If I was ever planning to start a life of crime, tonight would be the ideal night to begin. I have the perfect opportunity.
I’m not sure how much crime there is to be done here, as I’m in some podunk town in the German countryside that has literally one street. We are in the middle of nowhere where no one speaks English, which is challenging but also pretty cool. Our hotel is this small building with winding hallways and one-person elevators, and I’ve already gotten lost (which is strange because, as I said, the building is small). Finding my room (24) was a huge challenge in the first place, as there are only five-ish rooms per hallway scattered in a system that I’ve yet to figure out. When I got to room 24, I used my key (a literal metal key. Like a house key) to get into the room. Imagine my surprise when the bed was unmade and some guy’s clothes were strewn all about the room! Ahhh! Someone was clearly already staying in there. I shut the door quickly and headed back downstairs. Luckily, our group leader was still there. He was able to explain my situation to the hotel attendant, who understood and went to find me a new key for a new room. My leader told me she was handling it and left for his own room. When the lady came back out, she handed me a key and said something in German. I looked back at her dumbly, trying to see if I could understand any part of what she said. To my delight, our new German guide who I met an hour ago came out of nowhere and sprung to my rescue with a “Sie sprechen nicht Deutch” (she doesn’t speak German). The lady looked a little flustered and repeated what she had just said to me again in German. This is like when Americans speak slowly and loudly and think foreigners will suddenly understand them. Newsflash: THAT DOESN’T WORK! I looked to my new guide, felt very small and idiotic, and asked, “Umm…what’s happening?” He looked a bit confused as well and started talking to the hotel lady. Finally he said to me, “She doesn’t have a key for your new room, so she’s giving you the master key to all of the rooms. She says to make sure that you don’t lose it and please only use it to get into room 10.”
Is that even legal? Can you imagine the liability that would spawn from that situation in America? She’s just handing a random foreigner the MASTER KEY to the hotel? Also, does she understand my propensity for losing everything?! No, of course she doesn’t. That’s why the key is sitting on my nightstand and I am absolutely determined not to lose it. At least I can’t lock myself out of my room, as I need the key to physically lock the door behind me. I CANNOT LOSE THIS KEY (stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog post, titled “What Happened When I Lost the Key.” Ha ha).
Arriving in this tiny town came at the end of another full day. My favorite part of today by far was visiting an all-girls’ Realschule (mid-level school). Students in Germany are far more forward and talkative than the students in Japan, so we got to talk about a lot of things. One of my favorite conversations was when I was talking to a group of about five girls (all fluent in English, as apparently all teenagers here are). I asked about bullying in their school and if the students get along well. They nodded their heads yes and said, “Yes, everyone is nice. We are all friends.” Come on, people. I teach junior high. I know there are cultural differences and whatever, but that is just not true. I lowered my eyes, gave the girls a look, and said, “Come on…really?” They gave each other a look and apparently all decided they could level with me. They all spoke at once in a rush of, “No way! Girls are so mean! There’s always one girl in every class who thinks she’s the best at everything, and she gets a posse of girls to be with her and be mean to everyone else. And all of the girls talk about each other behind each other’s backs and get into fights and stuff.” Then one girl piped in at full volume with “Yeah, and there are bitch fights all the time.” I looked startled (again with the swearing in front of teachers), and one of the girls said to her friend, “Hey! I don’t think you’re supposed to say that! That’s a strong word in America!” Haha. Yes. Strong word. Anyway, we talked for a while, and I got the real story on the social life at an all-girls’ school. It sounds basically like American junior high girls – they’re mostly evil to each other.
We took a tour of the outside of their building, which was built to be a Hitler Youth Center in the late 1930s. At one point a boy rode by on his bicycle, and one of the girls pointed and said, “LOOK! A BOY!” All of the girls turned to stare at him. I literally laughed out loud. I’m not sure how the male principal of that school handles the vast amounts of estrogen from his 1000 students, but he deserves a medal or something.
I’ve got to get to bed, as I’m planning to get up early and finally go for a run tomorrow. I’ve been nervous about running in cities by myself, but this isn’t a city. It’s a village at best. I’m going to be running past cows. Plus, I feel like the crime rate is pretty darn low if they hand out master keys to their hotels all willy nilly. Gute Nacht!