This is my last week of spring break before I begin my Summer Semester in Konstanz. I have been lucky enough to experience 7 months of German culture and I could never imagine my life without this opportunity. I will begin to update twice a week about my experience and document how much fun I have had. I have already spoken a bit of my exchange in September. I can say for a fact the rest of the winter semester was just as exciting but more raw. This wasn’t the first time I have been in Germany, in 2011 I lived in Stuttgart for 3 weeks and stayed in Germany for one month. That was the longest I had ever been away from home and when I was at the airport at PDX early morning in August I had a sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to last. I was homesick for the first three months and yes the people here are wonderful it didn’t feel the void that my family filled. I did what any student at that time would do I traveled and tried to be as busy as possible. I live in Europahaus in Paradies which is the neighborhood closest to the Altstadt but a little far away from the university a 20 minute bike or bus ride away. The city is a small one, but in a good way. I am acquainted with at least 2/3 of the international students that are attending. The German students are very polite and nice as well as the people I encounter at the mall, grocery store, and even the Bürgerbüro.
I find my level of German much higher than when I arrived and I find myself calling Konstanz home whenever I go off on an adventure to another country or city. I am a communication major with a minor in German studies at Western Oregon University. When I was placed into my class in October I was disappointed, I was convinced that my German was a decent enough to take more classes, but unfortunately it wasn’t but it only made me more ambitious so the next step was for me to talk to my international office and SLI professors and I was allowed to take a couple classes above my level. I struggled I am not going to lie German Grammar or any Grammar has always been incredibly difficult for me to understand. Ultimately I was able to take a B1 Grammar class and a phonetics class as well aside from my bi weekly 8 am A2/2 German class. I then decided to get involved in an international short film class that had us reading different articles from different directors in Europe then creating our own short film. Lastly I decided to take a history class with my new friends which turned out to be my absolute favorite of the semester as I was able to see the history of Germany through a German lens not an American one.
This is the Rheinfalls they are about 63.4 km from Konstanz by car or about an 1hr 30 min by train. The view was absolutely unreal. We were lucky to still get there on a nicer day in November. A group of about 10 of us wanted to see them so its very common to get group discounts with the train system in Germany. So the next saturday I went on this small adventure with my friends Katie, Karen, Julia, Matt, Michelle, (fellow oregonian) Loraine, Alpin, Mette and Kaleigh. This has to be one of my favorite waterfalls it gives Silver Falls and Multnomah Falls a run for their money. The trip was great getting to know everyone as we have only known each other for two months and having our homemade lunch next to this piece of nature since Switzerland is super expensive. The lesson of that day was that an apple, Pringle’s and two Caprisuns are not enough food to get one through a whole day at the Rheinfalls.
Hallo! Let me my introduce myself, my name is Josseline and I am studying in Konstanz, Germany located on the Bodensee. I actually started my adventure in September (Sorry! Sarah) but I didn’t realize how much I was going to get caught up in the moment. I guess once you get older it is harder to get used to a new routine. I found my second time in Germany ten times more difficult to adjust then it was just four years ago. However, just because it was hard to adjust did not mean I was not having the time of my life. My first week in Germany was probably already one of the most memorable I will ever have. The day before I departed for Germany, I remember looking at my countdown app on my phone and trying to maintain a normal heart rate, but the same thing can be said when I left the Airport in Stuttgart. So far this has been a recurring theme. It’s a difficult process not to romanticize the concept of studying abroad. I wanted it to be the most magical amazing adventure that I would have in my entire life, and so far it has felt that way.
Despite my accelerated heart rate I finally get to the youth hostel in Tübingen and its funny when you realize that the large group of strangers you met in May are going to be your new lifelong friends. By the end of my first night in Tübingen, I was proud that I knew the names of my entire group. The anxiety continues, as I do not know what to expect from the staff. I have met them before but it’s always different when you get to see them in action. I got to interact with Silvia and Sarah, and right off the bat they were so helpful and understanding that I felt like I was safe. When you are thousands of miles away from home in a country with bad Wi-Fi: this is important. Before you know it Monday arrives, and you prepare yourself to meet your new home for the next 11 months. There goes my heart rate again.
After settling into my new Wohnung the second week hits you and you begin to build a routine for yourself. One begins grocery shopping and trying to make plans with other people that you hardly know. It is overwhelming, but at the same time it’s a sensation of enlightenment. You are a United Nations meeting on an everyday basis. I have already met influential individuals that make me want to be a better person. These interaction have already made me question everything that I stand for and start being more compassionate towards people. I have to reevaluate all my political standing, morals, and emotions.
After the third week the only time my heart rate rises out of anxiety is when I have an exam in class. That reminds me: I have the coolest class in the entire intensive course. During this time I realize that Konstanz treats their international students well. They care, and they try to make your transition easy as possible. This is important especially with German bureaucracy. German Bureaucracy can be a novel on its own: I mean that literally and metaphorically. Week 4 has ended, and all I can say is that now my heart rate speeds up for school, interacting with my new friends, and whenever I have a successful conversation in German. I do believe now that this heart rate is actually excitement than anxiety and as I enter my first free week in October I make plans to go to Oktoberfest in Munich with my new friends. Currently I am on my last week of break before I begin attending normal classes at Konstanz University. Now that I was able to give a brief summary of my first month I do have journal entries that I will type up and let you guys know how I am currently doing and how I was doing in the beginning of September.