Some people peel the stickers off their drinks bottles, while others apply their imaginary brakes in the passenger seat of my car. However, as I sit here in my room it is apparent that my strange, subconscious habit is hoarding the world’s most eclectic collection of junk. From old encyclopaedias and postcards to broken cameras and a half attempted high school punishment exercise, my room is chock-full of old school jotters, Christmas presents and DVD loans long forgotten by friends.
My name is Jamie Wilson and I am trying to pack all of this junk into one suitcase. In two weeks’ time I will be embarking on a trip which will take me to Freiburg, Germany for my third year abroad; a year that will hopefully see me pass a whole bunch of classes in German, re-teach myself how to ride a bike, interview lots of old people and quite possibly write and direct my very own German-Scottish puppet show. Self-admittedly my German is a bit pants and so all of this, no doubt, will go horribly wrong.
Aside from the epic task that is packing for your year abroad, I think the biggest challenges that ERASMUS students face are our anxieties about not making friends in our new town together with the constant woe that you have forgotten to fill out a form or send an email that will result in the whole exchange being terminated. Down to the fact that I am, at present, sitting in my room at home describing it contents, and that I also had to check that I had not accidentally switched the language settings to Spanish on the Freiburg ERASMUS Facebook page, I cannot currently offer much advice on making friends on your year abroad. However, what I can say is that the International Office along with the German department at Edinburgh University are incredibly well organised and excel at making life easy for even those of us who are deemed a lost cause (I recently stranded myself and a friend in St Andrews after drunkenly losing my car keys and wallet). So if I can be Captain Organised, so can you.
As far as my hopes and expectations go, I am trying to keep an open mind. I’m living in a dorm with nine other people. What am I supposed to expect?! My one hope is that one of them is an aspiring chef; another, a cleaner. After my recent stint with a tumble dryer in which a pair of my jeans met their untimely fate (I blame Google for giving me misleading instructions), I think somebody with a bit of domestic know-how would be of great benefit.
No matter how the next year pans out for me – be it trips to crazy flat parties or trips to the local Krankenhaus after eating a bad sausage – I am sure there are many fun shenanigans to be had and many lessons to be learned. Here’s hoping it’s a good ‘un.