It has been almost two months since I arrived in Bonn, Germany and I can officially say I am becoming a true Bonner! I had never traveled outside of the United States before, and studying abroad has been such a positive and eye opening experience that I do not regret.
The first few days in Bonn were a bit overwhelming, trying to orient myself around the city, however that’s part of the adventure! Bonn is such a beautiful city and I love living here. As the birthplace of Beethoven and architecture that dates back to the Roman Empire, the city of Bonn is full of history and culture. Living with my host family, I have really been able to experience German culture first hand. My host mother teaches German to Muslim children and my host father is retired, however he is heavily involved in maintaining our exotic birds and pond in our backyard. I also have a host sister who studies health care management. Every night for dinner, we all sit at the dinner table and talk to each other in English and German. German cuisine has been influenced by other cultures such as Turkish and Italian. However, typical dinners with my host family usually consists of various meats, potatoes, and vegetables. Although it might not sound like much variety, the meats are always packed with flavor and there are so many ways potatoes can be cooked that I never knew before coming here!
Speaking German at the dinner table along with taking a German language class has really sharpened my communication and listening skills. German is not one of the easiest languages to learn, however some words are very similar to English and I’ve learned to pay more attention to non-verbal communications to help my understanding. Most Germans also learn English in grade school, so it can be difficult to improve my language skills when they know you speak English.
One of the biggest changes for me that I have been adjusting to is the weather! Transitioning from the perfect 78°F at LMU to average temperatures in the 20’s hasn’t always been easy, but you learn quickly to always wear several layers at a time and never leave the house without a coat. I’ve also gotten the chance to experience my first time in snow and it was beautiful!
I did not know much about Germany before coming here, but over these past few weeks I have learned so much about the rich and deep history of the German people. As part of our study abroad program, our class traveled to Berlin and Dresden together, which was an eye opening experience. Here, I became fully aware and educated about the history of Germany, including World War 2 and lasting impressions it has left on the country. I have also visited many magnificent castles and grand churches that are at least 500 years old and still standing. Visiting these places has really provided me with perspective on the comparatively short history of the United States. Continuing my insight on the Germany has given me such a deeper, more valuable understanding of the culture of German people.
About the author: Junior Charnise Taylor is a Biochemistry major in the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering. She is currently spending her Spring 2015 semester studying in Bonn, Germany.