It has been two weeks since I have been in Germany! There has been so much that I have been taking in through this experience. One thing that has taken me by surprise and that I am trying to get used to is that people stare at me a lot. At first, I thought it was just in my head until one of my friends in the program told me that he had noticed it too. I think it is because I stick out in the crowd. In Bielefeld, I have not seen anyone who looks like me. Most people are either White or of African descent, and then there is me. At times, I feel like an "other race." It still has taken me some time to get used to it because, in Washington State, people don't stare at me as much. For the most part, more people look like me so I don't feel like I stick out. However, here in Germany, there are not as many interracial ethnicities.
Another thing I have noticed that takes me by surprise is interacting with clerks. In Washington, it is required to demonstrate customer service. Being friendly and nice is a requirement. However, in Germany, my interactions show a different environment. Clerks are not expected to go out of their way to be "friendly" like it is a requirement at home. However, clerks in Germany are not being rude. They are just doing their job. Every time I check out, I have to remind myself that because it always rubs me the wrong way. For example, I was at the BMW museum and was purchasing something. I got to the counter, and the lady rang up my stuff and told me the total. The total was something euros and 85 cents. I had a lot of cents on me, so I wanted to pay the exact cent. I was counting the change (I think at a reasonable speed, but I did have to check some of the cents because I am not familiar with which cent is a 1 cent or a 2 cent), and she made a big sigh. I could feel my blood boil at that moment, and then she abruptly said, "Can I help you?" referring to counting my change. I had already finished counting the change and felt like she was calling me stupid, but I smiled and said, "yes." She counted everything and rang me out, and without looking at me, handed me my stuff and the receipt. Let me just say that at that moment, I definitely wanted to speak to her manager but I realized that in Germany that is the normal behavior.
Lastly, I would like to end on the note about what I have gained through this experience. I have gained so much confidence in my self. I have realized that I am capable of tackling any situation that comes my way and I feel like I have gained so much experience and wisdom in these two weeks.