It still feels like the beginning of October, when I stepped foot off the plane and went into the Frankfurt Airport for my study abroad year in Mainz. My good friends, Lea Hohmann and Severin Müller greeted me at the exit gate. The sun was shining and the city lit up in a beautiful hue of pink and blue in Mainz when I traveled to the city by S8. It felt like a dream.
Unfortunately, the dream-like feel ended with reality hitting me with the cold, bank problems, and jet lag. Oh, the irony. Similar to my arrival, these past few months have been a crazy roller-coaster of adapting to German culture, German university life, and speaking the German language.
Adapting to German culture was a huge challenge and still partly is .Some challenges have been dealing with punctuality and the German nature of being reserved. In America, for most people, it is okay to be late to a party. In Germany, it is the opposite. That was a huge shock to me since I found out that the hard way. After that, I try to be a bit more punctual, even though it still feels weird to me.
Compared to Americans, most Germans are reserved. Small talk is very common in America, especially in the South. However, there is not much small talk in Germany. It was difficult to get used to in the beginning but I realized that similar to cakes, German people have to warm up to a person.
University life has it challenges without including the language barrier. The process of signing up for classes via paperwork and not having a set guide of university life is a bit troublesome. However, some of the positives is that at the Johannes Gutenberg University not all courses are held on campus. As a journalism student, I have courses in the central city. It is nice because during the break between classes, I can stop at a café.
At the University of Memphis, the campus is not spread out and concentrated in one area. There is also not much usage of public transportation at the University of Memphis. There are buses that go around the campus, which are very slow, and city buses, which are not that good. Most people in Memphis use cars to go to the university. Here in Germany, most people use public transportation. I like it because it is convenient and timely.
The German language is still a bit of a challenge for me. I began to learn the language out of interest from my peers in Germantown High School in Germantown, Tennessee, decided to take classes at the University of Mississippi, and continued the language at the University of Memphis for about two years. I always struggled with the gender of nouns, word order and so forth.
Since I came here, my reading and listening has improved a bit compared to my prior arrival due to having most of my classes in German and trying to study in German. However, speaking is still a challenge for me. I get really shy speaking with native speakers in a large classroom or new people, because I know how badly my grammar is and accent. The good news is that slowly I am trying to overcome this fear by just going at it and speak.
Currently, life is slowing down a bit. I am studying for exams and plan to travel around Europe during the break. I do get homesick from time to time but thankfully, I keep myself busy and not think about it much.
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