I wanted to get one post in before leaving for Germany… but I didn’t. Still, I think this is a good way to begin my blog – a few thoughts about expectations of two important but different types: what readers can expect from this blog, and what I expect from this project. Since the ol’ writing skills are a bit rusty, let’s deal with the easy one first, that is, the first one, since that’s easy.
The posts here will be concise. Posts will be 400-600 words in length, unless some exceptional circumstance demands shorter or lengthier description. I like this limit because it encourages me, as a writer, to make every word count, and it allows you, as a reader, to enjoy my posts in roughly 5-10 minutes. I become a better writer, you become not-bored – everyone wins.
Posts will also be thoughtful and insightful. I will not be vomiting stream-of-consciousness blank verse poetry on my audience. I’ve got a whole personal journal for that, and even its single audience member often walks away feeling a bit foolish and confused. My hope is to use this blog to highlight interesting events, ideas, and encounters that happen during my stay in Germany. Many of those things will be German. Others won’t be German at all. But either way, when you come to this blog, you can expect well-polished, clear, and maybe even challenging posts.
Though I haven’t decided how far I’m going to take it, at least a few posts will include other forms of media. Songs, pictures, videos, maybe even a shameful weblog or two will accompany a few of posts. Generally, I’ll let my mood and my subject determine what I choose to use, but I’ll always try to use other media as a supplement, not as filler.
That’s what you, as a reader, can expect. Though I’m sure I’ll depart from these rules a few times, I’m going to try to stick by them. Now, the more interesting part – my expectations for the project.
I designed this trip to be almost the opposite of my first trip to Germany. One could say that, during my trip to Berlin last summer, I went as a tourist only. Being a tourist is great because you don’t have any real responsibilities. You spend most of your time with English-speakers, and even the foreigners you meet in bars or restaurants will speak English, so you don’t have to learn the native language. And since you rarely have a rigid, regular schedule, you can stay out late, get drunk (of course, never on a Belmont trip), sleep in, eat expensive food, and buy stupid shirts and mementos. Now, make no mistake: I enjoyed my touristy time in Berlin. But I wanted this trip to be different.
When I reflected on my trip to Berlin, I realized that when you travel as a tourist, you remain somewhat aloof to the country you’re visiting. That’s why this time I wanted to live with a German family in a smaller town, and spend a much longer period of time in Germany. Under these conditions, I’ll actually be able to acclimate myself to my surroundings. It will give me a chance to make Germany a part of me, and by learning the language and living “with the natives,” I’ll finally have the chance to see what it’s like to be a German.
So that is my expectation: to live with Germans, explore their country, learn their language, and see what Germany has to offer. And while I expect to learn a few things about myself and the country I come from, I don’t expect any dramatic or radical changes in my personality. I think too many people go abroad, hoping for some mysterious answer to all of their problems, hoping that if they have some wild adventure they’ll turn into someone new. But those people are tourists. They don’t understand themselves, and they never give themselves a chance to understand the country they’re in. I know this because I tried it once, and found it unsatisfying. So I suppose my secondary expectation is to see how much I really change over the course of my project.
So there you have it. Both types of expectations explained. Feel free to ask relevant questions or make relevant comments. However, I will be moderating comments, so if you want to see your comment on the post, make it earnest, heartfelt, or hilarious.
Until next time,
P.S. – Meet Scumbag Derek