After completing a ten-week summer internship in Washington, D. C., I’d like to think that I can go anywhere and not look like a tourist. I thought wrong. The day after Christmas I, along with several other students and a few faculty from across Kentucky, boarded a plane to begin an adventure – an adventure that would take us from Munich, Germany, to Paris, France.
The most frequent piece of advice any American is given by a person who has travelled abroad is to avoid jet lag by sleeping during the flight. On our nine hour and thirty minute flight, I was able get a solid one hour and fifteen minutes of sleep. Exhausted, I disembarked to begin my adventure by telling the customs officer that I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing while in Munich. Tourist Move #1.
Despite my response, I made it through customs and collected my luggage. In order to get to our hotel, we had to take an S-Bahn from the airport. Again, I thought my knowledge and mastery of the D. C., Metro was going to make this mode of transportation unchallenging. However, the German train stops are written in German, not English. I soon realized that it would be best just to follow the crowd and to not offer any suggestions. Tourist Move #2.
Thankfully, I was not the one in charge of getting the group from Point A to Point B, and soon we arrived at Marienplatz to trek with our luggage through the streets of Munich to our hotel. There were only a few small problems. I was not prepared for how breathtaking the Müchen architecture and sights are. The historic buildings with red tile roofs, the ancient towering cathedrals and churches, and the broad cobblestone streets were enough to force me to stop and stare. I wanted to take in as much as possible, so much so that I would often stop in the middle of the street with the huge suitcase and become hideously in the way of locals and other tourists. Tourist Move #3.
My name is Alexa, and I’m a tourist. However, if most people were honest, they’d probably share similar stories about their first times in a new city or country. While we try to immerse ourselves in the culture of the place we are visiting, part of the fun is doing the tourist-y things and visiting the tourist-y attractions. Getting a little lost trying to find something or occasionally standing right in the middle of the way to get a good picture sometimes make great stories and even better memories. Being a tourist is worth it.
To make the process a little smoother and more enjoyable, learn how to say “please” (“bitte”), “thank you” (“danke”), and “I don’t speak German” (Ich spreche kein Deutsch”). Pronounce them to the best of your abilities with a smile on your face, and you’ll be just fine.
Eastern Kentucky University
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