Well, I made it! I am officially in Frankfurt, Germany. Now that I am here I think the tone of my blog will be changing to be much more conversational. I already have so many impressions and cultural differences that I want to share with everyone but I think that I will save those for later posts. I’ll use today as an opportunity to catch everyone up on what happened the last week and what my plans are for the coming week.
Last I left you all, I was about to get on a plane. I talked about how I finally decided to pack my bags and how emotional I was feeling. Well, I am happy to say that my baggage plan worked perfectly. My weights were fine and the only thing I seem to have forgotten is my favorite pair of fuzzy socks. As for the emotional aspect of that post, I can’t say that that got better in the following days. I’m going to keep it real with you all as it’s just not in my personality to sugar coat anything; I cried and I cried a lot.
I cried when I said goodbye at the airport, when I made my last phone call to my dad in the long TSA line, when I looked back from behind the security checkpoint one last time and waved a final goodbye to my mother. I cried when the plane began taxying to the runway and I bawled as it left the ground. I cried as I rode the subway to my new home and bawled the second I was alone in my room. The second my plane touched down I wanted nothing more than to book a flight home immediately to give my parents one more big hug.
That first day was very hard. I had no internet to speak with my parents so I even took the subway back to the airport just so I could use their free WiFi. I was undeniably a hot mess. The second day was better with only a few tears. By day two I had begun to unpack and make lists of things than needed bought to make my room functional. I had begun exploring the local marketplace and finally met someone else in my apartment. My internet was working on my computer (although it’s still not working right on my phone yet) and I was able to FaceTime my parents and look up local shops and other things that were very necessary to my mental health.
By the time Saturday arrived, things had normalized. I knew where my important shops were, my subway station, my bank, etc. My room was very close to being totally finished and completely functional (a messy room has always been a source of stress for me). I finally made it to the grocery store to buy “real” groceries (I only had cereal up until that point). Saturday night my school through a welcome party with a DJ and drinks and everything. I didn’t stay long because the subway stops running from approximately 2-4 am and I didn’t want to be stuck in town until 4 am. I used the event more as a networking opportunity than a chance to get drunk and have fun. There was a lot of great conversation and I might have even made a friend or two.
Now that it is Sunday, I think a sense of normalcy has begun to settle in and I am emotionally back to my normal self. That’s a good thing especially since school starts tomorrow – well, orientation week starts tomorrow, but more on that later. On to the topics I’m sure everyone is wondering about:
Overall I really like my living situation although there are defiantly things I would like to change. The price is good – not the cheapest room I’ve ever rented but by far not the most expensive. I, personally, like the location although it seems that Frankfurters, if given the choice, would never live here. The neighborhood is EXTREMELY multicultural but predominately Turkish. I know as an American, everyone’s first thought is probably that they’re (arguably) middle eastern and therefore scary. The truth is that Turks have been in Germany for decades as migrant workers. A great documentary/indie film to watch if you would like to understand the Turkish/German relationship is called Neukolln Unlimited. I watched it in school and many reputable universities use it as an educational instrument, so you can trust that the situation is well represented in the film. Turks aside, I have heard Italian, Spanish and some form of an African language spoken just in my neighborhood.
My dorm is very close to the subway station (where my school is just a few stops away) and on the other side of that is a huge shopping center. It’s about 4 square city blocks where the streets are closed to cars and it’s just stores and shops as far as the eye can see. In the middle of that is an actual mall which houses the only Starbucks in my area (yes I’ve already had my first PSL for the year). The ground floor of my dorm is actually a Turkish supermarket. I have looked around but can’t read any of the packaging and don’t recognize much in the store. However the produce section is good so I can see myself stopping in for an apple or something on my way to class. It’s ok that I don’t really find this market useful since there is a Rewe grocery store just a block or two away. Also below my dorm is a bakery, dry-cleaners and pharmacy. It’s pretty close to a one-stop-shop under my room.
Location-wise, the only thing I don’t like is that there aren’t really any parks nearby. The neighborhood is very family oriented so there are plenty of playgrounds but I would love to have some grass nearby to take a book and a blanket to for an afternoon. I am fairly close to the river Main though and I have a feeling that there is park-space there but my understanding is that the river is a commercial river so it is likely filled with shipping barges. I haven’t actually been that way yet though so that is quiet possibly a false conjecture.
My dorm room is big and has high ceiling that make it feel very empty. My school provided a twin bed (with sheets and pillow), wardrobe, bookshelf, table/desk and chair. I have two HUGE traditional German windows that I was already familiar with from my time in Berlin but they also have automatic, energy saver, electronic, exterior blinds which are both cool and annoying. They cool because they can tell when it sunny and close so that my room doesn’t get hot while I’m away during the day but annoying because they are loud and will just randomly decide to go up or down in the morning when I’m trying to sleep in. The floors are really old linoleum and the walls desperately need new paint but the furniture, radiator and lights are new which is way more important.
My dorm is split into apartments which house 6 people each. We each have our own room but there are two of us to a bathroom. There is a common area with a kitchen attached which is nice but the previous tenants have left so much crap behind and it’s very dirty. Hopefully everyone I’m living with is a bit cleaner but for now I have just been keeping my stuff in its own little cubby and completely separate from the mess.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of my Masters program although I actually won’t attend my first class for another 10 days. Monday and Tuesday my school will be taking us to an “outdoor campus.” What that means, no one is entirely sure. They gave us a packing list, told us to be at the school tomorrow morning and that we wouldn’t be back until Tuesday so I guess we will all be surprised as to what we’re getting ourselves into. The rest of the week consists of tours, and various lectures on expectations, student involvement and other topics.
Hopefully next week I will be able to get into an earlier appointment to establish my residency (the first step in getting my German bank account and therefore my financial aid refund). Also on my list to do is to pick up the last couple of things I need to finally finish my room and maybe keep an eye out for something cute and cheap to hang on my giant white walls. Finally, I need to pick up a cable to hook up to my router so I can get into it and change some settings that should fix my phones WiFi problem. Considering that I will be out of town for two of the days next week and on campus from 9-5 the rest of the week, I’d say that the likeliness of this list getting completely finished is slim but it’s nice to dream, right?
As I said before, I have loads of topics already in my head to write about but please let me know if there’s an aspect of my life here you’d like to hear about.