Monday, January 4, 2010

Ankunft in Saarbrücken

[ Arriving in Saarbrücken ]

Feeling a bit unorganized through the hectic previous evenings of the holidays, my suitcase was packed and I gave Inge and Andreas big hugs and a wished a Gute Reise to Moritz and I was then on my own separate way to the train station. I was traveling back to Saarbrücken to visit the Weber family for a few days and also spend New Years there. I should have thought out the circumstances first before booking a train ticket – and following suit with my frugal nature abroad, finding the cheapest ticket available, meaning no reserved seat – especially on a train two days after Christmas that had Paris as a final destination of the train. Unfortunately this resulted in me standing and balancing my suitcase against the others for the 5 hour journey – you learn as you go I guess.

The trip was not completely a pain however. There were some surprises. Being a train traveling to Paris the cars were filled with conversations in German and French, but then I heard some Japanese?...

Sumimasen, Sumimasen

Sankyuu for yora kindness.

This very cute elderly Japanese couple was trying to push though the crowd of people and suitcases to get to their seats, but they were speaking Japanese and what I assume is the little English that they know [which I noticed was also not so helpful on this particular train]. My mp3 player was starting to repeat some music and the German scenery out the window could only entertain for a few hours, so I brought together some outgoing courage and went and politely asked - ちょっとすみませんですが、日本のしゅうしんはどこですか?Excuse me, but I was wondering where you came from in Japan.

Now I think I can use this chance to jot a little observation about Japanese people amongst this blog of German impressions. Normally this abrupt surprise of a western teenager just randomly speaking Japanese takes a Japanese person by surprise and they respond being very shocked or shy. This couple – they came from Okinawa – and that made a big difference. I have a few unique connections to Okinawa – I have never been there, but that is where my Japanese Sensei comes from as well as my host brother Shinya! Okinawa is a small Japanese island closer to Taiwan than mainland Japan, and the people are extremely warm and open.

The couple didn’t even double take that I came to talk with them, just followed along with the pleasant conversation. They were excited to hear that I knew people in Okinawa and came from the states learning Japanese – they were visiting friends in Germany and taking the train to Paris to celebrate Oshogatsu – Japanese New Years – with friends there. The conversation really made my day, and on top of all of this, I got the man’s business card with his email to keep in touch, and if I am ever in Okinawa – to send them a message and visit! I must say that it is little experiences like this that make traveling fun.

Returning to Saarbrücken was a unique feeling. For one, the city was covered in a fresh layer of snow – strange from leaving the city in the temperate late summer/ early fall season. I had been away from there longer than my visit there was initially was there in the first place – I lived there two months, and I have been in Göttingen almost three now. Stefan and Klara picked me up, and upon arrival at the house – walking through the door yelling “I’m home!” all the pieces began to fall back to place. I didn’t realize how strange the French influenced Saar-accent would sound to me now after speaking northern Hochdeutsch – the “perfect” German, but it was nice to be back in touch with so many memorable personalities that I missed since settling into my new life in the North.

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