Nash Jones ’16 – As I am typing this Tuesday, we are on a train out of Germany, heading to Belgium. This is my first time out of the US, and I was a bit worried about what to expect in a foreign country. I was more than a little curious about the different customs and behaviors that we would have to follow and imitate in order to be good guests. Before we left, we were informed of different things to prepare for so that we wouldn’t be in for a total culture shock. However, there are a few things in particular that are worth mentioning that took us by surprise.
First, it is a rare occurrence to see somebody use their smart phone during a meal. I, Tyler Hardcastle, and Ben Wade noticed this on our first day in a nice little cafe in Frankfort. Meals are social gatherings to be enjoyed without the use of the internet or apps. It also eliminated those weird instances of people Instagramming or Snap Chatting their food, which is something to be grateful for.
The second thing we noticed was how quiet everyone was. Even some of the softer-spoken members of our group noticed how loud we were in comparison to everyone else. At home, it is no big deal to yell at someone across the room. Doing that in Frankfort could draw some odd looks, and made it immediately obvious that you aren’t from the area. Even in some of the busier streets and parks, I did not hear anyone raise their voice. It wasn’t a bad thing, just different.
We also learned, quite often in fact, to stay out of the bike lanes. Cars aren’t uncommon in Frankfort, but I wasn’t prepared for the sheer number of bikes that zip up and down the streets. It was usually better just to try to maintain a single-file line down a sidewalk than walk side by side like we are used to at home. Luckily, none of us was run down in the street by a bicycle, but there were a few close calls.
The immersion trip has been a lot of fun thus far, and we are all excited to be on our way to Brussels. We all greatly appreciate the opportunity provided to us by the Rogge Fund and Wabash College to go to Germany and Belgium for a week and experience their cultures. This has been an exciting week so far, and I’m sure it will only get better as it goes on!