Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sprechen Sie Englisch

After being in a foreign country for a week, I figured the most important question I could learn to ask is, “Do you speak English?” Thankfully most of them do, but beware because many don’t; or at least not very well.
It’s so difficult trying to get around when you’re with two other Americans who don’t speak hardly any German.

At the train station yesterday, Christina, Chris, and I were trying to catch the train to meet the others in Heidelberg. I’m sure everyone who lives here thinks, “The transportation is so easy. I don’t know how people can’t do it or get lost trying to figure it out.” Well, let me just say it is very hard.

You know when you’re on a plane and the flight attendant talks on the intercom and informs everyone that the flight is delayed and then gives the details on what the holdup is. Well, after the four of us were on our right train to Heidelberg, the train attendant speaks on the intercom. Not a single word of it made sense (obviously, because I don’t speak German). I don’t remember how long we were sitting there, but I do know that as I dosed off in a daydream, all of my surroundings became invisible. I’m looking out at the blue lettered graffiti on the stone wall somewhere between Mainz and Heidelberg, thinking about my life and tweaking what’s uncomfortable about it. Some people say it’s not wise to daydream because it simply doesn’t do any good to dream about something that is so farfetched. But I think it is good to stretch your imagination (even if you do think about the impossible becoming possible). Your mind shouldn’t be so limited to things. It needs to be open to new things, new ideas, new ways of life.

Thinking about my mom and my too-fast-moving life, I jerk in my seat and suddenly become aware that the train is finally moving again.

Heidelberg is a very beautiful city. It’s the gorgeous buildings that you see in a travel guide book of places to visit. The castle was HUGE. Although I didn’t get to go inside, I can only imagine how exotic it is. Along the streets they had set up shops with handmade knives, swords, porcelain dolls, shot glasses shaped in a boot (stereotype) and so much more.

On the train ride back to Mainz, Chelsea, Christina, and I started talking to this guy sitting next to us. It was a long train ride, so we covered a lot of topics. Although I think most of the time he was teaching us how to pronounce the “Ö” sound; Very difficult pronunciation.

The conversation that stuck with me, though, is how weird he thought it was that, in America, we don’t have bars on campus, or even are able to drink/have any alcohol on campus in many universities.

Here they have a bar & grill on campus. So if you have a break between classes and you want to throw one back before class, it’s completely acceptable. Not only is it acceptable, but you will see students drinking with their professors. It’s just a way of life that we find so odd.

It would be the weirdest thing if I ever saw a student openly drinking a beer or vodka tonic in the UC while studying for his test next class.

I find the cultural differences so fascinating and love seeing what’s acceptable here in comparison with what is or isn’t acceptable in the United States. It is something too many American’s don’t take the time to learn about, but I strongly believe it is important to learn the ways of other countries way of life. It is not only educating but extremely entertaining and just downright awesome.

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