Getting used to life in another country
I recently had a conversation with a friend that made me think.
We were sat in a restaurant in Germany, where we are doing our year abroad, and he said how strange it was that the German way of life, that once felt so out of the ordinary, has now become normality.
I remember when I first arrived in Germany, everything felt so strange. Not only getting up and going to work in a foreign country, but also, simply cooking a meal; or sitting and watching television, receiving post, catching the bus, and even just walking into town felt strange. Nothing felt normal. Everything felt surreal.
However, some five months on, everything now feels ‘normal’. When did this happen? I don’t quite know when things changed, but they did.
I now wake up in the morning and walk to work, waiting at the traffic lights, not crossing until the ‘green man’ shows, even when there is no traffic on the road, something that is a huge difference compared to in England. If there is no traffic in England, we would be tempted to cross even when the ‘red man’ was showing; however in Germany this would be considered a crime! I will spend the day working in a German school, sitting in a German staff room with everyone around me speaking German, and somehow, this feels normal to me. I catch the bus into town from the bus stop that is marked with a big green ‘H’, completely different to that of a bus stop in England. I go to the supermarket, where I pay with Euros, which previously felt like monopoly money, but is now my everyday currency. I catch the train to the University in a nearby town, where I take part in classes that are conducted completely in German, which doesn’t seem to faze me anymore. Even being in the train station – seeing all the destinations that before moving to Germany in September, I had never heard of, and hearing all the announcements in German, that are no longer a novelty, and have now just become an everyday occurrence.
Above all, the aspect that shocks me the most after actually taking a step back and thinking about it, is that fact that I now hear and speak German on a daily basis without even the blink of an eye. When I first arrived in Germany, I would accidently lapse back into English without realising because it was such a difficult habit to break. This, to my amazement, is no longer a problem.
If there is at least one thing that I will take away from my year abroad, it would be how quickly and easily you can completely change your life, and make something that would normally be such a novelty into your reality. It has made me realise that you are completely in charge of your life, and you can make it go in whichever direction you want it to go in.