A small street near Bremen during autumn

Autumn is in full swing here with the all the wonderful colors. I absolutely love just walking around the parks. Fall in Bremen also means ‘Freimarkt,’ which is basically Bremen’s Oktoberfest. Part of it takes place in the middle of the plaza downtown, where there is a small merry-go-round, German food shops and a little Renaissance fair, surrounded by 400-year-old buildings. Then, in a huge parking lot, there is the real Freimark, with beerhalls, fair games, roller coasters, and tons of little shops selling typical German food.

Another exciting thing about autumn: U.S. elections! This past week I voted for the first time, from 5,000 miles away. Besides not seeing all the political ads, it was interesting to be so far from America for this election. Romney and Obama were on the news every day here in Germany, and if anyone knew I was from the USA, they would instantly ask me who Iím voting for.

Germany, like most all of the other countries in Europe, is a huge Obama supporter. It was interesting to talk to people outside the U.S. about the election, including the occasional old man lecturing me on how I should vote. A different person even told me it is not fair that the rest of the world doesn’t get to vote in the U.S. election, on the basis that their lives are affected, too. At first I was taken aback. Why would a person even think that way? But when you think about it, they have a ‘rational’ reason. What we choose to do in America affects the entire world. It’s not just about political relationships with other countries, either. The U.S. is such a global power; budget cuts in America have a domino effect and could lead to workers all over the world losing their jobs. When other countries study globalization, a majority of it is about America (with a little bit of China in there, too). There are even classes here just about American politics. Itís humbling to realize that European students majoring in political science know more about my own countryís politics than I do. It also reminds me how ignorant we can sometimes be about the rest of the world.

Opening fireworks of the Freimarkt Festival in Bremen

Despite the occasional ignorance, I still love America. Every day in my cultural relations class I’m reminded just how much I love and miss that diverse melting pot of American culture. I’m taking this class with people from Spain, Finland, Sri Lanka, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Brazil and the United States. It is possibly one of the most interesting classes because not only are we learning about cultural differences from personal examples, but also we can see them in our different points of view about these subjects. Just yesterday the other person from the U.S. and I were arguing with a Soviet-raised student from Kazakhstan on something as concrete as the history of WWII.

A friend from Spain came up to visit me for Freimarkt and I can’t find the words to explain how great it was literally, I cannot find the words. Learning German has really started messing with my English, especially my writing. I can still speak better than most of the people I talk to on a daily basis, so I have only noticed little German oddities creeping into my English. But after speaking American English all weekend, I came to the realization that my English vocabulary is rapidly deteriorating. I can no longer think of the words I want to use when describing anything, and theyíre not just on the tip of my tongue. They seem buried deep in my mind, beneath all this German. Just yesterday I could not think of the English for ‘registering.’ All I could think of was ‘Anmeldung.’ †So I had to translate the German word into English. Despite my failing English slowly impairing my writing, I am going to try and keep writing on this blog more often.