While we settle into our new apartment with our new furniture and our new lifestyle, we are learning things about each other and our friends. I love learning things about my G-Man; most things I learn make me cherish him even more. You get to see another side of your significant other when he is with his best friends. The same goes for him when I am with my friends; I get to be as crazy as I like and everyone expects that. With me, he speaks English and we watch movies, make/go out to dinner, normal relationship fun…. but with them, he can drink, eat terribly greasy food and speak his native language.
I get nervous hanging out with him and his friends because I don’t speak the language so well and it’s not fair for them to speak my language to make me feel comfortable. In the end it’s what neither of us wants. So I do a lot of staring off and smiling. I’m not entirely sure that this comes off as friendly… Either way, we’ve had two weekends so far that his friends have come and stayed.
The first weekend was amazing; his friends were so friendly and forgiving of my terrible German-speaking (something I am improving, slowly but surely) and they spent time listening, caring, teaching me their language. They took us out, and all my fears of not fitting in were unfounded…this time.
However, this past weekend was everything I feared and more. I’ve never been so uncomfortable in my whole life, and I’m not sure if it was the situation presented or our cultural differences.I felt incapable of speaking either German or English, and if/when they would ask me a question, I would answer in German if I knew how to, or English, but simple English. (English speakers know how to make their English more understandable, and lest anyone forgets, I’m from Boston, home of the wicked accent. Also, I have an affinity for vocabulary, something all of my friends back home know.) However, when I would talk to them, their eyes glazed over in complete disinterest or not understanding. If it was not understanding, I could try to work that out, but if it’s disinterest, well there is nothing I can do.
I found myself self-conscious of everything, thinking it was my fault our guest(s) would prefer looking at a door while ignoring my small talk, thinking how different I stick out in a room of pale German folk, wishing for the first time that I could go home where I could talk to people, and they would listen and understand me. And not being considered different. But this weekend made me feel as if I didn’t belong here. I felt hopeless and useless.I was a wreck. And when our guest(s) finally left, it left me with confusion. I love it here, I love my G-Man, and I just got a job as a teacher. This is my home now. But when it comes to other people, I can only hope my feelings of inadequacy subside. And I also hope that my next house guests try as much as I do.
There are a lot of goods and bads associated with being an American, but I’m proud to be from America, especially Boston, and that is something that has never changed in my life. I don’t consider America to be any better or worse than Germany, yet I do appreciate the differences and the way of life here. Home is where your heart is, and that is in Germany now. I’m blessed to never lose the manners I was raised to have, and the intellect I worked hard to obtain. This is universal; manners and the intelligence to use them are necessities in communication and interpersonal relations. I’m a firm believer that I should not have to endure the lack of manners, and I will hold firm to that belief no matter where I go despite cultural differences, as long as I consider those cultural differences.
Strange post, and yet true.