Many people are affected by cultural differences, but if one tries to break the barriers, the attempt is usually received with open arms and graciously. I remember when preparing for my trip to Germany friends asked why I chose Germany. I responded with “why not?” Then I was confronted with reasoning like “look what happened in World War II, you do not know their language,” and my favorite, “all there are is Nazi people over there.” I looked at them for a second then replied with something to the affect that I have always had a fascination with World War II and especially Adolf Hitler and Germany. It is true that I do not know the language, but English is becoming more and more a universally recognized language, and while it is true there are Nazi types of people there, I’m sure there is an equal amount of “hate” right here in the United States.Order now
While this is interesting, it so far simply doesn’t respond to the assignment, which is to respond to an essay from Language Awareness. You need to make clear from the start what essay you’re responding to.
Not deterred by other’s comments, I set off for Germany in November of 2002. This was post 9/11 so I was a bit nervous. The first jaunt was from Cleveland to Toronto where I had my first encounter with traveling outside the United States. Toronto has many Muslim people.
As I approached the security gate to get into the area where I was to board the plane, I noticed a Muslim man yelling in Arabic or some other Middle Eastern language to someone across the security gate. By yelling, I mean angrily and forcibly. Being that this was my first international trip and only my 2nd airplane ride in my life, I was already nervous to begin with. Add the fact that it was post 9/11, I was nervous as hell. I thought to myself, “Did World War III break out in the hour that I was in the air to Toronto?” Then I realized that just maybe the person was upset about having to unbuckle his belt or something trying to get through the gate.
I landed safe and sound in Frankfurt which has the largest airport in at least Europe.
This is where I had my first cultural shock. I knew I had less than 30 minutes to catch a train where I did not know where it was, nor how to get tickets, let alone try to find a phone card and phone (European pay phones use a calling card with a chip in it, not coins) to call my friend Caitlin to let her know that I arrived safely and to meet me at the train station in 2 hours. I found the train ticket counter, as I was not ready to use the train ticket machine just yet with no problem. As I approached the little kiosk that sold the phone cards, I automatically went up to the window and asked if they sold the phone cards. I was immediately greeted with “Good morning to you too” in a snippety voice. I should have known better as I knew that the Germans were big on using formality and greetings.
This is where I actually felt stranded and alone, but not defeated. Driven by thoughts of needing to get to my friend so I can communicate better with her help, I approached Germans more carefully and cautiously. Not wanting to test any train police, I found a seat in the first second class compartment that I found. Unfortunately, it was the smoking section and I do not smoke. I made it to Cologne with ease and found my friend as she was coming down the escalator and I was going up it.
Safe and sound in the reassurance that my friend knows the language and has been living in Germany for four (numbers under 10 must be spelled out) months already, I was ready to start learning all about Germany.
I can relate to Barbara Kingsolver when she writes, ” I intended to do my very best to respect cultural differences, avoid sensitive topics I might .