Armed with my passport in one hand, all of my important documents in the other hand, and an entire bag of Smartfood Popcorn in my stomach, I nervously stepped onto the Lufthansa flight that would whisk me away from Philadelphia, and fly me straight to Frankfurt International Airport in Germany. All week long I was being asked varying questions: Do you know German? Are you packed yet? Are you excited? Not really, sort of, and absolutely.
I couldn’t help but flash the toothiest grin as my plane (surprisingly smoothly) landed in this whole new world. Studying abroad is something that I have been anticipating for years now, and it was quickly seeping into my new reality as I snagged my luggage and headed for the train. Next stop: Mannheim.
It wasn’t until I had dragged (yes I meant dragged, my 50lb. luggage bag broke on the flight) my suitcase down the metal train steps, that I came face to face for the first time with my new life for the next four months. Not knowing where to go, I started hauling my belongings down the street. For some peculiarly stubborn reason, I seriously believed I could tug my suitcase all the way from the train station to my dorm. Oh, how wrong I was. After a 30 minute battle, I surrendered to defeat and found the nearest transit system (thankfully, they’re scattered plentifully throughout all of Mannheim).
You know that feeling when you purchase a piece of furniture from IKEA, and you gingerly open the instructions, only to have your world ripped out from under you and find that they’re all in a foreign language, and even though you get the general idea of what you’re supposed to do based on the pictures, you’re still not 100% positive that you’re going to achieve your desired end result? That’s what it felt like looking at a transit map of Mannheim, fresh off of an 8 hour flight, 6 months after taking my last German class, not even knowing what street I was on. Little did I know that I would navigate around this town like a local within the next three days. So hey, if I can do it, I guarantee you can do it too.
I wanted to start my blog channel with my arrival story, not because it shows how challenging your first memories of studying abroad will be, but because I wanted to make sure everyone knows that right from the get-go you’re going to be thrown a massive amount of curveballs, but it’s never anything more than you can’t handle. On my journey to my dorm, I learned that if someone sees you struggling, they’ll lend a helping hand. If you feel lost, you probably are. And that no matter how much you plan in advance, life has a funny way of working itself out, so you just have to roll with the punches and remember that at the end of the day, this still beats being in Philadelphia.