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The Touristy Path Toward Culture Shock

Loving this linen skirt I found at a Berlin thrift store! 
Six months isn't a long time. 
And yet it is because so much can happen. 

Knowing this is good for many reasons. It is a salve for homesickness, and it's also motivation for hope and adventure. But having a mere six months means that I must make the most of EVERY day. I need to know what I want out of these six months, I need to envision it, and then I can't wait to do anything. 

Like I said, knowing is good. 
But it's really hard to make every day count, especially when they are limited. And especially when I'm still trying to envision what I want out of the six months. 

I came to Germany with no expectations except the knowledge that I would be overwhelmed and the desire that I would learn. 

But ... when things are so new and so many, the feeling of overwhelming isn't easily pushed aside. And ... learn what? There's so much to learn. 

And so much to do. I'm the sort of person, that while I can enjoy a good tourist attraction or have fun doing what the rest of the crowd wants to do, I've always thrived where few choose to venture and where more is to be felt than bought. But when you google or ask around, "Where should I go?" It's quite hard to find the little known places because of course, the "popular results" always pop to the top. 

So, for now I'm enjoying those touristy type places. But you better believe it, I'm keeping my eyes peeled for the parts that few ever take notice of.
I've really been enjoying my German classes. I have two—one on Monday evenings, and one on Tuesday mornings. I bike to both of them and love all the people I learn with, and I especially love the teachers.

Monday night is taught by an older lady who is in her 60s or 70s. It's a small class with only about three-four other ladies. The teacher has so much energy and makes German understandable and fun, and she's great at making conversations topical. The first time we talked about the Berlin Wall, learning both political history and german conversation at once. The last time I went she brought fresh fruit and vegetables and we "went shopping" from her. I definitely learned a lot, besides also laughing as she had us doing things like complaining about bad produce or warning others about her trying to cheat someone out of their money.

Tuesday morning is taught by a fun German lady in her fifties. This class is bigger, with closer to ten of us students, all ladies except one. In both of the classes, I'm the only person in my twenties ... but age doesn't seem to mean anything here. We all have fun laughing and being silly, even the oldest of the students who are these fun Romanian (I think?) women in their sixties and seventies.
 I've always loved letters, but since being in Germany I have found that  REALLY love letters. And they always come at just the perfect time, to make a day brighter and more perfect.
 I don't do that much cooking here, but I've enjoyed doing a bit. One evening I made a potato casserole that sadly didn't turn out so well. But it was eventually all eaten up, so nothing went to waste.
 I've made a couple batches of cinnamon rolls, the first with cream cheese, and the second with a nut sauce.
But my favorite thing I've made so far is this seeded bread. It was so yummy, and the texture was pretty lovely, too. Though, it was a bit messy as I put a few too many seeds on the outside. 
 And now we come to the part of the post where the bulk of the photos live. As I've mentioned up above, I'm trying to see as much as I can. Eventually I'll get past Stuttgart and see a lot more of the countryside with friends I've made, but for now, I'm expanding my boundaries in the town I live, through recommendations and google.

Everyone talks about the Mercedes Museum. So one day, as I didn't need to start work until 3:30, I decided to go. I left the house around 7am, walked over two hours to the museum, and spent an enjoyable three or so hours inside.

The neatest thing is that I was able to buy a student discounted ticket as an Au Pair.
For some reason they didn't want us carrying our backpacks around the museum, so we had to lock them away. I took out a Kleenex for my always running nose, then stored it away in this fun compartment.
 I was given a device and earphones for an automated tour, which was so fun. Whenever I entered a room the headset came to life and shared history or facts and interesting tidbits, and when I got close to something, I could choose to listen to more about it ... there were usually several options on how to listen: general, children's version, technical, and so on. I will admit, I often clicked on the children's tour, too, just because it shared such fun little things.
 Supposedly the first operating motor vehicle was a motorcycle. This is one fact I'll never forget ;D
I always love the story behind why something is made. And this story is just so fun and practical. Such a classic example of a person seeing a need and capitalizing off that need. 

A bunch of brightly colored Mercedes jeeps was parked outside. And just around the corner, was this poor car ... I'm not sure if there is even a moral to this story ...

This is supposed to be a model of an energy-saving car of sorts ... "The future". It looks very sci-fi in an old-fashioned way, don't you think?
I didn't originally plan to go to a car museum. I'm not necessarily a fan of cars, except my Volvo, which I love, of course. 
But when so many people tell me something's great ... and you start to wonder .... you have to give it a chance right? And normally, whatever I give a chance I end up LOVING. I really do think this was a fun museum, and it was fun getting a student discount and learning a little about car history. 
I will say, this station wagon had to be one of my favorite cars I saw ;) 
After walking around in the museum I went into another Mercedes building next door that actually sold the cars. And wow, the prices astounded me. I did see some other nice station wagons over there ... but I'll have to say, I'm quite content with the car I have back home ;) 

But life hasn't been all "bread and rose-tinted cars". 

My mind has been crazy with so many things are happening. Coming to Germany was easy enough. Being here is easy. But living, as always, is hard. Or living fully, I guess. 

One doesn't want to live for tourist trips, or even gorgeous hikes that wander from the beaten bath and reveal little secrets that few ever even know to find. So, what does one want to live for? 

I'm back to the thought of the beginning of this post. 

What is it that I want to learn in Germany? 

I think it's that. I don't want to just know the language, and the culture, and the politics. I want to understand it. And I'm finding there's a huge difference between learning and sympathizing, especially when you already love what's your own. 

I love America. Yet, I didn't want to be so set in my love for my home country that I couldn't love another place, too. I love my community and my beliefs and my opinions. But I don't want those loves to ever cause me to be calloused or intolerant toward other beliefs and opinions and people. 

Culture shock, I'm finding is real. One of my friends once told me that culture shock doesn't usually settle into people until they are about three months in a new country. I've always heard that it takes at least six months to fully immerse oneself into a new environment, and if you're young enough, that's all you need to forget your first language and home. 

I often say snarkily that I don't believe in culture shock. Because people often overuse this word when they are talking about just how people do different things, not in how they actually think. I believe one could live in a new country and never experience culture shock simply because they never interacted with anyone much different from themselves. 

I believe real culture shock is about a conflict of ideas, or how to execute ideas. 

If one has always lived in a house with a porch and sees, for the first time, a house with a balcony, they are not shocked, but merely fascinated and maybe confused. And when they meet the person who has made a balcony rather than the porch, they are still not properly shocked, but possibly puzzled. It is once they get to know the builder and why they built their house the way they did and how that why affects everything they do, it is then that true culture shock settles. 

And one doesn't necessarily have to go to a new country to experience such a conflict. Because if you ever go live with anyone you don't know well, you will almost always be shocked or disturbed by how different their thoughts are from yours. And your thoughts will torment you as it comes to odds with this new revelation ... because how can both balconies and porches exist among humanity? How can both be right, or at least tolerable? 

Culture shock is only possible to come to terms with once one has acknowledged it. "We are having this conflict ... because we are so different ... and that is not bad ... but ... in order for things to be smooth, we must find solutions."

And that is why people often dislike other cultures and find themselves intolerant. Because solutions look different for every individual. 

We all find we would like some fresh air. But we all execute that differently, whether building a balcony, a porch, or a porch swing. And then what color to make the it all? 

And I know I'm being so very vaguely philosophical you all are probably like, "What do you even mean!?"

And so I will end it on the note that, being an Au Pair is harder than I ever imagined, but still wonderful. I just have to accept that there are no porches here, and that's okay. 

(There are porches here). 

Do you prefer tourist attractions, or a path a little less beaten? Or, like me, can you enjoy both, but prefer one? 
How have you experienced (and come to terms) with culture shock? What does culture shock mean to you? 

Comments

  1. Ooh if the future looks as steampunk as that car does, then sign me up!! :D

    Also your bread looks seriously gorgeous. Texture can be so hard. (At least, when you're as inexperienced a baker as I am, lol.)

    I love what you say about culture shock. I think it's true. I've never been to another country, but I've come into contact with people here in my own home state, in my own workplace, in my own school, who operate on UTTERLY different principles than I do. Like...*fundamentally* different. And when it's a matter of morals, that can rock your world in a really depressing way. I know it did mine. :)

    Speaking of different whats and whys reminded me of one of the first conversations I ever had with you, about celebrating Christmas. Girl, you rattled me to my core! :) I want to thank you for that exchange because it totally made me think about things to an extent I'd never thought about them before, and...it was just a good experience. You're a good friend to have.

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    1. You know a steampuno future sounds fun ... But I'm also such an old-fashioned girl that I don't want to see the WHOLE world lose its rusticness haha.

      Texture is hard. I'm just gonna say that kneading that dough is everything. I hate kneading and my mom is always telling me, "knead it longer!" Well, whenever I do the dough is lovely.

      Yes, conflict of values... that's the root of culture shock I believe. And it's a two way door, I think. Like, I think I've caused my culture shock than actually felt it myself, haha.

      Ahhh I still need to do an all out Christmas post. But it needs so much though and work and writing. I do enjoy debating with the right people, peolle who love to exchange ideas and have their values tested, so we might both grow together. My goal is never to have people convert to my thoughts, but to seek God and do what He asks, even if I disagree. Especially if I disagree. Because it's not about me or my ideas at the end of the day, but how we can serve God and one another better.

      And that last line almost has me in tears (not literally because sadly, I cry on my once I'm a blue moon when all is horrible). But yes, I'm glad I know you and I consider you one of my favorite blogging people.

      Now ... to meet in real life;)

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  2. Hope you keep learning and having a good time. Just think you can take all this and put into a book somehow. ;)

    astordetective.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Well I have been working on a German book called, Bluntly Yours. The main plot has been in my head over a year 😂 but I'm sure being here will influence the book a lot!

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  3. Great content, thank you for sharing. Looking forward for more!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's so cool that your learning German and doing all of these neat things.
    Those cinnamon buns look amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, so fun! It is definitely an adventure ... Thanks 😊

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