Life around the world

Wednesday, 1 October, 2014 - 08:26

Confessions of an English student abroad

by LaurenH

'How hard can it be?', those famous final words I kept telling myself as I boarded my flight to Germany for my year abroad. Despite everyone who has already done it telling me it'll be the best year of my life, I still looked upon my year in Germany with a mixture of excitement, nervousness and dread. I had two major obstacles to overcome: emigration and integration. It wasn't just a case of moving to a different country and having to speak German, I had to make a real effort to make friends, join in and adjust to a totally different culture so I wouldn't be isolated for the next nine months.

For the first week, whenever anyone said something to me in German my brain went into panic mode and I found I hadn't even listened to what they had said because I was so busy worrying about listening and translating what they were saying! Thankfully, the panic button in my head soon settled down and I found I was able to actually converse in German! Furthermore, my flatmates have yet to move in so I was left to try and figure out how everything worked by myself which ended with me setting the oven glove on fire! I left it on the hob not realising it was still hot but thankfully I was alerted to the pervading disaster by the smell of smoke and was able to throw it into the sink - crisis averted! Although explaining why I replaced their old oven glove may prove tricky!

All in all, coming to Germany was a surprising cultural shock, from driving on the right side of the road to the mass amount of preserved food in supermarkets or even the strangely shaped pillows; my neck is definitely suffering from the lack of support that it's used to! It's also taking me a while to adjust to Germans' frank manners and I often find myself trying to put things in an overly polite way because there's no other way of translating English phrases such as 'I was just wondering if you could tell me…', etc.

Having said all that, I'm having a really great time with some truly lovely people. I guess there comes a point when you have to shrug it off and just laugh at yourself when things go wrong.

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What do you think would be your biggest challenge if you had to move to a different country?

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