Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Year Abroad - 3 weeks in

Ok firstly, HOW has it already been over 3 weeks since I arrived? It genuinely feels like I got here only last weekend. This year is going to go SO quickly. 
Year Abroad blog
I still haven't actually started at university yet, my lecture period began yesterday but I don't yet have any classes scheduled until next week. I have had a few introductory lectures though and my first impressions of the university are really positive. The president of the university himself, Ernst-Ludwig von Thadden, seems brilliant, and it was lovely to hear him give a small shoutout to the 6 Syrian refugees who are studying at the university this year. 

Besides attending welcome sessions and tours, I've been up to a few other things. Okay, I feel like I've spent most of my time watching Netflix (in German!) and mooching around my flat, but I have seen a little bit more of my corner of Germany and met up with quite a few people.

I travelled back to Frankfurt to surprise Tom and go shopping because well, Primark. I thought I could cope with 1 suitcase and a minimalist wardrobe - it's a challenge. I'm still undecided as to what I think about Frankfurt as a city. It seems a bit less friendly, and people seem to be more like typical Londerners than typical Germans. But I've not spent much more than a couple of days there and have only seen a few small areas so hopefully when I see more of it, it will grow on me (as I'll be living there after Christmas!)
Year Abroad blog

Mannheim on the other hand I am still quite fond of. I took a (less than 10 minute) walk to the 'Neckarstrand', a small beach area with a bar on the Neckar river. It was a really hot day (over 30 degrees) when we went so it was great, almost like being on holiday! Hello cocktails and sun beds and warmth. Just also a river instead of the sea and a few blocks of flat the other side of the river, but hey, it's still nice having that almost on your doorstep. There's also a really beautiful area behind the Wassertürm with fountains and wisteria trellis... so pretty. 

I also went on a day trip with friends to Heidelberg. Temperatures reached 35 degrees and above that day so we spent most of it in and out of pubs and shaded beer gardens just to cool down, but I will definitely be taking another trip back (as I can get there for free with my Semesterticket - thanks Mannheim Uni!) to explore some further and take many more pictures. It's such a picturesque and charming German town, lots of old buildings and beautiful views of the castle and hills surrounding the city. 

Last weekend I went to my first Universität Mannheim party - the welcome party. A friend joined us in Mannheim who's living in Heidelberg and Tom from Frankfurt, and we met with my 'buddy' (the uni offers a mentoring scheme between Germans and internationals) and his friends for pre drinks and then we headed to the castle to party. It was a really fun night and I met so many great people from all over the world. 

So yeah, so far so good. I've only felt a little bit homesick but I think I've settled in pretty well. My flatmate also arrived a couple of weeks ago, and she's super nice and helpful. Having a German on your side who knows the ins and outs of Mannheim and the university and job applications forms and contracts is a godsend. For you future year abroaders, live with natives, seriously. It's also really good for your language, I already think my German is improving. I'm now just really looking forward to starting my courses so I can meet more people and have more to do during the week, and also you know, learn :P. 

Bis bald! 

Hannah Lane

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