I’m in the mood to type. So let’s start.
Backing up to the middle of March, my class organized a sleepover in the school. We all arrived at 6:00pm on a Friday for a pizza and movie night. We (1/3 of the class and our teacher) were the only 20 people in the whole school for the night. We watched the Truman Show all together and then we were free to do as we please. We decided it’d be a great idea to play hide and seek in the dark. Even though half the school had motion sensor lights, we were left with the rest of the 2-story building with a basement.
It was the most terrifying and exhilarating thing I’ve done in a long time.
After 3 hours of playtime, we all settled down and watched 2 other movies until 4:30am.
*Culture difference: Co-ed sleepovers in a neutral environment are totally fine and accepted in Germany.*
CBYX camp was at the end of March. Each half of the 50 scholarship winners spent 5 days in Bad Honnef, a town south of Bonn and not too far from Cologne.
25 American exchange students all together under one roof.
Let me tell ya’, camp was awesome. The first day we all took a tour of Bonn and Das Haus der Geschichte “The House of History” and took some pretty awesome pictures.
We took some selfies with the biggest moonrock in Europe.
I terribly improv’d a german-language-illiterate Angela Merkel pissed off about the NSA.
And we got some pretty adorable group photos.
The next day we went to Cologne where we took a tour of a Mosque and the city center.
I can say with confidence that Cologne has the best döner I’ve ever eaten.
I take selfies with remarkable objects in order to prove I was present.
I cried in awe of its beauty.
I went with a group to Starbucks and we ended up with this outcome. It was the funniest thing.
The whole group together!
The next day we had workshop stuff and exchange-studenty-things to do. But we eventually got the chance to play a 2 1/2 hour game. Each group of 3 people received an egg and an apple. Our objectives were to trade the apple in town for some cool stuff and find a place to cook the egg.
Following are some of the results:
- 2 giant terribly painted paintings
- Christmas lights
- A car mat
- A bottle of cheap champagne
- and tons of other things
*No worries. The bottle of champagne was taken by the counselors
Then on Saturday we had another workshop day and then at the end of the day we had to put on a Talent Show. We all managed to throw something together and it was pretty good.
We all parted ways on Sunday and it was sad. The next time we are all together will be in Berlin for a week in May and then again at the Frankfurt Airport during our last days in Germany.
It was a good time while it lasted. It was an amazing feeling to be with American teenagers and be able to speak english and enjoy each other’s humor in a language we all understand. It was pretty much a time of relief.
I came back to school and took a few tests. Math, English, and Physics. Two of which I surprisingly bombed. But as hoped, I received a perfect score on my English essay. Never in my life has that ever happened.
As for my progress in German, I’m liking it! I just starting getting to guts to read aloud from our book in class. I stumble over words, but it makes class a little more interesting. I get complimented on my German, but that doesn’t stop people from helping me correct my mistakes. It’s a work in progress.
Today I was asked to go into a class of people studying to be kindergarten teachers and talk about child upbringing in school in the US. One of the points I made was that the concept of “personal space” is taught at a young age, hence being told to keep your hands to yourself all the time. I explained how there is a clear difference between personal space in Europe in comparison to the US.
I demonstrated what I think personal space is by walking up to a student in the class and stopping where I would think would be a good distance between us in order to have a conversation. When I stopped in front of the student, a echo of gasps went around the room and it was clear that the unanimous opinion was “You’re kidding! That’s so far!”. The classmate then demonstrated what he thought was an appropriate distance and took a step forward.
Of course, the question came up as to why Americans set themselves so far apart from each other in daily situations. I tried to come up with a theory. My thoughts are that it probably stems from the “American Mindset” where in the past everyone’s goal was to have a house, a big yard, their own car, etc. etc. We take pride in what we own and maybe that makes us take pride and stand ground of the presence and space we take up on this earth.
I had talked about the difference in personal space between two culture before, but I didn’t truly find a way to show the difference until today.
Other examples of physical social differences:
- It’s common to hug every one of your friends in school hello and goodbye everyday in Germany. In the US, these hugs are occasional.
- When waiting to get on the bus, people are practically on top of each other trying to get into the bus first here. At home, I’ve only ever experienced standing and getting on in an orderly fashion.
- No matter what kind of pair of best friends you are, boy-boy, girl-girl, or even boy-girl, it is totally normal to be super close, both physically and emotionally. The type of boy-girl friendships here are the sort of things in the US where people suspect the two are dating.
- If a stranger bumps into your shoulder on the street, don’t expect an apology from a German if it wasn’t a severe bump, but expect an “excuse me” from an American if he has to swerve slightly out of his way in order not to hit you, even if you two never actually make contact.
Just some interesting things to think about.
My mom, aunt, and cousin are coming to visit in May and I absolutely CANNOT wait for it!
Yesterday or the day before yesterday was the 7 month mark of living in Germany. Everything is hitting me now and I’m realizing how freaking fast the time in going.
Time is a terrifying and stressful concept.