Hallo alle zusammen (hello everyone),
Clearly I must be a terrible blogger because I haven’t written a new post in 2 months. My sincerest apologies!!
Currently, I am studying abroad in Fulda, Germany. Fulda is a very small, conservative, and comforting town. It has approximately 20,000 people currently living here, and it is considered a medium sized town in which most people live. I must admit that it feels like a big difference from studying in San Francisco. I’m used to bustling streets filled with people constantly rushing to their next appointments. I think that is what I love most about being here in Fulda. It’s a slower pace than I may be used to, but it is also teaching me to appreciate the little things in life and the time I share with the people around me.
I am currently taking 5 classes, an internship, volunteering at a soup kitchen (in my spare time), and traveling to various places whenever I can. As a student majoring in social work, I’m really pleased with the education system here in Fulda. And I promise I am not only saying that because Germany has recently declared no tuition payments for universities any more! I am learning more about Europe, cultural identities, and the power and influence global policies have on creating positive societal change. But most importantly, I feel like I can better empathize with study abroad students that come to San Francisco. It was really strange at first hearing the absolutely unfamiliar German language spoken so quickly. I felt really scared about asking people to speak more slowly to me in German. Yet, people seem pleased with my desperate attempts to get my points across.
I think the biggest cultural adjustments I have had to make are:
1) language barriers – my pronunciation in German can definitely be improved
2) how often I am stared at – I think I get more stares when I walk about town than I ever have had in the U.S., and I get asked where I am from about 9/10 times that I meet someone out on the street or in a shop. But it’s fun watching people try to guess.
3) Public Transportation – I always thought that San Francisco had the best transportation ever. This could be due to the fact that I am originally from Los Angeles in which public transit is awful. But what I’ve noticed is that public transportation in Europe appears to be highly more efficient, convenient, and dependable.
4) Yes, I hit the end of the honeymoon phase and broke down temporarily….culture shock hit my hard in the stomach about a week ago. Until then, I’ve truly enjoyed living abroad, and I still do. But a week ago, I emotionally broke down from people (tourist shops, random strangers, classmates, teachers, etc…) constantly making racist and ignorant Asian people comments and jokes and assumptions about me being from an Asian country. I was tired of the jokes because everyone seemed to think it was acceptable to pull at their eyes and pretend they were someone of Asian descent. Maybe it’s a cultural difference, but it certainly still hurt. I’m feeling a lot better now because I am just trying to take it one day at a time.
In the past two months I have had the pleasure of traveling to the following places in Germany: Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Munich (for Oktoberfest), and Wasserkuppe (the highest mountain in all of Hessen). I am really excited to see the rest of Germany.
I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing places outside of Germany such as: Paris, France and Amsterdam, Netherlands.
I promise to update on my adventures soon!! Enjoy the pictures 😉