Breaking Barriers

As we’re encroaching on our first week in Germany, a great deal of time has been spent reflecting on our experiences thus far.

Darmstadt is a city full of beauty. Whether it is the different languages dancing around us, fresh pastries available daily for breakfast, market shopping for fresh food, or the excitement of being in a new country.  Although, we do face challenges on a day-to-day basis.

I definitely took for granted that the Starbucks barista in the States knows exactly what I’m referring to when I prefer my cold press coffee with non-dairy milk, and merely being able to order it correctly for that matter. Something as simple as attempting to combat jet lag posed to be an astronomical challenge for us.

Even as communication majors pride ourselves on our extensive vocabularies, knowing the proper differentiation of an “en dash vs em dash”, and perhaps having writing pieces published, all of that seems to dissipate when you’re trying to differentiate one fifteen-letter street name from another.

Not knowing which bathroom to use, how to properly prepare a veggie burger, and not being able to shoot a flirty pass at the cute waiter are also foreign concepts to us; literally.

Even personality traits such as “Minnesota Nice” have definitely been subdued on German soil, as they perceive over friendliness as a misleading personality.

We even ventured through a ropes climbing course that had us rustling through the forest, and perhaps led to one us getting stuck on a zip line (it was me), but not even knowing how to shout for “help” in German for one of the employees, was without a doubt frustrating.

As the days have passed, with the help from our wonderful advisors, we can now confidently order a small cappuccino in a language other than our mother tongue. Something so simple, has resonated as a win.  Although, it is taking time to acclimate to the cultural differences.

I think we can all say we have engrossed ourselves into a state of vulnerability.

Although as we are getting used to our new surroundings, the premise of why we’re even walking these streets comes to mind. I can’t help but wonder what it must be like for the Syrian Refugees as they entered a country so different. Luckily on our end, many Germans speak English, but how many know fluent Arabic?

How helpless a mother might feel when all she is trying to do is buy food for her family, but is unsure how to explain what they need.

Perhaps the challenges Syrian students are feeling every day, when they merely want to get an education, but are unable to communicate.

The overwhelming nature of different languages you continually hear, yet there is nothing that resembles an entity or custom that resonates with what makes you, you.

Attempting to rid their thoughts of the heinous actions they’ve seen committed against their homes, belongings, families, and loved ones—all while resettling into a new country. The mental health disparities they perhaps encounter, post war. Have you really thought about this? Like really, truly considered what the refugees are experiencing in their country that the only answer is to flee their familiarities?

This is a goal of mine for this project. Showcasing how the refugees have gotten where they are. Perhaps I’m wrong, and maybe migrating to a new country provides a sense of relief, but in order to grasp the feeling of security it must take a long time.

We have the familiarity of Starbucks that offers a glimmer of the homeland, but what do refugees have when the longing for home runs rampant?

Alexandra Pasquale
I'm Alexandra, and I am a creative individual ignited by the world around me. I enjoy storytelling with vivid imagery, personal experience, and just the right amount of quirkiness. I seek solitude in spicy curry dishes, rose gardens, and sharing a glass of cabernet sauvignon with my mom.

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