Hello! Hola! Guten Tag! A few posts ago I mentioned wanting to do a Q&A to answer any questions anyone had about well, anything, and here are my responses!
Q: Is the style of education/teaching significantly different from American schools?
A: I have actually found quite a few differences between the education and ways of teaching in America vs. Germany. For starters in America I feel that the teachers are always there to help you and remind you of anything. (When papers are due, when a test is going to be, what the homework was, etc.) While here in Germany the teachers seem to put a lot more expectation and responsibility of the student in this area. And if you as a student don’t know when something is then you better have a friend who does or else you’re going to be lost. Another big difference I have seen is in the responses that students give to questions. In America often times it’s perfectly ok to give short answers to a question, unless of course it is a class discussion, but here in Germany almost every student gives an in-depth answer on the subject at hand.
Q: How do you feel about the ‘norms’ or the way students treat each other?
A: I feel like before I came many people told me that at first glance Germans can seem somewhat closed off, or indifferent to you as an exchange student. This has not been the case for me! Everyone has been so welcoming and open to me being here. And I am glad to say that I have made quite a few friends at both schools I have attended here in Germany! As for social norms there are a few differences. One thing that I absolutely LOVE is that every morning when I see the friends that I am close to we will welcome each other with a hug. In America a simple ‘hello’ is enough, which is also okay! I think a lot of people told me that students were a lot more invested in school than social lives before I arrived, and while that may be partly true, I get the feeling that my school is very connected and everyone is there to appreciate and support one another. Overall I think the teenage German and school norms are pretty cool!
Q: Do you feel you can comfortably understand the lessons?
A: Comfortably? Maybe not yet. But I am getting there. In September I was completely lost, but I am learning more German day by day, and now I have gotten to the point where I can AT LEAST pick out the main topic of the class. I still have a long way to go with fully and comfortably understanding everything, but I am positive that by the end of the year I can get there!
Q: Would you consider a German school for your college education?
A: Absolutely! I love Germany. The people, the culture, the language, the food. 😉 And I definitely feel like college seems a lot more affordable here than in the United States. That being said I am still not entirely sure what I am looking into as a degree, and I have no idea what kind of scholarships I could be offered next year when looking at colleges in America. Germany is definitely on my list, but I am not completely sure if it would become a reality. I think it would definitely be a lot cheaper to study abroad while in Europe. And I definitely would want to study abroad again while in college. Who knows?
Q: How is the weather/climate different from where you live in the US?
A: I always tell people the weather in Ohio is pretty similar to where I live in Germany. I believe that Germany probably gets more rain than where I live in the US, but there are no drastic differences. The temperature is about the same most of the time.
Q: What do you like the most about Germany?
A: This is so hard! EVERYTHING?! I would probably have to say my favorite thing about Germany is the language. I truly do think it is beautiful and I love having the opportunity to learn it in the country its spoken in. And if not the language than all of the wonderful friends that I have made, and my amazing host family!
Q: What do you miss most about the US?
A: My best friend. I have made so many amazing friends here in Germany, and I love each and every one of them, but if I am being completely honest I miss my bestie. She’s always there for me and I feel like I can talk with her about anything, even if it’s REALLY crazy. I’m definitely so excited to see her (along with all of my other friends), my family, and the little coffee shop in our town.
Q: Anything you were surprised about when you arrived in Germany?
A: How much English was spoken. Especially in the beginning when my German was really bad, or if I am in the city. Once someone figures out I am not really German they automatically switch to English and I have to ask them to speak in German.
Q: What is your current obsession in Germany?
A: Um…FOOD? Hahaha just kidding. My host family recently took me to see the new Star Wars movie. So probably the entirety of Star Wars, they’re all on Netflix so I’ve been rewatching them.
Q: What is the biggest similarity and the biggest difference you have noticed about Germany and the US?
A: Hmm. Good question. I really think that both Germany and the US can really be into sports. (As to which sport may be different.) The biggest difference I have noticed is first, the architecture. People have inhabited Germany far longer than the US so I have been able to visit some buildings that are older than the United States. And second is probably the way patriotism is shown. A lot of Americans are openly patriotic, whether its hanging the flag on your front porch, having a bumper sticker, or wearing a tee-shirt many Americans wear how patriotic they are on their sleeve, which is okay! Here in Germany its a little bit different. You won’t find as many flags hung by people’s houses, from what I have heard the national anthem is really only sung during soccer games, and I haven’t seen one German wearing a tee shirt with anything promoting Germany on it. Which is also okay, especially when you look at the history of BOTH countries you can see how the mindset of expressing patriotism has developed within the minds of the citizens.
Q: How is the German culture?
A: Pretty cool! I love how environmentally friendly Germany is! I also really appreciate the directness of the people. I honestly thought that Americans were pretty direct, but when I think side by side sometimes we can be pretty indirect people. I like how most of the teenagers here are really mature, and the fact that they have the ability to use PUBLIC TRANSPORT!
Q: What is the best food, not necessarily German, that you have tasted while on your travels?
A: One of my favorite things I have had in Germany is Fischbrötchen, which is basically a fish sandwich, but also not. I had it at the Hamburg Fischmarkt so the fish was SO fresh and delicious, and the Brötchen was baked perfectly and it was just so delicious.
Q: How is Christmas celebrated where you are? And how is it different from the US?
A: Christmas in Germany is almost a two month-long ordeal. In the middle of November the Weihnachtsmärkte begin to pop up in the big cities. Here you can buy little trinkets from all of the vendors that are lined up, drink some Glühwein (or Punch), and listen to live music. As for the actual holiday, Christmas is mostly celebrated on the 24th instead of the 25th. The Christkind will come and deliver all of the presents under the tree and the family sits around and opens them. A traditional German Christmas dish is Potato Salad, but GERMAN STYLE none of that American nonsense. Things that are different to how I celebrate in the US are that in the States my family doesn’t buy a real tree, on the 24 my entire family celebrates with a big feast (yes I am calling our dinner a feast), and then on the 25th is when my brother and I open our presents from my mom. I enjoy Christmas in both countries though!
Q: What is the hardest German word for you to pronounce?
A: Eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher and I REALLY want one of these to bring back to America! (I have trouble sometimes with the ‘R’ sound in German, and the ‘ch’ and ‘chen’ and ‘s’ and ‘ß’ differentiation.)
Q: What has been your favorite moment so far?
A: I can’t think of one moment that triumphs the rest for being labeled the ‘best’. I will say that some of my favorite moments are when I randomly get the feeling, or reminder per se, that I am in Germany. I am leaning this language. I am successful, and I am always growing into a better person every new day. Just the feeling of being proud of where I am and what I am doing make the best moments.
Q: Is it fun speaking German?
A: Most of the time! I really like the language, and think that it is interesting to learn the ins and outs of it. But there will always be moments where I want to give up, or I just HATE the fact that I can’t tackle a conjugation, sentence structure, or pronunciation. But that’s all part of the learning curve, and once I do get those things down it’s always a lot more motivating! Overall I believe that speaking German is a lot more fun than speaking English…but don’t tell anyone. 😉
I think these are almost all of the questions that were submitted! Thank you for sending them in, I really had a lot of fun answering them. If you ever have any other questions about anything feel free to message me, email me, etc.
Until next time!