By the final weekend in Germany, it was time to face reality that I would be leaving this country, the friends I made, and the ridiculously good food. Germany felt more like home to me in only four months than America ever did. I slid into the culture with ease, and found myself living every day to its fullest potential. That being said, there was certainly a part of me that was ready to go back. I was beginning to miss my family, parts of my daily routine, and the luxury of speaking English wherever I go. Focusing on the positive, I boarded the plane home.
The first three days were a daze. I was floating between two surreal realities, unsure how to combine my German experience and being back at home. It is a feeling that cannot be conveyed through writing. The first day after coming home, you wake up in your own bed, disoriented and confused, wondering whether or not it was all just a dream. All of the portions of life that were left behind while abroad sat patiently until I was back, then dumped themselves back onto me. After the surreal emotions eventually dwindled, and the honeymoon-phase of seeing all the people that were missed had passed, it finally started to sink in: I’m not in Germany anymore, and things are different here.
The Frustrating Madness of Reverse Culture Shock in a Series of Bullet Points:
- Everyone speaks English. People don’t understand when I respond with “Genau” (an agreement statement, like “exactly!”) or use “aber, oder” or “und” as a conjunction. Yeah, that whole being-excited-to-speak-English-everywhere? That novelty wears off pretty quick.
- Small talk. I have never been so annoyed by small talk in all my life. Why are you wasting my time with pointless questions? Why are Americans so afraid to discuss real topics that can involve a growth in knowledge and deeper understanding of a friend? Please Comcast man, do not ask me how I am because I know you don’t actually care.
- Door knobs. I know this is a weird one, it surprised me as well. Doors and door knobs in Germany are quite heavy compared to American ones. When I went to open my door for the first time, I yelled and jumped back, not used to its flimsiness. For the first week home, I cringed every time I opened a door.
- Toilet paper. Also a strange one. German toilet paper is industrial strength compared to the light, soft tissue paper-esque American toilet paper. The first time I grabbed it, I just thought: “What the hell is this.” The paper here is ridiculously thin, and I don’t like it.
- Okay, the discussion of food could be an entire blog post on its own, so I will try to be brief. In short, American food is AWFUL, and that is not realized until you leave the country and taste what genuinely good food tastes like. I will be honest, the first time I went to the grocery store, I cried. My poor roommate had to trail after me as I yelled about outrageous prices, quality of food, and the limited amount of good beer. And the bread isle… oh, the bread isle. I stood there for a solid minute, repeating over and over again, “This is not bread. This is not real bread. What even is this? This is NOT bread.” My eyes welled up as I came to terms with the fact that I could no longer have a Butterbrezel for breakfast every morning.
So I will leave this post with the simple statement: I can’t wait to leave this country again, and I urge every single person to study abroad to experience a new life somewhere else.