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Help! I'm Studying Abroad in Germany! (Not Anymore.)

Photo by Lauren Rever: Heidelberg, Germany

Between the shock of food choices (meat without sauce!) and the terrible week-long jet lag (5 am wake-ups,) getting back into the swing of things in New Hampshire after studying in Germany for five months certainly was a bit interesting. Some of the transitions coming back home stem from living in a New Hampshire town where the Shaw’s parking lot is the main hang-out and finally having experienced in Germany what the term “walking distance” actually means. I mumbled “Entschuldigung” instead of “Sorry” for at least a week and haven’t stopped cuddling my dearly missed cat since I returned. Yep, coming back home was interesting.

Oh, I can communicate?
At any given time in Germany I was making myself as small as possible to avoid being spoken to in German. But it happened, and I nodded and mumbled some words until it was over. I mean, I could speak the language. It’s just the combination of strangers and a foreign language that had me smiling and nodding until I could run away. So? I forgot for a while that in the U.S. people speak English - all the time. I did a double take after hearing “Excuse me, could I get by?” and had to hide my sincere shock when a waiter spoke to me in English. Christmas Eve Mass was fun when I was trying to tell the lady next to me that she didn’t need to push down to make room. I literally mumbled, “Oh. No.” and proceeded to use way too many hand motions.

Clean plate club
Germans. Finish. Every. Thing. On. Their. Plates. (Actually I think most of the rest of the world does, but I was only in Germany.) I can’t think of a single exception in my memory, really. The Germans also take bread and wipe up the left-over sauce, “in case of bad weather.” I was constantly embarrassed of my food wasting ways in Germany (small stomach, sorry!) but I certainly made the effort to finish everything or watch how much food I took, and the habit has continued here at home. Looking around at American dinner tables, I’m now a little disgusted at how much food is just tossed. I’m not saying let’s start wiping up that little bit of extra mustard on the side there, but how about we take less food or make sure it gets eaten?

Really, Boston? The whole of Europe can coordinate frequent buses and trams with traffic and red lights to let us know down to the minute when some transportation would show up and you can’t figure out how to send a Green-line train every half hour? In Germany I had three stops and four bus options within three minutes of my dorm; a wait over eight minutes was a pain. Twenty minutes to Reservoir? Ugh. I’d rather stay in. Seriously guys, TransLoc is not cutting it.

Woo! Independence!
I am more than happy to text my parents to let them know where I’m going and when I’ll be back. But let’s face it: study abroad offers up a parent free, RA free, American-laws-free environment to just do your thing. “Sorry I missed your call, mom. That darn time difference!” It doesn’t mean I was a hooligan all the time. I just got used to doing what I want, when I wanted. I was on my own schedule and have to say: I enjoyed the freedom. Classes? Parents? Open container laws? Jeeze guys, America is no fun.

Uhh.. You guys don’t all speak German?
“Wie geht’s? (How’s it going?) Wir treffen (We’re meeting) with Selma and Leute (people) at 19:00 (7pm) at the Mensa (cafeteria.). Gonna watch some fußball (soccer.) Should be ganz (totally) chill, wie immer (like always.)”

Nope. Can’t talk like that anymore.

The College Cook
Home is not all bad. For one, I’ll never turn down a full fridge at home or the stacked dining halls at BC. #Cantcooktosavemylife

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