Comparing My Expectations To Reality On Day 17

I’ve been planning on doing this for a while, but have only just had chance to properly sit down and have a good think.

In this post I’m basically going to be comparing my expectations to reality on day 17 of my year abroad. I’ll start off with writing about where my expectations are correct, and I’ll go onto the more interesting side of where my expectations are nothing like what I’m experiencing.

Where my expectations were correct:

  • Friendliness. A great deal of people I’ve come across here are friendly. Be it my mentor, someone at a till, or even someone I walk passed (who will say ‘hallo!’ and smile normally when there aren’t too many people around).
  • Moin. Just as it was in Lüneburg 3 years ago, ‘moin’ is used here in the North as a greeting. Or, as my teacher told us, you can also say ‘moin, moin’!
  • Wurst and Gherkins. They are everywhere. The Germans absolutely love sausage and gherkins, as well as cheese. I bought a salami baguette on my first day here, thinking there was only salami in it (she asked if I wanted plain or with cheese and I said plain), and I bit into it to find two gherkins. It’s lucky I actually like them, eh?
  • Starbucks. Perhaps not so an amazing expectation, but thankfully, as I expected (or perhaps more hoped), Starbucks here is just like in England, bar a few drink differences.
  • English knowledge. Pretty much everyone can speak English. I bought a stamp recently, but when I asked for it the word for stamp (which I will now never forget is ‘Briefmarke’) totally slipped my mind so I was stood there stumped, and the lady looked at me funnily and said ‘…stamp?’. Also, sometimes when I’m with Henri and I don’t know a word in German, he’ll just say I can say it in English, and every single time he understands. A lot of the summer academy students who don’t know me also speak to me in English, as if they remember I’m the ‘English one’.

Now let’s move onto the more interesting. This is a bigger list.

Where my expectations were wrong:

  • Germans’ expectations of my English. I have generally found that all Germans are shocked with my level of German. In a good way. A fair few I’ve come across (usually through Ilka) thought I can’t speak very good German. But Ilka always tells them I actually do. Some of Henri’s friends have been shocked that my German’s so good (not being big-headed there, just quoting what they said!), as if they expect me to not be that good at it at all. A landlady of a flat we went to look at also started speaking to me in English at first, and Ilka quickly told her I can speak perfectly good German, which was very nice!
  • Drink. Germans drink more than I thought they would. I’ve been out a few times now with Henri and his friends, and either they drink more than the average German would, or the Germans generally drink loads. Even at the Maschseefest; it was packed with people drinking away, even on weekday evenings which I was very shocked at. Three ciders for me and I’m done for the night, which I’ve had to try and change here. So far it’s resulted in a ghastly hangover on the morning of my trip to the zoo.
  • The Campus. The University campus is spread out over the city. Ilka told me this is actually normal for German universities, whereas in England (I think) it’s more normal to have a campus-based university rather than it being spread over the city. If you ask me, campuses make life so much easier.
  • The Environment. Germans really like helping the environment. There are millions of bikes everywhere (every time I hear a bike bell now I panic and look around, because it usually means you’re about to get hit by a bike), and there are recycling bins throughout the city which separate glass, packaging, plastic and general waste. I’ve seen bins like that before, of course, such as on campus in Exeter, but I’ve never come across it out in the streets, unless I haven’t been looking properly before.
  • Spoken English. I’ve actually heard a lot less English than I expected. Being the only kid from Great Britain at the summer academy, I have nobody to speak English with – or at least my accent where I don’t have to keep repeating myself because nobody understands my northern tones. I also expected to hear a lot more English in the streets, in shops, and on public transport. But I rarely do.
  • Written English. On the contrary, there is written English everywhere. In the main train station, there’s a Burger King advertisement saying ‘This way to have it your way’. I’ve seen signs in shop windows in English, such as ‘final sale’. It’s easy to go a day without speaking English, but without reading any English is a totally different story.
  • Shops. There are actually a lot more shops I recognise than I thought there would be. I mean, I knew there was a Starbucks, and just assumed McDonald’s would make an appearance, but there’s also H&M, and even a Primark. Yes, a Primark.
  • The size of Hannover. Thanks to the S-Bahn, Hannover is definitely not as big as I feared when I looked at Google Maps before I moved here. I’ve got used to the place. I could probably easily get lost if I properly walked out into the outskirts, but there’s just no need to do that as everything’s nicely spread out in the centre. I also actually genuinely see a lot of random civilians repeatedly on the train which is quite nice, even though I’ve never spoken to them before.
  • Sunday. On my first Sunday here, i.e. my first full day here, I felt really down, sat in my room with no friends and no internet. At first I thought there was no point going into town because everywhere would be closed, and the S-Bahn probably wouldn’t be running anyway. But I was wrong. I went into a town, and it was still full of people. All of the shops in the main train station were open, and loads of food places were open around town. It made me feel not so alone after all.

There are more things I have thought of but at the moment can’t remember them. I could maybe write another post in a week or so if I can remember more stuff, but for now these are my expectations compared to reality.