“Mom, you asked me that seven times already! Of course I have everything!” I reply and in full stress.
I was prepared for the day I finally go to Germany. I’ve always wanted to visit ever since I was in middle school, or what it is sometimes called here, ‘Hauptschule.’ I thought my only chance at traveling out of the U.S. was when I was much older, so getting accepted for Study Abroad at Drexel University and a recipient of the Gilman Scholarship, I was especially excited! But once I reach the Philadelphia International Airport, I will be on my own- which is what I thought before I met Carly, another Study Abroad student attending the University of Mannheim (Universität Mannheim). I am very glad to have her as a friend!
Just arriving at FRA!
The flight from PHL to the Frankfurt Airport (FRA) was about 7 hours with no stops. My family warned me about turbulence and thought I would not be able to handle traveling on an airplane due to motion sickness, but it felt like I was being squished, or on a rollercoaster during turbulence. Everything else reminded me of carpooling with my cousin’s dad on a highway to Philadelphia!
“We’re finally here!” I said to Carly.
We decided to take a taxi from the airport to our student housing in Mannheim. It was a nice morning, the silence only ruined by the sounds of the wheels on our luggage rolling across the ground. We were a couple hours early than our intended appointment, but the caretaker (Hausbetreuer) was nice! He gave us our keys and important information such as the housing confirmation (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung) which is required to register with the city. After we met with the caretaker and unpacked, I didn’t feel jet-lagged at all, but half of my brain was not functioning. There I am buying groceries…wait! Don’t touch that! That’s vinegar, not oil! I accidentally bought vinegar. Shopping is very fast, so it’s a good idea to have your own grocery bag, or in my case, a backpack.
Outside the shared kitchen of a student building
Today I went to IKEA with Carly to buy a few kitchen supplies, and as expected I did not know my way around and ended up looping around the whole place. Where’s a navigator when you need one?
The entrance to IKEA
It feels wonderful to walk around Mannheim, and I noticed a few things:
What are the vehicles like? They are parked nicely, and the motorcycles here aren’t as loud as those in the U.S.!
The smell? I can breathe easily without smelling gasoline and smoke!
And the streets? I hardly see any litter!
I went alone to Downtown (Innenstat) to visit the Citizens’ Service office (Bürgeramt) to register my residence. Luckily, it did not take a long time and I am now registered! It’s still the morning, I might as well familiarize myself with a section of the city while I’m here before heading back. Eventually, I ended up along the Neckar River. Like the Schuylkill River back in Philadelphia, the waters are beautiful. I sit back on a bench relaxing, taking in all the sounds I hear. The sounds of a church bell tolling and signaling that it’s noon, people chattering, the barks of dogs, water being pushed out of the way of a ship, birds (Vögel) flocking together on land and water, cars passing by, and the wind echoing. I stayed here for a good 1-2 hours, walking around and occasionally resting…it’s simply relaxing and I feel my stress washing away. Now…where else should I explore?
Along the Neckar
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.