The past 48 hours have been a roller coaster of emotions. I sat in my guesthouse in Munich packing my things as I replayed the past month in my head. I went into my month at the Goethe Institut prepared to be completely on my own, especially for being a foreigner who didn’t know the language. Instead, I met dozens of people from all over the world who were in the exact same boat as I was. Unlike the others, I had one advantage. Another student from my university happened to be studying at the Goethe with me. Although we didn’t know each other that well, Kate immediately became my security blanket, my link to all things familiar and comfortable. Kate also happens to be studying in Berlin for the semester, although she will be studying through a different program. We traveled to Berlin together by train with a direct connection from Munich to Berlin. Her program started the same day, so we were separated for the first time in four weeks. Within seconds, my security blanket had vanished and I was suddenly alone in a foreign city. I spent the night in a hotel near the central train station and had to find my way to the IES center on my own in the morning. I ended up taking a taxi and spent the entire ride talking to the driver about anything and everything. When I finally arrived to IES, the staff and about five fellow students greeted me at the door. We spent the day getting acquainted with each other and were given the opportunity to roam around the city before our hosts came to pick us up.
When my host woman finally arrived and we were introduced, she gave me a big hug and had a giant smile on her face. In that instant I knew I was going to be in safe hands. My butterflies immediately vanished. We grabbed my things and began the trek to her apartment, which requires taking the S-bahn for 20 minutes and walking another 10 minutes. I live in a neighborhood called Shöenberg. Luckily, there are two other students in my class who live in the same neighborhood as well as Kate, who happens to be living only a stop away from my apartment. Once my host woman, Petra, and I arrived to her apartment, she gave me a tour of the building and my room. I have a very spacious single room (with a balcony!!). Petra is in her late 50s and lives alone in her apartment. She has two daughters. One of her daughters is my age (21) and the other is 28. I haven’t had the opportunity to meet them yet, however Petra informed me they visit often. For dinner, she cooked us vegetable lasagna with salad, both of which were very delicious. After dinner, we walked around her neighborhood as she pointed out various shops, streets, and public parks to run in. We even stopped for gelato! Throughout the entire afternoon and evening, Petra always challenged me to speak German, something I really appreciated. I had told her in the beginning that I spoke only a little German, however every chance she had, she would give me a mini lesson. She asked me simple questions about what I liked to eat or information about my family. She was very patient but also wasn’t afraid to correct my pronunciation or sentence structure. I look forward to practicing German with Petra because I know that my knowledge of the language will vastly improve.
Tomorrow, I have to meet at IES at 10 am to start a week of orientation. I am excited to start exploring the city of Berlin. Based on all that I have heard, Berlin is a magical city with wonderful opportunities to explore and discover. I feel more confident in my semester here now that I have arrived and am settling in. Let the next four months begin!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hi, my name is Andie D'Agostino. I am a senior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. I am an Architectural Studies major with a minor in Sociology. After graduation, I hope to pursue a career in urban planning and community development.</span></p>