The Beginning…

Well, I arrived.

 It took a while (car, plane, train, bus, taxi, taxi) but I did in fact arrive. Here is a run down of everything that’s happened to me so far:

1. I talk in German and Germans respond in English. I didn’t think my German is that bad but whatever. I’m trying not to be offended by it, but it’s a little off-putting.
2. My Mitbewohneren (roommates) are pretty nice but I don’t really understand their German and they don’t really understand my English. We’re getting by though. The first guy that I met didn’t want to talk to me so I was sad but then I met the two girls and they’re friendly so it’s all good. We have a thing called a “Putzplan” which is basically a cleaning schedule but I don’t really know how it works. Apparently I’m on kitchen duty this week but I have no clue what this entails. I put a note out for my Mitbewohneren asking them if they could explain it to me so we’ll see how that goes.
3. Don’t bother asking for directions. A group of us kept trying to ask where different stores were but the Freiburgers refused to understand us both in German and in English. I didn’t think that “Wo ist H&M?” (Where is H&M) is a complicated sentence to understand but I guess people aren’t used to giving directions or something…
4. I finally learned how to use the shower!!! Pro tip: when turing on the water, left is hot and right is cold. This confused me for much longer than it should have. The bathroom is tinyyyyy and one corner of it has a shower curtain and that’s the shower. No doors or anything. The water kinda gets everywhere. Since I’ve been here I keep forgetting and stepping into the bathroom and getting my socks wet. I guess there isn’t anything that I’m doing wrong because my Mitbewohneren get the water everywhere too. Oh well. European culture right?
5. The tram is really easy to use once you know your tram number and stop. My dorm group tried to get back home for about a half an hour on two different trams before finding the right one. To be fair, one of the wrong trams was the right tram in the wrong direction so that was only a minor detail. An IES person showed us how to get TO the dorm but it didn’t cross his mind to tell us how to get back… I guess I get to check off “Get lost on public transportation” off my study abroad bucket list.
6. Pizza is different. Very different. Instead of the thin crust, tomato sauce, cheese, and maybe a vegetable or a bit of meat it’s a huge chunk of bread, tomato sauce, an odd assortment of vegetables, way too much cheese, and a solid layer of meat. It’s especially odd because the vegetables are under the cheese instead of being on top. Most of them just slipped out while I was eating anyways. This version of pizza is pretty messy (which kinda defeats the purpose right?).
7. I think I’m going to have PTSD from trying to buy a cell phone. It was a nightmare. I have no clue what happened but I must have done something wrong because all the people who worked in the store started yelling at each other and I had no clue what it was about. I just don’t even want to talk about it. It was too stressful.
8. No one seems to care if you don’t understand what they tell you. We’ve been having IES orientation presentations and tours etc. and I think I only understood about 1/4 of it but nothing is repeated and they click through the slides so quickly that I can’t read and listen at the same time and it just makes it worse. I know it’s supposed to be immersion but it seems a little too ‘cold-turkey’ for me. I know it will get better so I’m just going to have to be patient.
9. Everything is fizzy and water is never free. I like fizzy juice, but not all the time. It tends to make my stomach hurt if I drink too much of it. On the bright side, I don’t have to mix my own seltzer and juice!

We’re going to IKEA tomorrow (my first time!) so that should be fun and then on Sunday half of the group is going snowshoeing and half is going to an indoor waterpark/spa thing. I decided against the snowshoeing because 1 – I’m a skier and skiers don’t approve of snowshoers and 2 – I’m still pretty jetlagged so more exercise just sounds like a bad idea. I’m excited for the weekend and to become more comfortable here. More to come soon!