Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mannheim: die erste Woche // The First Week

I've now been in Mannheim for 11 days and Friday marked the end of my first week of Winter Academy classes. The first few days were rough, but I'm starting to understand German culture and the Mannheim way of life. I now understand the way the city is mapped out, the timetables and directions of the bus and tram systems, the location of some good (and cheap) places to eat, and the location of multiple grocery stores. I've made some more friends and improved my German this past week. This week I have four fun trips plans with room in my schedule for some spontaneous adventures as well. Overall I've been doing well now that I know more of what I'm doing.

Now that I've settled in a bit more I realise what I miss about the US. The grocery stores are considerably smaller here and have much less variety, and there's nothing like a Target to get everything I need at once. I have to completely rely on the bus as I have zero access to a car. I don't have a good enough grasp on the currency to be able to quickly pay with coins at stores. I only brought one physical book with me to save space and I miss having access to shelves stacked with dozens of them.

However, it's been less than two weeks and I know I will get used to the differences, and perhaps even find America strange when I return. Germany also has many advantages over my home state, particularly how youth-friendly it is. Public transportation and food prices are considerably more reasonable on a student budget than the States are, and there's plenty to do in the city that wasn't always easily accessible to me at home.

I mainly spent this past week getting used to the area and learning how to find things, and one of the ways I did that was by taking a tour of the city. We saw a few churches and important landmarks, and also had a crazy alcoholic yell dramatically in front of us and quiz us on our knowledge of Schiller's spirit (apparently, his spirit resides in the alcoholic's mind). Cara Beth and I also had numerous coffee dates at numerous cafes around the city, each of them delicious and wonderful. Though getting to know new people has been good, I'm very grateful that I got to travel with someone from my home university that I knew a little bit, and have gotten the chance to know Cara Beth even more over the past week as we attempt to figure out this new country.

As shown by my expression, it was not my favourite wine

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