Wow – what a day!
The day started at 3am, at which time I woke up in a daze – thinking to myself “will everything be OK today?“, “will the flight be on time?“, “will I manage to find the right buses?” In short, all manner of logistical panic was running through my mind.
5am: We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare (two hours), so I took my time through security. I found it less stressful than I usually do – I felt so excited to be heading off on my own adventure.
7am: The flight was delayed due to a scheduling issue with the shuttle buses – to the amusement of my fellow German passengers, disappointed at the lack of “Pünktlichkeit“. My German had its first practice on the plane and at the airport, as a kind passenger directed me towards Gepäck/luggage reclaim. My immediate feeling at the airport was honestly panic, because of its size and the visual and auditory stimuli surrounding me (e.g. signs, lights, noise, people talking and moving in every direction).
10.30am: After struggling to follow the German directions to my bus (I would recommend translating anything and everything beforehand if you can), I asked the “Informationsburo” for help. That’s something I learned today – no shame in asking for some help. Most people are more than happy to help or speak slowly or repeat things when you show willingness to try.
12.30pm: On arriving at Heidelberg, several other international students were in exactly the same position as me: what do we do now? Where do we go?
1pm: With a bit of teamwork (Irish, English, Finnish, and Russian teamwork), not to mention a lot of copies of the same map, we managed to locate the correct bus stop and board the next bus.
However… the bus was moving so fast and there wasn’t time to put my bags away safely. In true dyspraxic fashion I slipped and went flying down the bus! One of the girls kindly helped me up, but I was conscious of the looks in my direction…
2pm: We were welcomed at the Summer School with a big banner and plenty of paper, once again. A whole bag full of documents, leaflets, maps, forms etc. to sort through, and information to retain – but on the positive side people were generally very patient with me and spoke slowly.
5pm: I had to wait for a couple of hours to be given my key, and driven directly to my accommodation, which is inconveniently located twenty minutes in a car from the city centre. I had to walk up four flights of stairs (with heavy luggage!) only to find that this was the wrong apartment.
6pm: I finally settled into the correct apartment after dragging my bags up more flights of stairs. I’m living in an apartment in a “Studentenwohnheim” with two German students at the University, a girl and a guy, and both seem very friendly.
7-9pm: After drawing myself a map (thanks to my friend Google) showing the route to the nearest supermarket from my apartment, I was able to stock up the kitchen cupboards with some food, and prepare a typical German salad – with olives, goats cheese, salad leaves, some ham, and a big glass of orange juice (which I really needed after all that rushing about).
10pm: The day ends in an unfamiliar room (incidentally without a curtain), in an unfamiliar apartment with two German students I hadn’t met before, and not really knowing what’s going to come next – how am I going to find the bus/tram stop? How am I going to make my own way into the city? How will I manage this!?
I am on an adventure – both daunting and exciting, as there is so much to be discovered.