Visiting the U.K. – Part 10 (Germany Excursion Cont.)
So I took that nap and ended up hanging around this place for a while. Eventually, we went to McDonald’s for something to eat.
McDonald’s in Germany is nothing like McDonald’s in the U.S. – least not the ones here at home. They had a little cafe/bakery inside where you could get like…espresso coffees and little cakes and cookies and things. It was all very strange to see inside a fast food joint.
And their variety seemed so much smaller to me. It looked like they only had three burgers: the infamous Big Mac, a plain cheeseburger, and something called the 1955 Burger. Everything else looked like some kind of chicken sandwich. Of course, I couldn’t read the menu and so I’m basing all this off what was displayed through photos. They probably have a much larger selection than that.
But the really weird thing was that they ask if you want ketchup or mayonnaise for your fries. I guess mayonnaise is like a dipping sauce there? Totally strange to me but completely normal there.
Also really surprising: your drinks don’t come with ice. I don’t think I had ice in my drink at any time while in Germany. I mean, it comes out of the fountain cold so it’s not an issue, but I’m used to having so much ice in the cup that you run out of drink before you’re half-way through your sandwich.
But let’s put my fascination with the German McDonald’s aside.
Before I go into the details about the rest of my time in Germany, I have to make a confession:
I was pretty moody and unpleasant while we were in Germany. Part of it had to do with me being out of my element. Kyle was back around his friends and I knew no one – even here at home I’m prone to a bit of social anxiety. I am shy and nervous, and I have no idea how to react to new people. So add the language barrier to that and being in a completely foreign place and it’s just all compounded into one big mess.
On top of that, the Germans were celebrating Carnival (Karneval?) – so we went to clubs, bars, street parades, etc. And everyone drank. I’m not a big drinker – mainly because I don’t like not being in control of myself. I was very concerned about getting drunk in another country and doing something stupid, so while my brother drank to his heart’s content with his friends, I didn’t. I had one or two the first night and then nothing really after that for the whole time we were in Germany.
This means that clubs and parties really lose some of their appeal. It’s just not much fun to be the only sober person around so many inebriated folk. However, I really wanted to stay positive and not kill the mood since it was a personal decision not to drink. I didn’t want to ruin everyone else’s fun.
But I have serious problems with loud noises – I swear I lack a noise filter. Very few people I know have as much trouble with loud sounds as I do. It’s like the noise sneaks into my ear and then POUNDS on my eardrum. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a sudden, incredibly loud sound go off in your ear but you get immediate vertigo. Your inner-ear is in charge of balance and I’m sure someone could give a very technical, scientific explanation about the vibrations of the sound waves and how this affects your sense of balance…
I’ll just keep it simple and say that when someone screams in my ear, there’s a big chance I might fall on my face. The room literally tilts, and I get super dizzy and can’t tell if I’m standing up straight or not.
Because of all the loud music and the people screaming, cheering, and singing – I had one hell of a time.
So, my disclaimer ends with this: I was probably more moody and crabby than was called for when I was in Germany.
Also, I’d like to offer this apology to my brother’s friends for coming off as total bitch. I couldn’t hear anything you tried to say to me in those settings. I wasn’t trying to ignore you or be stand-offish but avoiding conversation was easier than trying to pick your voice out of the all that noise. I just don’t have the filter for it.
In the evening we went to a club for Karneval. I basically spent the entire time being bumped and shouldered aside or having smoke blown in my face [and I'll add that I had my fair share of beer spilled on me.] Otherwise, I just stood around tapping my foot to the music. Then we came back. Not very exciting for me really.
I kind of think it was more fun rushing around London.
And I’m slightly upset with Kyle right now. He went to sleep without giving me the power adapter, so I can’t charge my phone, iPod, or use my hair straightener.
Here’s a fun fact that probably everyone but me knew: the U.K. and Germany use different electrical plugs. Why I thought all of Europe would use the same one is beyond me. At the time I wrote this, I thought the one he’d let me use in the hostel in London would work in Germany. It wouldn’t.
I also have no internet here, so I can’t talk to home. That makes me the most sad and frustrated.
I had promised to contact my boyfriend and parents as often as possible on this trip…and I had no way to even let them know we’d safely landed in Germany. Also, I get homesick pretty badly, especially when I’m feeling miserable cause that’s when you long for home the most – you crave that comfort and familiarity. I felt that bad the first night or two in Germany.
It’s only when I settle down and go still that I start thinking about how much I wish I was at home. This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing for me but here I am wishing time would go by a bit faster. It’s only right before bed when I’m alone with my thoughts that I really feel like this. Because this is when I feel the most homesick.
This is when I miss my boyfriend and my puppies at home…my puppies who don’t know why I’m not coming home on time. And because of the lack of wi-fi, I can’t even talk to them. I wonder if there are any Starbucks here, and I wonder if they have free wi-fi like at home?
And I won’t cut the following part of this entry, though it’s really pathetic, because it’s honest. It captures what I was feeling at that point in time. Because of my intense introversion, I wasn’t able to enjoy everything fully, and I think that’s something I really have to look at in my life.
I think that’s a really big obstacle in my pursuit of happiness. I’ve let it hold me back from a lot of things in my life and so I might as well be honest about it with myself. I know there are plenty of introverted people in the world who might read this and think, “Ah, yeah, I can relate to that.” And that helps me feel better about the fact that I struggle with something as simple for everyone else as small talk.
To be honest, I think Germany is turning out to be the least fun because Kyle has friends here. [I don't mean this negatively. They were great, very hospitable people who tried their damnest to make me feel welcome. I feel really apologetic towards them. I'm just a very awkward person - but you all did splendidly!]
I feel the most alone when I’m with other people who I don’t know well. Even though they’ve been very polite and hospitable, I still feel the worst around them. This is wholly because of me and not them.
The reason for this is that I guess I’ve honestly never learned how to deal with and talk to people. They ask me simple questions and I can’t answer, but I don’t know why I can’t.
Them: “How are you liking Germany?”
Me: “Uh, it’s nice. Yeah, it’s been good so far.”
I just think of a million possible answers and disregard them all. I can’t be completely honest for fear I might say something to offend someone. I try to be generic and it comes across as cold and disinterested.
I think in some small way I might be sort’ve glad for the language barrier because it discourages people from trying to talk to me. But then I come off as shy, petrified, awkward – or even just plain rude. [In the end, I was most worried about the impression I'd leave on my brother's friends as his sister. Things like, "Kyle was cool, but he brought his weird sister who seemed to hate everything and everyone. He should've come alone, we would've had more fun!"]
So while I think of all this, it makes me sad that I can’t talk to anyone from home. I promised I’d call every night – I just didn’t realize how hard that would be to do.
I guess I should go to sleep. I’ve no idea what time it is since my phone is dead. I should be well rested in case we do anything good tomorrow. I think I’d honestly be good with going straight to Paris tomorrow, but I don’t think Kyle would go for that. I just want to get time moving forward again. [At the time, we still thought we were going to Paris - those plans fell through.]
So we were in Germany for like…three days? Maybe four? I didn’t write anything else during my stay there though. But there were good times! I kind of made it all sound so lousy, but I did get to have fun.
In my next post, I’ll try to give my poor memory a kick start and see how much I can pull out about those few days. If nothing else, at least I have a good post about going to see the Cologne Cathedral - or as everyone kept calling it “The Dom of Cologne.”