Tiptoeing onto the vlog bandwagon

So, on to the serious, written stuff:

I randomly sat down directly behind two American girls on the bus today, both about my age, both obviously students at the Uni Gießen.  Normally I listen to my iPod at all times on public transportation to stay in my happy little musical world and look out of the window to conveniently avoid the eyes of my fellow passengers, but today I hadn’t put in my earbuds yet.  The girls started talking about Couch Surfing and what pros and cons they had heard about it, trying to decide if they would do it on their next vacation in Europe.  Pardon my sounding cliché, but suddenly I had two feelings fighting against each other: one distinctly American-based wave of thoughts countered by a German-based opposition.

American Ginger would have jumped right into the conversation (gracefully, of course), made small talk-related remarks, got to the point of how amazing Couch Surfing is and would have had the two girls convinced to plan their vacation around it by the time they got off the bus two stops later.

German Ginger listened to their conversation, continued avoiding eye contact with other passengers, and refrained from saying anything at all.  The girls got off the bus and German Ginger put in her iPod for the rest of the ride.

I didn’t really think too much about it until after they were gone, but such a small interaction like that says a lot about how I adapt.  With my background in acting, I’m certainly familiar with playing a variety of roles, but I’m noticing slight changes in my personality and customs even more now than when I studied abroad.  The order, efficiency, and avoidance of confrontation/making a scene that makes up the framework of most daily social interactions in Germany are a few factors creating a sort of “alternate Ginger”, if it makes sense to phrase it that way.  I don’t think I can pass judgment on this alternate and say she’s better or worse than “American Ginger”, but it’ll be interesting to notice how I continue splitting my cultural histories, the collections of experiences that make up who I am, between continents.  Of course overlap exists, thanks to the internet, but I’m finding that I’ve become more and more used to compartmentalizing.  Being home during the holidays will likely bring out the American Ginger.  Wherever life takes me after this Fulbright experience will probably result in a new gingery layer developing, coming to the forefront, and dominating for a period of time before being replaced by the next.  The cool thing is that I can always switch between the roles, reverting to a different layer to fit with my current situation…kind of like a convenient little chameleon toolbox.

At this point I’d like to ask for some feedback from you all.  The original purpose of this blog was to be a personal memory-keepsake for me to be able to look back on, but I occasionally entertain the thought that others enjoy my musings as well.  So, time for a quick questionnaire:

Sometimes I just feel it’s necessary to get a more overarching perspective of month-long developments, so depending on your answers, it might be back to the usual stuff with the next post…surprise me!


4 thoughts on “Tiptoeing onto the vlog bandwagon

  1. Aw! I love this post. When I was traveling in Poland, it was sometimes hard for me, because there was that same tendency to look away, not say hello or smile at people. I even had a couple of family members tell me to not smile and talk to random people the way I do, or else people would think I am coming onto them or that I was crazy. But I chose to ignore all of their advice and met some awesome people on trains that ended up debating me about abortion and sex education in wonderfully polite, smiling ways. It was worth the funny looks I got. But then again, perhaps there are benefits to adapting to a culture’s ways in public as well. I just personally prefer the exchange and meeting of eyes. Whatever you are doing, you will always be the awesome Ginger!

  2. ahh a chameleon. signs of a great actor being able to contort themselves to fit wherever. Its fun! I love that you actually thought about what you did too. Its weird. Delving more and more into acting I find myself taking an outside look at many situations and dissecting every little part. Oh well, its fun none the less. And its still so strange to think just how the american version and the german version for instance are completely different…how you explained it. I love it.

  3. Aufgepasst, German Ginger im Anmarsch!! 🙂
    Das hast du gut beobachtet, die Deutschen sind einfach zu schuechtern oder zu sehr Bauer!! haha

    Oh ich wuensche dir eine schoene Zeit in Madison! 🙂 Es freut mich,dass es dir im verschneiten Giessen so gut geht!

  4. Since I have been living in Cambodia since the last two-and-a-half months I noticed exactly the same. And I am even a well traveled person. But also in Cambodia I have discovered my extra layer of cultural behavior. In Cambodia you loose face when you get mad or angry at anybody in public. So you don’t even go there. You smile. You smile when the police stop you for whatever reason (they just want a few dollars). You don’t go in discussion with anger (like I would do at home in The Netherlands: “I didn’t even do anything wrong you, @#$!”). Here I just smile and give him two dollars so I can continue. It’s those little differences that also made my life happier. Bad thoughts, anger or thinking negative is just not done in this country. It’s bad for your karma and can hurt other people around you. And suddenly life is all sunny – well, like every day (I don’t miss the snow!).

    Keep on going Ginger, love your blog!

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