medicine-induced musings from an american in stuttgart

i have been either completely out of it, in a near-delusional state of fever, completely miserable, doped-up on cough medicine, or all of the above for the past 6 days and it's given me time to think... well, about a lot of things... but i thought i would share a few things i realize that i find amusing about being an american in stuttgart.

the thing i find most amusing is that when people ask me where i am from, they have no idea where i am talking about. the conversation starts out normally enough with a polite, 'and where are you from?,' to which i almost always just respond, 'i am from the states.' the funny part is when people ask 'where specifically' i am from and i respond with 'arkansas.' now, i realize that of the places that people freely identify with in the states, arkansas is not so far up on the list, however the blank-faced stares i get in response to my answer are still pretty funny. i normally tell people that it is the state north and slightly to the east of texas, to which they respond, 'oh! you're from texas! why didn't you say so in the first place?' i am, in point of fact, originally from texas, but the family home-base is in arkansas; regardless, i still find this extremely amusing, given that it has happened to me so many times over the last year-and-a-half here.

on the same theme - there is also the issue with pronouncing 'arkansas.' apparently, most of the people i have met abroad (well, the ones that have actually heard of arkansas or seen it on a map) have learned to call it 'ar-KANSAS,' which is all fine and dandy, except that it is wrong. i have no idea why it bothers me so much that people can't get the 'arkas-SAW' pronunciation right, but it does. most of the time, when i first tell people i am from arkan-SAW they look at me like i am a total nutter, but when i pronounce the state's name incorrectly, as aforementioned, light bulbs go on and people know what i am referring to. at least they know who bill clinton is. ... well, they know about the scandal involving bill and ms. lewinsky's dress, and they somehow remember that he is from arkansas at the very least.

another thing i find, well not amusing, but strangely funny in its shear ability to annoy the living hell out of me, is the assumption that i speak no german and am therefore in constant need of a translator... simply because i am from the states. i know that my german is nowhere near perfect - and i cannot write properly in german to save my life (but am starting to work on it) - but i can speak and understand people with ease now. when i came to germany it was a completely different story but that is neither here nor there. i learned german (as in, attended a class twice a week for 8 months at a truly wonderful language school here called inlingua) so that people wouldn't have to constantly pander to me by translating all the time... only now, it seems they do it more often. i find it funny (read: ironic) that when i desperately needed someone to help me understand the language here i couldn't find hardly a soul to help me (my roommate and friends excluded) but now that i am fairly comfortable with german, i can hardly find opportunity to speak it without someone immediately changing the conversation to english. harumph.

on the other side of the coin, or pond, or what-have-you, when i am in the states and people ask me where i live, i get some pretty funny responses as well. when i tell people that i live in stuttgart (as in, shhhh-tutt-gahrt - the one in germany with a population of about 600,000 people), a surprising number of people think i mean stuttgart (as in st-UTT-gart - the one in arkansas with a population of 9,500 people).

i guess people are just funny that way.


Meghan Phillips said...

i miss you. a lot. i read this post and got all teary eyed. i don't know why... weird. i never imagined you so far away. you were always my keeper in the ville and i miss that. i miss you. did i already say that?! i wish you were here to go with me to get my tat! :( i still love my favorite homie!

ica said...

you must admit the arkanSAW-Kansas thing is not clear.... hihihi
is it really next to texas?! ;)

Joanna Goddard said...

that's so funny. most of my family is from england, and whenever i go to visit them, people will say, "where do they live in england?" i'll tell them (dorset, cornwall, etc.), and, almost every time, they'll say, "cool. is that near london?" :)