My study abroad experience has continued on into Mannheim Part II. The Spring semester has officially started in Mannheim, Germany and I feel as if I pressed rewind on my study abroad experience.
I see internationals arriving, attending the Welcome Week meeting, attending the Welcome Reception Meeting, registering for classes, attending Stammtisch (a café located in front of the university where students get to mingle and dance with one another every Monday evening), etc. The main difference this time around is that I don’t have to go through the worry or struggle of setting up the internet, registering with the city, getting my residence permit or setting up a bank account etc. I was able to relax and enjoy the last couple of days before classes started.
During this time, a new study abroad student from SDSU contacted me via Facebook and asked if I could give her a tour of the city. I was happy to give her, and a few other international students, a tour of the city. I felt confident with the knowledge I have regarding the city and the university, and I was happy to share experiences I had last semester. I mentioned how the registration works, what to watch out for when registering, and the location of the bank, an equivalent to a 99 cent store, the mall, Café Vienna (various people recommended this place to me) and so forth.
I find myself at ease and at home in Mannheim now more than ever because Mannheim is small enough to easily get around on foot. Last semester I already established what restaurants I enjoy the most, where I like to spend my free time and places I like to visit. I can clearly see the difference between my first couple of days arriving in Mannheim versus the first couple of days Spring Semester.
The first time around was nervousness, excitement and chaos.
This time around was excitement, but with a relaxed calm.
Because I had so much free time on my hands the past couple of weeks, I began to miss home more and more. February 16 marked the six-month mark of being in Mannheim, and I found myself wondering what I want to do when I get back to the US — of things I want to try, of taking classes again at SDSU, etc. I began to question whether studying abroad for a year was the right decision. As I helped other international students find the places that made Mannheim home for me — places that made me look forward to new cultures, new adventures and just being in Europe — I concluded what’s a few more months going to change? Having that said, I am already anticipating going home and seeing my family in person.
With classes picking up, I feel that time will start to fly on by. So while I am counting down the days to go back home, I am savoring each day because I don’t know if I will get another opportunity like this again. This semester is a bittersweet situation, but I am here to stay and make the most of my study abroad experience!
Sayra Flores is a junior studying business management with an emphasis in human resources. She is studying abroad at University of Mannheim, Germany.