Friday, September 14, 2012

Coconuts and Avocados

Jessica Smith-Salzinger (Austin College Class of '07, Double Major in German & Political Science:

"During my first few weeks studying abroad in Munich, we had an IKK (intercultural communications) class wherein one of the girls went on and on about coconuts and avocados. Being new to the city and only having met the other students in my program, I had no idea what she was talking about. But once the other German students moved into Studentenstadt (our dorm-apartments) it immediately resonated.

They say Germans are like coconuts and Americans are like avocados – stay with me here. An American, when you first meet them is incredibly smushy “Do you want to come to a party tonight?” “What are you doing this weekend?” etc. But to get into the core of friends, it normally takes several months or even years, and the pit is very small. We typically only have a few best friends, but lots of outer friends. Germans, on the other hand, are like coconuts. You can knock on someone’s door time and time again, hang out with them for weeks and are still considered a Bekannter or, acquaintance. But once you finally get through the coconut’s shell, you are in. Germans tend to have lots of good friends, most have even known each other since birth, and maintain closeness regardless of where they live or what they do.

I have never had a friend like with a German. Sure, my best friend is American, who also went to Austin College, was my suite-mate in the Jordan Language House and even studied abroad with me. But there is something incredibly different about a German friendship. Once you get through the shell, you are intensely and immediately accepted – there is no judging. If you are a friend, then you will always be a friend, no questions asked. The truth is that while living here my avocado is still incredibly smushy at first, but my pit has become as large as a coconut, and I have no doubt that where the future will take me, I will always be a bit nutty."

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