Friday, August 2, 2013

On Growing Up in Germany

As pretty much everyone who knows me knows, I grew up in Germany.
I moved there when I was just months old and lived there until I was nearly 10. I grew up going to German schools with German friends and doing gymnastics afterward, with German teammates and coaches.

This is actually not very typical, since most Americans who move to Germany usually go because one or both parents are stationed there in the military. Often they will go to international schools, where they study in English, and will therefore not learn German.

Not me. I learned German at the same time I was learning English. All my friends were German and couldn't really speak any English at all. Where I lived, our family used English as a Geheimsprache, or secret language.

That's why it always catches me off-guard when people ask me if I speak German. My usual answer is, "Yeah...I lived there for 10 years." And then I'll be reminded that most people are expecting military kids who usually don't speak it very much. Sure, some do, but a lot don't. The second thing people tell me that catches me off-guard is, "Whoa, that's so cool!" and things like that. I never really know how to respond to that question. Here's my reasons why:

        1. I grew up there. That was my life.
        2. I don't know what it's like to grow up as an American. I always considered myself more Euro-kid.
        3. I was completely surrounded by Germans so I don't notice anything "so cool" about it. They're just people, like you and me.
        4. Since I speak German, I don't think there's anything cool or strange about how it sounds. I don't know how it sounds to non-German speakers because I never didn't know German.
        5. To me, being a MCK (multi-cultural kid) is normal. I have no idea what it's like to just be from one country completely. To me, being in Germany was a normal childhood. I don't know what a "normal childhood" constitutes for non-MCKers.

I don't know if I'm explaining it exactly how I mean it, but I can't think of another way to put it. It's just, to me, being raised in Germany seems normal because that was my life. To others, being raised however they were raised seems normal to them because that was their life. You see what I mean?

There is no one standard for what's normal. So what might seem way-out-there-awesome to someone is completely normal to someone else, and vice-versa.

Just rambling...that was just something I observed that I wanted to share my feelings on.

1 comment:

  1. "We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented." Christof, the Truman Show.