This article was 95% done about a month after I got here. That was in October. Now half of my Erasmus is over, but I’m publishing it anyway. If for nothing else, take it as a symbol for how the best things are over sooner than you think.
Everybody told me that they felt so weird when they left for their time abroad. It seems to be just me, but I didn’t get this “Oh boy, you’re going abroad for nine months, shit is going down“-feeling when I a) got to the airport b) got through security c) entered the plane d) saw the cabin doors close e) stepped out of the plane and so on. I kinda miss the excitement it comes with, but not really, because the prevailing feeling still is that this is one of the best things that will happen to me.
Sometimes you live through something and only in hindsight realize that it probably will make you smile throughout the rest of your life. And sometimes you live through something and know in advance that it will be such an experience. That makes it kind of hard for this specific experience to live up to the expectations, but then again – It’s very easy for unique situations to be exactly that: unique.
It really is true that at the beginning, you live of stereotypes because they’re the easiest way to start a conversation. And boy, ‘Where are you from?’ works even better abroad than in the first week at my home university. It really is like your first week of college at home all over again. On crack.
Noteworthy: It’s the first time that I regret having hated French throughout my life as a student back in school. I was astonished to learn that, differing from what they taught us in school, most French people are pretty much okay most of the time.
Just kidding. But maybe my lacking French skills are for the best because all the French girls I met have such a cute accent when speaking English. And the more English-only conversation there is, the more accent there is, too.
Considering the stereotypes again: Still a good way to filter people, because the Americans I like the most laugh wholeheartedly on a good American joke.
And there’s nothing over a good Hitler joke once in a while. And I take shit for some German stereotypes also, but when a pun is intelligent there’s nothing to say against that. And it’s fun when somebody looks at my blonde hair, calls me the typical Aryan, and the American at the table states the sentence that makes up the headline of this blogpost (Hi, Brian!).
Oh, Americans and Canadians: I feel bad for them, because they’re not Erasmus, just Visiting Students. I mean, I get the whole ‘connecting Europe’ philosophy behind Erasmus, but it seems weird not to have non-EU-Students included because the ‘real’ group here of course is much more diverse than that. But this is probably just the case for Ireland and the UK, because native English speakers aren’t very likely to chose non-English speaking countries in these large numbers.
I am really not the kind of person who is afraid of ‘admitting’ that they’re German, who dislikes Germany, or who calls the display of a German flag ‘nationalistic’. In fact, I find it a) sad and b) surprising how people seem to forget that Germany’s history not only consists of (starting) World Wars.
But I’m also aware of the fact that there is a special place in hell for the stereotypical German tourist. And boy, there are many here in Dublin. That’s fine since nobody likes tourists, regardless of their nationality. My problem is of a different nature. By my impression, every other Erasmus student is either French or German, and I judge the Germans I meet here with a higher standard than the others because they, other than the tourists, really represent Germany in this context. And being abroad, representing (you can also call it ‘being associated with’) my country, even I feel a certain responsibility not to be a dick. To certain people. If they deserve it.
I saw too many Germans being overly happy and instantly switching to German upon the statement ‘I’m from Germany’, regardless of the circumstances and people around to us. It’s the typical Erasmus problem. You stay within your comfort zone, and before you realize it, you’re back home and you’ve only spoken in your mother tongue, and met a ton of people from your country (That’s what you go abroad for, isn’t it?).
That’s an easy mistake to make, but since people on Erasmus tend to be studying they should be smart enough to realize that, and be aware that what they’re doing is about as open-minded as the average Bavarian’s opinion on gay marriage.
I would go ‘Yeah, well, their problem, I can just ignore them’, but the program only has so many slots and Erasmus students get supported financially, so they’re simply burning resources and that obviously sucks. I feel obligated to do what Erasmus was made for: Meet and get to know a ton of people from all over the world/Europe. And support the local gastronomy (right?).
To be fair: This behaviour is common for more nationalities, not just Germany, but I don’t recognize it to the same degree. Plus: I can always walk up to a group of French people and thereby make them switch to English.
I also want to say hello to the people who went home way too early (after one term, before Christmas). Come and visit Dublin in the Spring, like Matty does!
To conclude this collection of thoughts, here is Tom Hanks talking about driving a minivan on the Autobahn (Hi, Garrett!).
This is an article about what’s going on (or: down) on the Olympic Village. Hint: The number of condoms they deliver to the village increases year over year. No relation to Erasmus at all, I promise.