Friday, August 20, 2010

A Stranger in a Strange Land, or Deutsch and Narcolepsy

Tevye: As Abraham said, "I am a stranger in a strange land... "
Mendel: Moses said that.
Tevye: Ah. Well, as King David said, "I am slow of speech, and slow of tongue."
Mendel: That was also Moses.
Tevye: For a man who was slow of tongue, he talked a lot.

Having been in Germany for a few days, I'm finally starting to sleep normally. My travel took me on Sunday from Salt Lake City to Atlanta, and then on to Munich - and unfortunately, I've grown a little to much to be able to sleep any more in coach seats on airlines. (Note to self: fly first class in the future.) That means that the first night I was here I slept more than 12 hours, and I've averaged 12 hours a night every subsequent evening.

I think part of it comes down to how much there is to see and experience here which is unfamiliar. From silly things like noticing different brands of jeans to different foods and even different facial expressions people wear as they're walking down the street, there are a lot of small social differences between Germany and the US. More importantly, there's that whole language problem.

You see, in America there's english and there's the south, but even silly people who chose to grow up in places like Texas and Alabama use words that the rest of us understand. In Germany, we're not so lucky. I served my mission in Hamburg, and for the most part german in the northern part of the country is very clean and easy to understand. Here in the south I'm running into dialects of german called "Schwabisch" and "Frankisch" that don't even resemble what I know as german when the speakers are too intensely involved in their dialect speaking. Yesterday I went to Legoland with my aunt, uncle and cousins (more on that later, be very excited for pictures) and there were a few times I turned to my aunt and asked if people around me were even speaking german!

There was a study conducted by Harvard* which determined that increased sleep needs are almost directly proportional to the amount of new learning someone is undertaking. And given that I'm now speaking the highest percentage of german I ever have in my life (at least 98% a day is now german) and I'm seeing and experiencing all these new things, it's no wonder that I've been awfully tired. It makes me feel like Moses. But now the sun is shining and we're about to go 'make circuit trainings' at the local Fitness-Centre, and I think things are going to be just fine.

Besides which, Germany freaking rocks.

*I made that up.

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