Tag Archives: culture

First Few Days

*Excuse the lack of apostrophes in my posts here.  The German keyboard Im using doesnt have them since the apostrophe doesnt exist in the German language.

My host mom Semiha, my sister Selin, and Me

My host mom Semiha, my sister Selin, and Me

So this weekend has been one crazy ride.  Let it be known that six hour plane rides are long, boring, and impossible to sleep on.  Let it also be known that airline meals taste like corrugated cardboard.  The flight we were on had a problem with the water and we couldnt have any coffee (I almost died) or tea, or water not from a bottle.

Finally the plane landed at Frankfurt International Airport at about 7:00 AM German time, approximately 2 in the morning EST.  I was exhausted but I couldnt complain; Nicole still had a long wait and then a 2 hr. train ride to get to her host family.  My host family, the Alkans, picked me up right at the airport.

The German Autobahn is something else.  At first its extremely scary; youre in this tiny car going like 70-80 mph on a curvy, two lane street.  But everybody there  knows how to drive on it, and after awhile it seems normal to go that fast.

Sitting there in the car with a new family was nerve-wracking and kind of awkward.  I remember I could barely understand when they spoke to me.  I remember saying OK lot (the same word in both languages).  Its frustrating, especially when you are asked a question and understand it, but cant find the right words to answer with.  There is a lot of pointing, broken sentences, and confused looks on both parties faces.  But you get through it.  My family doesnt know more than a few words of English, so its all German, all the time.  Its extremely exhausting, but rewarding when now, three days later, I realize I can understand twice as much as my first day.  I can only imagine how good I will be able to speak after a year here and attending school.

The food here is so delicious I cant describe it.  Its not because people here are better cooks, but because the ingredients are fresh, the portion sizes are right, and it seems the people here really understand the concept of “less is more.”  The food is simple but tastes awesome.  Maybe Ill do one post just about that.  One thing I particularly like is that everyone seems to drink coffee all the time; everytime we go shopping or out to eat, or anything, we always stop in a little cafe for some coffee or a cappucino.  Its pretty cool.

One more thing for today: I dont care how much you study in school, you will not truly know how to speak a language until you use it everyday with native speakers.  Despite the best efforts of teachers, I dont think they can ever do more than give you a decent background in grammar and vocabulary to make things easier to understand when you first have to use the language.  It does help to know sentence construction and how to ask basic questions.  But you cant know how real people talk unless you hear it on a daily basis and are forced to understand everything.  Before I came here, I thought I was very capable of speaking German.  And why not? I passed German class with flying colors, and I could speak pretty well with others Americans who were speaking German.  But now I know that language is something that you have to absorb and actively engage in and be immersed in in order to really learn anything.