Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Embarrassing things I've done whilst living abroad

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There's something about living abroad that makes a complete fool out of me. Is it because of the language barrier? The difference in culture? Or am I just ridiculously clumsy? Either way, during my time here near Bonn in Germany, I have done a handful of embarrassing things ( ... or maybe about six handfuls). But, what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't share them on the internet? Here goes:

  • Whilst working as a teaching assistant, the children were working silently when I suddenly could not stop sneezing. The first time I sneezed, a few students quietly whispered bless you. The second time, a few more whispered bless you. A few sneezes later and the whole class was giggling and shouting bless you' cross the classroom. Their teacher asked them to be quiet and I tried so hard to not sneeze again that I got a headache instead.
  • Speaking of sneezing, on my first day at work I sneezed just before a colleague shook my hand to introduce himself. My hand was wet.
  • Because I'm English, I completely forgot about the St. Nikolaus tradition on the 6th of December! When my colleague came into the staff room and gave out chocolate I was pleasantly surprised (who wouldn't be?) but also extremely confused. Needless to say, my colleague noticed my blank facial expression and had to explain. Awkward.
  • I have tripped up the stairs countless times in train stations.
  • When I was buying a new pair of jeans in a clothes shop, the woman behind the till asked me (in German) if I wanted a bagEither she had a very strong accent or I lost all of my hearing ability, because I did not understand it at all; I just stared at her with a raised eyebrow.
  • The ice outside during early January made me fall over in front of a lot of people. (Note to self: buy shoes that aren't slippery when wet!)
  • My stomach rumbled whilst I was teaching one day. The front two rows of students all stopped reading their books and stared up at me.
  • I nearly accidentally punched a man in Bonn's Haribo Store because I was so excited by the fact that Bonn had a Haribo Store.

And here's the worst one:

  • I was at work one day, and the class I was teaching were learning how to write letters in English. I asked the class how they would end a letter in German and one student correctly answered Liebe Grüße. I tried to repeat his correct answer, but I choked on my words and instead shouted something that sounded like Viele Gemüse! (which is German for 'many vegetables!'). Needless to say, the kids laughed. A lot. At me.

So there it is. About 5% of all the embarrassing things I've done abroad. Despite this, I wouldn't have it any other way. The great experiences outweigh the embarrassing moments by far.


What was the last embarrassing thing that happened to you? Care to share?