I am spoiled. The people that I come from (my home country – the U.S.A.) are also spoiled. This concept is reinforced nearly every day in most of my classes here in Germany.

The classes that I take are geared toward infrastructure systems for developing nations (e.g. a large portion of the world and its inhabitants), and many of my fellow classmates are representatives from these developing areas.

So the running joke is that the U.S. is number 1 … number 1 for the most wasteful clean water users, number 1 in power consumption per capita, number 1 in waste generators. Well, now … isn’t that lovely. So what if we (my representative country) water lawns with drinkable water, fill swimming pools, take long showers, have pre-packaged everything, and have 18 different electronic devices/appliances running at one time per room. Oh yeah, the U.S. is an urban sprawl master (which is not necessarily a good thing).We have room to grow out our cities and expand ever further into the frontier, sure. The area covered by our large cities out-pace probably every other city of the same population. As a wanna-be planner, this is a nightmare – the lengths of pipe, power/telephone lines, and roads needed just to connect one sprawled neighborhood with that picturesque hill country/beach/mountain/river view (until of course, you are staring at the next development that comes along) to everything else is … well … sad. But I have grown up in this culture. I like going out for a drive (or more precisely, a ride on my motorcycle). I like the idea of having space around me to move and breathe and make noise without disturbing your neighbor one shared wall away, or the ones above & below you.

But those aren’t the only reasons I am oh so spoiled. Take English, for instance. That is my native tongue. My classes here are all taught in English. Easy peasy … for me. Even with the required level of understanding of English to be accepted in this program, I can’t help but think about all of my friends who think in the Indian languages, Spanish, Mandarin/Cantonese, Russian, and can’t forget the immense number of African languages. Most people around me speak at least 2, 3, or 4 languages. Me? I speak English. Yes I know enough German to get me in trouble (and probably not enough to get me out of it) and a very little bit of Spanish, and even less (= a selection of words & phrases) of Hindi. But I am pretty much a master of the English language (until I can’t remember what something is called. But just don’t ask; it’s embarrassing). Not even talking about my classes though, I have this assumption that people will understand me while in a foreign country. My first go here is Deutsch, aber naturlich. But when I get stumped … “sprechen Sie Englisch, bitte?” And for the most part, it works.

I find myself living in an odd paradox. My life here in a typical European metropolitan city (if a typical does exist) is like a novelty. Not having my own transport and relying on a very efficient domestic rail and bus system is different and enjoyable – not something I would’ve chosen, but I gladly except because “when in Rome …”. The other end of my quaint little paradox is something I’ve mentioned before. How I’m living feels natural, feels ordinary. An ordinary novelty. I thing that might explain me, as well.


happy birthday

Thus concludes the first day of the 26th year of my life. I actually aged quicker this year than the others, since I am living in the Central Europe Time Zone instead of Central Standard Time of the U.S. But no matter.

Birthdays can be like New Years. They are a fresh start in a new beginning. But I am not one for New Year’s resolutions. (Well, for that matter, nor do I get all excited about celebrating my birthday.) With new promises or goals, why wait for a particular day in the future? Eh, this is of no consequence either because this soap box is not the subject of this post.

I am remembering when I was preparing to leave for Germany to start this new thing. Amidst the stress of closing out accounts, opening new ones, and packing woes and worries, I remember a statement I made to a friend. I have a unique opportunity to become a new me, to reinvent myself. I am living in a country seven time zones away without previously knowing a single person that I am going to be spending many hours over the next couple of years with. How are these people going to perceive this person called Tammi? Do I want to be more out-going and girly? How about more knowledgeable about pop culture? Well, the perfect chance to make a new you is after you depart people who can predict the old you and before you meet people who don’t know the old you. There is just one problem with that which I encountered. I am still me. Not that this is bad. It’s just an observation. Coming from a self-proclaimed lover of change, I did not change. It makes me wonder if we can ever really turn away from ourselves, those characteristics that others and ourselves use to define what kind of person we are.

I think it’s like my writing. I naturally write in small block letters. I taught myself over time to write block print instead of lowercase print (and especially not script), but since learning how to write as a wee little tot, I have always written small. I have the ability to write larger, but there is no much concentration that has to go into it that as soon as I stop focusing, smaller and smaller the letters go. I possess the capability of being talkative and overly lively or dolling myself up and primping into gorgeousness, but when it’s just me being me, this isn’t me.

So, hi. My name is Tammi, and I now (and for now) live in Stuttgart, Germany. But I’m also Tammi from Texas.