In the right place at the right time
Sometimes we learn something precious in an unexpected place at an unexpected time. A year ago I was in Mainz, Germany as an exchange student. At that time I was very nervous about the new life in the country because I had studied German for only three semesters. From the beginning of the new life, I was faced with a difficult mission: I had to register at the resident registration office. That means I had to make an appointment with a public officer who is in charge of that work, find the way to the office, and carry out the registration process with my poor German. That's why I was nervous, nervous, and nervous.
There were my colleague students who had already done the challenging task by themselves, I asked one of them to draw a detailed map of the office. He did, and I was satisfied. I felt as if I had been King Arthur who carries the Excalibur at his side. Then I went toward the registration office like a brave knight. However, against all expectations, my Excalibur was dull: the map was incorrect. I was moving from place to place for an hour, but I could not find the office. Yes, I was lost.
I was exhausted and deadly hungry, so I looked around and found out a small bakery. I burst into the bakery. There was crowded with many customers, and clerks bustled around. I stood in a corner and smelled sweet coffee. My strained mind and body were relaxed. There were several standing tables, and people were eating and drinking. I slowly looked into a showcase, in which a variety of bread, pastry, pie, and cake were displayed. I became happy and smiled unconsciously. "May I take your order?" A clerk said to me in German. I was embarrassed because I lacked confidence in my ability to speak German. "Umm," I hesitated. All customers and clerks in the store looked at me. I was suddenly pressed because I felt as if everybody had been evaluating my language skill. Anyway I thought, "So what? Who cares? I am just deadly hungry, and I have money enough." Then I plucked up the courage to say loudly in German, "This and this and this, and a cup of coffee, please." Fortunately the clerk caught my words exactly and gave me the things quickly. I felt relieved. Although that was just a small success, I am proud of myself. That's because this was, indeed, my first time to try to order something in Germany. In addition, this was my first time to eat Apfelstrudel (apple strudel in English). It is a kind of pastry that includes sliced apple in it. I cannot forget the taste. I fell in love with the Apfelstrudel of the bakery.
When I was eating the fantastic piece of Apfelstrudel at a standing table there, an old gentleman asked to me, "Where are you from? China? Japan? Korea?" I quickly answered, "Korea." To my surprise he knew about Korea very well. He even talked about several sports stars. We continued talking, while we were there. From this talk I gained confidence in speaking German. "Wow! I did it. I did talk with a German on my own."
I became a regular customer of the bakery. When I felt like eating Apfelstrudel and drinking strong coffee, I went to the bakery. This place gave me courage to survive the challenging life in Germany. Now I think of the bakery, and I wonder what would have happened if I had found out the registration office soon. I think I might not have improved my German due to a lack of confidence. But I reached the bakery at that time, earned courage from the happening, and studied well in Germany.
Sometimes we come across an unexpected event in our life, and we experience a magical moment that gives us a precious lesson. This lesson can only be acquired in the right place at the right time.