Morelos, Sebastian

Name: Sebastian Morelos
Location of Study: Germany
Program of Study:
Sponsors: Kelley Tuthill

13 thoughts on “Morelos, Sebastian

  1. During the connecting flight to Munich I met a really friendly Turkish woman, about 25 years old, who said she was traveling to meet her brother here in Munich. The friendly woman offered me a ride from her brother to the city center. I was really flattered, but also cautious. I had not come to Munich before first attending tons of pre-departure meetings at Notre Dame, all telling me that I should be prepared for what seemed like scenarios from the thriller movie “Taken”. However, my new acquaintance’s personality won me over. This was my first experience in Munich and already it seemed shrouded in danger. We met her brother at a car parked a couple of meters away from the airport in an area where parking was prohibited. He apparently was a taxi driver; he had a scruffy beard and was a little overweight and he seemed about middle aged. They must not be exactly related then, because the ages did not make sense, I thought now really starting to doubt the truthfulness of the friendly woman’s story. Nevertheless, my heart beating and I not able to understand their conversation in Turkish about what I imagined must be a plan to mug me at best, I got in the car. A short while later I was in Munich’s city center. I was safe. This was my first experience in Germany, a country home to a large Turkish minority. I admit that as soon as I saw the guy’s appearance and the car in a desolate parking spot I cringed and began to pray, but I was trusting and it payed off. The friendly woman and I soon became Facebook friends. My first experience in Germany was not with a German and it was not in German. I thought about this for the next few days; what I should have done in case that it would have been a mugging and about the often economically disadvantage Turkish minority living in Germany and how I was so quick to judge them and become scared based on a stereotype(there is a large Turkish minority in Germany comprised mainly of migrant workers who are often not payed very well and often do not speak German very well). My first experience in Germany opened my eyes to a diverse, complicated Germany very different from the clean, methodical, largely homogeneous place that I had imagined. After my first week, I am probably the very opposite of disappointed that the Germany I encountered was not the straight laced, simplified Germany that I had expected. Although I do not want to make this into a didactic tale, I did get another lesson from this experience, that taking chances and maybe not adhering to a straight laced plan in order to take a risk is part of traveling. I’m not saying that taking a ride from a stranger was the smartest thing, or that I am just going to chuck the traveling horror stories and advice Notre Dame gave me out the window, but that maybe life, no, now its becoming too general and clich├ęd, that maybe my time in Germany should not be a coffee cup from Starbucks with redundant warning labels but a DIY project complete with all the mistakes and successes of taking a little bit of risk. I am really happy that I got this opportunity to take these risks all while learning German and German culture and I hope to be able to post more exciting stories in the coming weeks!

  2. Munich prides itself on the culture of the city and the culture it offers in many different forms and venues. It is a great opportunity to experience the museums and historic landmarks this city has to offer. On Sundays, the entry to a museum costs 1 euro. Therefore, so far, my Sundays in the city have consisted of learning German at the museums. And this is exactly one of the reasons I applied for the grant. During the week I practice grammar at the Goethe Institute but vocabulary is something else; it is no use for me to study lists of words and try to memorize them. To see German words and read about different artists and the context they created their works and the different historical periods that influenced their work all in German at a world-class museum is an insane way to learn vocabulary. Of course while I was enjoying the Pinakotheks or the Brandhorst I didn’t think of vocabulary; but there is no need to, when I was surrounded by the works of Picasso or Rembrandt or Rubens or even Warhol it is hard to forget a specific word because there is so much context behind it.

  3. I completed one of the journaling assignments. I asked several people about their attitudes towards the United States. I had the opportunity to meet an interesting woman in my class from Milan. I mentioned Berlusconi and I expected to receive a very negative reaction. Watching and reading American news, I expected some mention of his womanizing ways or perhaps of the corruption that supposedly plagued his administration. However, she became very adamant in defending him, despite the fact that he is currently in prison. The conversation was very detailed but, in short, I understood that the stereotype of American news is one of bias and half-truths. I later spoke to another Italian and he had a very different opinion about Berlusconi; but, he had the same opinion of the American news. I think this issue is important because, currently attitudes about the mainstream American news organizations are at an all time low even in the U.S., especially in response to the reporting of the George Zimmerman trial. Then, I met this really suave Swedish guy; blonde hair combed back James Dean style; his voice, sort of baritone, slow and deliberate. Although the Obama administration’s healthcare reform includes many points, the conversation revolved around the “socialized” healthcare system which is prevalent in most advanced and wealthy countries in Europe. He acknowledged that taxes are high in Sweden; but, he was 100% in support of their system. I was very much surprised because I assumed that high taxes discourage ingenuity, innovation, and development; I thought that high taxes are the archenemy of industry and capitalism. He tried to debunk this inverse relationship between high taxes and innovation by explaining to me that Sweden has more Nobel laureates than the United States, that hard work was a staple in their culture, and that Sweden enjoys a much less disparaged wealth allocation. This conversation all happened over a beer in a very shady and relaxing beer garden, in which we all arrived courtesy of Munich’s world-class public(payed for by taxes) transportation system. However, he did acknowledge several problems with the system in Sweden. For example, because of the high quality of life, there are many immigrants to the country and that means a strain on the taxpayer. But he says that Sweden must accept immigrants because as a wealthy nation it has a certain responsibility towards other poorer countries. He perceives the U.S. to be a hard country to live in because of all the competition and equated life to be ruled by the “law of the jungle”.

  4. Today was my last class at the Goethe Institute. It is unreal that my stay in Germany is almost to an end. It is sad because I don’t know if I will ever see the friends I made while here. But it is also ridiculous to complain; I know I had the great opportunity to stay, and learn in one of the best cities in the world. After the last bell rang and the course was officially over we headed to a beer garden, no surprise of course because I’m in Bavaria, and we all enjoyed a last drink and conversation together, instructor included. I think that my german is at a level that I did not think would be achievable by the end of the course, and that’s good but that is little consolation to the nostalgia that this place will later be sure to inspire. I have a couple of new good friends and I can speak better German, I have tons of pictures and so many new stories for my friends at the dining hall table once classes start again at Notre Dame.

  5. It has been a little more than a week since I flew back to Texas and got to enjoy my mom’s cooking again. Needless to say, I enjoyed my time in Germany. A lot. I am really happy with the amount of progress I made with German in terms of vocabulary acquisition, the improvements I noticed in my ability to better understand spoken German, and in the progress I have made in conversing in German. My confidence when talking in German, which was certainly lacking when I arrived, was definitely on display during my last few days in Germany. I do not want to lose any of the progress I made with the language so I have made several efforts to continue to think about certain things in German now that I have arrived. I try to read at least one article a day on the internet in German and to watch a video in German on youtube. Also for my vocabulary, I try to learn a few words each day and plan on testing my self after every week on these words in order to measure my progress. I really think that my stay in Germany was essential in my language advancement; so, I am grateful for the grant. These opportunities are the things that I think set Notre Dame apart. Back here in the States, I look forward to getting back to campus and seeing where I am at with German in a classroom setting.