Friday, July 29, 2011

My initial thoughts before coming to Berlin was the assumption the language barriers I would be encountering. The fact that I am in a different country with a bare minimum amount of knowledge of the place, it was scary feeling. If the person did not speak in English with me, I would have not been able to understand a thing. I am so reliant on the English language because I am so used to speaking and understanding it. After the first couple of days in Berlin, I have come to realized that I can get by without English. One of my first experience speaking with a German was asking for directions to go to the mall. I was in the bus tunnel and staring at my map. All of a sudden, a woman in her 50's came up to me and speaking in German. I had no idea what she was saying, but I knew she was trying to help me figure out where to go. I showed her the address and she looked at my map to point at the station I needed to get off. There were many hand gestures during her explanations. After she was done explaining, I followed her directions and found the mall. It was a weird and interesting feeling to have because she used no English during her explanations and somehow I understood what she was trying to say. Her help made me feel the sense of community in Berlin. Her thoughtfulness in trying to help me was very helpful and touching. I felt like an outsider by not knowing where to go, but she was a tremendous help to me. This experience made me realize that even though I am supposedly reliant on the English speaking culture, the universal language that everyone uses are hand gestures and facial expressions. So, no matter where I am, I can communicate with another person using the universal language. Although I believe that there is such a thing as a universal language, knowing the German language is also a resourceful tool as well. I feel like if I really want to experience the German culture, learning German would be a good start to it. Not knowing German has made me feel out of place. Although, I do know enough to get by, it is really hard to carry a conversation with someone in German. Coming to Berlin, I did not think that I would feel so awkward at times. In the end, I have learned a lot from this trip.

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