Today is Day 2 of my internship and my time in Germany.
Many of you may assume that since I’m in Europe, especially Germany, adjusting to the Deutsch lifestyle is relatively easy as English can be used fairly in daily lives.
Well, it’s not. Frankly, this summer is probably the most challenging one I’m yet to encounter.
I was born in Canada, but lived in Taiwan for 18 years, attended American school, went to Quebec for French program prior to university, and studied abroad in Spain for one year. It may seem that as I have done so much through these different cultures that I can adapt easily, but frankly this is the first time that I find myself greatly challenged!
Language is one of the main issues. Here in Germany, though there are fair amount of people that speak English, there are an quite a number of immigration that as a foreigner (despite being Asian) local people would assume you know German, just as we would do with English and immigrants in Canada.
Thus, recently as I’m trying to get cell phone and other miscellaneous things, the first sentence is always, “Sprechen Sie Englisch?”
And sometimes the answer is, “Nein.”
Additionally, I thought bureaucracy was pretty bad while I was in Spain. Well, it’s worse in Germany. And what makes it worse is that there is no shortcuts, even if you have connections. It took me 3 hours to get a contract, pay first month’s rent, get my keys, and move in, when really back in Canada (and in Spain!!!) it would take less than 45 minutes! And even after moving in there were a lot of things that the housing office didn’t tell me, such as laundry services and Internet, which I’m still working on getting it!
Despite such uneasiness with the first 2 days, this experience is already reminding me of my summer in Quebec in 2007. It was a life-transitioning trip. I left high school and home of 18 years to an environment, language, and culture that is very foreign to me, which in the end I gained so much. Just like now in Germany. Living on rez, sharing common kitchen, lovely grocery trips, and very quiet neighbourhood.
This will be good.