Meine erste Woche! (And a trip to Amsterdam)
It’s really difficult to keep up with blogging about a month ago when new things happen every day. Sorry about that!
If you’re reading this because you’re interested in studying abroad, that’s awesome! You should do it! One thing I will say though is this: they tell you that you’re going to get homesick, and that it’s inevitable. If you’re anything like me you won’t believe them because you’ve been on trips without family before or you’re independent, or any other reasons. No matter how much you tell yourself that, there’s going to be culture shock (especially if you’re somewhere with a different language), you’re going to get freaked out by things that are so totally different (like being so stressed out in a supermarket because you don’t know what any of the food is called and you just want a jar of peanut butter), but after the first couple of days the culture shock will (sort-of) subside and turn into wonder. You’re going to get homesick, and it’s gonna suck a little bit, but you’ll get over it, so don’t stress too much over it.
Completely unrelated to this entire post but my family has the most adorable bunnies here. Freddie and Filou are super fluffy and they make me smile every day (even when they try to steal my breakfast while I’m eating). Tell me those aren’t just the cutest little faces you’ve ever seen.
The way the Kapito Sprachschule system is run is really strange to me. The classes don’t just start with new students, they keep going and then new students join the pre-existing courses.
So my first day, I had a placement exam, and then got placed at the B1 level (the level I wanted to be at), which was great, but then the second day was super stressful. I went into class expecting to be starting from the beginning of the course, but on my first day, we had a test on chapters (I think) 4 and 5 (I’m not sure because I wasn’t there for the chapters). I ended up with a 49 on the test when I got it back the week after because I hadn’t been there for any of the learning, so I didn’t know most of the answers. After the test, I was thrown right into chapter 8, which was definitely ahead of where I should’ve been, but I stuck with it and it worked out pretty okay (though I still think the class is a little too hard for me). I don’t quite understand the system of why they just add people to classes that are already almost done with the course, but oh well.
There are programs almost every day in the afternoon or evening, which is really nice. Within the first week, there was a casual get-together at a local bar, a Münster city tour, a trip to Amsterdam, and the Hafenfest.
The city tour was really cool, it was done in English because the only people that chose to go were me and a group of students from a beginner class, but I got to learn a lot about the history of the city. We learned about how the Promenade came to be (the Promenade is a tree-lined walking and bike path that surrounds the Altstadt (old city)/city center), because it was where the old city wall was. When the city no longer needed a wall to defend it, and needed more space to expand, the wall was taken down and the architect in charge decided that rather than just becoming a part of the city, it should remain as a green space where the old wall was. The Promenade is my walk to school every morning, which is super great because it’s lovely (it was awful for allergies until my body got used to it though). One of the other things on the city tour was learning about the history of the buildings, which I love. There’s a long history of religious fighting in the city, which is actually why there are three cages hanging from the top of St. Lamberti Kirche. In the middle ages, the city was taken over, and then when it was reclaimed, the Bishop hung the bodies of the three most important figures in the other regime from the top of the tallest building in the city as a warning against others who may want to attack. There’s a really interesting (and violent) history to the city, so it was cool to learn about it. The city also served as a regional Nazi headquarters during WWII, so a lot of the buildings were destroyed during the second World War. All along the Prinzipalmarkt (the main street in the Altstadt), you can see where buildings have been re-built. Most of the buildings have two dates: one that shows when the building was originally built, and the second is when it was rebuilt after the war.
The first weekend I was in Münster was Hafenfest, an annual festival held at the Hafen (the Harbor). It wasn’t as exciting as people had made it out to be, but I got to hang out with some new friends and get to see the local culture a little bit more. There were lots of shop-stands, as well as games, activities, and live performances. It was pretty fun, and it was great to see how beautiful the harbor in Münster is (even if it did get me very sun-burnt).
Other than just doing things with the school, I did a lot of exploring, especially in my first week. I spent a couple hours walking around the entire Aasee (the lake that’s connected the the river Aa), because it’s pretty close to my house. It was absolutely beautiful (everything here is), but walking roughly 3.5 miles in 90+ degree heat (in Fahrenheit, I still don’t fully understand Centigrade, even though it’s used everywhere but the US) probably wasn’t my smartest decision. I ended up stopping at a restaurant on the opposite side of the lake, and it was lovely.
It wasn’t all fun and rainbows the first week though. Finding out that your computer charger doesn’t fit into your adapter will stress anyone out. On the bright side, I was able to find a store that sells Apple products, so I bought just the plug part of my computer charger that works in a German outlet. After buying a new adapter, I was able to wander around the city and go exploring. The sun sets extremely late here, it’s usually still light until 10:30 or so, and so being out in the evenings is nice because you can stay out until 9 or 10 without having to worry about it getting dark. I wandered around the city quite a bit my first week, because I wanted to see what was around, and I knew how to get home from der Dom, one of the most prominent landmarks in the city. That made it easy to explore, because if I did get lost (I never did), then I’d be able to easily find my way home by asking how to get to der Dom. I learned that it’s a really lovely city, with a lot of really interesting shops, though they have weird hours, so I didn’t get to go into all of the shops that I would have liked to.
~~~~~~~~~~Trip to Amsterdam!~~~~~~~~~~
The Thursday of my first week was a Catholic Holiday (Corpus Christi in English), and since Münster is a really Catholic city, it’s a public holiday so everything is closed. Most stores are closed, and more importantly, there was no school. Because it was a public holiday, Kapito organized a trip to Amsterdam for the day, which I was lucky enough to be able to go on.
Amsterdam was a beautiful city: at the time we worded it as “Like New York City but older and with canals.” In Amsterdam we went on a short city-tour, where we got the chance to walk around and see the city. We saw the Red Light District, which is famous for prostitutes and marijuana. It was really interesting to see it. In the Red Light District, many of the buildings have windows with closed curtains, and then at night, in the windows there will be a prostitute sitting in a chair, waiting for potential customers (it’s illegal to photograph them though, so on the right is a photo of some of the windows during the daytime). There are coffee-shops on every street corner, and most of the souvenirs in the region are either related to marijuana or shaped like genitals. Any other souvenirs are either windmills or Dutch wooden shoes.
For me, the most interesting part was the Anne Frank House Museum. I have no photos from it, because you can’t take photos inside, but it was a really interesting museum. It was a little bit surreal to see the house in which the famous little girl lived. It made it a lot more real to me, seeing the photos of the famous people idolized pasted on her wall. It humanized her, and I think that that’s a really cool thing. It was an interesting museum, filled with fascinating history (and a lot of stairs), and if you’re ever in Amsterdam I’d highly recommend it.
All in all, Amsterdam was a beautiful city, but probably not somewhere I would visit again. Other than the fascination of seeing a culture is so wildly different from what we’re used to in America (or even in Germany), it was just another city. I’m not really one for weed and hookers, so it’s not on my list of places that I necessarily need to revisit (though I’m always up for more travel).