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Wed, 4 Jun 2003
Germany - Chatting with a friend
Richard from school caught me on AIM, and we chatted for a while about my experiences in Germany. This may be a repeat of other things posted earlier, but it is still interesting. Richard: hey david, how are you?
Me: Yo! I've been worse. I've been better too. Germany is great.
Richard: that's awesome
Me: You wouldn't believe how much work we don't have here. :)
Richard: :-P
Richard: it's not so bad back here
Me: That's good.
Richard: tell me though, what's germany like?
Me: Germany is quite warm, at least today was.
Me: I can tell you about Germans.
Me: They're really nice people, but they're not outgoing.
Richard: so they're a lot like the students that come here, then?
Me: No, much worse.
Me: You know how Americans give each other "the friendly smile" when they make eye contact walking down the hall?
Richard: yeah
Me: And often a friendly "Hello" or "Hey."
Me: Well, that doesn't really happen here.
Richard: and a head nod, even
Richard: hmm
Me: Only in rare occasions will a stranger acknowledge your existence.
Richard: i'll bet that takes time to get used to
Me: To make a cold statement, everyone here acts like the girls at Kettering. ;)
Richard: hahahaha
Me: But once you someone here, they're soo friendly to you.
Me: Once you know someone, they'll say "Hi" in the hallway and wave and ask you about your day.
Me: And in Germany, "How are you?" is a real question and you get (and should give) a real answer.
Richard: i really like that
Me: So you may be wondering.... how does everyone ever meet anyone?
Richard: it had crossed my mind
Me: The answer: parties and bars. German students have parties all the time and they also hang out at bars.
Me: Most dorms have a weekly party.
Richard: wow
Me: There is a student cafe that has two cocktail parties each week.
Richard: it doesn't sound hard to meet people at all, then
Richard: i have to ask: about how much time a week is spent in school?
Richard: in class, rather
Me: Well, I spend about 12-16 hours in class a week.
Richard: and i'm guessing the people you do meet share at least a few interests because of how you meet them
Me: A lot of the Germans have more class than us.
Richard: ok
Richard: so less, but not terribly less
Me: I'm officially taking 12 credit hours (3 classes). But some of them are less than 4 hours a week.
Me: I'm also taking a German Language class that's 3 hours a week, but it doesn't transfer back as anything.
Me: In Germany, classes are generally just solid lectures with a gigantic final exam at the end.
Me: But to keep us Kettering kids in line, they're requiring attendance from us and trying to give occasional quizzes.
Richard: :-)
Richard: they know us too well
Me: Well, apparently they had some really bad eggs last term.
Richard: that's unfortunate
Me: Yeah, but I'm just glad they still let us go.
Richard: definitely
Me: Recycling is big in Germany.
Me: When we moved in to our dorms, they explained how to take care of our waste.
Me: There is a line of large bins in the parking lot.
Me: One of them is for clear glass. Another for green glass. Another for brown glass. Another for paper. Another one for cardboard.
Richard: we used to have something similar in missouri, at the grocery store
Richard: but glass was only classified as clear or colored
Me: If we have food waste, we are supposed to wrap it in paper and throw it in one of the small black garbage cans in another part of the parking lot.
Me: Oh, and there's also a large bin for aluminum, I believe.
Me: If we have plastic, we need to take it to the recycling center down the road.
Richard: that's complicated
Me: However, Germany just started a bottle deposit program. Bottles for pop and some other drinks have 10 - 25 cent deposits on them.
Me: To get the deposit back, you need to return the bottles to where you bought them.
Me: One of the area grocery stores has a bottle return machine like in Meijer in Michigan. But another grocery store gives you an extra receipt that you need to bring back to the store when you return the bottle!
Me: Finally, the rest of your trash should be thrown in the large gray bins in the parking lot.
Richard: it probably takes a while to get the system worked out
Me: Did I mention that Germany's big on recycling?
Richard: i think so ;-)
Me: I generally try to just minimize my waste.
Richard: very logical
Me: By doing environmentally-conscious things like eating out. ;)
Richard: how are the parties/bars?
Me: I've been hanging out and traveling with a group of three other guys from Kettering.
Me: Ironically, I'm the one who is most interesting in going to parties and bars and meeting people.
Richard: wouldn't be a waste to study abroad and not experience the "abroad" part?
Me: I find it fun to go to parties and the such, as long as I'm either going with someone or meeting someone there.
Me: I don't have enough..... whatever it takes to just go alone and strike up conversations with random Germans.
Richard: ah
Me: Fortunately, Germans our age have generally had like 9 years of English.
Me: :)
Richard: i don't think i would either, especially with the not noticing strangers
Richard: yeah, that would be a good thing
Me: Well, at parties, they're expecting to be talking to strangers, so it's not as weird.
Me: Talk about something weird.....
Me: Today I was in the cafeteria eating lunch with a few other Kettering students. After a while, a stranger came and sat down next to me. She didn't seem to be with anyone and mostly just looked at her food.
Me: I decided to be friendly and said hello.
Me: Somehow, this really startled her, and she looked shocked for a second.
Me: Then she said hello back followed by something I didn't understand in German.
Me: After giving her a blank look (because I didn't understand the German), I asked her if she spoke English.
Me: She said no, and that was that.
Richard: how odd
Me: But I don't mean to give you the impression that it is always like that here.
Me: Yesterday I started talking to a girl at the busstop that I had seen at school earlier. She was really friendly, and we talked for the next 10 minutes until I had to get off the bus.
Me: This may sound strange, but I need to make a phone call.
Richard: ok
Me: The strange part is that I need to go about 300 yards to the phone booth to do this.
Richard: heh, allright
Me: But I'm sure I'll catch you later.
Richard: it's been great to catch up with you
Me: I got one more funny German story for you....
Richard: ok, shoot
Me: The students here are organizing a demonstration against their rising cost of tuition.
Me: However, higher education is almost completely state-funded here.
Me: Their tuition is being raised from 50 Euros to 90 Euros.
Me: .........and they're protesting over that!
Richard: you've got to be kidding
Richard: how ridiculous
Me: One of my German friends is helping organize it. She started to tell us about it, but she realized that college costs way more in America, so she didn't really bother.
Richard: heh
Richard: your reaction would be quite predictable
Wed, 4 Jun 2003
Germany - Feeling sick
Late on Saturday was when I started sneezing. I did it more and more often. Allyn joked that I might be allergic to marijuana. By Sunday evening I felt like crap. My nose kept running. It was really runny too..... almost like water. On the train to Brussels I went to the bathroom several times to blow my nose and I ended up keeping toilet paper in my back pocket to use as tissues. The train was quite warm and crowded and the sun was in my eyes. I don't think I whined about it to the others, but the sun gave me a headache. At dinner on Sunday, the guys commented that it looked like I was ready to curl up and die. Fortunately, I'm still alive but I'm still sick. At first I thought it was just allergies, but I'm not so sure anymore. My nose kept running all day on Monday, and my back-pocket supply of tissues ran out. :( I managed to sleep last night without getting up and blowing my nose, but my voice was really scratchy.
Next:My 21st Birthday (Fri, 6 Jun 2003)
Previous:Weekend 9 - Amsterdam - Day 3 (Sun, 1 Jun 2003)

E-mail me at david@sickmiller.com
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