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!