Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What up, Germany?


Monday, May 21

I’m currently sitting at Gate B26 in the Frankfurt airport, or Fraport, as all the signs call it. And I have a bone to pick with all of you, dear readers.

Why didn’t anybody tell me that the German language is so cool? I love listening to this foreign tongue. I’ve never had much exposure to it and it’s really interesting. The only words I knew beforehand were “Gutentag” and “Danke.” It’s the afternoon, but I keep trying to use “danke.” If I’m only going to know a few words, I’m glad they are words I can use to express my gratitude for the opportunity to spend a few hours in a new country.

I also love the German people. Again, I haven’t met many in the States, and I like them. My favorite so far has been a Fraport employee at security who was directing people into lines. He was the most cheerful and boisterous airport employee I’ve ever seen. He joked and laughed with a shy Iranian boy behind me in line and managed to make the rather morose kid crack a smile. Much nicer than TSA employees.

By the way, the Avengers are all over this airport. Makes sense, as they do fight He of the Ridiculous Helmets in Germany, and it’s a German man who has one of my favorite lines in the film.

The 10-hour flight was okay. I seem to remember feeling like it was very long while I was actually on the plane, but now it barely feels like any time has passed at all. I had the best airplane food I’ve ever experienced in my life, and I’ve flown quite a bit, if I do say so myself. I declined the chicken or pasta for the vegetarian dish – delicious Indian food with a butterscotch brownie. How did they know that Indian is my favorite? So kind of them.

Unfortunately, I spent a great deal of time warring with the video screen in the back of the seat in front of me. Granted, they’re useful to pass the time with movies and television shows, although I’d already seen the majority of the movies, and the ones I hadn’t seen are in that category because I don’t want to see them. I enjoyed a few clever episodes of The Big Bang Theory and suffered through a disappointingly base commentary on infidelity in How I Met Your Mother which removed much of my desire to pursue those plot lines any further. But my screen was broken so that I couldn’t change the settings, which meant I couldn’t lower the brightness or even turn the stupid thing off, so both my neighbor and I spent ten hours bathed in glaring, bright blue light, sometimes showing a picture of our tiny plane over a big, grey Atlantic ocean with tiny cartoon waves. Needless to say, it grew a bit annoying and made it very difficult to rest. Plus, I’m just indignant that I couldn’t figure the thing out. I hate admitting defeat, especially to inanimate objects.

I’ve already made several acquaintances on my journey. On the plane I befriended the young German business professor who sat next to me. She spoke four languages and has lived all over the world. We bonded by commiserating together over our long flight, our affinity for The Big Bang Theory, observations on the use of stereotypes in Glee and their relevance to marketing, the failings of American school systems and health care services, Latino immigrant populations in the South, a shared interest in Asian cultures, and an appraisal of the merits of France. I forgot her name, but I liked her. She’ll be going to Stanford in two weeks; I wish her the best and hope she likes Cali.

Additionally, I met a sweet young mother traveling with her preschool-age son to India and helped the little boy with his Transformers suitcase. I just want to note that if I can’t have a Zambian baby, I would like an Indian one, please. Or the Japanese toddler sitting across from me babbling incoherently to strangers. I’ll take him, too.

Basically, although traveling on my own is exciting and full of new and interesting challenges, it’s a bit lonely, so I’m basically talking to anyone who will make eye contact with me. I appear to have terrified a young Japanese woman with my hapless efforts to help her understand the strange, complicated process of drying your hands in a German bathroom. She looked at me in horror, apologized in broken English, and fled. Oops. My bad.

I’m trying to appear more like a cosmopolitan student well versed in travel and international cultures instead of the ignorant American teenager that I am, but I’m not sure it’s working. I’ve made a few beginner’s mistakes, one of them so dumb that there is no way I am repeating it here. Trust me, you’d laugh, shake your head, scold me for being careless, and then agree that only I am capable of such commonsenselessness. Oh well. I get points for trying, at least. And for inventing a new word just now.

I’ve got another seven hours in this airport. My computer says I have full Internet access, but don’t believe it. It’s lying, and I can’t get on Facebook to post a witty status about being in Germany. I’m pretty tired and am having a hard time remembering things and doing math – as in, more so than usual – but if I can manage to stay awake for this layover, I will be in sync with Central Africa Time and hopefully won’t suffer from any serious jet lag. Obviously, you’ll be reading this much later than when I wrote it, but lookie there, I just killed thirty minutes.

Catch ya later!

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