Lindy Massey's visit to Berlin brought familiar American comfort. Special photo
Constantly busy and full of new information, my stay here in Germany has blown past me in an instant. Now, I long for home in my final moments. Despite my homesickness, it has been lessened as I’ve been able to find reminders of the States amidst the German culture.
When I visited Berlin briefly a few days ago, I was surrounded by familiar American names like Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s. Later that day, I was in a subway shopping area and turned to see Dunkin’ Donuts staring at me. Though it was initially strange seeing fresh glazed “American donuts” for sale, there was also comfort in it.
The American influence runs deeper, however.
For example, in Schwäbisch Hall, my place of residence, the town has its own “American football” team. They are called the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns and have a regular season, complete with cheering fans, a marching bass drum and novelty American food. Many cities in Germany have their own football teams, and after their season there is even a championship, similar to the Super Bowl.
Watching the Unicorns defeat the Nürnburg Frankenknights a few weeks ago was oddly familiar. It was definitely amusing to watch Germans scream for a touchdown.
As I have noticed reminders of American culture in various places, an echoing familiarity occurs in my life. For a group of people with such a “new” country, the United States of America has been successful in expanding its national identity. The U.S.A.’s impact on other nations is clear, as I see here, and commendable.
However, the Deutschland culture is itself strong, and I experienced one last taste of it at the “Jakobimart.” The Jakobimart is a festival, with various rides, games and attractions, that comes to visit Schwäbisch Hall yearly. It was much like an American festival or carnival in many aspects, with a large ferris wheel, bumper cars and plenty of fast food.
Reality hit when I saw people walking around in liederhosen or with large “Lebkuchen” cookie hearts around their necks. (I learned that it’s customary to buy the cookie hearts, made of gingerbread and sold as necklaces, on ribbon with various messages on them. They’re extremely popular for sweethearts to buy each other.) In addition to the foods and clothes, there was also the beer tent where many people went to eat wurst, drink beer (naturally), and enjoy live music.
Overall, I saw that both cultures, German and American, can be starkly different and still have some classic ways to have fun.
As my stay in Germany closes, I am thankful for the opportunity I was given and the memories I have created. Remembering the delicious coffee, intense recycling, new friendships and different traditions I’ve become accustomed to, I see how much I have experienced and am truly appriciative.
I hope that I’ve been able to convey some of the richness of German life along with the valuable lessons that I have learned. Deutschland was “wunderbar” — “wonderful” in German — but now I’m ready to return to the U.S.A. I hope that you have enjoyed learning about Germany along with me. In closing, to my readers, as well as to my German friends, “Auf Wiedersehen!”