Subsequent posts will have a trip report but I wanted to give an overall feel for European culture being an American.
Being completely alone in a foreign city is a bit intimidating. I’ve only traveled to Europe once previously and I was mainly guided. This time I was by myself to explore cities. Not speaking any foreign language made every interaction challenging. You’ll hear often that “don’t worry, everyone speaks English.” This I found to be largely true in consumer oriented (hotels, restaurants, museums) interactions. However, waltzing into a bar and sitting down ordering, “ein Bier”, wasn’t very comforting. Making efforts to speak and order in German actually made it worse because they would follow up with some more German which I obviously wouldn’t understand. Lesson learned.
I met a German who was in his early 20’s and we talked and he liked all of the exact same TV shows. Fargo, Breaking Bad, and House of Cards to name a few. It was cool to see that media was universal. He also liked professional basketball and said his “dream” was to go see a game live. I was like, “that’s pretty easy to make happen” but shows it’s a different world out there. Once again though he spoke good English and was one of the few people who I could have a detailed conversation with.
I also felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb being an American. Walking the streets everyone spoke whatever language of the country and dressed, acted, and looked different from me. I mean this as European’s physically look different. They seem more sophisticated and I get the feeling that they look at Americans with their noses in the air. This carries no weight for the people that I met as I was treated with the utmost respect from all. I also think this comes with the fact that I have no idea what they are talking about so it feels foreign and unsettling which is why I probably have this opinion.
I’ll close this entry with the ease of getting around as I was lost precisely 0 times during the entire trip. The train systems were without fail and there were 0 hang ups at the hotels. I walked entire cities and did every tourist attraction I could squeeze into a short time there. Aside from a migrant situation that I’ll describe in further detail in future posts, I never felt unease. Those are some general thoughts about the trip.