Ada Abroad: Living and Working in Germany

An online journal recording two years spent as a Fulbright/Pedagogical Exchange Service Teaching Assistant at secondary schools in Germany. (2003-2004 I was in a village near Bautzen; 2004-2005 I will be in Nordrhein-Westfalen.)

Location: Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

I'm an American living in Germany, working as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school. Future plans: getting my Ph.D. (probably in Germanic Linguistics), becoming a professor, living an ethical and meaningful life.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Cultural Differences

Please accent my apologies for the delay between postings. As some of you may have guessed, I don´t have internet access on weekends, and on Mondays I´m generally too busy with catching up on email to worry about my blog.

Anyhow, I´m currently in the deepest pits of culture shock, very lonely and reasonably miserable. None of my fellow villagers are anywhere near my age, and since there´s no public transportation to Bautzen in the evening or on weekends, I´m quite isolated. This weekend I hiked to three of the nearby villages (which all more or less look the same, although the forest in between is gorgeous) and did some reading. I also ate Sunday dinner with my hosts-- once a week they let me join them at the table. Unfortunately it is quite obvious that my prescence makes them unfortable. They look very nervous and never know what to say. This in turn makes me nervous, which makes my German go downhill, which causes them to (incorrectly) assume that I don´t understand most of what they´re saying, so it´s not worth the hassle to talk to me.

This morning I arrived at my first period class literally ten seconds after the bell stopped ringing. My boss scowled at me and said, ´Late again?` I felt like smirking at her and hissing that by the standards of my own culture, I wasn´t late, but of course I didn´t. I just sat there and felt smug when she pronounced the word ´verb´as if it started with a W.

Yesterday at the market I had trouble locating the baking powder. I had expected it to come in a box of some kind, but no, it´s sold in packets here. (Germans would call the market a Supermarkt, but it isn´t any bigger than a typical Mom and Pop shop in the US, so I feel that it´s unworthy of the name.)

Some of my (male) students don´t wash more than once a week or so, and it´s noticeable!

I don´t want to go home. I just wish there was somebody nearby who I could sit around and bitch with. It´s not as satisfying to do it long-distance...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Adrienne:

Sorry to hear that things have been a little down. Maybe I can visit and parade around in Spandex to bring a new dimension to the place. (I suppose that's a scary thought.) We meet interesting people in the strangest places so keep your eyes and ears open.


4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may be a stereotype, but I've always heard how prompt the Germans are. Just try very hard to be on time and try to anticipate what you can do to be helpful. Ingratiate yourself with them - you'll be glad you did in the long run.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Ada said...

Hi all

Rick, I´d be happy if you visited me, but please leave your spandex at home! I don´t want to tramatize my fellow villagers!

I´m working on the promptness thing-- it´s just hard sometimes, especially when I have to make photocopies between class periods and there´s a line at the copier.

One request-- I´m happy to have you anonymous posters, but could you sign your names (or at least an alias that I could recognize you by)? I like to know who I´m talking to!

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, sorry. That was from me. Mom

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you were near bautzen??? oh i m excied i ve been there . . . i m a fullbright scholarshipstudent from germany, i m in oregon at the re really right about the things you say about the differences . . .lol

4:32 AM  

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