The First Few Weeks.
As of my writing this I have been in Germany for three weeks.
I finally feel like I have just caught my breath.
Here is a quick run-down of the last few weeks...
Part 1: Coming to Germany
I left Billings on Friday, September 28th to drive to Denver. My parents and I crammed into the car with all my luggage (2 large suitcases, 1 small one, and a backpack). We made the usually 8-hour trip in barely 7 hours -thanks dad! We spent the night close to the airport. At 6am my parents left for San Jose and San Francisco and I stayed behind going back to sleep before my 2:30pm flight. The goodbye was tough. I hardly slept that night and was very emotional saying my goodbyes to them. When they left I cried more and felt actually alone. At least for the next few days I would be by myself. I never usually take issue with this, and actually enjoy it. But for some reason, this time was scarier and harder than before. The flight from Denver to London was 8 hours. I didn’t sleep on the plane. I had a 6-hour layover at London Gatwick airport which consisted of me eating my way through the airport. I boarded the small EasyJet flight for Stuttgart and within 2 hours I was in the region that would be my home for the next year. Arriving at the hotel, and finally being able to shower was one of the best feelings! I ate and then passed out after being awake for over 24 hours.
Part 2: Move in Day
I only spent one night in the hotel and moved into my dorm the following day, Monday. When I arrived, I met a few of the tutors who helped everyone get settled into their rooms. I lucked out by getting a room on the ground floor which meant I didn’t have to carry my luggage up several flights of stairs! Once I got the keys to my room I unpacked everything and prepared for the shopping trip to IKEA. At IKEA I purchased all my goods for my room including sheets, towels, pillows, etc. After getting back to my room and unpacking (again) all the items I purchased at IKEA I finally was able to relax.
Part 3: Orientation
Tuesday was the first day of a two-week long orientation. Orientation consisted of filling out paperwork for residency, getting health insurance, a German intensive course, and other various rules/regulations/information they needed to go over with us. There were a few trips during the orientation. One was to Marbach, the birth place of Schiller, and the other was a scavenger hunt around Ludwigsburg. Overall, the orientation was a lot of information that included weekend activities! I’ve met some wonderful people who are also international students here.
Part 4: The First Week of Classes
This past week was the first week of classes for me at Ludwigsburg University of Education. I was able to be in all the classes I wanted to take even though the computer system kicked 90% of the international students out of their requested classes. I have really enjoyed my classes so far.
Part 5: Renting a Car
Yesterday, I rented a car. I needed to travel to pick up 7 (yes, 7) boxes my parents had sent me of things back home…and also a few surprises! I rented a car and traveled the Autobahn to get my things. I had the car from 12:30pm-8pm. So naturally, after getting my packages, I went for a drive. During the orientation I felt my independence being stifled. Always having to be accounted for made me feel less like an adult and more like a child (yes, I know I need to work on this). Being behind the wheel of that car however, gave me my independence back. I drove through Ludwigsburg. I drove through Stuttgart. I sang loudly in the car to music. I got lost and then found my way again. Yesterday was probably my favorite day I have had here so far. Not only did all the packages make me feel so loved (it was like Christmas morning for me) but the ability to regain my perceived lack of independence was amazing. Sometimes I need to be reminded that what I thought I lost was there all along.
Escaping America has been a nice reprieve. Besides all of the required events and informational sessions I have enjoyed my time here. I even enjoyed my travel here... From getting Voodoo Donuts with my parents to the conversations with random TSA agents while waiting in line at the Denver airport to the people who sat next to me on the plane telling me how much they loved roadside America to the conversations in broken English and German with cab drivers. I feel like I have finally arrived where I should be in this world. I’ve mentioned before that the last time I was in Europe was a completely breakdown of body, mind and soul for me. It’s as if now, I’ve healed to return to a place that had helped me conquer one of the hardest situations in my life. Escaping America has been a nice reprieve but at the same time I think I’ve had a growing fondness of my state and country when I talk about it to others. I never mention politics. I talk of the good people who have helped me, and who support me on this journey. In the end it’s the people like the TSA agent I spoke to about liking spooky things in the Denver airport that make America, America. With that said, however, it has been interesting being abroad while the Kavanaugh hearings happened. I will cover that next week in a post.