This is me on my first day of class in Mainz in front of the Johannes Gutenburg Universitaet -- the Journalism building, which is downtown and not on the main campus. During break on our first day of class this morning two of the German students, Max and Jonathon, asked Hannah and I (follow her in Europe at www.hegray.blogspot.com) if we wanted to go get a coffee with them. I ordered a Macchiato because that word was familiar to me and when I took my first sip I realized, “This is not Starbuck’s Macchiato.” Everything in America, food wise, is sweeter than over here.
I thought the same thing when I got home and saw the groceries Linda picked up for me. I asked her to get some plain white bread and bologna because I will be here by myself this weekend (she is going to visit her brother) and I wanted some quick food to grab a bite to eat because their stove and microwaves are different than ours and I wasn’t sure if I could work it on my own. (And let’s face it: I don’t cook at home anyway.) So I took out a piece of bread to eat with my bratwurst Linda cooked for Hannah and I this evening and I realized that it too was much less sweet than normal bread from the grocery store at home.
Nevertheless of that difference, the food here is really great. I had typical German food for lunch the other evening – Schnitzel – and it was very delicious.
You could get chicken or pork, I got chicken, and it is basically just fried. Mine came with this like pasta-tomato sauce on top and Hannah’s came with a white mushroom sauce on top, she got the pork. I tasted both of ours and it was too yummy. It was served with fried potatoes which were tasty as well. As you can see, I’m not worried about my health over here. Although, I do feel like everyone here eats healthier. I haven’t seen one fat person.
Though, I will see I had too high of expectations for the Gelato (Italian ice cream.) Don’t get me wrong – It is really good. But I expected it to be so much different from American ice cream and to be really rich. It still tastes like ice cream to me. I will say that the flavors are more genuine. For example, Hannah got banana flavor and instead of tasting like banana ice cream as it would have in the states, it tasted like an authentic banana. So that was nice.
But, apparently something people here don't have high expectations of are Americans. All the younger college-age people keep telling me we have a stereotype of being stupid. I will agree that we aren't as cultured as Europeans. But perhaps that is because I can ride four hours here from Mainz, Germany and be in Paris, France and if I ride four hours from Memphis, Tenn. back home I'll be in Nashville -- still in the state of Tennessee. I think their proximity to other countries, cultures and languages makes them more prone to be exposed to such.
It is slightly frustrating to see first hand other nationalities' views of Americans. Though others, like Linda, tell me that Americans are also perceived as friendly. This too is spun in a negative light, however. She said those who have not been to the states think this is being fake, because we talk to people we don't even know.
Oh well. While I do believe that Americans in generally could stand to think of themselves more as a Global citizen instead of just an American citizen, I appreciate America for the country it is and our people for the culture we are. I'm also having fun learning about the differences in German culture while I'm here in Europe, though.
After class today we went shopping in the downtown Mainz area. Everyone keeps telling us that Frankfurt is the place to shop, but we haven’t had time to make it there yet. We are hoping to go next week. Nevertheless, I managed to find the most gorgeous pair of European pants!
They probably aren't so "European" as I say, but they are definitely something I wouldn't have bought in the states. I got them on sale for 30 Euros! Hannah bought them too!
I cannot wait to wear them, and I’m planning to wear them on our cruise on the Rhine River Sunday! J Of course I’ll upload pictures afterwards. Until then, Chow. (ß I’m guessing that isn’t German, but it is what I hear everyone say when they say Goodbye on the phones.)
Speaking of phones, my cell phone doesn’t work yet even though I bought a sims card for it and activated it. I’m hoping Linda can help me with that when she gets home so I can call the other Americans here when we need to meet up.
As far as calling back home, I have that worked out through Google mail. So if you want to get a hold of me you can call 901-729-9455 and leave me a voicemail J It sends to me as an email and I can call you back when I get to my computer.