Cynthia Meng ‘15
Max Planck Institute for Informatics
Before I came to Germany, I remember telling myself that these three months would change my life because I would finally get a chance to live on my own and be by myself for a change. After nineteen years of either living under my parents’ roof or sleeping under Harvard’s, I relished the chance to seize my independence. Cook for myself. Work by myself. Travel by myself.
It’s a fantasy I like to play out in my head — the lone traveler, surviving on her own wits and skill. Looking back, though, I realize that I’ve in fact survived here in spite of my so-called wits and skill, constantly saved by the kindness of people around me. Nothing puts you at the mercy of others like being in a foreign country does. You depend on others entirely to show you what is custom and what is not, to give you directions in the seedy part of town after you’ve taken a wrong train, to tell you how to speak like you’re not just coming out of a first-year German class.
A short thing I wrote for OCS about my summer in Germany.