I was away from Germany for the last month visiting the U.S. I went to my hometown (in Michigan), my second home (Boston), and a place that might as well be my home, since it’s where many of my friends live (Chicago).
There were definitely some good things I had forgotten about the U.S.:
- Jay walking: Germans do not jay walk. In my daily German life, I stand next to them with clear traffic waiting for the light to change. On my first morning in Boston, I was standing on the corner of a one-way street waiting for the walk sign, when I noticed groups of people crossing next to me. Ah, of course, I thought, I CAN JAY WALK!! I can watch the traffic instead of the light!
- Bagels: What a wonderful breakfast food! I’ve missed you!
Free water: Thank you, U.S., for providing me with a natural resource that I do not have to pay for at restaurants. I am thirsty and enjoy drinking a lot of water.
- Eavesdropping: Ah, this is much easier to do in your native language.
- Getting my hair cut: No fears about walking out of the salon when you can speak English! Plus, I can chat with the person cutting my hair the entire time.
- Burritos: What an amazing food item you can pick up anywhere! I forgot about you!
Above all, I was thrilled to give my brain a vacation (well, a second one after Edinburgh) and to not have to think about everything in German. I could walk into a store and ask questions or freely ask for substitutions in a restaurant in English. While I can do a few of these things in German (and sometimes in English), it was nice to not have to rely on others. I would say being able to communicate tops my list of cultural things I miss about living in the U.S.
Actually, I remember that this morning I waited 2 minutes for a walk sign on a clear street before crossing (trying to avoid a ticket and the scornful glares of some elderly Germans next to me). Maybe among the things I miss, it’s a toss up between communicating and jay walking.