Posted by Katie L.
Hello again from the lovely German coast! Although dealing with the pandemic has certainly made my adjustment period here a unique experience, I am happy to be feeling very much at home in both my school and the small city of Cuxhaven.
Though Germany can be seen as a Western society and in this way is quite similar to the U.S. in many ways, various cultural differences can still be spotted. The first difference that always strikes me is the abundance of pedestrian and bike paths. Moving from a place in the U.S. where I am completely dependent on my car to a country where I am without it, I’m grateful that I never have to worry about how I’ll get to work, go to the grocery store, or even travel halfway across the country – Germany’s nod to Eco friendliness has taken care of that. I’ve also been taking the local trains around my state and other parts of the country, which makes travel so much more accessible. Additionally, I appreciate the culture of recycling. Though I recycle at home, things are definitely taken to another level here. My building uses four different color-coded trash containers, not counting the separate-by-color glass containers that the street shares. Becoming aware of such nuanced changes in daily life takes a little time, but will quickly become habit. Other (wonderful) differences include German breakfast, bread and baked goods. Walking into a good bakery or pastry shop can turn any day around. The “Brötchen” (similar to rolls) are breakfast classics that can be paired with any spread, meat or cheese. A cousin of the cinnamon roll and only found in Northern Germany, the “Franzbrötchen” is often associated with the city Hamburg, and is my personal favorite.
My feeling of adjustment is largely due to meeting people with a connection to Fulbright, such as past or present ETA’s, getting to know the teachers at my school, as well as meeting with people from across the county for things like night classes/events and volleyball training. Joining existing groups in a host community is a great way to feel more connected to your placement location and allows for visibility within the community (which is also one of the goals of Fulbright – establishing contact and relationships with members of the host state).
For the first time, Fulbright Germany has launched a mentoring program to pair American Fulbrighters with Germans who have carried out the grant in the U.S.. I’ve been paired with a former German Fulbrighter from Bremen (about 1.5 hours from Cuxhaven) who completed his grant year in Alaska. Programs such as these within the Fulbright community might be of interest for anyone interested in meeting more people of the host country, as well as getting to know how the other side of the scholarship looks.
Bis zum nächsten Mal!