These past five days have potentially been the longest of my life. Periodically throughout my adventures, I have been thinking of things to write in my blog, but so much has passed that I have no idea where to start. I suppose I’ll attempt to recap, and maybe write about specific topics in more detail later.
My flight from SFO to Heathrow in London was nice. British Airways has excellent in-flight entertainment, and the ten hours passed by very quickly. My flight to Stuttgart was delayed, and the flight crew was in a huge rush to take off, so when I arrived in Germany, meine Koffer (suitcase) did not. Additionally, I had placed too much faith in my ability to find my way in a foreign country, so locating the bus I needed was quite difficult. Once I found the bus, I quickly fell asleep, as I only had about three cumulative hours of sleep during my fourteen hour journey. I woke up about half an hour into the bus ride and panicked a bit, thinking I had missed my stop, and I made friends with a very nice German girl who was riding next to me (and had giggled a bit when I snored myself awake, mouth hanging open). She helped me find my stop and walked me to the corner of the Straße (street) where the Jugendherberge (youth hostel) is located.
During the trip from Stuttgart to Tübingen, it had begun to pour. I had a sweatshirt, beanie, and leather jacket with me, so my top half stayed relatively dry, but my knockoff Vans and ankle socks were soaked after less than a block. By the time I had finished the half-mile walk to the Jugendherberge, I was thankful that I did not have a 23kg suitcase to drag through the city.
I checked in, got my key, and was happily surprised to find another Seawolf, Diane, in my room. She had arrived just before me, and we lamented about our travel mishaps while unpacking a few things. I had prepared for the worst a little bit by bringing some extra socks and underwear, but I had only my sleeping boxers to wear while I dried my socks, shoes, and sweatshirt in the laundry room.
The WLAN (Wi-Fi) connection was terrible in the hostel, and we were only allotted half an hour per day, so I was not able to make much contact with my family and friends that night. I had my first German Bier and went to bed early(ish).
On Wednesday, Diane and I met several new friends over Frühstuck (breakfast), and we went on a stroll together through der Stadt (the city). We got happily lost and then found again, and went for a drink at the Biergarten down the street from the hostel. Afterwards, we relaxed and spent time in our room with our new friends, and then met the rest of our study abroad group that evening. After a trip to the grocery store to buy some beer (2.20€ for two large bottles of good beer!), we headed to the church in the center of town to drink on the steps and enjoy some live music. One small group at a time, we each drifted away to explore the city, and most of us ended up at the Biergarten, laughing and enjoying pitchers and the most delicious pretzels. One can definitely identify Americans by their noisiness, but we were too excited to care.
We all headed back to the Jugendherberge when it closed at 23:00, and a few of us went out back, not yet ready for bed. A group of friendly Germans handed me a shotglass filled with sherry, and I ended up drinking with them (first sherry, then a mysterious strawberry-lime beverage, then tequila) for several hours, conversing mostly in German. It was a great time, and I learned many new words, but unfortunately could not remember a thing in the morning.
On Thursday morning, Diane’s alarm woke me at 6:00, and despite my monstrous hangover, I got out of bed and began to attempt to make myself presentable with what little I had. We opened the window to the glorious sight of the Neckar, and I sat on das Fenster (the window – there are no screens on the windows in Germany) and drank some much-needed water out of a beer bottle (water is a bit harder to come by in Germany), waiting for Frühstuck at 7:30.
The entire day was spent filling out paperwork for our new lives in Germany and making other necessary preparations. We set up an account at the German bank Kreisparkasse, took photos for our Visas, toured parts of the Universität, and enjoyed some lunch at the Mensa (cafeteria). After we finished filling out what seemed like an endless amount of paperwork and listening to far too many lectures for one as hungover as I was on various rather important topics, we ended the day with dinner on a Stockerkahn (gondola) floating down the Neckar. It was a wonderful way to end a very long and tiring day.
After the gondola ride, I headed back to my room alone to take a quick break from the activity, and accidentally fell asleep for three hours. I woke up at 22:00 and headed downstairs to use my daily allotment of WLAN. I ran into one of the first friends I made here, Nick, and we headed out for some food. We had our first dönerkebab, a delicious 3€ meal that I will be eating as often as I can, and we ran into Diane, who escorted us to Shooter Star to celebrate our roommate’s birthday. I stayed with the large group we found, and we headed to a club called Blauer Turm. It was pretty fun, but I was very tired, so I headed home after one beer. A shower helped me sleep incredibly well, and I woke up this morning very refreshed.
My bag, as of this morning, was still missing. Today was day one of wearing inside out underwear and day two of borrowing my roommate’s socks. I had my last Frühstuck at the youth hostel and packed up my backpack, then headed down to pester the receptionist one final time to see if meine Koffer had arrived. She said it hadn’t, and just as I turned around, a woman walked through the door with MEINE KOFFER!! 😀 😀 😀 Overjoyed, I threw on my shorts and a fresh, clean sports bra as quickly as I could. It is incredibly hot and humid here, and wearing the same sports bra and pants day after day renders showers useless. It is impossible to feel clean and well-rested when one is constantly wearing dirty clothes and drenched in sweat.
I was one of the last to arrive at the Uni due to my wardrobe change and overwhelming need to cuddle with my suitcase, and when I walked in the door sporting my nice cool shorts and t-shirt, the room erupted in applause and cheering. I am aware that they were celebrating their freedom from my incessant complaints, but it was much appreciated nevertheless.
Today was spent signing our lease, filling out residency forms, applying for our Visas, and signing up for German health insurance. At 16:30, we left for the bus to Horb, where we met our German host families. My housemate, Nick, and I met our family and headed 10 minutes outside the main city to their home. We have a third housemate, Anna, who is from Russia and speaks no English, so we must speak German unless we are completely unable to communicate. Jasmina, the daughter of our host parents, speaks English, so we will survive these next six weeks just fine. So far we have enjoyed a delicious meal and spent about an hour conversing in German, and then I turned on my laptop to update this blog.
I have lots of things to comment on, but the only thing I have time and energy for right now is how FREAKING HOT it is here. It has been about 35 grad Celsius this entire time, and it is very very humid. None of us were expecting this type of weather, and the German preference to not use air conditioning is really taking its toll on us. Spending the entire day sweating in a classroom leaves us very tired and haggard-looking in the evening, but at least we are all in the same Stockerkahn!
I am going to watch a movie with meine Gastfamilie now, I will write again soon! Später Leute!