There and Back Again: European Wrap-Up Part 2

I am finally back in the US after being abroad for 2 months!

Before I recap my summer experience, I would like to tell my audience that if you ever have the chance to leave the country you are in to visit another, it is worth a shot. Having the chance to see how other cultures live and work can really change your own perspective on life. For example, what you value in life or seek to achieve could be non-existent or important in the culture or country you encounter. On the other hand, maybe experiencing a different culture teaches you new values or reinstates what you already care about. My 53 days in Germany were amazing and my internship at Zechbau really showed me a glimpse into German business. My 6 days in Montenegro were definitely eye-opening and I found a new respect for people who really understood the meaning of hard work. Finally, I ended my journey in the Czech Republic for 6 days, where I visited the famous Plzen Brewery and the beautiful city of Prague.

All three families treated me as if I was their own! My study abroad was unique because of this very reason, I was always with family. I am beyond blessed to have visited three families in three different countries and truly experience culture. Being with family for all 66 days of my trip was the most memorable experience. Instead of seeking out real authentic food, I had it prepared for me by three amazing mothers who really know how to cook. I experienced public transportation in all three countries (taxi, train, bus) and learned that walking is a must in Europe. Walking actually became something I appreciated and wanted to do. Europe is so different from the US because if you wanted to see your surroundings, you just step outside and go for a walk or run. Many parts of the US do not cater to walkers and thus the country has minimal sidewalks or nature trails.

Even though I loved my time abroad, I did experience culture shock! But quite a different type of culture shock because it was not from being in the US but living almost 2 months in Germany and then leaving to visit Montenegro and the Czech Republic.

My Culture Shock Outside Germany:

  1. No shower curtains
  2. It is common to have one single bathroom for the whole house
  3. There is a switch to turn on your hot water to take a shower or bath
  4. I was the only black person everywhere we went
  5. After getting used to the German style of breakfast it was hard to adjust once I left
  6. Not always having Wi-Fi
  7. Family dynamics
  8. Location and terrain of each home

A Glimpse of my 66 days abroad…

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If I had the opportunity to go on the same exact trip abroad, I would do it in a heartbeat. I miss my host families so much but I know one day, I will see them again. If you visit Germany, you must try their famous sausages and visit Frankfurt. Montenegro is also a beautiful country and if you decide to visit, you will be taken away by all the nature in the north and the pretty beaches on the coast. Prague is a must see if you land in the Czech Republic, but I also advice you to visit the Plzen Brewery. My overall advice to those who visit these three amazing countries, is to open your eyes to their beauty, open your ears and listen, and open your mouth and try everything!

 

~AKW

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