commentary and caustic witicisms soon.

(Be advised that, as in the U.S., the German educational system does differ somewhat from state to state. I´m in Saxony. Some things I mention may be true for Saxony but differ slightly in other parts of the country.)

The first difference that Americans notice, and probably also the biggest difference between the American educational system and the German one, is that there are two completely separate kinds of secondary school. The first kind is called a Gymnasium, and that has nothing to do with physical education. A Gymnasium is basically a college prepatory high school, attended by students in grades 5-13. About one-third of German students are tracked into Gymnasien. (No, that`s not a typo. There really is a thirteenth grade in Germany.) Before leaving school, Gymnasiasten have to take a very challenging exam called the Abitur in order to get their diplomas.

The other kind of high school is called a Mittelschule (in Saxony, anyway). Mittelschule ends after grade 10. Pupils who attend Mittelschulen are divided into two streams after the sixth grade: Hauptschule, which is basically remedial education, and Realschule, which is where more average students end up. Hauptschüler leave school after the ninth grade, usually without any kind of diploma, and then take menial jobs. Realschüler have to take an exam before they leave school after grade 10. Then they begin apprenticeships in any of a number of fields (among other things, nurses and travel agents don`t need an Abitur). Some also transfer to a Gymnasium to finish their studies.

In order to eventually get a university diploma, you first need an Abitur, which you can only get if you attend a Gymnasium. The German educational system is widely criticized because it starts streaming pupils at a very young age. --When do they decide whether your little darling is Gymnasium (and hence, college-preparatory) material? In the fourth grade. Supposedly this is done by looking at grades, evaluating the student`s ability to work independently, etc. But in practice it also has something to do with the parents' occupations. If little Florian is a bit of a dim bulb but his parents are a lawyer and an architect, you can bet that he`ll nevertheless start fifth grade in a Gymnasium. And, on the other hand, if little Ilkai does well in elementary school but her parents are a janitor and a housewife, and moreover, she's Turkish, then she'll probably be shunted into a Mittelschule.

You may have picked up on the fact that I have a problem with this system.

But there`s also something else that I have even more of a problem with-- namely, German schools offer absolutely no support for students with learning disabilities. Children with actual mental retardation (as well as severe physical disabilities) are sent away to special residential schools. But there`s no help at all for learning disabled kids. They usually just get sentenced to Hauptschule, and, therefore, to a life of menial labor. The situation is made worse by the fact that German children are held back if they fail a single subject in school, and by the fact that homeroom classes stay together in all subjects. So, a learning disabled student who has a lot of trouble reading but is, say, of average or even superior intelligence in math, still has to take remedial math, because he`s in a remedial homeroom. And if he fails English (even though he got a B in math), then he has to repeat the whole year. --Repeating a year is very common for Hauptschüler.

Needless to say, Hauptschüler are usually pretty embittered by the time they reach ninth grade. In my estimation, 75% of them have undiagnosed learning disabilities.

This situation makes me angry, because a lot of these kids could succeed if they got proper support. Take one of my favories-- a seventh-grade girl who I`ll call Erika. Erika has a lot of trouble reading. When reading aloud, she mixes up letters and has a tendency to just look at the first letter of a word and then guess what it should be. I strongly suspect that she's dyslexic. But, the kid is not stupid!!! As long as a task doesn't require her to read, she does just as well as any of the other students. In addition, she's quite motivated-- she's taking an extra English class as an elective, even though she could take a health class (which would probably be a lot easier for her). And she always volunteers to answer questions.

But, Erika is of course a Hauptschüler. This means that she's already been condemned to life as a cleaning lady or a cashier, even though she's only 13. In the U.S. she`d go to the resource room a few times a week for extra help with her reading, and she'd learn strategies to get around her reading handicap. Nothing like that exists here-- I've asked. In the U.S., she might still be in a remedial English class, but she could take classes like math or geography at a higher level. She'd have the opportunity to finish high school and probably attend at least a community college, and she wouldn't be doomed to a dead-end job. In short, Erika would be able to achieve the same things as the Realschüler, although she would have to work harder to get there.

But this is Germany. And the school authorities decided that Erika was an Epsilon.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Horse Bone Marrow, and other Bizarre Acts of Hospitality

My leg is healing nicely. It doesn´t hurt anymore, the scar is fading, and when I accidentally put weight on it for a few seconds last weekend, my ankle didn´t give out.

My recovery isn´t surprising, since I´ve been following the recommendations of various health professionals: eating plenty of calcium and protein; getting enough rest; physical therapy twice a week; smearing my leg daily with a salve of horse bone marrow.

Yes, horse bone marrow. Really. It was a present from my friend PT´s mom. Apparently it´s traditionally used to treat broken bones in the Oberlausitzer Bergland. The belief is that the horse marrow cells will strenghten your own bones. --My physical therapist assures me that this is utter nonsense, since skin isn´t permeable from the outside. But I figure that it can´t hurt, either, and the grease might give the skin on my ankle a supple, youthful look. Besides, I´m here to experience another culture, aren´t I? Is there a better way than by smearing myself with the last mortal remains of Black Beauty?

The horse bone marrow is yellow and fatty. I keep it in an old vitamin container in my refrigerator. It has a strong smell. Not good, but not terrible either-- just strong. I sleep in old socks so the stuff won´t get all over my sheets.

I didn´t ask where Mrs. PT obtained the horse bone marrow. Maybe somebody´s old nag died. Or maybe she got it at the butcher shop.

You can find horse meat at some butcher shops in Germany. Over here, horse is not just for Fido anymore. German people eat horse meat, too.

My former German professor, ID, was once forced to eat horse meat in order to avoid offending her German hosts. She was living with a family in the Rheinland at the time. They found out that she´d never experienced the great delicacy that is horse flesh, so they insisted on preparing it for her as a special treat.

'No, really,' I picture her saying. 'You don´t have to go through all that trouble just for me.`

When ID tells the story, she says, `The whole time I was eating it, I kept picturing a big, round horse butt.` As she says this, she habitually traces the outline of a horse´s rump in the air.

`What did it taste like?` we ask her.
'It reminded me of bear meat, actually.' --ID grew up in the wilds of north Idaho, where people eat things like bear and moose and cow brains and pig testicles. But not horse. Horses aren´t for eating, in Idaho. They´re kept as ´companion animals.` Children in Idaho (ID, for example) have ponies as pets and take them to 4-H shows.

And this, from my cultural biased North American perspective, is how it should be. I would never eat a horse. Or a dog, either.

But really, which is weirder, eating horse meat or rubbing horse bone marrow into your broken ankle?


Thursday, November 04, 2004

Profiles in Moral Cowardice

As most of you know, I´ve lived for the past month and a half (minus the hospital stay, of course) with a `host family` in a small, isolated village near the larger village that I teach in. This has come to an end. I´ll explain the reasons below.

This family--I´ll call them the Goebbels (not their real name)-- offered me a room in the basement in return for €220 per month. When I moved in, they showed me my bathroom and my toilet, and said that I could also use the living room and the kitchen. They offered to take me with them when they went grocery shopping in town. They even threw in a hot lunch every Sunday.

Soon after I moved in, I realized that my kitchen and bath weren´t private at all. Instead, I had to share them with the Goebbels´spoiled teenage daughter, Helga. (Not her real name.) But, the rent was cheap by American standards and all utilities were included, including satellite TV, so I let this slide.

A couple days later I noticed that my TV didn´t work. Then, Magda Goebbels expelled me from the living room. Things improved a little while I was in the hospital and for a short while afterwards, but about a week ago the situation began to deteriorate rapidly. Magda consistently `forgot` to ask me if I´d like a ride when she went grocery shopping, and a couple of times I ran out of food.

It was 4 p.m. last Sunday and nobody had knocked on my door to tell me that lunch was ready. I thought this was a little weird, so I asked Josef Goebbels what was up with the situation. He became very angry and hissed at me that while they invite me to lunch sometimes, it wasn´t a standing invitation. --I had the impression that the cost of lunch came out of my rent! I silently cursed the Goebbels family as I reheated yet another TV dinner.

Since I can’t carry anything that I can’t put in a bag, I can´t actually cook—I’m stuck nuking things for the time being. The Goebbels’ kitchen is set up in such a way that I couldn´t get my TV dinners from the microwave of the table, so I had to eat them at the counter. This worked for a while because they let me push chairs from the table to the counter and then back again. –Actually leaving a chair at the counter was, of course, strictly forbidden. It might get in some able-bodied person’s way.

Wait. It gets worse.

Just as I was about to pop my Monday lunch into the microwave, Helga informed me that I was no longer allowed to push the chairs around the kitchen. Theoretically it could damage the wooden floor. –Of course, I’d been doing this for two weeks and the floor was perfectly fine, but whatever…

So, from now on I’d have to eat my hot meals standing. On one leg.

That was the last straw. Out of desperation I told the music teacher about my situation on Tuesday morning. “I feel so, so sorry for you,” she said. Then she left.

She returned about a half hour later. It turns out that she lives within 200 meters of the school and is on good terms with some neighbors who operate a small bed-and-breakfast. She asked them whether they’d be able to put me up for 220 Euro a month. They said yes. So I went over to look at the room.

It wasn’t a room. It was an efficiency apartment, fully furnished. Private bath and shower. My own kitchenette. Twin beds. Fully functional television and radio. No stairs to climb. Access to a washer and dryer. All utilities included.

!!!!!

Magda walked into the kitchen on Tuesday evening as I was eating my dinner. I probably looked pretty pathetic, balancing on one leg, half-leaning over the counter, shoveling food into my mouth. Most people would have offered to bring me a chair. Magda didn’t say one word to me.

First thing Wednesday morning I informed the bed-and-breakfast people that I would take the room, and that I’d be moving in as soon as possible.

But there was still one problem. I was terrified of the Goebbels'.

This was not unwarranted. Mr. (Josef) Goebbels had yelled at me on a few occasions and sneered at me on several others. And as for Magda… Well, a lot of the teachers at the school are afraid of her, too. She has a reputation for getting extremely nasty when, for example, teachers confront her about Helga’s little habit of cheating on tests. The principal describes Magda as a “miserable beast.”

I was prepared for shouting. I was prepared for them to demand that I pay for the entire month of November—despite the fact that, without a rental contract, they couldn’t force me to do so. I was prepared for the possibility that they would throw me out on the street immediately—I even smuggled my valuables to school Wednesday morning just in case!

When Magda brought me my mail Wednesday evening, I forced myself to tell her.

“Good,” she said, without a trace of emotion. “We wanted to change that anyway. It was too awkward. Our other tenants were much more self-reliant.” She uttered this last sentence as if I had a weak character as opposed to a broken leg.

To preempt any attempts to extort a full month’s rent from me, I offered up front to pay for the first week of November, despite the fact that I would only be present for four days. I asked her to bring the vacuum cleaner downstairs so that I could clean my room before I left. “There’d better not be any spots on the carpeting,” said Magda. “We just installed it.” I assured her that this would not be a problem. Then I packed my bags.

When Magda came for the bill, she wanted it exact to the penny—it came to something like 52 Euro and 67 cents. (I found this odd, since I volunteered to pay for three extra days!) Then she said, “Bye-bye! We won’t see each other anymore.”

As if I’d seek out further contact with her and her miserable family.

When I hobbled upstairs later that evening to take a phone call from a German friend, Josef gave me a look that I generally reserve for unexpected piles of dog filth. I greeted him with a cheerful “Good evening!”

Fear quickly turned to loathing. These people wanted to me to leave, but instead of calmly explaining the situation like rational adults, they strived to make my life as difficult as humanly possible so that I’d be forced to flee! Profiles in moral cowardice, indeed.

The thing is, if Josef or Magda had approached me politely and asked me to seek out a new place to live, I would have understood. Helga was born with a chronic illness which no doubt is very stressful for her parents. Having a tenant with a broken leg was too much for them. Unfortunately, the Goebbels aren’t much for showing consideration or even courtesy to anyone beyond their small circle of relatives and close friends. True, they visited me at the hospital. But my boss was keeping tabs on this, and it may have been just to keep up appearances. Josef and Magda aren’t popular at the school, and I get the impression that they’re not exactly pillars of the village, either.

After the latest debacle, all the teachers at school are completely disgusted with them. At least half a dozen offered to help me move. (The move took place on Thursday afternoon. The English teacher and the music teacher hauled my bags in their cars while the school secretary actually rode my bicycle from one village to the other! The geography teacher lent me her suitcase to make everything easier. Afterward, the music teacher bought me dinner.)

And it’s a good thing for the Goebbels family that my parents are on another continent, because I think my mom was about ready to rip them a new orifice.

I’d call them swine, but pigs are actually intelligent animals and can be as friendly and personable as dogs if properly trained. I’d call them vipers, but snakes are just following their instincts—they don’t have malicious intentions.

So instead I’ll call them what they are. Unfortunately, what they are is not printable in a family-friendly blog.

Well, I suppose you can’t expect much from people who take their decore tips from Martha Stewart’s latest book, Decorating with Dead Things. (Morticia Addams keeps a copy on her coffee table.)

Seriously. I’m not talking about a trophy or two here, folks. There are at least twenty skulls and pairs of antlers in the house—and those are just the ones in the parts that I had access to. Pelts all over the walls, too. Including one that bears a very disturbing resemblance to my little dog, Layla…

I have nothing against hunting, but plastering the walls of your house with body parts strikes me as morbid. (Jeffrey Dahmer stuffed and mounted things too, folks!) I suppose that excessive trophy-collecting corresponds to a certain mentality. One in which it is far too easy to treat other living things like pieces of furniture.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Radio Free Deutschland

Sorry again for not posting in a while. I actually tried to last Thursday, but the computer froze up on me...

Four weeks after my accident, I´m getting around on crutches quite well. The main problem is carrying things. If I can safely put it in my backpack, I have no problem at all. But try putting a pot of boiling water or a pan of hot grease into a backpack. (Better yet, don´t. Suggestions in this blog are not to be taken literally, and if you´re stupid enough to do so, I am not legally responsible for the consequences!) So cooking´s pretty much out. I can use the microwave because all I have to do is take out my food and set it on the same counter that the microwave sits on. I´ve been eating a lot of TV dinners. I love to cook, and I´m not much for processed food, so this development doesn´t thrill me.

But enough about my life as a gimp. On to the actual topic of this blog: German radio stations.

To be blunt (or culturally biased, depending on how you choose to look at the situation), German radio is bizarre.

In the United States and Canada, it is customary for radio stations to play one particular type of music: classic rock, or country, or contemporary rock, or gospel, for example. This is called a ´format.´ Radio stations pick formats because they want to appeal to a particular audience: aging baby-boomers, farmers, sullen teenagers, or Bible-thumpers. They don´t try to appeal to, say, brooding teens with multiple piercings and 65-year-old Mormon housewives at the same time, because it´s not possible. (Note: Trust me; I know how radio stations work--I was a DJ for four years!)

German radio stations, as far as I can tell, have no format at all. I have to listen to German radio several times a day whether I want to or not, because a radio switches on automatically when you turn on the light in my bathroom. While I can´t change the station, I have had the opportunity to listen to other stations in the car. None of them have formats.

The result is that you´ll be driving along, listening to what seems to be an ok station-- playing a song like `Dust in the Wind` by Kansas, for example. And just when you´ve relaxed and are are enjoying yourself, `Dust in the Wind` ends and a new song comes on. And it´s `Who Let the Dogs Out?` !!! --I am not making this example up. This actually happened.

Or take the station in my toilet. It plays mainly dance music and pop. There´s a lot of Britney Spears and so forth (insert wretching sound here). But, do you know what the one song is that they play more than anything else? The song that I hear at least once a day, and which I will associate with bowel movements for the rest of my life? --`Take Good Care of my Baby.`

No, not a remake. The original. From the Fifties.

There are aspects of German culture that are pleasantly different from the United States: the bread is excellent, for example, and there´s virtually no sprawl. And then there are unpleasant differences, like compulsive orderliness and German radio.

Addendum: While German music radio has very little in common with the North American equivalent, the morning shows are virtually the same. They even have a ´Battle of the Sexes` and a ´Sexiest Saxon` contest. The announcer is named ´Miss Peggy.` I am uncertain whether the station managers realize that American listeners associate the name with a pig in a blond wig.