German Dinner Party

 

German Dinner Party What Happened and Why?


Location: Freiburg, Germany
Student: Female, 21



The first week we were studying in Germany, a friend of mine, Devin, decided to host a dinner for her new German flat-mates. She thought this would give them a chance to get to know each other better and discuss household duties. Cooking a basic Italian meal for dinner, spaghetti, she invited everybody to come at 8:00 pm.

Slowly the flat-mates began to come home, the first arriving at 7:55 and the last coming home at around 8:15. They sat down; she served up their plates, and conversation seemed pleasant. She eventually met all five of her new roommates: three German guys, one German girl, and a US-American girl. They discussed where each of the Germans were from in the country, from Berlin to Munich to Freiburg, and the two American girls showed great interest in seeing each of their home towns, meeting their families, and visiting their homes. The Americans commented on what a great opportunity their roommates could be in discovering German culture.

The discussion veered toward what each was studying, how they liked the university, and, since neither of the American girls spoke German, they asked how well each of their German flat-mates could speak English. The Germans also asked many questions about the States and whether it was like what they had seen on TV. They wanted to know the Americans' first impressions of Freiburg, and the differences they could see between the US, and Germany. The American girls complimented Germany a great deal saying how much cleaner it was than the US and how it was almost like living in a fairytale village. The girls also described their two very different hometowns in the US, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Seattle, Washington.

They spoke fondly of their respective hometowns, especially Devin, as she tried to dispel the myths of the uninteresting Midwest. She invited the Germans to come visit her when they had the chance to travel to the US so they could stay with her and meet her family and friends. The others just nodded and smiled while continuing on with their meals.

As the night wore on, Devin was complimented on her cooking, and the big pot of spaghetti she had made was nearly gone. The six eventually divided up the household chores. They also decided it would probably be a good idea to have monthly or bimonthly roommate gatherings to keep up on what one another was doing. At about 10:00 pm all had retired to their rooms except for the two American girls who stayed to wash the dishes.

Devin and her American roommate thought the dinner had gone very well and that their German flat-mates would soon become good friends. However, the Germans remained rather distant and aloof after the dinner and generally things did not turn out as the girls had had hoped. 

Why not?

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