Today was one of the best days ever and such great way to spend my last day here in Germany. I was originally nervous- Anna and I were to spend the day in Stuttgart with her family, who even she hadn’t met until today! I knew I would be welcomed though, because Anna Facetimed her aunt on several occasions back in Pittsburgh and I was always greeted with a wave and a smile. Her aunt, whom we called “Tetka” (aunt in Serbo-croatian), only speaks German and Serbo-croatian, and the rest of the family spoke either one or both of those languages. Her cousins Andreas and Danijel also spoke a lot of English, for which I was grateful. Honestly, communicating was easier than I expected, and Anna was able to speak to everyone on my behalf in Serbo-croatian, which is her first language. There was one moment that was pretty entertaining: Andreas received information over the phone in German and then translated it to Anna in Serbo-croatian, who then translated it again to me in English as the final link in the communication chain.
Spending time with Anna’s family was so much fun, and they truly made me feel like part of the family. They called me “Ollie”, which was really comforting since that’s a popular nickname for me back at home. I even got to be in a family selfie! I also took some pictures for them since it was the first time they were together with Anna. It was so nice to just sit inside a home and chat around a kitchen table after two weeks of living in a hotel and being busy all day. Danijel’s wife Ramona spent some time in Boston with Anna’s older sister, so she knew a good amount of English. She taught me more about the German education system. I learned that her younger daughters finish school very early in the day and return in the evening on certain days, which has to be complicated for parents who have work. I, in turn, explained how timing for school typically works in America. I loved hearing their family stories and just more about life in Germany. Andreas and I also spent a good amount of time discussing Marvel movies. At one point, I had Anna’s cousins speaking in German on my left, with Anna and Tetka speaking Serbo-croatian on my right, which was insane!
We relocated from Danijel and Ramona’s house to Tetka’s house, and then we got to meet Tetka’s husband, Bruno, who took us out for lunch. We had delicious deconstructed gyros and then of course grabbed some ice cream, which has been a trend throughout our entire time in Germany. They live in a small town outside of Stuttgart, and it was truly lovely. The weather was gorgeous so it was great to walk around and enjoy our day in peace. By the time we returned to Tetka’s house, she had brought out a bunch of old photos of the family and especially Anna’s father, who is Tetka’s younger brother. Their family left their home country due to conflict in the area, and Tetka went to Germany while Anna’s “Tata” brought his family to America. They got the chance to FaceTime him together which was a really nice moment. Also, their dog Bella was in love with me and I was in love with her too!
Next, we went to Andreas’s house. He is an incredible photographer, so they have an amazing photo wall in their home. Please nobody judge- but we went out for ice cream again with Andreas and his family. Don’t worry, I just sat outside and enjoyed the weather without indulging again. Soon enough it was time to leave, so we said our goodbyes and Andreas dropped us off in Augsburg, but not before Tetka got my phone number so we can FaceTime when I learn more German or Serbo-croatian! I just packed up my suitcase and hangout for a bit with Alan, Josh, and Gemma, all of us mentally preparing for our early flight home.