Nebraska… prairie, boring, prairie, at least that’s what everyone thinks. What they don’t know is that we have over two dozen lakes (picture 1), a waterfall (picture 2), a national monument (picture 3&4), and, a staple of the Oregon trail days, chimney rock (picture 5). While we have all these and more, Nebraska is viewed as boring by the rest of the United States because it doesn’t have fancy tourist attractions or theme parks. Granted, Nebraskans do live simple lives talking by the campfire or going on long drives. However, I would like to adress the absurd rumor that says Nebraskans ride dinosaurs to school because I don’t know where that came from… (picture 6) Oh, well that’s just Sinclair the gas station dino… Okay, maybe I get it now.
Of course, Nebraska does have its culture quirks that make it unique. For example, instead of saying, “pardon me”, “sorry”, or “woops” we substitute it with an onomatopoeia type word “ope”. We use this word constantly as a form of simple communication for being polite. We also have our very own chain restaurant that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. To the rest of the world, a runza is just a cabbage burger, but to Nebraskans it is the tastiest, finest fast food restaurant. Runza has been an eating establishment since 1949, and they are famous for their one of a kind Runza ranch dressing. In fact, it is so popular that it’s common for many people in Nebraska to not like ranch because it simple “isn’t like Runza’s ranch.”
Because of this quieter way of life, our state motto, “Nebraska the good life”, is either tossed aside or taken to heart. I have grown up living in the smack-dab-middle of the United States, and let me tell you it has been splendid. Yes, it is quiet with little to do, which has taught me the value of perception and creativity. Perception is what you interpret from looking at something or someone. You could perceive someone to be boring or rude, but have you taken the time to sit down and talk to them? The answer is probably not. Many problems in life stem from the one branch of misconception, which is why it is important for people to learn from others and share what they have learned. Hence why I write and strive to look for other ways to connect people: music, art, plays, and food. All are important for communities to understand one another and not pass judgements.
With this attitude, I have chosen to spend a year in Germany through the CBYX program. I am excited to expand my knowledge of the German heritage, history, and government. Germany is rich in culture as their people have overcome a variety of obstacles like debt, poverty, division, and unification by pushing the envelope of science and engineering. They are also a big center for early musical and theatrical development, both of which are big passions in my life. I want to soak up all that I can about music, art, food, theatre, history as well as what day to day differences we may have in our lifestyles. I am thrilled to also learn about the education system and how it differs with others around the world. I am ready to push my knowledge beyond what the normal American standards for a high school diploma include.
I have been preparing for this upcoming year with the help of the CBYX by using their suggestions for German language study as well as books on culture shock. I have a subscription to Rosetta Stone, and ordered a book on German culture shock and a guide to studying abroad. I have also used some of my other resources that I have in my community by asking my German instructor for the teacher’s edition of German three and four book that I have been learning throughout the summer as well as doing the worksheets that come with it. He was also willing to give me some non-fiction books that I can translate to give me skills that will help me to interpret texts that are beyond my current German language ability. Another fun activity that has helped me is to listen to Disney songs (that I know well) with both German and English subtitles to familiarize myself with sounds and common vocabulary.
I am very grateful for this opportunity to study abroad. I want to thank everyone in the CBYX process that is searching for and selecting host families for all the students going this year. Your dedication to this program has not gone unnoticed. Thank you for doing the hard work so that we have the ability partake in this amazing experience!