Timeline: 4/6/2018 – 4/9/2018
After exiting the sky train my group ran into a couple problems when trying to arrive at the university. One thing that’s great about being a student at Ruhr University is that we have been given student train passes. These passes give us access to trains that connect all throughout different regions of Germany without having to buy any other ticket. One thing that’s different about the train system in Germany from America is that there are no turnstiles when entering and exiting the stations. In theory, anyone could enter the subway and ride for free, however, they’re random checks for tickets. If someone is caught to have entered the train without paying they will receive a hefty fine. I asked Phong (one of the university buddies) how often he’s been checked. In his experience, he was only checked twice in the past year. Ironically as we were on our way to the university we had to show our tickets twice. So I would think it’s best to always honor the system.
Because the area was so new to me the ride felt very long. Usually, I wouldn’t mind this at all but, the trains were crowded and it didn’t help that all of our suitcases took up a massive amount of space. I specifically had two 50 lb suitcases that I had to continually drag all throughout the stations. We were finally heading to our last stop of Bochum where it would only be one more quick subway ride for us to arrive at our dorms. As we were trying to get off of the train one of us in our group couldn’t operate the doors and got stuck in between two sliding doors that would allow us to exit. I was directly behind him and I was doing everything I could to aid him so he could correctly open the doors and position his luggage correctly so we could leave. As I was finally able to help him get through the dilemma, we could only laugh as the train began to move and Phong stared at us from a distance with his hands up. His image growing farther and farther away on the other side of the glass. Ninety percent of our group was stuck on this train and the incident also made two other locals miss their stop as well. We had to ride another half hour on the train to the next stop so we could turn around and go in the right direction. We also missed a few trains which alotted more time to our trip. But thinking about that incident still makes me laugh, so it was worth it.
I live in a complex called “Europhaus” and to be completely honest… It’s really nice. In Germany, they don’t share dorms like we do in America so I get my own room which has a lot of space and lots of storage. The best part of the space is that I have a view. The complex is intertwined with beautiful vegetation and the weather has been beautiful. I was able to meet my flatmates as well and all of them seem very kind and understanding. Also, I don’t have to take the train to any of my classes. I think I’m really going to enjoy living here.
One thing that has surprised me so far about being in Bochum is how diverse the area is. I imagined that I wouldn’t really see anyone that looked like me, however, there are a good amount of people from various different backgrounds. It’s not diverse to the extent of the United States, but it is still more than I expected. In America, among the African American male community I’ve grown up with a silent rule that when you see one another even if it’s a stranger, you greet each other. Over here though I’ve mostly just been getting stared at, even when I say a simple “Hallo.” I find it kind of funny. After doing some research I found out that in the past 60 years Germany has been more accepting of immigrants which has been causing a rise in the population. Germany has also been allowing copious amounts of refugees to enter the country. Even though many would look at these changes as a good thing. Not everyone shares the same sentiments within the country.