On a typical day in Germany, I would take the train or bus to work or school, finish my tasks there, then walk around the city for an hour or so and return home. This day is quite similar to a typical day in the US. That may seem to defeat the purpose of studying abroad, but I found the familiarity comforting.
While there are many similarities between the 2 countries, naturally there are differences. Like the cuisine, for example. In Berlin, the Doner kebab is a popular dish. And for a good reason, too. It is a delicious Turkish dish that is common in Germany. I feel that it is akin to a gyro. I would definitely suggest trying one if you ever find yourself in Germany. The cuisine in Kiel was even further removed from the US. Kiel is near the harbor, so a lot of the local food there is seafood. I did try a lot of new variations on seafood there, however, the ones I tried were not for me. But the groceries are superb! In Kiel, I fell in love with hard-boiled eggs all over again. It’s very random, but these are the best eggs I’ve ever had in my life. I buy them at a vendor that sells fresh produce on the street corner near my Airbnb. The vendor is super nice, and I will miss him when I have to leave. He gives me deals on fruit every time I visit his stand.
Speaking of vendors, while abroad I challenged myself to connect with locals. In stores, I made sure to communicate in Germany and listen to the other ways customers were communicating. I absorbed the social norms of a polite interaction between a cashier or shop owner and a customer. Things that were not necessarily taught in class.
In Berlin, I lived with a host family. They were extremely welcoming and hospitable. My host mother made dinner most nights, even when she had to work late. It was nice to see a family that was so closely knit. When I got there, I could barely communicate with them because my German wasn’t strong. But by the last week I was able to sit down with my host mother and have a casual conversation. Even though I lived with a roommate who was not German, in Kiel, I would say I interacted more with German people there. Fewer foreigners lived in
Kiel than in Berlin, so I had more of an opportunity to use German on a regular basis.
That is my experience, living like a local in both Berlin and Kiel, Germany.
My room in my host family’s house