Stepping Into Your New Life

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.


View of one of Mannheim’s busiest transit and pedestrian roads.

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.


One of Mannheim’s quaint side streets, G3.

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).


A peek into one of Mannheim’s many apartment courtyards.

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.


View of my daily walk home to my dorm in G7.

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.

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