The W Curve

Trip Start Aug 31, 2009
1
4
16
Trip End Jan 08, 2010


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Flag of Germany  ,
Tuesday, September 8, 2009

There is a theory we learn in cross-cultural management called the W Curve.  It basically states that when faced with culture shock a person will generally experience a "W" - shaped range of emotions: initial elation and excitement about the new experience (the top of the W), frustration with and rejection of the new culture (the first trough of the W), acceptance, enjoyment of, and integration into the new culture (the middle of the W), anxiety and culture rejection upon returning to the home country (the second trough), and lastly, acceptance of and integration into the home country's culture, or the US for us.  While a person would normally experience the W-Curve over a period of weeks or even months, I am convinced we go through the W daily.  The AMAZING, BREATHTAKING architecture of just the neighborhood we live in, let alone all over Berlin, make me so excited and grateful to be here.  The array of cafe's, shops, and "big city" conveniences (museums, zoo's, theaters, highly efficient public transportation) thrill me.  The way German's generally push their way in front of or through you in a way that would get an "F-you" in the states irritates me.  The random public urination and the two children I've seen defecating on the sidewalks in the last three days is unsettling.  And I will NEVER get used to buying eggs in the grocery store unrefrigerated.  That being said, I am so glad we're here having this experience, I wouldn't trade it for the world and I look forward to what every new day brings.  Everyday I think about how I'm getting used to the German way of life and how it will be an adjustment, however minor, to come back the US...and that, my friends, is the W curve.
Today we had an awesome day, the weather was beautiful and it was actually hot, a first since we've been here.  We took the train into the central part of Berlin called many things, Potsdamer Platz, Unter den Linden, Tiergarten, just because there are so many sights to see in this small area, but today we focused on two: the Brandenburg Gate (or Brandenburger Tor) and the Reichstag.  The Brandenburg Gate was once the toll gate on Berlin's western boundary, today it symbolizes the reconciliation of the Eastern and Western portions of Berlin.  The Reichstag is Germany's parliament building and, like most of Berlin, is beautiful and was created with phenomenal attention to detail.  The Reichstag has been partially rebuilt over the years due to the destruction it suffered during the war, but the big deal today is the dome in the center.  You go all the way up to the top of the Reichstag where you can see down inside the chamber, literally looking over the politician's shoulders as they work, it is significant to the German people as it represents democracy.  Right outside of the Reichstag is where a portion of the Berlin Wall used to stand, which is where a small, makeshift memorial was erected honoring those who died in that area trying to cross the wall.  It is unfathomable to think just 20 years ago Berlin was a very, very different place.  It was a sobering, moving, amazing experience that we will not soon forget.  We hope to go back to this area of town soon and check out the Holocaust Memorial and walk down Unter den Linden (which translates to "Under the Linden Trees").  For now it's time for dinner (it's a bit of a challenge to cook in a kitchen the size of a closet with two burners and a microwave - oh, and a mini-fridge) but we will persevere, let's just hope whatever we bought at the grocery store yesterday was chicken. :) - C.F.
P.S. We got our electronic convertor fixed, our unreasonably helpful landlord helped us out!
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Comments

trishawindham
trishawindham on

Hello
I adore you. That's for keeping us up-to-date on your goings on!

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