Sunday, November 17, 2013

Why Did You Go?

Hey fellow readers,

After due consideration, I have decided to try and keep this running despite the obvious lack of internationality at the moment. Which obviously will not be all that interesting for some of you others however might still enjoy it.
I tried to really give an insight of what a German person would experience going to England - what's different, what's similar. Whilst I was living with people from England, others do not. In fact a lot of the ERASMUS students do keep to themselves in the foreign country. They create their own little states and live in their old little worlds. Do not get me wrong, by all means, this is not necessarily a bad thing. To a certain extend, I did this as well. I travelled with other international students a lot, I spent loads of time getting to know their countries and their customs. I enjoyed it almost as much as I have enjoyed spending time with my room mates and the guys I met along the way and to be quite honest, I never really cared where they were from, I wanted to meet people and with a bit of distance to it all, I finally understood why. It was about the challenges that changed me along the way. So why was it such a unique experience for me and why should you want to go?

Firstly, being on your own; away from what you're used to and away from your parents and friends. Yes, you are away and I do not accept frequent Skype calls or post cards as a worthy substitution. You can tell them all about how your day was, yet you would have experienced this day with other people, right?

Secondly, you experience a culture shock. Oh the German guy went to the UK and he's talking about culture shocks - what's he on about? Well, I have clearly made a rather easy choice and it is hard to describe exactly what's different but believe me it is different. There's a certain change in morality and ideals and I will not judge which is better or worse if anything I would say, whoever does has not really understood what I am on about. This difference isn't even caught in all the prejudice we carry around with us, it's never mentioned and I was quite sure I was imagining it... until I have arrived in Spain and enjoyed a bit of life there and I also felt shocked at how things worked. Not in a bad way, I feel like I should stress that. I love Spain and as you have read from my previous posts I love England and the UK so much it would not be fair to assume any different. However the tap water issue, the level of noise in restaurants, being waited on in bars, student societies, dinner times, social network approach, greeting people and how you address people come as quite a shock if you go in naively. They should not scare you because another great thing about all the countries I have ever been in is that if you're willing to learn more about their culture, all of your mistakes while approaching it are easily overlooked.

Thirdly and finally, going places, seeing things. This obviously is the active part. Most of the students who have been abroad bring home 50,000 pictures of buildings they've seen but not necessarily understood and that is fine. They have thousands of  photos of them with their friends that no one would ever think are funny or clever or should actually be called photos. I have hundreds of those as well, and they make me smile every time. I have pictures of buildings I could not tell you what it was anymore. I have some precious memories related to some of the pictures but mainly I have to admit, I have fond memories of the general experience.

So with all this, I did not really mention living with people from that country other then in my second point. Well, the second point is happening if you want it to happen or not. I still think if you are in a foreign country you should not miss out on getting to know natives and spending as much time with them as possible yet other than learning the language or the cultural details I can not put a single argument forward as to why this should be better than meeting any other person there and seeing how badly I have done here meeting people from abroad with me speaking English all the time the language is not even a point some times. The people you will meet on your journey through Europe and the world will have an impact on you, and going on this adventure is something people do not often regret, yet I think for fairness reasons it should be said, that it changes you, or at least; it changed me. Significantly. Forever.

That being said, all that remains for me is to ask you guys for your comments and thoughts on this whole issue and leave you with this interesting thing I wrote down a year ago: "The interest in culture, literature and languages is something school failed to give me for 13 years, England taught me it in less than a year. Well done, England!"

1 comment:

  1. "...because another great thing about all the countries I have ever been in is that if you're willing to learn more about their culture..."
    and it's not only because of you willing to learn about other cultures, it's also about you willing to reflect your own one. And this way you're gonna see your culture from a completely different point of view :-)