As many may have noticed I have not been keeping up with my blog, even during vacation when I have had ample time to do so, this is because I have started to “unplug” more. The less that I have used my iPhone, laptop, and watched TV – the happier I have felt as I am engaging in conversation and creating memories with the people around me!
So to all those who have been waiting for the next blog post and wondering about how my adventures in Germany and Europe are going, I apologize for being “away”, but I have found it necessary.
I came to Germany expecting no symptoms of homesickness or culture shock, but as I know I remembered to post about – I did experience them. The culture shock feeling hit me a lot harder than I was expecting #1 because I was not at all expecting it and #2 because the differences between cultures (America to Germany) are subtle but there. What this means is that I was able to sense that something was different early on, but I struggled to identify what was different. Feeling that something was different but not being able to place what it was not a comforting feeling. It led to moments where I felt “uprooted” like I had lost my footing and foundation in life, where I was, at that moment and it also led to moments where I just wanted to yell out, “Help! I am confused and I can’t figure out why”. As many of you know, I would not do that though as I prefer to journey through new feelings on my own at first to see if with some self-reflection and experiencing my new location more I could come to understand where my confused feelings were stemming from. I was able to identify and reflect upon the cultural differences that are present and I was able to find my footing which allowed me to no longer feel “uprooted”. This was all made possible by my choosing to “unplug” as much as possible.
I find the internet and my iPhone to be wonderful things, but they also provide me with a distraction and something to hide behind if I so choose. I felt a bit guilty at first for not blogging as much as I intended, but then I knew that everyone would understand. I believe it is better and I know that it has been better for me to get out, meet new people, leave my comfort zone, practice a new language, and make memories than to sit behind my computer screen.
During this Christmas season, I have been thinking a lot about my great-grandfather who my sibling and I used to call Bumpa. When I was in the fifth grade, I interviewed Bumpa for a school project. I asked him about differences from the 1920’s to now (early 2000’s). He talked about McDonalds, cars, farms disappearing, differences in peoples behaviors and TV’s. I specifically remember him talking about TV’s because I interviewed him the spring after 9/11/2001 and he talked quite a bit about how it affected him and how he felt about being able to actually watch the planes hit the Twin Towers on that day. He compared it to when he learned about Pearl Harbor. When the attack on Pearl Harbor took place he did not know until the next morning when the newspapers had the story in print. When 9/11 occurred he knew what took place as the story was unfolding. He found it unsettling and surreal. It also amazed him at the same time though. Technology has come so very far. When my Bumpa was born cars were just beginning to be driven, now we take cars for granted (I think) because they are such a common item in our lives. During my break now I have wondered what Bumpa would think to see all families gathering together to celebrate the holidays and then as they were together, sitting together in front of TV screens to play games or staring at their iPhones texting others in and out of the room. I don’t think he would like it. I remember feeling that when you had Bumpa’s attention that you were the only person in the room in that moment as he only had eyes and ears for you then. Bumpa lived without many distractions. He loved watching games on his TV when he got one, but he also loved cards, eating, farming, pulling us in the toboggan with his tractor and giving us tractor rides. When people say, “I miss the good ol days” those are the memories that come to mind for me this Christmas season. – memories on Bumpa’s farm. They were all memories that took place before we had cell phones, when were all 100% just there, in the moment with one another. I have tried to embrace that mentality more and more since I have been here, but it is not easy. Times have changed as Bumpa would see. That is not bad though, it just is. I am working to stay away from the distractions a bit more, when I can, and just to be with all the people I love around me!
… Here is a photo of me and my siblings, who I love and miss dearly in Bumpa’s beloved tractor ready and waiting for another tractor ride that we so loved going on 🙂
The more I have gotten “out there” and made memories, met new people, practiced German and left my comfort zone- the happier and more at home I have felt in Germany. I have had moments of homesickness, but they have become a lot less intense and more infrequent as I find my place here. “Unplugging” has played an important role in this process! Know that I think of you all everyday and just because I am not blogging as frequently as I swore I would, that does not meant that I have stopped thinking of anyone! Tschüss for now! ❤