Preparing for my journey was synonymous with preparing my stomach for four months of meat, cheese, and bread. In the German classes I've taken, we've learned that the typical diet of a German consists of these three categories. Now, I like a turkey and american cheese on wheat as much as the next person, but I don't think that's what the Germans have in mind. I've heard so much about the different types of Wurst from regions all around the country, and with every picture of these brownish-purplish meat products, my stomach turns. Germany also has hundreds of types of bread, so that's good, but I don't want to be eating bread all the time either. Cheese? I can take it or leave it. Smelly cheese? Definitely leave it. I've also heard that they don't have peanut butter in Germany. How can a modern country exist without this delicious substance? I'm bringing my own tub of Smart Balance Peanut Butter. Make that two tubs.
While peanut butter is arguably the most important thing in my suitcase, I've also packed several pounds of clothes, shoes, and books. I've heard that the weather in Germany is milder than at the 'Gheny, so I've packed more summery and transitional fall clothing. I'm planning on layering. I've also heard that it barely snows in Köln, which is a welcome change from Meadville.
The expectations I have about German food and weather are easier to describe than my expectations of the people. I've heard so many conflicting traits to describe Germans. I've heard that they are more racist than Americans, and religiously bigoted too, especially against the increasing Muslim population from Turkey and other countries. On the other hand, I've heard that they are also more liberally-minded. Their extensive social benefits, which are paid for by taxes, make America's social benefits pale in comparison. For example, Germany allows either parent to stay home with young children for three years with a guaranteed job waiting for them. In America, staying home with children is either a full-time job reserved for one parent, or is a couple of weeks of maternity or paternity leave, and then a return to one's job. Another example of the social benefits in Germany is the university system, practically free to students, paid for through taxes. College in America is so unbelievably expensive, that many would-be students cannot afford to go. The system of taxing in Germany provides a more equal distribution of wealth, and ultimately benefits the entire society. Sounds pretty good to me.
Those are most of the expectations I have about my host-country. I'm really excited to spend three and a half months there! I'll post again soon!