Standing in the middle of seven Italians…

This morning was full of some thoughts and here are some for you…

I left the flat early this morning, walking about 15 minutes away through my neighborhood to take care of a little mini dachshund by the name of Bagel. He is still quite the puppy at 5 months and just super cute. Bagel

While I sauntered down the road at 7:15am as a few shops started to just think about opening in Berlin I noticed a guy in front of me, a good five steps. At each pole, he paused for a brief moment to put this sticker up…..

Sticker

For those who need German translation the sticker is for “Solidarity instead of exclusion – for an open and free society.” I went on the website. There is a demonstration and march happening on Saturday. This is from their website (yes, in translation):

“We advocate an open and caring society, where human rights are indivisible, in the diverse and self-determined life designs of course. We are against any form of discrimination and hatred. Together we are anti-Muslim racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Gypsyism, anti feminism and LGBTIQ *-hostility to resolutely opposed.” – http://www.unteilbar.org.

And it hit me….first of all, yes but second of all, this man believes in this so much that he keeps a packet of stickers in his bag at his hand and at each poll he posts about it. If you believe so much in letting all know, you will be there and when you are there you will connect and vocalize.  These posters and stickers are all over Berlin.  Just in that moment, I admired his stickering.

Bagel and I had a peaceful morning of playing, coffeeing and cuddling and then it was off to school for me.

The minute I leave Bagel I know that I won’t have WiFi until I return home. There is no wife on the bus, at our school, on the walk to and from there or even back on the bus.  This equates to about four hours without wifi which for me, means 4 hours without the ability to constantly connect and 4 hours in which I am not reachable (I could be if someone really needed me).  When I started school on Tuesday, that was annoying to me. I like being accessible and I like to be able to look up a word or two on my phone during class. I like having something to read on my screen at break, if I am honest or to mindlessly look at while I wait for the bus.  Today, it was a different story.  It hit me, this allows me to be more present in class…more present at break…more present to look and observe and think.  I have more of that time here in Germany and a big chunk of that is that I can only access my phone on wifi.  We have talked about me getting a German number and phone for just in case with some data and I have been so reluctant because I kind of like that most of the time, if I am out and about, I can’t be consumed and distracted by it.  I probably wouldn’t have paused and looked and played in the leaves today like I did on the way back to the bus…

fall leaves

And while on break in school without my phone, I walked around the block and came back to get my pause coffee and I stepped outside directly into a group of Italians. I know just a little bit of Italian or can piece together so I just smiled, not asking the group to shift for me but wanting to just be present. The past two days, I have let the fact I am the only American in this place and the fact that I don’t speak Italian keep me from getting to know my classmates. Today, I decided that I could even just hang out and see what I picked up. The Italian went on for a bit, thank goodness but then someone looked over to get my opinion…..and it went quiet for a minute…until he realized that I needed the translation in order to answer. He did and I answered.

“well, of course I like Hawaiian pizza and eating pizza wouldn’t keep me from drinking Italian coffee if offered with it!”

And the conversation was off again! Now, in Italian AND English.  Then the group turned to me to ask questions mainly about where I was from and why I am here.  Soon it turned to talking about why we were all here and what we miss and what we don’t miss from our locations.

Me: “But I thought Italy was so great!”

Person in the group: “For a holiday yes…but it was time to get out.”

Me: “Will you return ever?”

Same person: “For holiday? Yes!” 🙂

One person: “Italians are so much more aggressive than Germans…I like it here!”
Me: “But I thought Italians were so friendly and Germans to me are so direct that it continuously takes me off guard.”
Another: “I like the directness instead of Italians just yelling.”
Me: “I guess we all adjust. Will you return?”

We continued to talk about Germany and Germans and where we relate and where we don’t but basically it all comes back to what we are finding and that we are all trying to do our best.  But in that moment, I was so thankful to stand in the midst of a group of people unlike me and yet like me in many ways too and just to learn. And yes as I look around it tickled me to see everyone with small espresso cups, most smoking (I think I am the only one who doesn’t), and many friendly loud gestures like I had just arrived at family dinner.  It will be a good four weeks.

 

 

 

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