Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Things I Learned This Month | October 2017

“I’m so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers.” Thus Anne Shirley, my literary kindred spirit. I’ve had this line in mind all month, but now I’ll tuck it away for 11 months, at which point I’ll pull it out again, along with all my favorite sweaters. (The sweaters are NOT being tucked away – they have months more of good use ahead of them.)

I do love October.

Now that the month is nearly over so many references and cozy October things are coming to mind. The Great Pumpkin Waltz; bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils; the satisfying, impossible-to-replicate sound and aroma of shuffling through fallen leaves on a snappy, sunny day.

It’s been a full month. I settled into my routine at school, found a church, joined an a capella choir, and FINALLY found an apartment. I went home one weekend, and I spent this past weekend with my parents visiting Charlie in Hamburg. (We stayed on a farm 30 minutes outside the city. All photos in this blog post are from our trip.)

As usual, before the new month comes, I want to follow Emily Freeman’s lead and share some things I learned this month.

1. Hamburg has more bridges than both Venice and Amsterdam. There’s good reason that this port city is called “the Venice of the north.” 

2. Northern Germany feels like Holland, and I love it. Thatched roofs, flat land, dikes, lots of water, brick houses, and broad expanses of sky. This past weekend in Hamburg I had to keep reminding myself that I was in Germany, not Holland. 

3. Germans wear the wedding ring on the right ring finger. I thought this might be the case, but I wasn’t sure, so I decided to continue to wear my opal ring on my right ring finger, just like I always have. I’ve had several people (including a male student who “likes to take walks at sunset”) ask if I’m married. Nope. Not engaged or dating either. But I don’t intend to swap my ring to my left hand. Because that will just make things complicated.

4. German students have some really funny perceptions of America.

5. Language barrier + new environment = several inadvertent faux pax. I don’t tend to think of having much of a language barrier with Germans. I did live in Germany for 9 years as a child and studied the language for 3 years in college. But I can still be totally oblivious. For example, it took me 3 weeks of using a computer room at work before someone finally told me that that particular room is only for the faculty chairs and I really shouldn’t be in there. I honestly don’t know if that would have been obvious if German were my native language, or if it’s something I couldn’t have known without being told. But several things like that have made me aware that it’s so easy to be clueless in a new environment. And because most of my life is now being conducted in a second language, I’m extra likely to miss the obvious. So I do my best to ask lots of questions, be eager to learn, and to take it gracefully when people tell me I’m out of line.

6. “The good old days” weren’t as nice as we like to think of them. I’m reading Alexander Hamilton’s biography, and it’s providing fascinating insight into the early days of our nation. I’m accustomed to hear people bemoan the mudslinging and ad hominem attacks that have become American politics, the lack of objectivity in the media, the tendency to vilify the “other” - whether its another political party or people from another country or whatever. I’ve bemoaned those tendencies myself. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from Hamilton, it’s that however shameful these tendencies are, they are as old as the hills and not peculiarly modern problems. 

7. Angelica Schuyler was already married when she met Hamilton. This is one time when I am all for artistic license: What would “Hamilton” be without “Satisfied”?

8. Mascarpone cheese tastes just like clotted cream. Guys. This stuff is amazing. On figs. On scones. On stewed plums. On a spoon. Go buy some.


1 comment:

  1. Dear Friend,
    I love you and your blog. Please keep doing the "Things I learned this month" posts!
    Much love,
    Claire G