Friday, February 18, 2011

You're Not In Germany Anymore

My son took this picture when he went to stay with Thomas' family in Germany.
 A few years ago we hosted a German exchange student named Thomas. It went so well, in fact, that we hosted him again the next year, too. Here I thought I'd share a few of his first impressions of America as we initiated him into our culture.

Thomas arrived at the Cincinnati airport and was quite fluent in English. My son and I talked with him the whole way home from the airport and pointed out sights along the way. We probably enunciated well and made sure Thomas understood us. But when we got home, my husband greeted him with a slur of words:  howshurflight? That threw Thomas for a loop.

We grilled out hamburgers for dinner and introduced Thomas to ketchup. Do any of us really realize how much ketchup we use? Thankfully, he liked it. He liked Taco Bell even better.

We drove him to Dayton to visit the Wright-Pat Air Force Base Museum. On the way we passed the Solid Rock Church's gigantic "Touchdown Jesus" statue. We didn't even have to point that out to Thomas. We asked him whether they had anything like that in Germany. He quickly answered, "No." Proving (in my opinion) that Germans really are superior.

It happened that Thomas was here on his birthday, so we took him to a traditional German restaurant for dinner. He politely answered our questions about whether the food on the menu was authentic. He nodded. Then polka music started to play and a horrified expression crossed Thomas' face. He looked a little more carefully around the room at all the Bavarian decoration, steins, posters of castles, and lederhosen. Then he blurted out, "Is this what Americans think Germany is like?!" Well, yes. I thought we were going to make the German boy cry on his birthday. But to him, that was probably like German hosts taking Americans to a Texas roadhouse and thinking that it embodied what America is like.

But, like I said, Thomas chose to come back and stay with us again the next year, so we consider his stay with us a success.


  1. LOL! When I was an exchange student in Spain for summer, a bunch of us Americans wanted to celebrate July 4. But where could we do that? Why, TGI Friday's of course!

    Poor Thomas's experience reminded me of that. It sounds like he had a good time overall though. :)

  2. That is so funny. I was an exchange student in Germany over the 4th of July holiday and was crushed when they didn't let us celebrate. We were pretty homesick by then. But yes - what would we have even done??