Saturday, July 30, 2011

There's always a McDonald's.

And just like that, it was time to say good-bye. All at once I wondered what I would miss the most. Instead, I became occupied with the list of things I thought I might not miss. Surely that would be more fun to explore. There are a couple of obvious ones, of course. I won’t miss being the palest person in a 50-mile radius. I won’t miss paying for gas. I won’t miss that somewhere along the way, as an American, I lost my control over flushing. I have regained that here. It feels good. And then there are the things I will miss… being able to eavesdrop on conversations—or really just being able to understand people generally. That was nice. I will miss home cooking. Not necessarily even at my home, but other people’s homes and their cooking too. I already miss Americans tacit recognition that you can only stare until you are caught. Then as a courtesy, you pretend that you weren’t really staring at all. Not here. Here it’s all ‘let’s stare until I'm caught and then continue to stare at uncomfortable and painful lengths beyond this'. What a joy this will be.

My assistant coach picked me up from the airport. Fortunately he speaks English—well, I am not sure you can quite call it that, but we made it work. Just when I thought the reality of being 5000 miles away from everything I know would start to encroach on me, I saw them.  The golden arches seemed to hug me. What could be more American? I instantly felt welcomed with this emblematic homage paid to America: McDonalds. Suddenly, I was in the Love and Basketball scene I must have seen 500 times, where the American player overseas is assured “there’s always a McDonalds". Touché lady, touché. 

It is pouring here. This really shouldn't even surprise me at this point. Wherever I go these days, the rain inevitably follows.

My room is actually big. That was a nice surprise. The rest of the apartment however, is, well...tiny. But cute. Never in my life have I seen a washing machine so small. My fridge is reminiscent of a dorm fridge. And even in my dorm room it seemed small. But my room is big :)

Practice starts Tuesday and camp starts Thursday. Sidney is the other American here right now. We worked out this morning. She is kinda my person for everything right now. She speaks decent German (she lived here last year too) so maybe there is hope for me yet. 

I love it here so far. Can't wait for Tuesday. 


  1. The bad news is that the McDonald's here is not the same as the McDonald's at home. Or the Burger King or the Subway (if you have those in Germany). It can be better than nothing, if you need something familiar, but I think the thing that is the most universal is if you can find a Hard Rock Cafe within traveling distance. The menu is the same, and in English. There is nothing like seeing English in print, my friend :)

    See you soon?

  2. I remember being in Spain by myself. I really missed laughing. And when my friend arrived a week later, what a relief it was to speak English!

    You probably have a small market within walking distance (they always do in Europe), in which case it is not too painful to have a small refrigerator.

    So great to hear from you! Your room is nice.

    mwa, mwa, mwa

  3. That whole blatant staring phenomenon is a little strange. And you imply this happens fairly often. Hm. Maybe they've never seen a perfect little nose before. Maybe rumors of your arrival have been circulating for weeks and escalating to a fever of interest. Maybe you'll discover you're the doppelganger for the host of German game show.

    (doppelganger- another word for your growing vocabulary. )

    You're probably waking just now. Guten morgen.

  4. Eric,

    First, I know what doppelganger means silly. Second, you are ridiculous with the nose thing still. So funny though. I am told it is just something europeans do. I hope you are well :)


  5. Sami, I couldn't understand what you meant by 'Flushing' (a toilet? Blushing?). Maybe I am the only one and being a little dense today.

    Hey, the staring thing is a complement. I was just listening to Rick Steves on NPR the other day talking about that. They think you are interesting and in Europe it is not seen as rude and that is why they don't look away when you catch them. Rick's female guest told a story of an elderly French woman friend who always dressed up to the nines to go out, even just to the market while she (the teller of the story) would just wear sweats and a t-shirt. When she asked the woman why she bothered, the woman told her, 'on ne sait jamais, or 'one never knows'( meaning one never knows if one will be seen by a window washer or construction worker on her way there and back)(and be whistled at or stared at).

    Was great to hear from you. It will be fun following your season.


  6. Dan,

    I mean flushing the toilet! Instead of the toilet flushing on it's own now when you stand, I get to push a button :)

    Your story seems very true. :) I think that is the way people think here.

    Thanks DA, hope you are well.


  7. Mickey D's is OK to cure homesickness but be sure to try Currywurst and Frittes, the German go to junk food. Best I had were in Berlin.
    Also, if you had an lectures from Jon Bridgeman, channel those and put yourself in pre or post WWI Germany.

  8. I was unclear. I meant your growing _German_ vocabulary. There are lots of German words in English that you add to your vocabulary for "free".

    Granted, you don't get too many conversational opportunities to say- doppelganger, hamburger, and swine.