My time in Germany has just hit the halfway point and I have just completed my first semester abroad — oh how time flies by so fast!
My German has significantly improved since being in Germany; I was an A1 level speaker before leaving the U.S. and am now considered B1 level (that’s a massive jump in just one semester!). Not only that but as of today I have traveled to 15 different countries since leaving the U.S. That’s a great accomplish that I am very proud of!
One drawback of studying abroad is not being able to be with family during the holiday season, which makes it a little more difficult not to miss home this time of year. Unfortunately I was not able to go home and celebrate with any of my family this year. It honestly made me sad to think that my family was all together (one of the two holidays where this is the case) and I missed out on the occasion.
But, luckily, something happened the weekend before that made up for it every single bit.
Last weekend, the California State University students who are in Germany took a trip from our cozy region of Baden-Württemberg to the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany, Berlin. Berlin is quite different from the wooded southwest that I am studying in. The city motto “Poor, but sexy” is well deserved. The city is still rebuilding after the unification of Germany, thus old and new are juxtaposed.
Over the weekend, I traveled to arguably one of my favorite places in Europe: Vienna, Austria. Austria is a German speaking country in central Europe that is known for its lovely café culture, being the center of many art movements, and being home to classical music and picturesque mountain ranges. However, as a newcomer to this land of mountains, I had no idea what really set it apart from Germany, which is also home to some of these things. Turns out, Austria is more than the Canada to Germany’s United States.
Last year, the United States had an election — for better or for worse. It was quite an emotional time and it occupied every facet of our lives for a year. During the last fall semester, I had made friends with exchange students from Germany and they were quite surprised at how prevalent the election was in the media and on campus. (They would later do a road trip to the inauguration). Now it was my turn to see a foreign election, but in Europe!
For the past six weeks of my life I have been living with a host family in a small town called Horb am Neckar. This kleine Stadt (small city in German) is located about 38 kilometers (or about 24 miles) away from Tübingen, the town where I will be studying during my year abroad.
When one first arrives to Europe, the first thing that might be surprising and interesting is the abundance of public transit. European countries have had a long time to implement their transit systems, and the scale of the cities allow for some very efficient and inspiring methods of transit.
What a wild past few days! I have done so much this past week in Germany, and I have so much to tell you about everything I’ve done. But one of the biggest adventures I had this week was just getting to Germany in the first place. That is exactly what I am going to be writing about today.