Hi everyone. My last blog was a bit too short, but that’s what a train ride, some homework, and adjusting to a new home…now that I’ve settled in a little bit, I feel I can write a bit more.
Yesterday was the second day with the host family. Although they do this professionally, I’m sure it’s always a unique experience with every guest they get. Dr. Vivian said that the first couple of weeks would be awkward and somewhat difficult. I admit, I did feel a little homesick. The hardest thing is that we’ve all been together as group 24/7 for the past two weeks and suddenly we’re all split up across the map with native Deutsch families. Although their hospitality has been impeccable, it’s still a bit difficult to adjust.
Now, about the family. They’re a small bunch. Their names are Udo and Brigitte and they have a very nice home. They eat a warm meal every night at 7pm and every morning we “breakfast” at halb neun (8:30am). And yes, in German, breakfast can be a verb! They always have more than enough food for both me and the other mitbewohner (or roommate). They’re pretty traditional in terms of a German household. Dinner and breakfast are both pretty big affairs and no expense is spared. They always have fresh meat, bread, and fruit at the house and, of course, have a well stocked fridge with plenty of Budwar (Budweizer in Englisch). FYI, American Budweizer cannot compare to the European variation. It’s actually a Czech bier and highly lauded here.
I think it’s the little things that are most noticeable. For example, in Germany, and probably most of Europe, there is a door to every single room. In Amerika, we take pride in having open floor plans and big doorways. In Germany, there is a door to the kitchen, dining room, living room. And it is typical to close the door behind you or when you leave a room. The bathroom door has never been left open and even if I’m just going into my room to get something; I usually close the door. I’m not sure if this is what is culturally expected, but I’ve yet to see a bunch of doors left open…maybe it’s kind of like leaving the light on here (which isn’t done either). Water is also much more expensive in Germany. In the U.S., we probably spend about $25 a month on Water. Not the case here in Germany…it’s much more expensive. When you shower, you get in a take a minute to soak yourself, turn of the water, use your soap and shampoo, and then take another minute to rinse off. Taking a 10 or 15 minute shower, especially in a private home, would be rather rude. It’s a good lesson, though, because in Amerika we waste so much water for unecessary reasons.
Today, though, I really started to feel like I’m actually living here. I got to ride my bike from their house to the school today…which is about a 15 minute bike ride. I can ride a bike — no problem — but in Germany, very few bikes have gears…so going up-hill was definitely a challenge, especially considering I haven’t ridden a bike for almost a whole month now! I was a bit worn out, mainly because I was going against the wind. They had me take a Banana and Apple for a snack and that was a nice treat to have after some cardio!
Later today, I will be venturing off to a nearby Mall to get a Handy (a cell-phone). I think for EUR 25,00 I can get a phone plus 300 minutes. I might be able to call the States, but am not entirely sure at this point. I already dropped about EUR 20,00 using the payphone for about 2 minutes last week :( Later today, there is a meeting at the school for those interested in playing some sports like Soccer or Volleyball…if the weather holds out, maybe I’ll get some exercise to burn off all this German bread I’ve been eating.
So that’s my new life in Wittenberg so far. I’m not sure what I’m up to this weekend, but maybe some of us will buy a train pass and venture to Berlin or Potsdam. Sometime next week, I think we have a day trip to Leipzig and hopefully in a few weeks, I’ll be off to either Vienna or Warsaw! Gotta love the traveling!