Fourth Week – Peach Week: Part Two – Back to Reality

This marks the end of my fourth week here, and by now I can comfortably say that I feel fully adapted to my surroundings. This will happen to you at one point too during your stay. It’s as though something in your brain will signal to you that this isn’t some vacation and in fact you will be living here for quite some time.

I’m not too surprised that as soon as I got back from Oktoberfest I got a horrible cold. Being around so many people in such damp weather is the strongest trigger there is, and I really hate colds. Being alone when I’m sick is a new phenomenon to me, let alone being sick in another country alone. I’m lucky however, because the Consulate has a Heath Unit in case I get worse. If you’re working for the Government, you usually will have the privilege of having a Heath Unit where you work.

However it is very likely that you’ll have to go out of your way to find a doctor if you get very sick. I would contact your work supervisor and see if he/she could help you find one. He/she will probably want you to get well as soon as possible so that should be great help. My supervisor kept checking up on me every so often and was very nice to me, he even recommended a very strange remedy called Grog. Apparently when you mix rum, sugar, and warm water together it creates a miracle remedy, but you’re hungover the next morning. Due to my festivities at Oktoberfest that past weekend, I did not try this.

As far as work went, I actually got to do something very cool. I went on a jail visit, which is one of the various responsibilities that the Consular Section of the ACG must do. I never really thought about what happens if an American citizen gets thrown into prison in another country, and it’s a very real thing. You actually have to do your time and you better know the law when you come over here because I was very surprised at how Germany takes some offenses. Fraud for instance, I can’t find any sources on the subject but I saw this first hand – Fraud is taken very seriously in Germany and if you commit Fraud, your sentence resembles someone who committed murder.

But good news is, apparently if you try to escape from Prison in Germany they won’t give you any additional charges. I also can not find anything on the internet about this, but I assure you I was informed of this myself from several sources and I could not believe it myself. Essentially German law states that wanting to be free is human nature and if you try to escape your just acting on instinct. The German justice system essentially just throws you back in after they catch you. They said that it’s the State’s responsibility to keep you in and if you escape, it’s their fault. This really made me reflect on how different the American perception of Justice varies from other cultures, because I thought this was just absurd. Of course I do understand that it is the state’s responsibility to keep inmates inside of jail, but if you escape I feel as though you’re trying to cheapen your sentence and that’s just irresponsible and cowardly. So yes, I think there should be more consequences if you try to escape. Do the crime, pay the time – simple as that. Does this make me a gun toting American? I have no idea, I hope not.

Other than that I also went to a job fair in Wiesbaden, I should have taken pictures but it was inside of an Army base and I don’t think that would have been such a great idea. I was very shocked to see so many skilled people essentially jobless, even if a large percentage of them were retired officers. The bad shape of America’s economy is even hitting our valued men and women out here. Being behind the table was also very strange. I was telling people how to get the job that I wanted. They also asked me how I got my internship and I essentially stated what I have already told all of you – Multilingual, a degree, enthusiasm in Foreign affairs, and a sharp brain.

To get a job as a Foreign Service officer you need to take This Test and I have been advised to read up on The Economist. I took a sample test and did very well actually, but the questions always vary and are about a range of different things about American Government. Sometimes they’ll cover a policy you know, but sometimes they won’t. I’ve been advised that you’ll probably fail it the first time, but it’s free and you can always register again. Once you pass, you’ll be put on a list of applicants in order of how well you did. Sometimes they’ll take the first 20 or so it’s never really set in stone if you’ll get in or not. But it’s always worth it, the jobs over here are amazing to say the least, and as soon as I get back I’m going to register.

But until I pass, I’m pretty sure I’m going to try to get a full time job with the SSA. I’m already learning so much about their work over here by working with the FBU.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, as I said the locations of where I traveled this week were kind of private.

All pictures belong to Theresa Stromberg and may not be used outside of this blog without permission