I can confidently say that week one in Bremen went pretty smoothly! The featured image above is the market square in Bremen.
I’m finally starting to get comfortable with the area, mostly because I’m still too scared to try out the tram, so I walk everywhere. I’ve probably walked more in the past week than I’ve walked the whole summer (a little sad, but true). I explored the city, made a new friend, and ordered my first coffee in Germany (I had made it myself up until that point).
I discovered a lovely park close to where I live. I haven’t spent much time in it yet, but I plan to later on. I also got a SIM card for my phone, so I have a back up plan for when I get dreadfully lost. I wasn’t sure if I set it up correctly because all the instructions were in German–big surprise–but it seems like everything is fine.
Also, I’m writing this on my smartphone because I happened to dump a whole cup of coffee on my laptop this morning–so please excuse the lower quality of writing. I find it hard to proofread or notice flow when staring at my phone.
Now to the really interesting stuff.
The refugee crisis and the US election are regularly in the news cycle. It’s hard for me not to read about one of them at least once a day. I usually feel like I have a pretty good grasp on international issues, but it’s different when it’s really thrown in your face.
The other night, my friends and I ended up in some smoke-filled bar around midnight. Naturally, once the bartender heard our lack of German, he asked where we were from. He was thrilled to talk about America and why we chose Germany–and then it turned to the US election. The bartender explained to me why he disliked Donald Trump so much (though he didn’t like Hillary much, either); it mostly revolved around Trump’s lack of compassion and class.
He wasn’t just complaining about Trump, though; he brought up other politicians–ones he liked, ones he didn’t. Then it hit me: this random German bartender knows more about American politics than many Americans. It’s not something happening in a distant land for him, it’s very real and very close. We continued to talk about politics and not once did he try to blame me or other Americans for Trump, which contradicted what I assumed would happen when this topic arose.
Then when the bar got busy, I ended up talking to someone else. This was a very different experience. When he found out I was American, he immediately wanted to rant about the refugee crisis and America’s role in it all. He didn’t like refugees–he told me to be careful on my way home because of them. I want to believe that he was coming from a place of fear, not outright hatred. Fear that his security would degrade because of the influx of strangers fleeing a war torn zone.
He had his opinions about the US election, too. He told me he liked Donald Trump, mostly because he doesn’t trust Hillary (sounds a bit familiar). He didn’t have much explanation for why he held these views–but to be fair, it was late and beer was involved.
I mention these two experiences because one of these individuals was interested in an open conversation and the other wasn’t. I can say that I gained a deeper perspective on how people actually living in Europe feel about the refugee crisis and the reality TV show called the US election.
I’m not saying that either of these people represent the two sides of European views–that would be a very large generalization. However, it did give me two views that I haven’t experienced before and I’m excited to be exposed to even more as the days go on.
Also, if you haven’t already watched it, here’s the link to my apartment tour video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WTjZ_VdRbIw