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Southeastern American Muggle Goes Southwestern German

It’s hard for me to believe that in just about a week I’ll be lugging my big blue suitcase through the airport to board a plane to Germany. I’ve dreamt of studying abroad ever since I was in high school, and now my dream is becoming my reality. As much as I can’t wait to fully submerse myself in German culture while I’m in Freiburg, I am just as excited to share my roots with other Americans and Germans.

I couldn’t be more proud to come from the land of sweet tea, good manners, and football… the Southeastern United States of America. The south has been a wonderful place for me to grow up and has played a role in shaping me into the woman I am today, and for that, I am grateful.

When I travel to Freiburg, I recognize that I will be carrying all kinds of stereotypes with me because I am both an American and an American from the south. I know that the way I present myself and treat others will have a big impact on whether those stereotypes are perceived as being true or not. A famous wizard once said, “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” Though I’m sure some of my habits may be taken as being a bit strange, and though I’m sure I will find some parts of the German culture to be a bit strange to me, I aim to recognize different as being nothing more than that. Different is neither right nor wrong. Here are just a few of my aims that I hope will be recognized as coming from someone who embraces everything about her temporary, foreign home, all while having an open heart and accepting things that are different.

I aim to eat, and eat a whole bunch. I am so used to good ol’ southern comfort food. Some of my favorites include mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, fried chicken, and green beans. As much as I’m going to miss food from home, I absolutely cannot wait to try German food! Send the Schnitzel, Spätzel, and Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte my way… ASAP!!

I aim to embrace the cobblestones. As soon as I pulled up a picture of Freiburg on the internet and saw the cobblestone streets, I couldn’t have been more excited. I’ve visited a number of cities with cobblestone streets, but now I’m going to actually get to live in a place that has cobblestones. In my mind, cobblestones symbolize a city with a rich history, and I am pumped to be learning about the past that has contributed to what Freiburg is today. I also aim to try my very hardest to not trip over said cobblestones and when I do, to try and translate “oh, golly!” as best as I can while hiding my blushing face.

I aim to treat everyone I encounter with love and respect. With this mindset, I hope to make strange faces familiar ones and to build special relationships with Germans and Americans alike.

I thank Albus Dumbledore for his wise words, and though I’m no wizard competing in the Triwizard Tournament, I plan to keep them close to my heart as I experience new culture and carry my southern roots along with me as I make my way over to Germany. Here’s to hoping to find other muggles with similar aims and open hearts.