I’m not going to lie – my first night in Germany wasn’t exactly a great start to my ERASMUS year. I travelled to Munich alone and then checked into a hostel for the night, as I couldn’t pick up the keys to my student halls until the next day. The highlight of my stay at the Haus International was being involuntarily group-hugged by a stag-do from Carlisle (they decided that studying in Germany for year merited a lot of sympathy). I spent the rest of the night fighting the urge to spend the rest of my euros on the next flight back home – the thought of spending a year in this strange, huge city seemed terrifying.
However, the next day was far too hectic to dwell on homesickness. Shortly after moving into Felsennelkenanger, my home for the next 10 months, I latched onto an unfortunate Frenchman, Elie, who also needed spend his day navigating German bureaucracy. His invaluable insider knowledge (he has already lived in Munich for a year) meant that registering my new address and opening a bank account went relatively smoothly, and seeing as Elie is now a good friend, I don’t think he minded being basically followed around by a particularly clingy Scottish girl on his first day back in the city.
I am surprised to report that culture shock, even when moving between European countries, is pretty intense. Aldi Sü d simply doesn’t stock Sharwoods stir fry sauces, hobnobs and crackers, and so my diet has changed a lot. Last night’s dinner may have been disastrous if Elie hadn’t been on hand to show me how to make gnocchi. Bavarians are, I’ve found, lovely people, but I learned yesterday first hand that it’s seen as normal for waiters to push people out of their way (the hot Finnish student who explained this to me was the silver lining of that lederhosen-clad cloud). Although most of my friends here are native English speakers, my German orientation classes (which I would recommend, if you’re considering Munich – excellent way to meet people, and lots of great advice), shopping and negotiating the underground nightmare that is the U-Bahn leave my brain exhausted at the end of every day.
The exchange year so far hasn’t been an easy ride, but it has been a lot of fun. Between city tours with the exchange society, a trip to Neuschwanstein (Bavaria’s famous ‘fairytale castle’), a flat party which ended up in walking 6km home because we missed the last U-Bahn, finding that the techno music in clubs is tolerable when you have enough vodka and Paulaner, Bavarian breakfast with my flatmate and epic trips to Ikea, I’ve begun to feel like I’ve found my feet in this city. I couldn’t have predicted how much I would miss Scotland, but Munich, for want of a better word, awesome. It’s not a home away from home quite yet (I’ve still not found the time to finish unpacking!), but it feels like I’ve been here much longer than a week and I’m happy to be here