Sunday, October 17, 2010
you want to know what the difference is between you and me?
I just wanted to use that line from 'The Parent Trap'. There's not much to pinpoint from this past week. Life went on, I had my deutschkurs every day, excess water fell from the sky, and there was no Sun to speak of. I need some Vitamin D, Deutschland! I wanted to take a blog post to highlight some of the changes my life has undergone since I've arrived in Bayern. I have to be really careful when pointing out differences between my German home and my USA home, because I know that some of the differences are case sensitive to me and my personality. So here is what is different for me: Food: The one thing I can say about food is that I feel like it's 'fresher'. Henner always gets food from the market or the biological/organic food from the store. I love it. Never underestimate the power of some fresh cheese from France. There is also bread here like you wouldn't believe. The bakeries are going to be the death of me. They lure me in with their warmth and smells, not to mention that there are usually about 5 on one street. One of them is bound to get me. I have not been eating so much meat. I had nightmares about getting wrapped in wurst by a man in lederhosen, but that has not come to pass, thank goodness. Also, beer has not been so prevolent, like the stereotypes say. Granted, I'm not supposed to drink beer with Rotary, but there is the same amount of beer in my life here as there was back in the USA, without me drinking it. Milk is my biggest problem. I drink a LOT of milk. In Deutschland, the milk comes in these little cartons instead of hulking gallon jugs. I feel bad for Manuela and Henner, who've now taken to buying at least 3 cartons at a time to keep up with my calcium intake. School: As of right now, I'm in a deutschkurs for 4 more weeks. Going back to my 2 weeks in Realschule I can say this: It's not overly different. Sure, the set up might be different. Instead of six 70 minute classes until 3:15, I have six 45 minute classes until 1:10. Everyday I have different classes instead of having the same classes everyday for 9 weeks. The teachers here also move from class to class instead of the students, which I think causes much less chaos in the halls. As for discipline, I feel like the USA has more consequences for students. However, I haven't been around long enough to deserve a detention here myself, so this is slight speculation. Fashion: They (fashion magazines and travel writers) say there is a 'European' style. If they mean that Europeans dress nicer than sagging pants drooping past their derrieres, then that's altogether true. I feel like all of my friends at school just came out of a fashion catalog. In the USA, it was easy to go to school in sweatpants and a tee-shirt and no one would think anything of it. Here, people actually care about public appearance, which I find quite refreshing. Sure, I've had to refine my taste a bit but I feel like I'm more socially sophisticated for it. I've now taken to leaving the sweatpants for nighttime. Interaction: From everything I read and heard to prepare myself for this year, Germans were 'unapproachable' and 'didn't like to be touched'. I find this to be completely untrue in my life here. Girlfriends at school greet eachother with a kiss (yes, sometimes on the lips) and my host mom has no qualms about giving me a spontaneous hug. Germans are definately not 'cold' people. I feel like more people in the USA are uneasy with contact and wouldn't be as open to a foreigner in their lives. Language: I feel as though in the USA we expect exchange students to ALREADY know Englisch. True, they study it in school longer than we study any foreign languages, but language in school, as I've learned, doesn't even compare to learning a language by living in it's mother country. I know that when I speak German here, I sound like a blubbering idiot with golf balls in my mouth sometimes. If I was in my school back home, we'd make fun of such a spectacle, even some of the teachers would join in (I've witnessed this). Not here, at least not from what I can understand. Here, everyone is so encouraging and impressed when I speak to them in my German. I've gotten more comfortable speaking with people in German because of this and even if my German isn't that of a high class aristocrat, they can understand what I'm trying to get across. In this situation, I'm glad I'm an exchange student in Germany and not in the USA. It's harsh, but true and necessary to put out there. Family: I'm most definately not going to talk about my personal relationships in detail over the internet, but I'll lay out the scene. I have a wonderful bond with my parents. I never hit that 'teenage angst/ I hate my parents' stage in all my 16 years. I love them so much and this experience has made me appreciate just how good my life is at home. My brother and I have also bonded more now that we're thousands of miles away from eachother (not across the hall) and beginning completely new chapters in our lives. That being said, I also have amazing host parents. They treat me like I'm part of the family and I'm perfectly happy with them. I've heard many stories where relationships with host families have not been so great to the point of misery, so I am most grateful to have Manuela and Henner, where the only negative feelings I have are those of occasional boredom. To sum it up, I don't believe that much is different between my lives here and at home. There's the language of course and a different culture that I experience every once and a while, but my life from day to day is the same. I haven't changed drastically myself yet. Little changes of course, but I'm still Sarah Jane McGinn or 'Michigan' if you prefer. Same spirit, same ambitions, different address.--sjinternational