Imagine being in a foreign country, it’s raining, you are cold, you do not have the slightest idea of where you are at, and people are screaming at you in a language you do not understand. This is how my first day in Germany went. It was September of 2018, I was eighteen years old when my grandma had taken me to Munich, Germany for my high school graduation gift. My grandma and I had just dropped our stuff off at our hotel and wanted to walk around for a bit. We had taken the subway from near our hotel to the center of town. We got off of the train and made our way to the surface. When we got to the surface, it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I could hear my grandma say, “Oh my God.”, under her breathe as she looked up in amazement. There was a huge beautiful church with gold statues all over it. There were also statues of kings that used to rule and knights on horses. There were flowers all over the church as well that were blooming with vibrant shades of pink and blue. After checking the church out, we walked around Marienplatz, which is the center hub of Munich, just getting the feel for where we would be staying at for the next two weeks. It was about thirty five degrees out and there was a downpour of rain. My grandma and I had no idea where we were headed, but we were just going with the flow. We had seen a great deal of wonderful places until we made a wrong turn.
We turned right in the center of a huge Syrian protest that was going on. We tried to quickly make our way out of a possible disastrous situation by moving along the outside of the crowd. People were waving around Syrian flags while there were other people with megaphones chanting phrases in Arabic while the crowd chanted along. We could see police on the other end of the square with riot gear on carrying sub machine guns trying to control the crowd, but it was not working. The crowd was getting even angrier. As we were swiftly walking through the crowd, there were men screaming at my grandma and I had no idea why. It’s pouring rain, we were cold, we were scared, we had no idea where we are at and there are people screaming at us in Arabic and German. What a great way to celebrate.
As my grandma and I were now making our way out of the crowd when we finally spotted a familiar sight. It was the subway tunnel we had come out of when we first arrived. We now had an idea of where we were at and headed to the subway. I had noticed my shoe was untied, so we stopped so I could tie it. That is when we saw 3 police officers walking our way. I did not think anything of it since we had done nothing wrong. I quickly tied my shoe and we headed to the subway. Before we walked down the stairs leading to the train, we turned around and looked to see if they were still following right behind us and sure enough, there they were.
As we made our way down the stairs, my grandma whispered to me, “What should we do?” We came up with two options: turn around and talk to them or just keep going and see if they even stop us. Of course in the heat of the moment, we chose to keep going and avoid a situation that might not even happen. As we were headed to the train, just as we thought we were in the clear, we could see even more men with Syrian flags getting off of the train. Some of them were screaming and chanting and harrassing people that passed by them or even simply looked at them. We looked back yet again and the police were still behind us. In that very moment, I was glad they were. I knew they would protect us if something were to happen to us or anyone near us. One of the protestors ended up getting in a scuffle with a German man, so the police officers that were following us, now had to intervene in the situation. We still have no idea why they were following us for so long.
Our train had finally arrived. As we got on the train, yet another pair of police officers got on at the same time. Again, we thought nothing of it since we have still yet to do anything wrong or to even get their attention. My grandma and I found a couple of spots to sit at in the back corner of the train. We just sat there, silent, cold and our clothes soaking wet. We both looked up at each other at the same time and she cried as I laughed. We both had very different reactions to stress and fear. Just as our emotions and adrenaline were settled, the same police officers that got on the train with us were now staring at us walking our way. All I could think was, “Oh great.” They came up to my grandma and I and were trying to talk to us. Of course we could not understand them since we do not speak German. “Do you speak English?”, we kept repeating. It was apparent they did not because they just kept raising their voices at us to the point where they were screaming in our faces. For the second time within two hours, we were getting yelled at in a foreign language. Finally a nice young lady stepped in that spoke both English and German. She turned to us and calmly said, “They want to see your train tickets.” So we pulled our tickets out and handed them over. The police officers checked our tickets, handed them back and then walked away. I don’t know how the young lady was so calm in such a hectic situation, but I’m grateful she was. We finally made it to our stop and walked back to our hotel. We headed straight to the bar in the lobby. As my grandma and I had sat down at the bar and grabbed our well overdue drinks, my grandma turned to me and said, “What a fucking day”, and proceeded to take a sip of her drink. This was the most surprising thing that had happened all day to me because I have never heard my grandma use profane language in my whole life. The very next day, we went on a tour of the city, who could’ve guessed who our guide was. It was the same young lady that helped us on the train. We ended up having a wonderful trip and we did not let the ordeal discourage us from having fun.