Adjusting to life after study abroad can be tough. You might miss the sheep too! Marina Röhrich studied abroad at the University of Limerick last year and has now returned back her home university in Mannheim, Germany. Find out more about how she’s found the transition…
One thing everybody should be aware of when going abroad is that at a certain point you will realise that the country you live and study in is not the country where you grew up. Even though I have been abroad now a second time, I always keep forgetting that there is more about being not in your home country than just speaking a different language. But one thing almost nobody thinks about before going abroad is what happens when you go back home. A cultural shock not only occurs while getting used to your new environment, it also happens again while you are trying to get used to being back home.
I came back from Ireland a couple of months ago and I have to say that I am still not used to being back in Germany. Ireland is present in my everyday life and everyone I know has to deal with me being simply confused about almost everything.
Here are my top 5 most awkward moments following my return to Germany…
Seeing sheep is kind of a rare thing here
The first herd of sheep I saw in Ireland was kind of a big dea! I mean, did you realise that there are sheep everywhere here?! Compared to Germany, where I actually can only think of one place where I see sheep some times. I kind of miss those little white things. It feels strange passing a green field with no sheep around.
Calling my professor with his or her first name is not appropriate
At first, calling my Prof. at UL with his or her first name felt really strange to me. No strange isn’t basically the right word. Let’s put it like this: calling your professor by his or her first name never happens in Germany. Never. So getting used to not calling them with all their titles was strange for me. Now I actually have to be really careful while being back home to not call my professors or lectures by their first name.
There are announcements in buses and trains about the stations
The first days in Ireland I almost freaked out. How am I suppose to know where I should get off if there is no announcement of any kind in the buses and also no name on the stations? After getting used to it I kind of started to flinch when I got back in public transportation in Germany. The reason? They actually tell you where you are! (Okay, I have to admit: I missed that loads in Ireland! How are you all not getting lost?)
At the end of a lecture or seminar, people knock on the table
My first couple of lectures I was this one embarrassed international student that started knocking on the table or chair to show the lecturer my appreciation for the lecture. Things Germans tend to do in the lecture. After a while I stopped it because social pressure got too high and I didn’t want to be the only one knocking anymore. At one point of my time in Limerick, my lecturer came back from a week in Germany and she turned to us Germans in the course and asked us why people actually started knocking at the end of her lecture there. Well, lets say we appreciate that the lecturer holds the lecture / ended the lecture or at least was present. My first seminar back home in Germany also ended with everybody knocking on the table. Everybody except me. I am now this one German that looks around and is very confused about what people are doing.
Speaking a perfect “Denglisch” at all time annoys your friends
The thing is: I tend to talk a lot. And since English is still present in my head, I tend to forget the German expressions for some things. So instead of pausing and having this awkward moment when you don’t know your own native language anymore, I just finish my sentence in English. It is easier for me and probably really annoying to my friends. Also starting a conversation with the phrase “What’s the craic lads?” isn’t common here either. People tend to give you a really strange look if you greet them like that. Weird.