The Maya Channel’s Debut Post – Welcome to Deutschland!

I have found that there are two ways to go through life – you can resist change and not leave the ‘comfort zone’ many people live in, or you can embrace the changes presented to you and begin to change yourself. I stumbled upon this realization on a plane when the man sitting beside me said very quickly “Entschuldigung, aber ich muss zum die badezimmer gehen” to which I stared at him baffled until he repeated in English, “The bathroom. I would like to use bathroom.”
I had known a little German but for whatever reason wasn’t confident enough to use it or was simply too stunned to respond in the like. When he came back to his seat, however, I said to him “es tut mir leid. Ich kann ein bischien Deusch sprechen”. He was delighted and we continued to have a conversation in English seeing as I had used up all my knowledge of German by saying “I’m sorry, I can only speak a little German.”
But I had realized that by making an attempt, no matter how small, I had changed. Not only changed and for a moment moved out of my own comfort zone, but also changed his mind and proved that I was not just some other American tourist who wasn’t going to bother to learn the language of the countries I visit.
Of course, not everyone in Germany is capable of saying, “Oh, you aren’t fluent in German yet? Ok, we can continue in English.” I figured this out on the car ride to the home of my first host family as the mom babbled on and on in this unfamiliar language looking at me for reassurance that I was keeping up, even though she barely paused when my eyes glazed over and my brain began to drip out of my ears (the art of learning German should not be attempted after an 8 hour flight). I desperately wanted to change and embrace the difficulties I am facing with the language, with the stereotypes, with the customs (I had forgotten that when ordering water at restaurants, they bring you sparkling water, not tap water and was unpleasantly surprised when my water bubbled at me).
I was not resistant to change and love a good challenge, but this was not simple. Leaving everything and everyone you know is not a simple and easy task. It is overwhelming and bewildering and scary. To anyone who says differently, they are simply ashamed that they too cried the first night for lack of a familiar bed with the familiar walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night without the help of a nightlight.
Changing is one of the scariest feelings I believe a person can experience. It is, by definition, to no longer be what it is that you have always been. To change is not to be fearless but to be so beyond scared and persevering in spite of every molecule of your body screaming for you to stop. To turn around and get back on the plane. To go home and continue in the routine you have been living in for the past x number of years. No, change is conquering the fear of losing the one person who means not only the world but the moon and the sun and stars to you because they are changing too.
Change is life. And you can either embrace it no matter how many times if knocks you down and makes you cry or close your eyes and cover your ears convincing yourself that this will all be over soon. And for those who choose the latter, you’re right, it will be over soon.

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