I remember attending the orientation seminars at Corvallis and Portland State University. These programs were meant to help and guide students before their big trip and both discussed cultural shock, where students find themselves disoriented from experiencing a cultural environment different from their own. It is one thing to learn about it, but completely different when you experience it. My first brush with cultural shock was when I came from my small, rural town of Woodburn to study in the big city of Portland. It was an adjustment, going from seeing individuals who look like me and hearing Spanish spoken daily to the complete opposite. I learned how to cope by listening to the music my mom would often play, learning how to cook family dishes, and keeping in touch with my friends and relatives.
I was very nervous arriving in Germany, since it would be an even bigger step from studying in a different city to studying in a completely different country. However, using the tools I learned, I was able to overcome my cultural shock relatively quickly compared to my peers. I learned the German culture has a lot of similarities to the Mexican culture: we both love our bread and coffee in the morning, we both love soccer, our Banda and Norteña music is similar to the German polka “oom-pah-pah” music, and we both love to share a drink or two with friends. There is this word in German “die Geborgenheit” it is impossible to translate in English as there are varying definitions, from the feeling of love and closeness between romantic partners and friends to the comfort when you are in a place where you can trust both yourself and others. I have been having this sensation of closeness within myself and others a lot in Germany. As I come to learn and understand the culture a bit more, I am looking forward to continuing to feel this emotion throughout my studies abroad.