There were of course a lot of Americans on my Copenhagen to Chicago flight, and just listening to them was strange for me. American accents truly are twangy. After a year of rounded, pure European vowels, our twang really stood out to me. Yes, I did talk to a few Americans while in Germany, such as Julie, but most of them did not sound nearly as twangy because they came from the Great Lakes region, where they tend to have a bit more rounded accents than the guy from Omaha standing in front of me at customs.
On a side note: Americans love European accents, and we find accents in general very exotic. However, in Europe it is not so novel, because all the countries are so close together, that lots of people immigrate to new countries and travel. Yes, you do notice their accents, but I think it is not quite as striking as it is in America. Maybe that's just because the area of Germany I was in is very diverse--I can't speak for the rest of the country.
Okay, now back to the airport in Copenhagen. I don't know why, but I almost felt a bit of resentment being around all those Americans. Perhaps it was because I had began to identify with being a foreigner, and I didn't feel like one around them. Or perhaps it is just because now I can understand the mundane conversations of everyone around me. I'm sure most of the Germans have equally pointless conversations, but I just didn't know. I'm not used to being able to understand everything that the people around me are saying.
After a year with a gentle lull of German in the background, which was sound oftentimes as unintelligible as listening to a river rushing by, my ears and brain felt a bit bombarded. I could not concentrate because I couldn't tune anyone out. Plus, Americans speak louder than Europeans. Not all of them, but many of them. This is where the loud American stereotype comes from, so when you t I think that might also be a bit of where the resentment was coming from, because sometimes when I would hear American travelers in Germany I would get annoyed with them too. It wasn't with everyone, but some of them were just whiny, like the majority of the tourists I saw in Paris. After listening to the Americans in Paris, I can see why people would have a bad impression of us. But that's a whole different topic.
However, now I have gotten used to hearing Americans, and I'm not annoyed. In fact, one of the things I have really been enjoying since getting back is the friendly customer service. It's nice to be able to banter with the guy checking my bags. It's also fun to be able to understand the cute things the little girl on my flight to Copenhagen said.
Every once in a while, I still expect people to be speaking German, and in general it takes me a moment to realize that they are in fact American. I feel this weird mixture of being at home here in America and being a bit removed from my surroundings. I still thank people and apologize in German and any time I hear a foreign language I automatically assume it is German. But, I already feel myself transitioning back--I don't even have jet-lag! My allergies did start kicking in during the cab ride to the airport though…
So, the majority of these observations took place in the Copenhagen airport, but trust me, I have more. I just wanted to post this before I get too overwhelmed by impressions.
I'm back in America, waiting on my plane to Memphis before going to Kansas City. I'm almost home! So, goodbye to my new friends and hello to my old ones.