Editor's Note: Michelle Malecha is the current intern to Ulm/Neu-Ulm with the New Ulm Sister Cities Commission Hans Joohs Cultural Exhcange program. This is her second letter telling about her experiences.
Cultural exchange has been a daily part of life in Ulm; learning how to prepare traditional Schwabisch foods, how to separate the trash into the five appropriate garbage bins and how to use the complex, button-riddled washing machines which are a staple in every household. Ulm has taught me that the normal school day lasts until one in the after-\noon, bedrooms very rarely have closets and that Brtschen (small rolls) is a standard "go-to" snack food. All of these regular aspects of life here has become a part of the way I see and interact with the German culture.
The Hans Joohs Exchange, however, has not been one-sided. Most recently, the best exchange of American culture was Thanksgiving.
My host Mother and I prepared the turkey (not as easily found in Germany as in the US), mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy for a group of friends and family. Most of the guests were surprised to find out that pumpkin pie was going to be served as dessert, as pumpkins are never prepared as a sweet and pies do not exist at all.
One of the guests liked the turkey so much that she is going to serve it at her family Christmas dinner! The best comment of the evening was about the stuffing: "It's like exploded Kndel"! Sitting with new friends and celebrating an American tradition has been a highlight during this exchange, for which I am very thankful.
Michelle S. Malecha