Hello from Germany!
I can not believe that I have been in Germany for a month and a half now. Time seems to speed by here-which certainly makes me wish I could grasp onto it and slow it down a little. I am having so much fun! There are so many things to write about or tell, but this post is going to be some interesting things I have noticed here:
The Bundestag election is coming up very quickly in Germany (September 24), so I have had the wonderful opportunity to take part in a fair deal of politics since I have been here. To my surprise, the center of my political discussions with friends/family etc. have been issues key to Germany (Education, Digitalization, Refugee Politics, Climate, EU politics, Security Measures etc.) and actually not about what is occurring in America/our president. I even had the amazing opportunity to attend a podium discussion that had representatives from the Linke Party(leftish), Green Party (left), SPD (more conservative-comparatively but less conservative than CDU), FDP (leftish middle), CDU (current majority party-Angela Merkel’s party), and even AfD (Germany’s newly formed right nationalist party), where these topics were heavily debated. Through these conversations and these podium evening, I have observed that many Germans, (especially the youth around voting age) are interested in politics and the issues currently effecting them. Additionally, contrary to what many in America may think, some people actually would like change in Germany. Not everyone (some people are happy supporters though) believes that Angela Merkel is not leading the country in the right direction in regards to domestic politics. I was absolutely thrilled to find out how politically active young people and how willing people are to discuss varying ideas. Additionally, I couldn’t help but be excited to take part in the political climate and learn something more about German politics. Can’t wait to see what the result of this election is (new coalitions perhaps?!)
School is simultaneously scary and incredibly fun. I will not lie, school is very difficult for me-both due to the language difference and the actual methodology of teaching. Teaching in Germany is fundamentally different from teaching in America, and I must say that I really appreciate this methodology used here. For most classes, the teacher is more the “director”, who asks overarching questions and has students answer, discuss, build off one another, and explain a graph or a quote or the ways of doing something, instead of giving notes or a presentation. Nearly everyone is active in discussion and essentially “teaching” their peers because they are also being graded on their participation in class. I find this methodology of teaching really interesting and effective because it increases self efficacy, independent thinking and general participation. Nearly everyday, I am amazed by how intelligent and well spoken my classmates are. For me, I am still scared to take part in the discussion at the cost of being wrong or saying something that sounds funny because of my German. But, I know that is something I will get over soon, as I get more confident. Also I love my classes- I get to do cool sports like soccer and inline skating in Sport class, have incredible political discussions and ethics discussions in my politics class, and discuss what it means to be a person in philosophy (as well as many more interesting classes.) Additionally, nearly everyone I have met at my school has been so friendly and welcoming to me and I couldn’t be more thankful for that!
I could honestly write a whole post about food, but I will just say that the food here is both delicious and healthy! There is easy access to “Bio” food (food that is under certain specific controls and ethics standards) in nearly every supermarket. I was shocked to see that because of these stringent controls, eggs here do not necessarily need to be refrigerated (and most aren’t). It feels really good to be eating good, delicious food that is not doused in chemicals and better ethically controlled. Also so much bread is consumed here (and I can easily understand why-they have so many delicious sorts). Shortly said, Erdnussflips, Bread, Fruit, candy, sausage, meat in general, and cheese here are honestly the bomb.
Full German immersion was and is a lot harder than I could have ever imagined. Although I have had four years under my belt, I still struggle with certain words and concepts. I was definitely surprised with myself though that I was able to have many discussions with friends and my family-I have been able to express my opinions, thoughts, and emotions, which are complex topics. I have learned that learning to become fluent in a language involves sometimes having to be waaaayyy more specific or waaaaaaayyyy more general than you may wish to be (ie. I referred to leather as the skin of a cow). It also means having to really think about the meanings of words and their connotations. I have really enjoyed this new challenge and can’t wait to see where I am in a few months!
I absolutely love my host family. They are the sweetest people on the planet. From cooking me the most delicious dairy free/gluten free food (and giving me my own shelf of df/gf food!!) to taking an hour to help me understand my homework, to checking up on me, and always being there to talk with, there is really nothing else more that I can say other than how thankful I am for everything they do for me.
I am having a truly wonderful time here and can’t wait for all of the new adventures ahead of me!