I lived in Germany for five years, and had the good fortune to complete my master’s work there. During that period, I became fluent in German by immersion. It was a very challenging and rewarding time; more challenging at the beginning, and more rewarding at the end. I was one of the few Americans working in the office, and as such, I got lots of questions about English grammar. It was alwa…ys a little scary being both an engineer and the de facto source for grammar rules. Being a native English speaker, I never realized how many strange ways we have to say seemingly obvious things, until I lived in a foreign country.
I recall one of my German colleagues asking me, “Rocco, what do Americans do at a bus stop when their bus arrives?” To which I responded, “We get on the bus.” Gales of laughter followed from my German colleagues. “Don’t you think that is dangerous?!” he continued, “Here in Germany we get IN the bus!” About a minute later, grinning like the Cheshire cat, he asked, “Rocco, what do Americans do at the airport when their flight is ready for boarding?”
I sighed and responded, “We get on the plane.” Roaring laughter followed, then he responded, “We Germans get IN the plane!”