Dear fellow budding travellers. It has been four days now, and chapter one of my adventure in Mainz, Germany has finally begun! Blogging seems like such a great way to document such an exciting journey, not just for personal record, but in the hope that other language students planning to take a year abroad can find out more about the process and what is in store. I hope that my posts throughout the year will be also be particularly useful to any German language students who want to come to this fabulous city next year 🙂 It is certainly very confusing at the start, and there is a certain amount of planning, and boring form-filling-in. But it is totally worth it, really! So much has happened in the last four days, it’s hard to know where to begin!
Mainz is an old town in south-west Germany, just outside Frankfurt. It is even more picturesque than I had imagined, and I haven’t even been to see the side of town by the Rhein yet! My accomodation is in Hechtheim, an area just out of the city centre. You buy a semester travel card at the beginning of every semester, so taking the tram everyday, whilst not essentially free, isn’t a hassle. I love the student halls, and am living in a 3 bedroom flat with an Italian girl and French girl. They are lovely, and I feel very lucky to have such nice flatmates, as it is, of course, a random selection process.
In the first 3 days, we had info-days at the uni, where you sort things like paying deposits, signing up for an internet account, and choosing courses. It is abit confusing to start with, but the univeristy is very organised and you will get everything done eventually. You have to pay quite a hefty deposit on the student halls, and along with social fees and other living expenses, your first week’s expenditure is high. As I couldn’t open a bank account until I got here, I had to arrive with 1,750 euros strapped to my body, which was a little inconvienient, but necessary.
Hechtheim has a brilliant bar, with Fussball tables (the germans are far too good at that game… I’m going to need a bit more practise..) and bottles of beer for 1 euro, which really is the cheapest it could ever get! It’s really great to be living with people who aren’t native English speakers, because the language you all naturally have in common is German. Having spoken hardly any English for 4 days is abit tiring but brilliant, and I have already learnt so many new words, and my comprehension skills have improved so quickly. Another great thing about living with non-native German speakers, is that you aren’t afraid to make mistakes when speaking the language, as they will certainly be making some too! My best advice is just to get stuck in, because even the native Germans aren’t going to laugh at you if you use the wrong verb ending… It is amazing how quickly and how much you can learn in just afew short days.
Definately buy a mini pocket dictionary before you come, and keep it in your bag all the time! I have developed the habit of always looking up a word when speaking and not knowing a certain word. It is abit obsessive, so maybe I will cut down on doing that, but it is incredibly useful…
When planning to come to Mainz, I saw it, and still do see it, as a world of opportunity. It is so exciting and refreshing to start over somewhere so completely new, where there are people from all over the world in the same boat as you, and a great deal of things to do if you choose to explore all the possibilities there are, which are in endless supply. I have wanted to learn the drums for ages, but have never prioritised it, so one of my aims was to find somewhere to get lessons for the year. I found out that the student halls I live in has a band, and met the drummer last night at the weekly friday night party which is held in the Hechtsheim bar. He is going to give me lessons starting next week, and because the band have a studio in the halls, I will be able to practise there, too. It couldn’t be a better arrangement, and I am so excited to begin. Hopefully this will be just one of the new things I discover.
The past 4 days have been really amazing. It sounded so daunting to just pick up sticks and move to another country, but when you get here, you really do just go with the flow, and the pieces do fit together. In a couple of days time, all the international students start an intense German language course, which should vastly improve my German. I am so pleased that the uni offers this, and it is free, too. Around this, the next week will be about finalising course options, meeting lots more new people, and motivating myself to go and set up a bank account…
Alles gut heir in Deutschland 🙂 Until next time.. Lydia x