Hey you behind the screen! I have a few tips for you!
So I just met with an early return from Germany who was kind enough to answer some of my many questions. Here is some of the information she gave me about life as an exchange student, particularly as someone from the U.S.A. in Germany.
Plan on spending around €200 per month. Her allowance was €80 per month, and mine will be €75 a month. Budget accordingly. Transportation costs add up fast. Do your research and get a student card if possible to save on fares. German teens also tend to get out of school for the day earlier than their American counterparts. This can lead to frequent (and costly) trips to local cafes and ice cream parlors.
One big suitcase, a rolling carry on, and a backpack worked well for her. Wear your heaviest shoes on the plane. Shoes are one of the worst things to over-pack. Note: Germans don’t wear flip flops as often as Americans do. They’re nice for the pool, but walking around in them all day on cobblestone streets causes serious pain. Scarves are more popular in Germany. It’s also generally cooler outside than the U.S. (besides Alaska).
The Trip and Customs:
Most exchange students to Germany have a layover or two. Customs are no big deal and there’s no reason to lie.
Host Family Conflict: If you have a serious conflict with your host family, talk to your organization! Don’t downplay anything. This is YOUR exchange!
Friends: Be friendly. Germans tend to be more reserved. The returnee stressed that when they are drunk, they tend to act like they know you very well, but the next day you’ll still be acquaintances. Don’t think they dislike you if they go from your best friend while drunk to an acquaintance when sober. The reality is, they probably do want to be friends, but being upfront is just not part of their culture.
Unsaid Expectations and Norms: Germans may seem to be much like people from the U.S., but the returnee reminded me they are not. They still have their own expectations that aren’t necessarily voiced.
For example, at home, most Germans expect you to keep doors closed. They believe it is orderly. They’ll even keep the bathroom door closed all the time! Just because Germans have their doors closed does not mean they are avoiding you.
If you’re at a restaurant and order “Wasser,” literally translated to “water,” you will receive mineral water, and it will probably be room temperature. If you want tap water (water from a sink), specify. German tap water is safe to drink, but for some reason Germans normally drink mineral water. If you would like to order tap water, the word for it is “Leitungswasser.” The word for cold is “kalt.” Milk is also sometimes served warm.
Beware: Refills are never free in Germany.
Don’t wish a German happy birthday before their actual birthday. It’s bad luck and they will totally die before their actual b-day.
Older Germans in particular will glare at you if you open a window on a train or otherwise allow a breeze in. It supposedly causes colds.
Places like Walgreens do not exist. You can buy toiletries from a “Drogerie,” but prescription medicines must be bought from an “Apotheke.”
If you’re from the United States, don’t be surprised if people sit down next to you on a bus or other public place. People from the States tend to think they need more personal space than people of other nationalities.
Also for people from the U.S.: small talk is unnecessary. You’re probably talking too loud for everyone else’s liking, too.
Getting your driver’s license as soon as you’re of age is not as common as in the U.S. German teens must be 18 to drive, and they must undergo a rigorous driver’s education course and a fairly difficult written exam, in addition to an in-car exam. Not to mention, for a German to finally get their license, it often costs
I hate when I see someone that resembles someone from back home because it takes a second for me to realize that I’m on the other side of the globe, in a foreign country and they’re probably at home, carrying on with their daily routine.
1. It’s hella fast. Latin-American chill? Not in the Chilean accent. Chileans speak fast and they know it. Check out holasoygerman on YouTube, though he speaks extraordinarily fast, even for a Chilean - but that’s what you feel like as a decent student of European Spanish when you come to visit Chile.
2. “poh” Also known as: “po”, “pu”, and sometimes just “p”. It’s the Chilean version of the Spanish pues and it’s used with literally everything. A simple sí becomes a “sipo”, ya te dije becomes “ya te dijepo”. Very popular: “yapo”, a word for yes, well, umm, hurry up, come on, that’s a lie, and whatever else you can think of.
It’s informal though!
3. “Ustedes” instead of vosotros The second person plural vosotros does not exist in Chilean Spanish! Instead, “ustedes” is used as the pronoun, and the third person plural as the conjugated verb, thus making it the same word for they and you.
vosotros tenéis → ustedes tienen ellos tienen = ellos tienen
4. The second person singular In European Spanish, the verb comes with an s-suffix.
estar → tú estás
In Chile, this form is used as well as another, informal one, where the s-suffix is replaced with an ai- or i-suffix.
estar → tú estai saber → tú sabí
It’s not wrong to use the s-suffix though.
5. Pronunciation Chilean Spanish is not a clear Spanish. Some sounds are mumbled or completely swallowed, which is probably caused by the high speaking tempo. Examples:
nada → na’a es más → eh mah para → pa’
C in front of e or i is pronounced like the English th [θ] in European Spanish. In Chilean (respectively Latin American) Spanish it’s a simple s [s].
6. Chilenismos Chilenismos are words that only exist in Chilean Spanish, and there are a lot of them. I’ll name a few, but really, there are hundreds of chilenismos.
geniál → bacán inmediatamente → al tiro 1000 pesos → luca aburrido → fome pastél → kuchen sí, vale, bueno, de acuerdo → ya ¿entiendes? → ¿cachai? dinero → plata
7. la wea This is a chilenismo, but I thought it was worth an own explanation. La wea is basically everything: if you’re missing a word or are just to lazy to say it, just say wea.
¿Pásame la botella, por favor? → ¿Pásame la wea, porfa?
It’s also used whenever you’re to stunned to say something else: “¿qué wea?” Translated, it would be “what the f***?”.
A short note This list was created by someone who has spent about 8 months in Chile. I am not Chilean and I’m not saying this list is complete - there’s a lot more to say about the Chilean accent. Those are just, in my opinion, the 7 most notable points.
** When I was an exchange student, my host family took me to travel in Switzerland with them. Suddenly, there was a problem. They didn’t tell me that we are going to the mountain and climbing . ‘shit’ this word was in my head. So, I just walked with adidas shoes oh wow…not bad but I fell down many times haha….Miss those places a lot😦😭
The flight here is the closest I’ve ever come to hell. It was 13 hours from Seattle to Shanghai, China stuck on a cramped plane with yelling kids and impolite flight attendants and once I finally arrived in Shanghai, the humidity hit me straight in the face and instantly took my breath away. I had exactly two and a half hours to get through immigration, security, and find my gate with the rest of the RYE kids who flew with me. The first time through security involved my bags being ripped apart as they even took apart my pens. They told my that one of my three portable batteries was not allowed without a permission form from my airline, so I had to turn around and go back to immigration to get it. When I got there, they denied me and threw my battery away. I moved back towards security and went through again where they then detained me, and searched through my carry on luggage yet again. They threw away odd stuff such as my neck pillow and travel tooth paste, but I had no way of fighting it because I don’t speak Mandarin. I was told I would be missing my flight to Bangkok, and I started to freak out because my luggage was going to be on that flight and I didn’t want it to be unaccompanied in the baggage claim for who knows how long until I could get another flight, so I did exactly was I was told to do. I put on my rotary blazer and started SOBBING. It wasn’t hard, I was tired and scared and ready to turn around and go home, so I cried until one officer took pity on me and helped me get to my flight in time. Once I got on my plane to Bangkok, we got stuck in a lightning storm and had to circle Bangkok for an hour until the weather got somewhat better. My day has since turned around since arriving here at 5 am: I went to the Bangkok mall today, and a street market with my mom. I had chicken with rice, these fried pancake things that were coconut meat and taro, and some sort of fried meat with egg and rice. I tripped and scraped my knee super badly (but it didn’t hurt) and my host family freaked out and bought me lots of medicine for it. I feel so comfortable around them, but I am scared for when my host sister leaves for her exchange in a week because I won’t have anyone to help me translate. It is now Friday at 4 pm and I haven’t slept since Tuesday so I’m going to try to get some rest despite the fact that is is light out still. Bangkok is beautiful and welcoming and huge and I am tired tired tired, goodnight.
here are a few of the pictures I took while on my study abroad trip ! pictures 1-5 were taken in Viterbo/Bracciano (#2 is the one from Bracciano!) The next three (6-8) are from Capri and Sorrento (I had to take at least one selfie, okay?? xD ). #9 is a picture of Civita Di Bagnoregio. And #10 is a picture taken from a great viewing point in/around Palatine Hill, which is by Circus Maximus and the Roman Forum (I can’t remember exactly where this one was, as these three areas are basically overlapping). i hope y'all like the pictures ! I have tons more so if anyone would like to see some more just let me know.