The Same, But Different

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As a conclusion to spending the weekend with my friend Lara in Germany, we went to her parents house in her hometown for their weekly Sunday lunch.   Having lunch with the Herzeigers today made me realize two things: how different,  and yet exactly the same families are in Europe as in the United States. Lara’s family is extremely welcoming, and though only her mother spoke English, I was surprised at how much is conveyed about a person without understanding what they say, in this case her stepfather and grandfather who only spoke German. It was when they began to prepare lunch that I realized how similar they are to my own family and many in the US. And so I ran to Lara’s car to grab my camera and start documenting the moment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA As Lara and her mom prepared things like potatoes, vegetables, and strawberry cake her stepfather grilled the meat 10 feet away on the back porch while her grandfather sat and enjoyed the company. Lara and her mom were eager to include me in the preparation, and I gladly joined. I felt so at home and thought, “how funny. It is such a stereotype in the U.S. for  men to grill and women to prepare the side-like stuff inside, and here I am, in Germany, and it hasn’t changed much”. Everyone helped out in a way, even the grandfather proudly brought over his own strawberry cake he had made and roses from his own garden for Lara’s mom, Barbs. Chivalry obviously exists, but here as an actual act rather than an idea. When we sat down to lunch, they joked and made fun of each other like my own family. Obviously humor is a universal thing.

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But,  during spits of German conversation in-between translations I saw how different this family was as well. Just as Mrs. Skleničková mentioned in her interview, the Herzeigers have strong roots. Family is valued in a different way. There are no secrets, everyone cares for each other a great deal, and it’s obvious.  When I spoke to Lara about why she chose to go to school in Mainz she had the same reaction as Mrs. Skleničková; it’s simple really, it’s close to her family. Perhaps several kids in the United States feel the same about their parents, but here it is true across all generations. When we arrived, Lara’s stepfather went to pick up his father.he lives near by and comes every weekend. I found the value of family incredibly genuine and comfortable, an example worth working towards.
Sure, in every country, every family has its “dynamics”, but we are merely human and we make mistakes.  I believe it is the way we chose to deal with those that makes people universal wether it be divorce, alcohol , language barriers, culture shock, whatever. It’s all the same really in retrospect. Perhaps it’s the gardens, the close spaces, the fresh food, or perhaps it’s just German culture. Whatever it may be it was a memory worth blogging.


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