Blogpost by Rae Kehinde, current MA Alum of King’s College London in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies.
Past Study Abroad Destinatons:
Venice, San dona di Piave, Italy
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Now, I don’t want to give away my age, so I’ll just say this experience occurred when I was in high school. It was my third year and I was off to reside with a family of five in Berlin, Germany with a group of other students. The reason why my host-family was so special was that they were not ethnically German – they are Arabic.
In many ways than none, my host-family mirrored mine back in New York – the kids were first generation German, and their parents are from two different Arabic nations. And you can say my experience living with an immigrant family shaped my view of a couple things – here are my top three that still stick with me today.
1. Food: If you ask me what my favourite German dish is, I’d most likely tell you Mujaddara with baba ghanoush, or Lebanese rice with spicy lentils and yogurt. It doesn’t sound at all German because it’s not. These two meals were practically my staples. When I returned from school to come home, I came home to the culture of my host-family. It’s probably what most defines my time in Berlin.
2. Language: Hands down, I left Germany knowing more Arabic than German. Apart from watching reruns of Dr. Hala, I would hang out a lot with my host-siblings – they spoke interchangeably in German and Arabic. At home, it was Arabic. Some say it would confuse the exchange student, but I found it to be beneficial overall. Language is definitive– I was able to connect with my peers in one language, and get to know those I lived with in the other.
3. Values: I won’t say I had a split personality per say, but I was able to define the values sided with my host family and the ideals sided with my peers. At school, it was about doing your best. And at home, it was about connection and growth. For my host family, if one person accomplished something, the entire community accomplished that task. Getting to know the difference and benefits of the two helped me flourish as an exchange student.
Photo 1 – Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin
Photo 2 – At an Arabic Wedding- one is invited, ALL are invited!
Photo 3 – Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin
Photo 4 – An arcade in Berlin
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